Tag Archives: Phoenix arts and culture

The Blarg No. 71: Doug Bale

I can tell you exactly when and where I first heard the music of Doug Bale. It was Thursday, May 30th, 2013 at The Most of Lit Lounge at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. I went because my uncle, Scott Krause, was part of the lineup which also included Tania Katan, Leslie Barton and Where Are All the Buffalo. It was a great show, but I remember being particularly struck by Doug’s sound, which managed to sound like music I loved without being derivative. I really dug it. I dug Doug.

So, when I started this podcast, Doug was one of the first people I wanted to have on. For reasons that will become clear when you listen to our conversation, it was not a good time for Doug to be on the show. I didn’t know that then, though, and then Doug just kind of disappeared. Well, he didn’t really disappear, but he might as well have, having first scooted to California, and then exiling himself in Apache Junction. Well, maybe it wasn’t exile, and my apologies to the residents of Apache Junction, but it sounds like exile to me.

When I heard that Doug had a new music project he was working on, I was ecstatic. I was like, Doug, there’s no excuse now, do the show, and he said, let’s do it, so here you go. It’s one of the strangest, best conversations I’ve had on this show, and it illustrates why I leave so much in all the time. I know some listeners would prefer I cut things down, keep it around an hour, and that would actually probably help me out as far as making the show more commercial, but that would ruin the journey. We had a really serious conversation about some deep shit, but to get there, we also had to joke around about lemons and DJ Boboli, and go off on a long R.E.M. tangent in order to get to the deep stuff.

Quick note: Doug wanted me to let you all know the name of the book he was referring to on why we read is called All Things Shining.

Another quick note: Doug gave me permission to put one of his new Flighty Tronys tracks at the end of the show, so be sure to listen all the way to the end. The new tracks are great!

Doug Bale is an artist and musician. His artwork has been featured in galleries around Phoenix, and you should absolutely check out his Society 6 page and buy some. His new musical project, Flighty Tronys has released its first EP (available on Bandcamp, Google Play Music, iTunes, and Spotify), and you should get the companion t-shirt. Oh, and go listen to Mergatron while you’re at it. Basically, support Doug. He’s awesome.

Listen to LE 71 – Doug Bale

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 69: Jenna Duncan

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve had a hell of a time coming up with this edition of The Blarg. Sometimes they flow, and sometimes they don’t. This time it REALLY didn’t flow—no matter how many chips I ate, or how long I stared at the screen, so this one is going to be pretty brief, but don’t let that reflect on the episode, because it’s one of my favorites so far.

I do have a couple of things to plug if you’ll permit me that indulgence. I’m not really sure why I phrased it that way, because I’m about to do it regardless. The Blarg isn’t really democracy, is it? I write something, and either you read it or you don’t. That’s the way it should be.

This Thursday, January 25th at 7pm, I’ll be sharing a story as part of the lineup for this month’s Storyline Slam at the Phoenix Changing Hands location. Tickets are $6 in advance, $8 at the door. The theme is “music.” I may have a story or two (thousand) that fits in.

Last week, I went on at length about my feelings regarding the way the Insight II project went down. Outside of those feelings which had to do with the venue and the way the organizers failed to communicate the affiliations of that venue or their politics, I’m actually really proud of the work I did in collaboration with artist Ryan Parra. If you want to see/read that work, you can pick up the chapbook published by Four Chambers Press. Pick up any of the other 17 chapbooks containing the writer/artist collaborations for this project while you’re at it. The work is stunning—focus on the work.

You may know Jenna Duncan from her work for JAVA magazine, her participation in storytelling events around the valley (including Untidy Secrets and Chain Letter), or more generally for her integral role in the Phoenix arts scene. In addition to JAVA, you can read Jenna’s work in the anthology The Grey Alley: Vol. 2 from Empty City Press; you can also see her on Check Please, Arizona on PBS on January 25th at 7pm (available now for Arizona PBS Passport members); and she will be taking part in a reading on February 3rd at 7pm coinciding with an upcoming art sale for Phoenix Nasty Women Unite benefiting Planned Parenthood (location TBA, though probably Grand ArtHaus or {9}).

This show with Jenna is a long one. I tried editing it down, but on listening back to it there wasn’t much I felt I could cut (except for all the “you know”s—I said that a lot this time, sorry about that). This conversation with Jenna is one of the easiest, most laid back ones I’ve ever had on this show, and that’s saying something, because this show can be pretty laid back.

