SELECT title FROM cont_articles WHERE id='' LIMIT 1 Santa Fe Reporter

Audit Oversight

City readies for state-mandated special audit of parks bond spending, approves next budget contingent on fund transfers

Local NewsWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Julie Ann Grimm
Santa Fe city councilors who are wrestling with balancing the budget for the next year have another unknown cost to contend with. State Auditor Tim Keller announced Wednesday that his office is designating the city’s problematic 2008 parks bond for a special audit.

State law allows the auditor’s office to hire outside help with such a project, and Sunalei Stewart, chief of staff for the office, indicated to councilors at their meeting May 27 that’s the direction the office might go.

“We are not looking to just redo work that has already been done,” Stewart said “but we are trying to move forward with a process that I think people have confidence that it’s an independent and quality review.”

Stewart told councilors that he can’t really estimate the cost until the scope of the audit is determined.

“Make no mistake, this audit is going to be expensive. It’s important that we spend the money to assure there is financial accountability in place,” he said.

Councilors, many who have expressed alarm at questions from an earlier city audit of the $30 million bond, welcomed the intervention from the state, which came after Mayor Javier Gonzales wrote Keller.

The city posted thousands of documents online this week and held a press conference to say they had proven that money was not misappropriated.

In other money debates, councilors adopted a resolution for a contract for "historian services" for youth and visitors, with an unnamed funding source and no fiscal impact report; they also voted to give 2 percent salary increases to classified, term and exempt non-union employees as part of the budget.

They also gave the green light on a 7-1 vote on the budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. The annual plan for shuffling of cash is contingent, in part, on the city passing a rule change later this summer that will allow the use of millions from the water utility division for other purposes. Councilor Patti Bushee cast the dissenting vote, citing that raid on the utility fund as her reason.

Several councilors noted before their affirmative votes that the city was again "kicking the can down the road" by adopting "unsustainable" practices of transferring between funds without raising revenue or cutting expenses. 

Morning Word: Immigration Injunction Stands

Deportation policies impact thousands of New Mexicans

Morning WordWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
It's Wednesday, May 27, 2015

President Barack Obama's plan to shield as many as 5 million immigrants living in the US, and tens of thousands of New Mexicans, from deportation remained on hold Tuesday after a federal appeals court panel refused to allow it to take effect immediately. The decision disappointed state immigration advocates.
While New Mexico Immigrant Law Center is deeply disappointed in today’s decision, we still believe that we will ultimately prevail and DAPA and expanded DACA will move forward. The proceedings regarding the injunction will likely be heard by the entire Fifth Circuit before ultimately being decided by the Supreme Court. The facts of the case and legal precedent are on our side. 
Read more about the court's split decision here. 

Recent rains are helping put a dent in the drought that has gripped New Mexico. Reservoir levels are up, and no part of the state is in extreme drought.

Ollie Reed has the story. 

The extra water is good for farmers and fish alike.
Along the Rio Grande, federal water managers have decided to take advantage of the natural spike in river flows to move some water from El Vado Reservoir downstream to boost spawning of the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. 
The AP’s Susan Montoya Bryant reports. 

Volunteers from New Mexico are headed to help clean up flood-ravaged parts of Texas that claimed the life of 18 people, including a Highland High School graduate.

Read it at

After more than half a decade the dairy industry and environmental groups have reached a compromise deal they say will contain pollution and water contamination.

Two former Las Cruces police officers will be prosecuted for the beating of a handcuffed suspect in a holding cell that was captured on surveillance video.
Video of the beating shows the two officers slamming Ross Flynn, a 47-year-old Las Cruces resident, against the wall and kneeing him in the stomach. Flynn was in police custody following his arrest for allegedly threatening a neighbor with a firearm. 
Richard Garcia and Danny Salcido were fired last week after an internal investigation found that the two men violated department policies and procedures.

Read it at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

Rio Rancho residents are mourning the loss of the first police officer killed in their community. Meanwhile, the feds are considering charges against the career criminal arrested in connection with the deadly shooting.

Read it at 

Native American youth continue to face serious challenges blending their traditions and fitting into the modern world. That’s led to an alarming number of suicides. Reporters Laura Paskus and Bryant Furlow spent months studying the issue.

Read their New Mexico In Depth story here. 

State Auditor Tim Keller’s office will review that $30 million parks bond project in Santa Fe. While the audit gets under way, city officials have posted documents online that they say prove the money wasn’t squandered. 

SFR’s Tom Ragan has details. 

The great-grandson of President Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Roosevelt, will be the new president of St. John’s College starting next year.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican.

A Santa Fe taxi company wants the New Mexico Supreme Court to review new rules for ride-sharing company Uber. They say driver drug testing rules are not sufficient. Uber officials say the tests are too “burdensome.”

Read Steve Terrell’s story here. 

Some people believe ride-sharing will make the state’s economy more resilient.
In the face of sluggish growth and stagnant wages, we should be looking to bolster high-performing sectors of our economy. Ride-sharing services support tourism, one of New Mexico’s most important industries. The popularity of these efficient and reliable services with tourists is undeniable. Whether it’s to get to the next meeting or check out the restaurant scene, leisure and business travelers are using ride-sharing in increasing numbers. 
Read their viewpoint here. 

