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White Nationalists and Thanksgiving

It's been a busy week at good ol' UNF. Apart from the usual, students running around like headless chickens, scrambling, with lukewarm coffee and stale bagel in hand, to get those last few assignments in before Thanksgiving, some more racist shmucks have to go and gum up the works. As we head out of the library and various classes for the final time before we return from Thanksgiving break, a wonderful surprise awaits us on Monday, Nov. 20 at 8:30 a.m.-a possible White Nationalist rally. *a collective groan registers on a Richter Scale in California*

Self-proclaimed White Nationalist and former KKK member Ken Parker (a UNF student) was  officially suspended from all school activities earlier this week. In support of their fallen brother-isn't it nice seeing friends come together for a cause? Just warms the heart-White Nationalist supporters are calling for a march on campus. Gene Thorson, a known supporter of the White Nationalist movement-put up the call to action on his own Facebook page following the suspension; in his own words:

"One of our brothers in Florida is under attack by the leftist scum. He us [sic] currently suspended from the school he was attending and come Monday morning he may not be a student at university of northern [sic] Florida because of his affiliations in the white nationalist. There will be a protest/rally on Monday @0830 at UNF...show them that we stand UNITED!!!"

The suspension in question came as a response to Parker's posting a comment and selfie to UNF's Spinnaker News Facebook page. In the selfie, he's seen holding a large rifle and sporting Nazi/Klan tattoos-seems like a swell, level-headed guy. The official letter from UNF President John Delaney states that Parker was suspended due to the fact that he had caused a disturbance within the university community.

At least one class had been cancelled because students and faculty felt threatened by Parker's comments and picture. Parker responded to that action, saying, …   More

What Is NEO Yokio?

Neo Yokio (2017) is a production with some striking ideas embedded in its premise. Directed by Ezra Koenig (the lead singer of Vampire Weekend), the Netflix adult cartoon follows the life of "magistocrat" Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith) as he balances being a demon slayer and a socialite in the affluent titular city. At a glance, the series seemingly satirizes the vapid excesses of high society in Neo Yokio, which is itself a bourgeois-centric version of New York City. On inspection, Neo Yokio's supposed poignant social commentary and satirical jests are severely lacking. While the show has gained somewhat of a cult following on social media platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, there is a reason for the cartoon's generally poor reception from other audience members and critics alike.

NEO YOKIO ISN'T FUNNY
: One of the more pressing failures of Neo Yokio is rooted in its comedy. Very little humor or intrigue stems from Kaz's extermination of anti-capitalist demons, and  virtually all the cartoon's hijinks spawn from the luxury obsessed denizens of NYC. When taken out of context, some jokes are funny. Numerous clips, gif sets, and screencaps of scenes extracted from the cartoon are floating around on the Internet and heralded as proof that Neo Yokio is indeed comedy gold. A bejeweled sinister skull saying, "I see you, bitch," does seem funny [and like a snarky wave to 'ol Damian Hirst]. However, the same episode contains an overly long gag about Kaz accidently picking a midnight-blue suit to wear to a Black and White Ball. Within the parameters of the series, when each comedic antic is strung together one after another, the result is ham-fisted, repetitious and dead on arrival, jokes.

Much of the humor relies on the viewer to be acquainted with knowledge that only a New Yorker, or specifically, a wealthy New Yorker would be privy to. Mentions of the Hamptons, bespoke attire, 14th St., squash, field hockey, and the Eastside require …   More

JaxbyJAX

The be-all-end-all gathering of Jacksonville's literary minds. The JaxbyJax Literary Arts Festival is setting up to be an event that shan't be missed by the many beloved bibliophiles throughout the Northeast Florida community.

Set to take place across 13 venues throughout Riverside, JaxbyJax is celebrating the written talents of 28 of Jacksonville's best writers, along with a showcasing of local student writers.

All sorts of literature, ranging from novel excerpts to poetry and everything in between, will be on display and imparted to the listening audiences as a new writer will hit the stage every half-hour at each venue. With free admission (no tickets), there's nothing preventing the audience from floating among the sites as the event progresses.

