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the flog

Goodnight, Sweet Duke

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has lost one of its best-loved residents. Duke, the 21-year-old bull giraffe, had been living at the facility since 2003. He was distinguished for his natural beauty—his stature and dark coloring set him apart from the herd—as well as his outgoing personality.

Giraffe keepers and animal health experts had been treating Duke for degenerative arthritis for years.  He received regular pain relief and was kept on an exercise regimen that encouraged joint strengthening.

Early Tuesday morning, keepers found Duke incapacitated. After testing and deliberation, zoo authorities decided the most humane course of action was euthanasia.

”Unlike a person with extremely acute arthritis,” said deputy zoo director Dan Maloney in a press release, “an immobile giraffe is unable to utilize braces, canes or other mechanized assistance. Once a giraffe goes down, their prospects are bleak at best. Saying goodbye is always hard and understandably, staff are sad, but thankful his ordeal was brief.”

Duke’s herd was nearby and his trusted keepers were present when he passed. A full exam will follow to determine underlying causes and advance the study of arthritis in mature giraffes.

Besides his role as a successful animal ambassador, Duke was a linchpin of the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program among accredited zoos. He sired 18 offspring, three of whom still reside at Jacksonville Zoo.

Duke's human friends are grieving the loss.

“We were lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know and work with such a special giraffe,” said mammal supervisor Corey Neatrour, who worked with Duke for a full decade. “If he had lived another 100 years, it would not have been enough time with him.”   More

the flog

Sounds of the Season

The holidays are here, and with them comes the annual procession of specialty events that showcase the best of local music across the board, more of which you’ll be reading about here in the days ahead. This applies especially to Northeast Florida’s jazz scene, whose most prolific organizations have things planned for the month of December. Among these artists, of course, are the more than two dozen members of the Crescendo Amelia Big Band, who’ll be working theaters in Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach with their show, “How the Big Band Stole Christmas.” (They’ll also be part of the New Year’s Eve festivities at Alhambra.)

This is their fifth year doing this particular show, which presents holiday-themed standards in a broad-based, classic theatrical setting. The show includes classics such as “All I Want for Christmas,” “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Santa Baby” and the all-time hit “White Christmas.” Some of these songs can be heard in studio form on their album Crescendo Amelia Christmas Vol. 1, which was released earlier this year. “The best part about the holidays is bringing the community together,” says trumpeter Dennis Negrin, who helps run the group, “and one of the things I’m most excited for now that we’re in our fourth year producing the show is seeing everyone come together this season, and music has a pretty magical way of doing that.”

Produced by Negrin and drummer/founder Frank Basile, the show features the entire big band, which was formed as “Frankie and Friends” in January 2013 and rechristened Crescendo Amelia a year later. Its 23 members are augmented by a retinue of singers, including Reed Meyer, Marah Lovequist, Jennifer Burns, Linzy Lauren, Kim Reteguiz, Johnathan Leonard, Jay Fowler and the singers in the local music group Off the Record. The show is punctuated by elements of jazz, swing dance …   More

the flog

Stepping Up

The Young Step have come out of hibernation just in time for winter (such as it is here in Florida). It's been a full two years since the local indie-rock trio splashed onto the scene with their debut album, El Clàsico. Last week they dropped new single "Ghost Town" on digital platforms Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Spotify—and it's not a faux pas.

The eponymous "Ghost Town" is none other than St. Augustine, the group's adopted home base. Band members Ben Whitson (vocals, guitar), Micah Gilliam (guitar, keys, vocals) and Lauren Gilliam (bass, vocals, guitar) originally hail from the Midwest. Their description of life in the quaint, seaside village reads like a NEFla version of Death in Venice.

"It's about what it's like living in a beach town," they explain in a press release. "How you have to be really conscious about doing something with yourself here, instead of getting sucked into the status quo of the beach-town life."

Where said press release cites the likes of Devo, Talking Heads and Iggy Pop, we hear echoes of Iva Davies and Icehouse, not to mention early Chris Isaak. Groove-wise, "Ghost Town" feels like the California crooner's "Dancin'"—although its guitar hook might have been borrowed from New Radicals' "You Get What You Give."