The Public Regulation Commission will meet today. They're expected to decide whether or not PNM should be able to introduce a new coal supply contract for its San Juan Generating Station months after testimony in a power replacement case closed. PRC Commissioner Pat Lyons has said the contract is a "game changer," but environmentalists say PNM's proposal is late and shouldn't be included in the decision-making process. We'll have the story in tomorrow's Morning Word.

Paper Gallery

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by SFR

Aug. 7-Sept. 30

All Action Figure

Lego-inspired figurines as subversive art? If Steven Paul Judd and Pop Gallery are involved, the answer is yes.


June 13

On the Road and in the Studio with Nirvana

Tesuque’s Glenn Green Galleries showcases Shelli Hyrkas’ intimate, behind-the-scenes shots of one of the most influential bands of all time.

Sept. 25-Jan. 10, 2016

From New York to New Mexico

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum presents exquisite sections from the Vilcek Foundation Collection.


Feb. 5-28, 2016

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare

Love that old book smell? Boy, oh boy, your ship has come in at the NM Museum of Art.

Yay! It Up

Local arthouses provide your summer movie fix

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by David Riedel

So my wife and I just had a baby,* and when he’s not screaming his head off demanding love, affection and breast milk, I like to nap. When he sleeps longer than six hours (not yet, by the way), I like to check in with my local arthouse cinemas to see just what the hell is going on for the summer. New parents gotta get out sometimes—and so does everyone else, unless you’re my great-uncle Bud, who literally never left his house—and that presents us all with some sweet choices.

Do I want to be wowed by Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliance? Do I want to check out beaucoup foreign flicks? Do I want to catch a movie in a place that may have a dragon lurking around the corner?

The answer to all three questions is yes. Here’s what you can find at Santa Fe’s local cinemas, which fulfill each need specified in those questions. (All the theaters have more showing than this, but I only have 1,000-ish words, so these are highlights. Standard disclaimer—check the theater websites for all dates, as films/times are subject to change because blah blah not everything is etched in stone.)


The (presumably) serpent-loving cinephiles who run this indie house have put together a stellar and diverse roster of films since its opening. Where else can you have a choice of watching the cult film Roar, the manic horror comedy Witching and Bitching or a big-ass blockbuster such as Mad Max: Fury Road, which just ended a run? (By the way, everyone should see Mad Max: Fury Road now. Right now.)

Silver Films

This summer, the JCC is featuring some choice restored films, including René Clément’s celebrated Forbidden Games, which won the 1953 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film (one of the few years Oscar got something right). It’s the story of a 10-year-old girl orphaned during the Battle of France, and her friendship with Michel, a peasant kid whose family takes her in. It’s spectacular and tackles a theme—a child’s innocence—not often seen in films about World War II, until perhaps John Boorman’s Hope and Glory. Forbidden Games has recently been restored and features new subtitles.

Also in the restoration cannon (and part of film canon) is Carol Reed’s The Third Man. This movie has been written about to death, and there’s a reason: It’s one of the greatest films ever made. It’s also the rare film to use a city so effectively as character. Vienna was bombed to hell during World War II, and Reed shot the movie in the city’s war-torn ruins. Plus, The Third Man showcases Orson Welles before he became huge (physically). Of note: Welles would have been 100 on May 6 had his heart not attacked him in 1985.

On the foreign film front, JCC will show The Tribe, a unique film from Ukraine about deaf students told without subtitles or dialogue. It won the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes in 2014, and my Spoilerpiece Theatre colleague Kristofer Jenson calls it “astounding, gripping and holy-shit disturbing.” In short, it sounds like a must-see. (And Spoilerpiece Theatre is a must-listen. Find it on iTunes.)

In the indie category, I’m most looking forward to Set Fire to the Stars. Elijah Wood has made unpredictable choice after unpredictable choice since completing the Lord of the Rings trilogy (see the ultra low-budget 2002 gangster picture Ash Wednesday, directed by Edward Burns, and the 2012 remake of the super violent Maniac). While it isn’t as radical as starring in the FX series Wilfred, Set Fire to the Stars has a nifty plot. Wood plays poet John Brinnin, and Celyn Jones (who co-wrote the script) is Dylan Thomas. And it’s in glorious black and white.

Finally, and this is très cool: The JCC will host a monthly series called the New Mexico Film Circuit that runs new independent flicks shot in Burundi. Just kidding! You figure out where the films were made. The first film is Truth, a sci-fi thriller shot around Silver City, playing on May 30 and June 1.


The good people at the Screen always have a solid line-up of movies, but at press time, they were still sorting out the details. But here’s what we can report for sure:

BehindTheLine ProductionsBehindTheLine Productions

On June 5, the Screen will host Charlie’s Country director Rolf de Heer. The film, about Aboriginal Australians and their relationship with contemporary Australia, was co-written by its star David Gulpilil, a wonderful actor who has appeared in films as diverse as Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout and the Paul Hogan vehicle Crocodile Dundee.