Listen to LE 69 – Jenna Duncan

Best,
Jared

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LE 68: Amy Young and Ashley Naftule

Happy New Year, everyone. We made it!

Not shitting anyone, I was going to write this entire blarg about optimism and determination. That was the plan. Then, something came up, and now I feel like I have to talk about that instead. Maybe I’ll try and sneak some optimism in at the end.

This month, first Friday, Four Chambers Press published a series of chapbooks which was the culmination of the collaborative efforts between 18 artists and 18 writers called InSight II (in case the title didn’t give it away, it the follow up to last year’s InSight). I am one among those 18 writers, and my collaboration was with artist Ryan Parra. I’m really proud of the finished work, and this weekend should have been a celebration of the efforts of all those involved. Instead, it all collapsed into a horrible, stinking shithole. New City Studios, the gallery where the work is currently on display, instructed the curators of InSight to remove one of the artist’s pieces (incidentally, the artist, Malena Barnhart, is the person with whom Ashley Naftule, one of this episode’s guests, collaborated for the project) for what amount to religious reasons—specifically that the work is overtly sexual.

I’ve been thinking about how I wanted to respond to this, and if I’d written this immediately upon receiving the news of the work’s removal, I would have written a venomous tirade all about theological fascism. Given some time, this is what I’ve distilled those initial feelings of outrage down to in a much more constructive and objective fashion. Personally, I am vehemently anti-censorship. Additionally, while I am not anti-religion—as I believe that would be hypocritical on my part, I am against the idea that religious institutions have the right to impose their values on anyone who does not choose to subscribe to those values, and that extends to their creative output. New City Studios purports to “[exist] to serve and flourish the arts scene of downtown Phoenix. [We] make a point of promoting local art and artists across as many mediums as we can support.” These words and two other similarly worded expressions of community support are the only elements of text outside of external links that exist on the studio’s site. Nowhere on the website is the fact that the gallery is owned by New City Church reported, nor is there any wording which would suggest that the gallery’s support of the Phoenix arts scene is dependent on that art’s alignment with the church’s views. To use words the church may be familiar with, this presentation of the gallery to the community is both overtly and covertly deceptive. To use words that I would in any normal conversational context, this is really fucking far from okay. If the gallery is a part of the church, and it has become blatantly obvious that it is, then the way to support the arts community is not to deceive it. Even something as simple as the addendum “…so long as the work coincides with the church’s views and beliefs” would serve as an honest attempt to convey the gallery’s aesthetic to any artists who may find themselves involved with the gallery to make an informed decision. I know that would have been enough for me to decide that I did not want to be involved with such an establishment, nor have my work on display. I know that my statement as a writer and creative type is that I will only work with and contribute work to an establishment that is honest, inclusive, and truly supportive of an artist’s right to express themselves without restriction. In other words, not a bunch of theological fascists.

Ultimately, things come down to a breakdown in communications between organizers and artists, and as usual, it’s the artists that take the brunt of the negative consequences. All the hard work and collaboration that went into this project is currently being overshadowed by the sensationalized news story surrounding it. The possibility of this was overlooked by the determination of the organizers to see the project come to fruition regardless of the cost to the artists and writers involved, and I’m not talking monetarily, I’m referring to personal ethos and feelings surrounding the work contributed. As I said earlier, I’m immensely proud of the finished work. I feel like my response to Ryan Parra’s art, and his to my writing, speak to each other in a shared language developed without us ever having worked together in the same room. As a result of the events surrounding what should have been a joyful occasion, I cannot feel good about sharing or promoting the completed project. For me, the whole thing has fallen under a cloud of negativity and resentment. My heart goes out to any other artist or writer who contributed to this project and feels the same way.

Fuck.

Right, onto something much more positive. Amy Young and Ashley Naftule came over to the house to talk with me about their new film podcast, Prizefighting Kangaroo, and we sort of managed to do that. I won’t speak for them, but I had a blast. Our conversation went all over the place, and I haven’t laughed like that in a long time. I think I said during our conversation that I was going to edit a bunch of it out, but I didn’t end up cutting much, because when I was listening back to it, it was all too much fun. I hope you enjoy the chaos.