Apart from being simply a showcase for eloquently written words, founder of JaxbyJax and writer Tim Gilmore says it serves as a way to "introduce Jacksonville to its own literary voice." As Gilmore puts it, the strength of Jacksonville's literary arts culture has long been underestimated and the area itself has been "perceived as a blue-collar town without many artistic and educational possibilities." Now, as Jacksonville's writers have started to come to terms with their city's past and current affairs, a true freedom to draw from and "hold a mirror to" the city has been realized-call it a literary system of checks and balances. JaxbyJax is shining a light on those dark recesses that are often forgotten, ignored or overlooked.

A featured writer at this year's JaxbyJax and Folio Weekly alum Tricia Booker says she hopes to bring a new perspective, as well as entertain. Booker's reading will focus on the decision to get a service dog for their son who suffers from an attachment disorder that is related to his adoption. "I would love for people to walk away from the event with a better appreciation for how dogs can help us with our emotional and mental well-being, as well as a more compassionate way of thinking …   More

the flog

No Greater Love: Treating the wounds of war

Armed with nothing but a camera, Army chaplain Justin Roberts deployed to the Kunar Province in Afghanistan with the 327th Infantry Regiment 2nd Battalion, called "No Slack" Company-part of the famed 101st Airborne-in 2010. Even though making a film wasn't exactly his initial intention, Roberts would go on to document No Slack's time in Afghanistan as they fought for control within the Kunar Province. The culmination of Roberts' video documentation, No Greater Love-as the first documentary to be filmed by an active duty soldier-depicts the harrowing actions of No Slack as they struggle to not only survive the war, but to reintegrate themselves back into civilian life when they return home.

As servicemembers are back on friendly soil, often they have to deal with a host of physical injuries as well as mental ones, often buried, unseen by those around them. These mental distressors come in many forms; PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) are the two most common. These afflictions can lead to depression and mood swings-described as deep, dark places by the film's featured veterans-and affect the soldier, as well as their friends, family and even colleagues.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that between 20 and 22 servicemembers-active duty and retired-commit suicide every day. Roberts' intriguing documentary acts not only as a memorial to those who have died in the line of duty and by their own hand-many of whom he personally knew and served with-but also as a platform to educate all of us about the often-forgotten plight and silent suffering of military veterans.

No Greater Love opens in Jacksonville at Regency AMC Theater (first show is 11:35 a.m.) on Friday, Nov. 10, on the eve of Veterans Day. There are screenings daily through Thursday, Nov. 16.

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Learn more about the film and watch a trailer here.

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the flog

IKEA's Island

It began innocuously enough, with an emailed invitation for a media-only event. But I knew that this was no ordinary press conference. This was Ikea.

Years of headlines ran through my mind: Oct. 2015: "Ikea announces plan to open Jacksonville store in 2017" -WJCT; May 2016: "Ikea buys land for $13 million to build mega store in Jacksonville" -Jacksonville Business Journal; March 2017: "You can see Ikea now, and it's big" -Financial News & Daily Record. All leading up to this subject line: "Invitation: New Ikea Jacksonville Press Preview, November 2."

I quickly assembled the courage to skip a meeting and clicked 'reply' to RSVP to a once-in-a-lifetime retail experience that I'd surely be bragging about many days hence. The reply came quickly. YES! I was in.

All that was left to do was wait for The Big Day.

Finally, it came. Visions of meatballs and ambient lighting dancing in my head, I entered a pleasing café where scads of eager media had already gathered, hungrily eyeing cakes and potato pancakes with fancy names that none dared try pronounce. Enormous signs tantalized of the adventure to come, foretelling speeches about tree hugging and solar panels and--the mind reels--composting. Yes, composting, at this, the 46th U.S. location of a treasured international company.

It soon became clear that this was not to be an in-and-out quote and photo grab for a noon turnaround. Nay, this was to be the most epic three-hour tour in the history of Jacksonville.

Excited chatter rang through the air as one after another peeked into the enormous 290,000 square foot space, eager to enter. One mentioned that it was eerie to see the store so empty; that from this day forward, it could only be experienced teeming with throngs of the faithful. This added reverence that increased as we breakfasted on delicacies worthy of the makers of the world famous ready-to-assemble furniture for the chic, modern urban dwellers and those who aspire to such.