The Saturday Night Live documentary Live from New York will show in late July. In addition, I’m told “[w]e’re going all art, all the time this summer, [a]iming for hard-to-market titles that truly define the ‘arthouse.’ And Doctor Zhivago at some point.” In short, you’ll find the really off-beat stuff at the Screen.


This Railyard branch of the Austin, Texas, movie house hosts the Austin-made Arlo and Julie. Director Steve Mims will be in attendance on May 29. The comedy features Alex Dobrenko and Ashley Rae Spillers as Arlo and Julie, a couple whose relationship is threatened by a jigsaw puzzle. Arlo and Julie marks director Mims’ first film since the 2011 documentary Incendiary: The Willingham Case.

For more information on summer releases, check the Violet Crown’s website.


The Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival may be wrapping up, but that’s the tip of the summer’s iceberg (to mix metaphors—and badly). The Auteurs series, presented by St. John’s College Film Institute, returns starting June 13, and it’s a bumper crop of cinematic goodness.


Charles Chaplin’s The Gold Rush kicks things off, with live accompaniment by Hank Troy. Chaplin was already a star by the time he released this feature, and it has some of the most famous images in all of his films. Remember the cabin teetering over the cliff? That’s here. The other Chaplin film showing is City Lights. While City Lights is technically a talkie, it features no dialogue but has a soundtrack with sound effects and music. And that final moment when the Blind Girl (Virginia Cherill) realizes the Tramp (Chaplin) paid for her sight-restoring surgery? A heartbreaker.

If silent flicks are your game, Buster Keaton’s The General plays from June 20-22. Though a dud in its initial 1926 release, The General is now recognized as one of the best films ever made. Too bad its contemporary audience didn’t get it; when the movie flopped, Keaton lost the ability to make films as he wanted to and struggled professionally for the rest of his life.

There are more wonderful films in the Auteurs series, but for my money, if you can only see one on the big screen, make it Bicycle Thieves, which screens from July 11-13. Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece of neorealism deserves to be seen in a theater with an audience, not just on Hulu Plus (though you should remember the entire Criterion Collection is available there). Actually, see Hitchcock’s Rear Window, too. And The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and Nights of Cabiria, and Journey to Italy and Welles’ Touch of Evil.


New Line Cinema

As for the big-budget nonsense headed your way this summer, most of it looks like garbage, but it’s best to keep an open mind. After all, your air conditioning may fail and you’ll need to spend an afternoon in a huge cinema, if for no other reason than to escape the heat (I know it’s a dry heat, but goddamnit, it’s still heat). In that case, maybe peek in on the Vacation reboot starring Ed Helms. It opens July 29, and if the red band trailer is to be believed, it may actually not be shit.

As for the arthouse movies, the list will grow longer as the summer days do. Check in with the local theaters to see what else they have brewing. Maybe someone will get around to bringing back the delightfully terrible The Incredible Melting Man to the big screen. A guy can dream. Time to nap before my kid wakes up hungry.

*Funnily enough, he thinks Anthony Cumia fans are dicks, too.

Communication Gets Complicated in The Moment of YES!

Theater Grottesco explores the humor and humanity of the journey

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Emmaly Wiederholt

The Moment of YES! begins with four people—Tara Khozein, Apollo Garcia, Danielle Reddick and Eric Kupers—finding themselves on the stage of the Santa Fe Playhouse. When they collectively decide to build something together, what ensues is all of the comedies and struggles that come with communication as they commit themselves to a common history, culture and, eventually, a society.

Assent, accord or agreement is necessary on some level for communication to be successful. In other words, a “yes” must be involved. How that “yes” comes about and what it looks like is the topic of Theater Grottesco’s The Moment of YES!, which previewed last Thursday, May 21, and runs through June 7.

"I hope our audiences are psyched...some audience members might be surprised, confused or uncomfortable, and I think that’s OK too."

“There are a multitude of ways people communicate with each other and with themselves, and those communications are sometimes interpreted correctly and other times incorrectly. In every communication, there is the required next step to either accept or reject, hence, the moment of yes,” reflects co-director Kent Kirkpatrick. The 85-minute show invites audiences to say yes to its tapestry of dance, theater and music as it navigates the many propositions faced in day-to-day life.

Or, as cast member Eric Kupers sums it up, “It’s a deconstruction of the history of human society down to its bare essence of communication. Someone makes a proposition, and others somehow say yes or no to it, and then the evolution is moved that much ahead in whichever direction.”

Founded in 1983 in Paris, Theater Grottesco creates a visually explosive performance that juxtaposes classical theatrical styles with daring, poetic imagination. Co-directed by Kirkpatrick and John Flax, The Moment of YES! is Theater Grottesco’s newest original creation, which Kirkpatrick quickly sums up as, “entertaining, challenging and very fulfilling.”