Amy Young and Ashley Naftule are both deeply ingrained in the Phoenix arts and culture scene. Their new film podcast, Prizefighting Kangaroo, is produced by Yab Yum Music and Arts, and you can hear it on Bandcamp, or via Yab Yum. You can also catch Amy and Ashley hosting Triviadome: Cinema and Culture Trivia over at Valley Bar on January 30th, and curating a new monthly series at Film Bar called “Gateway Drugs: A Director’s Showcase” beginning on February 1st. More info on those events here.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 68 – Amy Young and Ashley Naftule

P.S.
If you listen to us on iTunes, we could really use some ratings and reviews love there.

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The Blarg No. 65: Joy Young

Wearing sweaters as the world burns…

December showed up as it always does. Right on time. One moment it’s November 30th at 11:59 pm, and then, boom, December 1st is right there on top of things. Despite despising the holidays, I actually really like December. I’d say it’s probably my favorite month, and not just because I was born in it. I like the atmosphere, I like the crisp snap of the air, but above all I like wearing sweaters. I love wearing sweaters. I wish it were sweater weather all the time, but in Arizona, sweater time is very, very limited. I’m not weird about it or anything—I don’t have some weird sweater fetish—I like the softness of them, I like that you can get away with wearing them at work, and they’re super-comfortable, so it’s almost like you feel you’re getting away with something. I guess I should say “I” feel that way, because it is extraordinarily presumptive of me to think anyone else might feel the same.

This year, though, something feels off. I’m not getting to enjoy my sweater time as much as I normally do. Maybe, and I’m just hypothesizing here, it’s because it seems as though the entire world is either literally or metaphorically on fire. Hard to feel good about being comfy and cozy when you are also an empathetic person and paying attention to everything going on around you. Again, that “you” is presumptive, and I’m doing my best to quit presumption. I’m sure there’s some sort of presumptive support group or multi-step program, but I’m determined to quit presumption cold turkey.

I had a really fun conversation with Joy Young. I really like their work, and this was the first time I’ve had occasion to talk to them about their process, where their stories come from, and connect creatively. It turns out the reason for this might be that, although we’re both pretty active in similar, often connecting or intersecting literary circles, we’re also both pretty cripplingly shy and suffer from heavy social anxiety. It’s apparently not terribly uncommon for literary types who appear confident and have success on stage to be incredibly introverted. Who knew? Well, I did know actually, but it’s still nice to connect and not feel so alone.

Joy Young is a performance and teaching spoken word artist based in Phoenix, Az. Their poetry and workshops, much of which centers on transgressing borders, entering topics pertaining to social justice through poetic personal narratives has been featured on Button Poetry and Everyday Feminism as well as on stages and in colleges and classrooms across the country. Joy is a co-founder of Off the Page—a monthly recurring workshop and open mic at Wasted Ink Zine Distro that seeks to build connection and community within Phoenix’s diverse literary and performance communities. Learn more about them at https://www.joyyoungpoetry.com/

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 65 – Joy Young

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The Blarg 61: PHX Zine Fest

Up in the Air

On the road again—well, technically, in the air, I suppose. Nothing fun this time, off to Anaheim—a work thing at the Disneyland conference. Never has the happiest place on earth been a less apropos slogan. I haven’t been to Disneyland since 1987 or ’88. It was one of the last things I did with my dad, and I don’t recall being terribly happy then either. We went on Star Tours—that was cool.

I’m a much better flyer than I used to be, but I still hate doing it. I don’t know that I’ve really talked about it much here, so I apologize for any retread. The thing is, I don’t think people belong in airplanes. It’s just not natural being up there in a big metal tube. I understand that there are very scientific principles, sound mathematics, and fancy physics keeping me airborne, but I don’t trust it for a second. People belong on the ground.

Naturally, this conflicts with my love of science fiction and desire to be aboard the Enterprise (TOS or TNG only, thank you very much), or to shoot down TIE fighters in the Millennium Falcon, but what are you gonna do? How likely is any of that anyway? I’m thinking not so much.

I think this week’s show is pretty cool. As you may or may not know, we set up shop (read: a couple of mic stands, mics, and my handy ZOOM H4N) at this year’s PHX Zine Fest and made ourselves available to anyone who wanted to records their experience there—either as a vendor or an attendee. We got some really cool stories, and they are pieced together here for your listening pleasure.