Next …   More

the flog

BLACKFACE Costume Sparks Protests

St. George Street, in the heart of downtown St. Augustine, was ready for Halloween.

Spider webs and pumpkins decorated the windows along the street. Store employees in costumes walked the streets. But there was something different this year. A chant rang out:

"No blackface, no KKK, no racist USA."

From late morning until around 4 p.m., Flagler College students crowded outside The Bunnery Bakery & Café, holding signs and protesting the business.

The controversy was set in motion early Tuesday morning when a Flagler College student walked into The Bunnery on St. George Street and was shocked by what she saw behind the counter: a white woman dressed as Aunt Jemima, wearing an apron and a bandana wrapped around her head. But that's not what shocked the student. She was stunned to see that the white woman was in blackface, her face smeared with brown paint, as she baked in front of a window that faced the street.

The student, Courtney Olson, asked the woman to remove her makeup. She says that she was told that the costume wasn't racist, and she would not take the makeup off.

After the confrontation, Olson alerted another student, Hasani Malone, vice president of the Flagler College Black Student Association. Together, they went into the business and demanded the woman remove her makeup.

"She had blackface, which is a stereotype. It was used to mimic and mock black people," Malone said. "They said, 'No, [she wasn't] going to take it off.' They said, 'It's not racist, it's Halloween.'"

When the two refused to leave until the woman removed her makeup, they say the owner of the restaurant called the police, who escorted the young women out.

After being removed from the premises, Malone and Olson took to social media. Soon protestors began to arrive. Over the course of five hours, the group of protestors swelled until eventually St. Augustine police officers arrived to keep an eye on the protests.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, racism has got …   More

the flog

Straight Up ORGANIC

What do you think of when you see an "organic" label? For many, the comforting lettering, usually green, means you can trust that the item was grown utilizing all-natural, sustainable farming methods and techniques that are not too dissimilar to the ways crops have been grown for thousands of years. Most assume that the organic label means the item is healthier. More nourishing. Environmentally friendly.

What if that label doesn't mean what you think it means?

Today, roughly 50 farmers and advocates took to the streets of Downtown Jacksonville outside the Omni Hotel where the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is meeting this week. The demonstrators, many wearing "Protect Organic" T-shirts, gathered to advocate for what they see as truth in organic labeling. A New Orleans-style jazz band played a spirited tune while the group marched to The Landing for a series of short speeches by folks who came from as far away as the West Coast and New England to urge the NOSB to ban crops grown via hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques from being labeled as organic.

Tom Barrett, who manages certified organic Allen Farms, came to Jacksonville from Westport, Massachusetts to lobby the board. "There's no other country in the world that lets hydroponic growers to be labeled organic," he said. Barrett is concerned that allowing such crops be labeled organic will open the door to imports that don't comply with their own country's organic standards to be shipped to the U.S. and suddenly become "organic."

"It's disrespectful as a farmer and as an organic consumer," he said.

Barrett stressed that he isn't opposed to other growing techniques, a view that many echoed, but he is concerned that it would be misleading and "diluting the organic label" to certify crops that aren't grown in the ground. He and others also said it could be cost-prohibitive for organic farmers, who already face high costs to produce their crops, to let more cheaply grown hydroponic …   More

the flog

Sculpting a COMMUNITY

As of Saturday, Oct. 28, Henry J. Klutho Park in Springfield is home for 10 new stationary residents.

As part of the Sculpture Walk project started by University of North Florida sculpture professor Dr. Jenny Hager and UNF sculpture instructor Lance Vickery, 10 sculptors-Robert Cordisco, Michael Cottrell, Jim Galluci, Donald Gialanella, Craig Gray, Jennifer Rubin, Hanna Jubran, Michele Moushey Dale, Matthjas Neumann and Jenn Peek-were commissioned to bring their ideas to the park and install their original works of art.

In partnership with SPAR (Springfield Preservation and Revitalization), Dr. Hager and Vickery were able to secure $25,000 in state funding, which was then matched by the city of Jacksonville through Councilman Reginald Gaffney. According to Dr. Hager, the installation "is about placemaking."