Tara Khozein, a Santa Fe native, brings to the table her extensive training in theater and voice. Fellow Santa Fe native Apollo Garcia traveled the world, ending up in Paris at Lecoq Conservatory. He encouraged Khozein to follow him, and both are Lecoq graduates now, back home in Santa Fe, sharing their skills with several local theater and arts organizations. They are joined in The Moment of YES! by Danielle Reddick—veteran of the first national touring company of STOMP—and Bay Area-based Kupers, artistic director of the multidisciplinary performance company Bandelion.

Kupers hopes audience members take away “a sense of having gone for a ride and not knowing exactly what it all means, but feeling nourished from both the audience and performers who share the ride, all going along moment to moment, saying yes or no to each thing that arises in a thousand ways.”

Khozein echoes, “The Moment of YES! is an invitation. Of course, I hope our audiences are psyched, choose to be present with us and embrace the world we’ve created, but some audience members might be surprised, confused or uncomfortable, and I think that’s OK too. For me, as long as people come to the show and feel something and are left with a deepened curiosity, then we’ve succeeded.”

With its minimalist set, stark lighting and measured pacing, the show definitely invites a certain level of introspection. While it is indeed theatrical at its core, it evades categorization in terms of both content and medium. It rides like a well-choreographed dance with no moment unconsidered.

“The ensemble creation process for this show has been extremely creative and joyful,” Kirkpatrick notes. “The ensemble has created a piece of theater unlike any seen before in Santa Fe, and to experience that in the presence of our audience is thrilling for me. Though it may be very challenging for some audiences, it might be transformational for others.”

Aspen Santa Fe: Ballet on the Edge

Not another generic dance company

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Julie Ann Grimm

Looking for classic ballet with tutus and Swan Lake and the whole bit? Keep looking. Or better yet, catch that on your next vacation.

If you’re interested in explosive, powerful, expressive and energetic contemporary dance forms presented by athletic artists, however, you need look no further than the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

With a reputation for commissioning new works from rising choreographers, this year the company celebrates two decades running, and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty says that’s likely to be the ongoing course for dancers who split their time between the two mountain cities, as well as touring to dozens of locales each season.

Aspen Santa Fe’s 2015 summer season includes pieces like Cayetano Soto’s fan favorite Beautiful Mistake.

“In our 20-year existence, we have commissioned 30 new ballets, which is a remarkable amount,” Malaty tells SFR. “We have created a unique identity for the company, and so now the company is really in high demand, because if you want to see those works by those choreographers, we are the only one to perform it.”

That avant garde identity matters greatly, he explains.

“It’s important to us. America didn’t need another generic dance company, and so when we set up to start this ballet company, we really wanted to have a unique identity and a unique sense of aesthetic, and we want to represent the communities where we are from,” he says, noting that the approach resonates more with time.

“We really have played a role in educating the audience and developing a taste for contemporary ballet. I’m sure it was not the case when we first started, but I think we have built up the brand, and people trust that they are going to see great dance, and they have acquired a taste for it.”

The upcoming season features three works, including the July 11 world premiere of a commissioned work from Alejandro Cerrudo of Spain, currently in residence at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. That one is so new that as of press time, it still doesn’t have a name.

Cerrudo worked with the company in November to experiment with phrases and movements, and he’s due to meet with dancers again next month. Malaty says the name might just wait until the choreographer sees how the production, including light design and costumes, is living up to the vision.

Also scheduled for July and September performances are 1st Flash by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo and the return of Beautiful Mistake by Cayetano Soto.

Soto’s work is a “fan favorite,” Malaty says, in part because it’s the third work for the company by the choreographer, also from Spain.

“He has a good understanding of our dancers’ strengths, and he is also able to really tap the essence of the company and the forward-looking ethic,” Malaty says. “I would say it’s a very edgy work. He’s from Europe, and that’s kind of what contemporary dance looks like in Europe, and we don’t have an opportunity to see that in this country very often. It’s abstract, and it has a very cool side to it. It is very popular with the younger crowd, and it is visually stunning, with light and design.”

Yet ASFB’s role in Santa Fe isn’t all modern. Dancers from the company’s ballet school in Santa Fe also participate in the annual Christmas-season performance of one of the most famous classic ballets, at least for American audiences.

“We are not a classical dance company; we don’t do full-length story ballet. We don’t do Swan Lake. We don’t do Sleeping Beauty. That’s not who we are,” he says. “We do have the exception that every year we do The Nutcracker, and that is as classical as we get. That is our gift to the community.”

Why give that gift?

“That’s an opportunity for the students to dance side by side with the professional dancers and to be inspired to be in a professional production—to one day dream of being the Sugar Plum Fairy. So that is the one exception that we make once a year.”

In another nod to tradition, the company also recently took over management of the Juan Siddi Flamenco Company, an ensemble of 13 dancers and musicians that plans shows on July 12, 21, 26; August 1, 29; and Sept. 4.

Forever Young

Music fest celebrates talent old and new

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Alex De Vore

The Santa Fe Music Alliance (SFMA) has been kind of quiet of late, and it scares me just a little—they’re important. The loosely affiliated org works with members from our local musical community and puts them together for purposes of networking, gigs, instrument exchange and more, and their ultimate goal to make Santa Fe musicians a force to be reckoned with absolutely seems to fall in line with what we’re all working toward (myself included, because as much as you think or say it, I don’t hate you…just ask my good buddy Bill Palmer).