To listen to the show and find links to projects for all of the guests, head here: LE 61 – PHX Zine Fest

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 56: Howl Theatre Project

2017 has a lot to answer for, but it’s offered up some amazing moments as well—for Limited Engagement in particular and myself along the way. It’s been rough but rewarding keeping up with the weekly format. I kinda miss the monthly live show, but if I bring it back, it needs to be something that sets it apart from the regular podcast—something special. I’m not sure what that something is yet, hence the continued hiatus as hurl ourselves into October, hoping to burst across December’s finish line. Hoot N Waddle is coming along, slowly but surely. It’s not where I was hoping it would be yet, but patience is something I’ve never been great with. We’re doing Hoot N Waddle right, and that takes time.

To that end, we launched our first podcast on the network, a partnership with Jessie Balli and Chatterbox, the appropriately titled Chatterpod. You can hear the pilot as a Limited Engagement episode (LE 50), and the first official show on the Chatterpod landing page (more episodes are coming soon, I promise). Also, this last week, I recorded a show for Leah Marche and Mike Pfister at The Nash—it was fucking awesome. I’m not sure exactly how or when that is going to come out, but it’s a long-term partnership, and there are more shows to come. Then, this month we’ll be setup over at Phx Zine Fest to record anyone interested in sharing their experience—vendors and attendees alike. Should be fun.

Adding to the milestone of our “Best Podcast” nod from PHOENIX Magazine in their Best of the Valley issue, Phoenix New Times just named Limited Engagement “Best Cultural Podcast” in their Best of Phoenix 2017 issue. It’s really cool to have the show acknowledged and legitimized in the media like this, but I’ve gotta say, it stresses me out a little. Now, I feel like I’ve got more people paying attention, and when you’re named the best of anything, there’s this tendency for people to wait for something to slip quality-wise, so they can say, “Eh, that show’s not that great.” I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep doing what I’ve been doing. I think I can handle that without imploding. I’ll let you know.

This week, I talk to Chris Danowski, Bethanne Abramovich, Jamie Haas Hendricks, and Jake Jack Hylton of Howl Theatre Project. I had a blast talking to these guys. Somehow we managed to get completely absurd while weaving in a serious discussion on the state of independent theatre in Phoenix, as well as talk about the craft and work involved in mounting a stage production. Their most recent show is The New Phoenicians, and if you ever have the opportunity to check out anything they do, you absolutely should, because they’re awesome.

Listen to LE 56 – Howl Theatre Project

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The Blarg No. 55: Scotty Spenner

Once you get the ball rolling, it’s really hard to get it to stop. Not that I want it to stop—maybe just slow down for a little bit so I can take a nap. It seems to hold true, though, that it’s either deluge or drought, not much in between, and I’ll take the deluge any time. Hosting a weekly podcast, when the bank of recordings dries up and the bookings aren’t happening, things can get pretty harried, so I don’t feel like I can turn anything down. Then, on top of Limited Engagement, I’m doing the work to get a local podcast network off the ground, there’s a lot that goes into that, and it’s not like we’ve got a crew.

I don’t mean to complain. Like I said, though, a nap would be nice. I’m tired. It’s a good tired, but tired nonetheless. Hoot N Waddle is gathering momentum. You can already listen to the first show, Jessie Balli’s Chatterbox podcast, endearingly titled Chatterpod, and there’s much more to come—a lot of irons in the fire. Chatterpod also goes up weekly, so be sure to subscribe through Apple Podcasts (it will be up on other services like Stitcher and GooglePlay soon). There’s still a lot I can’t talk about until details are cemented, but the momentum is forward. Inexorable, but exciting.

Speaking of exciting, I was talking with Charissa Lucille of Wasted Ink Zine Distro (that conversation will go up in a couple of weeks), and I’m very excited to announce that we’ll be setup at this year’s PHX Zine Fest to document the experiences of anyone wanting to share them—vendors and attendees alike. Should be very cool.

On this week’s show, conversation and music with Arizona Blues Hall of Fame inductee Scotty Spenner. Our talk went all over the place, and I had a blast. You can catch Scotty playing with with True Flavor Blues every Sunday afternoon at Copper Star Coffee, or in Celtic rock band Saints of Eirinn. Friday night, September 29th, he’ll be playing a solo gig presented by Emancipation Arts at The Trunk Space. Listen to Scotty’s playing at the end of the show, and you’ll hear exactly why you should go.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 55 – Scotty Spenner

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