What's the next step? It's unclear. We trust there's some grand marketing strategy in play but, for the moment, The Young Step are treading lightly. No live performances are scheduled, nor has a follow-up album been announced.   More

The Flog

Advocate for Artists

After a months-long search that included lots of art community input, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville has hired Joy Young to head up the organization, in the role of executive director. Young arrives from the South Carolina Arts Commission in Columbia, South Carolina, where she was the director of administration, human resources and operations.

An artist herself, Young earned a Bachelor of Arts in music, studied Voice Performance at Manhattan School of Music and completed a Master of Arts. She seems to be one of the extraordinary creative people who can fuse passion and intellectual rigor. She has also received certification in human resources employee relations law and mediation. If that's not enough, she attained candidacy for a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership.

Young is an advocate for artists. In 2017 she conceived and implemented a program for The South Carolina Arts Commission, which (according to the Upstate Business Journal), launched the pilot of ArtsGrow SC. The program allowed qualifying artists or creative ventures to have access to a matched savings program, or Individual Development Accounts (IDA) For Artists, as well as micro-loans, business venture loans, grants, personalized coaching and workshops.

In 2018 she was one of several presenters at South Carolina African American Heritage Commission’s “Teacher Institute.” The mission of the institute was to help teachers in SC better understand the state’s African American heritage. Additionally, her work included a cultural tourism grant program that returned $2.1 million dollars in economic impact.

Ann Carey, CCGJ board chair and member of the search committee said, “Joy is a strong communicator with deep leadership capabilities. When we interviewed her, it was clear that she brings the energy, passion and expertise that we need at this critical moment in the organization’s history.”

Young seems to be poised to place artists at or …   More

the flog

Welcome (Back) to Rockville

This morning Welcome to Rockville announced its 2019 line-up. Jacksonville’s springtime hard-rock weekender has become one of NEFla’s premiere music festivals, welcoming a record-breaking 90,000 headbangers in 2018. The ninth annual edition promises to be even bigger.

The festival unfolds May 3-5 at Metropolitan Park. More than 50 acts are on the bill, including headliners Rob Zombie, Tool and Korn. Yes, ‘90s nü-metal nostalgia reigns here, but there’s also a healthy dose of seminal metal, courtesy of Judas Priest.

“Judas Priest are primed and ready to unleash new Firepower with full metal fury on the USA again as we are one of the headliners at Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville, Florida!” said Judas Priest’s leather-clad singer Rob Halford. “The Priest is back!”

Our pick, however, is genre-defying British outfit The Cult. Singer Ian Astbury has sidelined as Jim Morrison’s official doppelganger with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger in The Doors of the 21st Century. Guitarist Billy Duffy got his start in early Manchester punk group Slaughter & the Dogs, starring a young Morrissey. Together, Astbury and Duffy have been making their own brand of mystical stoner metal since the 1980s.

Tom Morello gets an honorable mention here, too. It’s a shame to see the pioneering guitarist (Digitech Whammy, anyone?)  so far down the bill but—alas!—Chris Cornell is buried and Zack de la Rocha is ... where is Zack de la Rocha??

Tickets go on sale noon Friday, Dec. 7.   More

The Flog

Because We Want to Hear What Happens

It’s hallucinatory to speak with Ira Glass on the phone. Absurd really to dial a NYC number and be connected with the voice that I’ve communed with hundreds of times over the course of my life, bearing my soul, telling jokes, sometimes disagreeing with, but always coming back to a balance of friendship. His voice, so familiar is like a slightly nasal narcotic, and I remind myself to breathe.

Glass doesn’t know we are friends, though I suspect he’s got an inkling of the hundreds of thousands of fan folks like me who imagine that, given the opportunity, we would be friends. And that’s the thing, right? Beyond the exquisite storytelling, the incredible curiosity and dedication, Glass is, at his core, a deeply decent man. So I’m guessing that even as 2.2 million of us listen each week to This American Life (or binge on the podcasts Serial and S-Town), we imagine getting the Glass treatment and are thereby revealed to ourselves as much as we are to an audience.

For, as loyal (and even occasional) listeners know, Glass has the ability to unpeel and structure a story—revealing comedy, tragedy and heroics—in an manner that encapsulates an entire person. The stories on American Life are remarkable for their humanity and surprise.