Anyway, the silence is coming to an end with the 3rd Annual SFMA Make Music fest, an afternoon of all-local music that operates under the Make Music umbrella. Make Music is an international music festival day that operates in over 700 cities in 120+ plus countries. Yeah, it’s huge, and for their part, SFMA’s version will also feature food vendors, Lisa Law’s Silver the Psychedelic Bus and, the coolest part of all, acts that don’t include baby boomers. Whoa. See, in addition to stalwart acts like Joe West and the Santa Fe Revue, Sol Fire and The Strange, the fest will include neo-jazz/rock act Lawnchairs (made up of high-school-aged teens) and 11-year-old Madelyn Kingston, daughter of local pianist and educator Andy Kingston, who will accompany her for the performance. It’s an encouraging trend that continues from last year’s event that featured Autumn Faulkner and Luke Griffin, both teen songwriters who are immensely talented, and a step in the right direction.

This is all good news, as shakeups with the alliance have basically forced them to reboot. The exit of John Widell (aka musician Johny Broomdust) as president has resulted in local musician/SFMA vice president Busy McCarroll filling the role. Widell says that he’ll be available for whatever the alliance needs in the future and that he’s “looking forward to a reinvigorated Music Alliance.”

McCarroll, meanwhile, has plans including mentorship programs, more events and improved conditions for Santa Fe musicians. “I want to get into the clubs and ask why some don’t even have a stage, and I want musicians to come together to work out a standard pay rate so we aren’t all out there playing for too little,” she says. “Possibly down the road, I’d like to set up health care for musicians, because they’re doing it in New Orleans and Austin, and maybe it’s a pipe dream, but possibly a musicians’ retirement home. I see so many musicians aging, and they have nowhere to play and no savings, nowhere to go.”

The inclusion of the next generation of bands and artists alongside more well-known and long-running acts is a great first move. It seems like we sequester the youth musicians to rock camps and house shows more often than we should, and if we actually want Santa Fe music to evolve or even circle back to a place where it matters, they’re going to be instrumental (funny, right?) in making that happen. Featuring these youth acts not only helps build confidence, it gives younger citizens a reason to actually attend a concert, because let’s face it, they probably couldn’t care less about the vast majority of Americana or bluegrass or bar-rock bands.

There comes a time with all things when the reins must be handed over, and as long as we include the youth and give them some kind of idea about how the industry actually works—not including crazy demands like gigs in the corner of a restaurant coming with tons of cash—we can continue to cultivate the scene as well as new talents. They’ll be grateful for the lessons, too, because they’ll take what they’ve learned and keep it going. Hopefully, that is. Certainly it’d be cool to attend the 30th Annual Make Music festival in the future and not have to worry about seeing the exact same bands we see all the time around here anyway.

Not This Title, Not That

Axle Contemporary makes something out of nothing

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Enrique Limón

Around this time last year, this issue sang the praises of Axle Contemporary’s The Renga Project, an outdoor installation/performance gambit that brought together some 100 artists and poets. Since then, the gallery on wheels unleashed Economologies, a social critique and experiment in the GoFundMe age; a celebration of rudimentary tools; and with help from the Institute for American Indian Arts, a blood quantum drive that then turned into both a site-specific installation and Bela Lugosi’s wet dream.

Opening Friday and on view though June 7 is Not This, Not That.

“It’s the translation of a word that comes from Sanskrit, which is ‘neti neti,’” Axle’s Matthew Chase-Daniel says of the name. “It’s a concept that’s in Hinduism, Buddhism, ancient Greek philosophy and contemporary philosophy and has a bit to do with the impossibility of explaining the ineffable…so as we try to describe perfection or beauty or love or God—or any of these terms that we have come up with—we inevitably fail, because in the description, you lose the thing you’re trying to describe. That’s what this show is about.”

The exhibit’s theme? Nothing. Walls inside the roving step-van will be bare, and it’ll be up to the beholder to determine the significance of the art (or lack thereof).

Partner Jerry Wellman says the project has been “on the back burner” for some time.

“In a certain way, it has something to do with how do you talk about nothing? Does nothing even exist?” he muses. “All these ideas about nothing—as many people know—have implications in science, physics, mathematics, obviously with the zero. It’s been written about by numerous poets, been used as a springboard for creativity by many artists, musicians and philosophers. One thing led to another, and we created this exhibition.”

And lo, Not This, Not That was conceived.

“I almost hesitate to tell people what it is,” Wellman says, “because I don’t know if they’ll get the full impact.” The exhibit is a stark contrast to February’s Axle Indoors, wherein the pair took over Peters Projects’ walls (and floors) inside their sprawling 8,000-square-foot compound.

Chase-Daniel is quick to point out that the exhibit is double-pronged. Along with the blank walls, the pair launched a website,, which is populated by quotes from notable thinkers as well as images of other artists like Yves Klein and Marcel Duchamp, who at different points in their careers were also intrigued by the subject.