"The main goal of Sculpture Walk is to bring cultural vibrancy to our city. We want to make city parks inviting, educational and more experiential through the arts. But these projects also help bring commerce to our city and support artists at the same time," said Hager.

The process for selecting the featured artists and their statues was "democratic," Hager said. A committee of eight was selected for the decision, made up of artists, Springfield residents, a member of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and the Board of Sculpture Walk. After reviewing submissions from artists all across the country, the final 10 were chosen in a way to ensure that several varieties of styles and themes were going to be featured in the final installation.

Jacksonville's own self-proclaimed "nomadic" artist/sculptor and UNF student, Jenn Peek, has work featured in the installation. The goal and central purpose of her art and sculptures, said Peek, is to capture life in its "constant state of change."

The piece Peek installed in the Klutho Sculpture Walk-Light Box-is one of the artist's "light boxes." It is a solid example of her idea.

"Whenever …   More

the flog

REBUILDING a Piece of San Marco

Scavengers perusing San Marco's northern end these days walk away with bundles of half-destroyed treasures, picked from the piles of hurricane trash still out on the curb. But passersby leave hungry if they had been headed to the popular European Street Cafe. The restaurant took a major hit from Hurricane Irma.

The building was left standing in two feet of water. Due to legal guidelines, the café had to clear up to two feet above where the water ended. The vast majority of the café's walls, counters, appliances, parts of the ceiling, and décor has been demolished. Flood insurance is covering the majority of the damage, which could cost up to a half-million dollars. However, income lost will not be covered for the five months European Street Cafe is to be closed.

Andy Zarka, co-owner and son of European Street Cafe's founders, runs the restaurants across Jacksonville. Just about every day, Zarka opens the doors to what is left of his restaurant as workers arrive. And every day, people stop on the street to grab the remainders from that day's demolition. Zarka said they seldom have to have the dumpster emptied because of scavengers seeking keepsakes.

 Zarka said just about everything has to be replaced. "We are almost treating it like a brand new restaurant. It is going to have the same general layout, same menu, but we are going to update the look," Zarka said.

The European Street Cafe began as a restaurant called Mr. Dunderbak's in the Regency Square mall in 1980. Not only has the restaurant changed its name, but it added several new items to its German-inspired menu and wide assortment of beers. It's now known as a local speakeasy, frequently holding small concerts and community events. And of course it's popular because of its enormous beer selection.

Before the hurricane, the San Marco location employed approximately 25 people. Some of the employees have chosen to take shifts at one of the other locations. Others have …   More

the flog

The Stuff of DREAMS

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Juliet Fixel has been cutting her teeth in the world of theater since the age of two, and she doesn't show any signs of slowing down anytime soon. With the premier of Freefall Frostbite on Oct. 19-a collaborative effort with her father, the playwright-Fixel has not only found herself in the director's chair, but also taking on the role of producer, choreographer and lead actress-eat your heart out, Daniel-Day Lewis.

Freefall Frostbite is an exploration of our childhood ambitions as they come to fruition as we mature. Set outside a nightclub in New York on New Year's Eve, Steven and his girlfriend Sharon-played by Fixel-are denied access to said club and are set upon by homeless people looking for things to burn for warmth. As their world comes crashing in around them, they begin to realize what they have always wanted may not be as they imagined.

A daughter of Jacksonville and now the adopted child of NYC, just like the timeless Johnny Cash put it, "[She's] been everywhere, man." Fixel runs her own choreography studio, has taught theater at Nease High School and manages the NYC Karaoke League-all while being a self-proclaimed Scrabble master.

The story of her adventure from Northeast Florida to the Big Apple and now to the director's chair, is almost as theatrical as her work. Fixel was kind enough to sit down for a phone interview and talk about her upcoming production. Here are some highlights.

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How did you get your start in theater?

I was definitely enrolled in dance classes from the time that I was two and my family is just very theatrical, but the choice to do theater was actually my own. My sister did a little theater, but I remember she told me when I was going into high school, "You can't do theater, you won't be popular." [Laughing] I didn't listen. My mom actually became a theater teacher after I started doing theater in high school. So, I kind of got my whole family into theater. My dad was …   More