“The purpose of this show is something that Jerry and I—as you move along as artists—you’re always creating new work, and there’s always this sort of conundrum in creating something that expresses what you want to express,” he continues. “So we decided to do a show that explores that without describing it too much, but bringing it up so other people can see it and think about it and hopefully, like with all art, that inspires people and creates meaning for them in some way.”

Even recognizing the endeavor’s “absurdity,” Wellman wishes people move past the venture’s Emperor’s New Clothes façade and dig deeper.

“It’s been on our register of projects that we’ve been wanting to do for quite a while,” he says. “If they think that, I’d like for them to investigate why they would think that, because this is a very conceptually oriented exhibition, and it is meant for you to think about things.”

Chase-Daniel chimes in, “It’s a combination, like a lot of out shows, of inspiration and amusement. There’s a degree to which the show is a little bit ridiculous and funny…we like to keep stuff lighthearted and immediate, and I think that is a healthy way for people to interact in this day and age, and I also think that there’s also a lot of depth and a lot of history to it.”

“Here, this is for you,” Wellman says with a smile as this interview comes to an end. He hands me the hefty exhibit catalogue. Every page in the volume, as you can imagine, is blank.

In-Fight Entertainment

Fight Club gains a dark future and deep past via new graphic novel series and short story tie-in

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Matthew Schniper

I am Jack’s subversive sequel. But just a copy of a copy of a copy. May I never be complete.

Because every era apparently needs Tyler Durden—a phoenix symbol for the pill-popper generation, a projection of our liberated, fearless, better selves. Remember: You are not the contents of your wallet, or the clothes you wear, or your clever furniture. In the world of Fight Club, we have to hit bottom in order to find resurrection.

We know this, because Tyler knows this.

Because in 1999, director David Fincher turned Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel into a cult classic—an ode to anti-materialism and mischief. Brad Pitt’s bruised face, as Durden, became a societal symbol and familiar graffiti subject. An emergence of real fight clubs occurred internationally.

Then nearly two decades passed. And suddenly there’s news of Fight Club 2 as a 10-part Dark Horse comic book series, illustrated by Cameron Stewart (Catwoman). A Free Comic Book Day teaser plus a precursor short story in Palahniuk’s first collection of them by Doubleday, Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread, releasing nearly simultaneously. Mr. Durden is back in full force, and in a more powerful way than we realized before, via Palahniuk’s new effort to creatively fill out Fight Club’s universe.

The comic picks up a decade in the future, where Durden and his counterpart are married and have a boy. Some things haven’t changed: Marla still fakes illnesses to attend support groups, where she now bemoans her sorry sex life. “What’s an orgasm?” a rapidly aged pre-teen asks her at a meeting for those afflicted by Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome. You hate yourself for laughing. But that’s one of Palahniuk’s gifts—he’s a morbidity master.

We spoke to him last week for further insight into the unusual revival, including talk of a stage adaptation.

Lee Bermejo cover

SFR: Your new book was released May 26 and is followed by the comic series on May 27. Aside from making us all feel unproductive, why the tandem releases?

Palahniuk: The story collection was supposed to release this fall. Doubleday got a sense that there’d be a lot of excitement around Dark Horse’s project, so Doubleday thought, wisely, to piggyback on it.

Did you ever consider any of these short stories as beginnings of longer works, or were they always stand-alone? In “Zombies” in particular, I could see the premise of the teenage self-defibrillating craze and the theme of de-evolution as a great launch point.

That was one of the stories I wrote last year when I had this resolution that I’d write nothing but happy endings. No story would be complete until it had a happy ending. Because that’s just not a muscle I work very often. And I was so glad it achieved a happy ending that that’s as far as it needed to go for me.

Was there a particular life experience or something that made you want to start writing those happy endings?

I can’t think of one catalyzing moment, but I realize that I was kind of being chicken shit in having dark endings too often. If I was going to be a fully formed writer, I should be able to do any kind of endings I wanted, without constantly defaulting to the conflicted dark ending.

It surprised me, especially after hilarious lines like, “The voltage even cleared up his acne.” I wasn’t expecting it. It was so sweet.

It makes people cry. It’s amazing how many people cry by the end, when I read it at events. That was one of those stories I read on tour to get the kinks out of it, and it worked really well out loud.

You have created this surreal, era-spanning mythology with Tyler Durden in “Expedition,” the Fight Club precursor, where you balance the suffocating fear of being lost in underground tunnels in the dark with lines like “Prithee pay heed, the first-most rule regarding the monster is thee must nevermore speak of meeting the monster.” Are you trying to establish a tone with your audience, to not take it so seriously? To get away from Fight Club’s anti-consumerism and self-realization messaging and more into this story about fathers and sons through eternity?

Not just fathers and sons, but also the idea that Tyler isn’t just a mental aberration that occurred once in one person’s life. That Tyler is a thing that is reoccurring, as a kind of evil genie across time whose purpose is to destroy peoples lives in a specific way. With a very specific ending in the near future. Because that’s ultimately what the 10 issues are about.

Your parents split when you were in your teens, and you and your siblings went to live with your grandparents. Was your relationship, then or before, tense with your father? Were you close around the time of his murder in 1999?

Boy...and of course this is just speculation. Because I don’t think anybody really knows anything very true about themselves. But my father had serial relationships throughout his life, I theorize, because he was always looking for his mother. Because his father had become unbalanced and killed his mother and then killed some of his siblings, and then ultimately killed himself. But my father’s earliest memories are of being 3 years old and trying to find his mother, who has been shot to death. While at the same time, he’s evading his father, who has the rifle and is trying to shoot him, my father. So my father spent his life kind of looking, I believe, for his mom. And the irony is that he finally finds this woman he’s madly in love with, and the man with the rifle shows up and kills them both. So there was a kind of a completeness to his murder. A spooky sort of completeness...

The woman that my father was dating when he was killed by her ex-husband, she had run a personals ad, and the heading of the personals ad was ‘kismet.’ Which I believe is Arabic for ‘fate.’ So he answers this ad that’s headlined fate, and it leads to the completion of this greatest childhood fear. I think all these things, as we look into them so much, we find even more bizarre coincidences. And as for me, boy, his absence for so much of my childhood kind of left me in a different situation. Kind of always looking for him. And God only knows how that will end.

David Mack cover

In that regard, do you look at this work and that theme, and see much of yourself in it, or do you feel distant from it?

There’s a kind of revelation, a self-reveal about how the character’s default is anger. And anger is what has rescued him from going under time and time again. That’s the only skill he has, is getting really angry. Getting really pissed and acting out of it. And that was one of the most honest things I’ve ever written. I was shocked that I was putting that on the page. Because so much of my life up to this point has been being confronted by a problem or an obstacle, and then just developing this enormous rage that gets me past it. And it’s not just me, it’s a lot of men my age, and men much younger tell me the same thing. That’s their only way of transcending obstacles, is to develop that huge rage.

In the original Fight Club, the narrator, then not given a name, slanders his father. You mentioned putting that character, now called Sebastian, through fatherhood himself, as comeuppance. Sebastian has a 10-year-old son, just like the protagonist in “Expedition,” Felix. Do I have it correct that Tyler’s intervening mischief is to divide man and boy? I think back to the Fight Club refrain about “It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”

I hesitate to tell you that you’re absolutely right because that really is the 10-issue story arc. It’s that across time, Tyler has been working to estrange fathers and sons and even daughters and fathers so that eventually they’ll all follow [him]. Kind of consolidating this army of fatherless children who’re now adults and will follow some fascist leader who happens to be Tyler. By issue #8, that becomes very clear.

That’s almost a creepy spin on child soldiers in real life, those horrifying images we see of children carrying guns.

Part of me wonders, I’ve never seen it addressed, but how many sons lost their fathers in Germany in World War I and how many of those sons fell under the sway of Hitler because they never really knew their fathers, who’d died as soldiers. They were looking for a father figure, and Hitler emerged.

Cameron Stewart cover

Do you still consider this whole body rooted firmly in the transgressive fiction category?

Yeah. There’s so many things in this that could not be depicted in a movie. That’s always my goal, to depict things that only this particular medium could do. Wouldn’t work in a book, and couldn’t be made literal enough to be made film. And those tend to be transgressive things.

In the 2005 paperback edition, in the afterword you cite many real-world examples of Fight Club’s influence on its readers and larger society. Do you anticipate a similar revival with the comic’s release? Maybe not new fight clubs springing up in basements, but a fresh wave of counterculture action?

Hmm...that’s a good point. Because so much of Fight Club was based on the antics of the Cacophony Society. And I was really determined in the sequel that it was not going to be a series of character-building antics. There would be a lot less of that. I didn’t want to repeat that pattern. There’ll be less of that modeling of social antics and pranking, so I’m not sure without that social modeling if it will spur people’s behavior.

That said, you’ve encouraged your fans to tag creative places with the phrases “Tyler Durden Lives” and “Rize or Die.” Can you share any favorite acts of public mayhem so far?

I haven’t seen anything too spectacular yet. But for years, people have been sending me photographs of ‘Tyler Durden Lives’ as graffiti. So I’ve got 15 years of these photographs, and that was the basis for putting it into the book. Sometimes it’s just auditory, because the memes have become coded security announcements in a lot of places like airports. People will be hearing people paging Tyler Durden, and it stands for a specific emergency situation.

Any favorites from over the years, then?

If anything, there was some package designer at Avery Office Products, and the label for their mass-produced envelopes featured a return address that was the Paper Street Soap Co. And so every time I went into Office Depot or Office Max, there in the Avery display would be the Paper Street Soap Company on the label of these packages of envelopes. It was so impressive and subversive.

There has been concern over staining Fight Club’s “literary legacy,” as you put it. You’ve said Fox has rights to on-screen sequels, and that director David Fincher has optioned stage rights for a “big rock opera” for a new generation, with Trent Reznor’s help. As you fill out your own Fight Club universe with the new comics, will that work ultimately inform their narrative direction—like, is everyone looking at you for cues?

As far as Fox, I think they might actually have the rights to take it in their own direction if they wanted to hook up with one of the television networks that’s interested in doing a series. But I think it would always behoove them to stay in my good graces if only to help with the promotion. I don’t think they’d want to do anything with the property that would alienate me.

What about Fincher?

Fincher is such a bright guy that I found myself just sort of rolling over and saying, ‘Have it your way,’ because I knew that he was always going to be thinking so far ahead of me. And he knew the medium so much better than I would ever know it. Recently, I met Janeane Garofalo, and she said that David had asked her to sign a letter of attachment to be Marla early on. And that Edward Norton had objected because he was invested in Courtney Love being Marla and that Brad Pitt had objected to Courtney Love. And eventually, they went with David’s choice, who was Helena Bonham Carter. When you think about any of those actresses cast, Helena is definitely the smartest, most unlikely one. So I think David has that instinct that I just have to defer to him.

Is anyone talking tentative release dates on that stage production?

David was talking about Trent working on the music for a full year. And so that would be a year out from now. And they probably wouldn’t have anything on stage until a year after that. David has been consulting with Julie Taymor because of the kind of spectacle that she’s so known for with Spider-Man and The Lion King. I think that’s the kind of scale that David’s talking about.

Would that be related to Fight Club 2 or a stage adaptation of the original?

I think it would be the original. Whether it would stick with the book’s ending or the movie’s, I don’t know.

Was there any significance to waiting almost two decades to continue Fight Club’s story? Or was it just time?

I never thought that it would have this kind of legs, that people would be asking me about it 20 years later. The idea of creating a mythology that stretched into the future and the past was really appealing. That coincided with a dinner party where one of my best friends, Chelsea Cain of the Heartsick series, invited me to dinner with Matt Fraction [The Invincible Iron Man] and Brian Bendis [Ultimate Spider-Man]. And the two of them hammered on me about writing a Fight Club comic. At the same time, my next book was going to be the story collection, and most of the stories were done. So for the first time in 20 years, I was going to have almost a year of free time to work on something. It seemed to be this perfect storm of peer support and free time.

In Issue #1, on page 22, who does Tyler call when he wakes up at the analyst’s office? The way Cameron Stewart drew that, it doesn’t look like the narrator. It looks like he was drawing you. Is this a fourth wall break, he’s calling you to say he’s back? Is he your monster?

Thaaat’s me. It gets a little more meta around Issue #5. I look much better in Issue #5.

Is there anything I didn’t ask you about either work that you’d like to say, in conclusion?

If anything, I really love the collaborative nature of comics. The people involved in comics seem so much better socialized than novelists who work in isolation. Comic people always find themselves having to work with different teams of people, and they seem to cooperate so much better. There seems to be a lot less interpersonal politics between them. So far, comics has just been a much more pleasant process than long-form prose.

Opera for Dummies

Summer Arts PreviewWednesday, May 27, 2015 by Alex De Vore

Maybe you don’t know a lot about opera or are riding the fence in terms of whether you’ll check out the 2015 festival season. Allow us to help you by explaining the plots in laymen’s terms; friends…go ahead and buy your tickets already.

Daughter of the Regiment

Opening Friday, July 3
8:30 pm

Notorious for challenging vocals, this one tells the story of a young girl found and raised by soldiers who later picks a boyfriend, from whom hilarity ensues. Think of it like a romantic comedy with bonkers singing.


Opening Saturday, July 4
8:30 pm

Think opera is boring? Well, then, you don’t know Verdi’s Rigoletto and how the Victor Hugo play it’s based on was banned for five decades after a single performance. At its core, it tells the tale of a lusty duke who likes to mess with a hunchback and vice versa. Plus, there’s accidental murder, curses and some brilliant imported vocalists. Anyway, don’t act like you don’t want to see the hunchback.


Opening Saturday, July 18
8:30 pm

Richard Strauss looked to Oscar Wilde for this one (it’s all in German, by the way); if you’ve ever wanted to see a woman dance to impress a king and then delightedly kiss a severed head, this is how you do it.

La Finta Giardiniera

Opening Saturday, July 25
8:30 pm

All kinds of crazy lovers take part in all kinds of crazy mishaps, and the very Shakespearean concept of people who simply put on a different outfit to fool those who know them is, like, center-stage here. It’s Mozart, it’s comedic, what else do you need to know?

Cold Mountain

Opening Saturday, Aug. 1
8:30 pm

Based on the novel of the same name, this is about a Civil War soldier who ditches the Confederacy to get back with his girlfriend. It’s kind of like Homer’s The Odyssey but, y’know, Civil War-ish.

Special Mention: Tailgating

The tailgate party action in the SFO parking lot is insane. If you’re not used to fancily dressed and cultured men and women eating fancy-ass food and utilizing things like silver candelabras, it’s a bit of a culture shock. And then it hits you that maybe the tailgate tradition need not be limited to greasy burgers and hot dogs outside a ballgame, and that you’ve been waiting for a classier version your whole life. Generally speaking, the tailgating goes down before the bigger performances and is a must-do, too.

Audit Oversight

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