When asked about what motivates him to find these stories Glass replied, “I have to say, the kinds of stories we make on our show really come out of my interests ... they come out of a bunch of things, my incompetence as a regular reporter when I was in my twenties, and my interest in doing stories about everyday life and everyday people. This set me off on a series of experiments of making different kinds of stories to figure out how to tell a story about everyday people that would be engaging and feel like something. That lead me to certain conclusions about how to tell a story on the radio...and honestly it brought me back to a very basic kind of storytelling where, when we do …   More

the flog

"Nobody Is Above the Law"

A coalition of progressive advocacy organizations led by MoveOn has called for coordinated nation-wide protests today at 5 p.m.

The move is a reaction to yesterday's forced resignation of Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president has long expressed disappointment in Sessions, who recused himself from Robert Mueller's ongoing special counsel investigation early in his tenure. Sessions' ouster was widely seen as a prelude to executive intervention in Mueller's independent investigation.

An official MoveOn press release describes new Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as a "crony" who "has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it."

"Donald Trump just crossed a red line," the press release continues, "violating the independence of the investigation pursuing criminal charges in the Trump-Russia scandal and cover-up. Trump putting himself above the law is a threat to our democracy, and we’ve got to get Congress to stop him. We're mobilizing immediately to demand accountability, because Trump is not above the law."

MoveOn projects a grand total of 990 protests across the nation. Florida alone is expected to host 41 of these.

The Jacksonville event takes place on San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin, in front of Whole Foods. St. Augustine activists are set to demonstrate at the Plaza de la Constitución.   More

the flog

From the Ashes

A building strengthened with love begins its reconstruction after being scorched in a St. Augustine arson spree in 2014.

Located at 45 Cordova St., in the Ancient City's historic downtown district, the house was built by the Cooley family in 1890. Architect Jerry Dixon purchased the property in 1989. He said he rented part of the first floor, based his business out of the building, and even lived in it. Dixon formed a bond with 45 Cordova over the 20 years he spent as its owner.

On June 23, 2014, according to St. Johns County Fire Rescue, 45 Cordova was the first of multiple locations at which fires were reported. The majority of the Dixon Design Group’s headquarters was burned down.

"I'll never forget that day," Disxon said. "It was just after 3:00 in the morning when my phone rang. Thank goodness, at the time, I was not there. My home and my plans were torched."

Due to the destruction of the property, Dixon decided to put it up for sale. His love for the building never dwindled, even after the fires did, but he knew it would be a tall task to restore. He figured the building was damaged goods to any potential buyer.

Local real estate agent Karen Vander, however, saw the property as an easy sell. She was able to sell the property within 50 days to Bruce Maguire's Maguire Land Corp.

“Jerry is a well-known architect," Vander said. "He had all the designs drafted and had approval [...] for the exterior he wanted to construct.”

Dixon also had a permit for the rebuild. He helped make the property as appealing as possible. Vander said the downtown St. Augustine area is in high demand. Retail businesses and restaurants clamor for the chance to set up shop in the area. This fact made 45 Cordova even more attractive to buyers.

“There is a high demand for downtown property because there is a limited supply,” Vander said. “Cost of entry is high as well.”

The current owner Bruce Maguire said the area is …   More

the flog

The Great Mlinko

Celebrated poet Ange Mlinko will be in town for a reading this Thursday evening, Nov. 1. The University of Florida poetry professor is promoting her fifth book , published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux in July 2017.

Born in Philadelphia in 1969, Mlinko earned her BA from St. Johns College, followed by an MFA at Brown University before embarking on a noteworthy writing career. Her debut poetry collection, , was published in 1999. The follow-up, (2005), won the National Poetry Series. Her third volume was , a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award in 2010, and made best-book lists for The New Yorker and The Boston Globe in 2013.

Mlinko comes to Jacksonville at the invitation of University of North Florida English professor Clark Lunberry.

"In many of her poems, Mlinko is a kind of eccentric formalist," says Lunberry, "exploring often disguised rhyme schemes and asymmetrical stanza structures. There was a time not so long ago when such formalism might have seemed awfully conventional but, today, with time, with the passage of history, it can almost feel avant-garde, as if redefining what it is to be 'experimental'."

Mlinko's work has turned up in all sorts of well-known publications, including The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, Poetry Magazine, Granta and The Paris Review. She was Poetry Editor at The Nation, and was last year featured in The New Yorker, whose Dan Chiasson wrote: "Mlinko's poems aren't simple: they face the complexities of love and loss with a pragmatic erudition. She is a difficult, allusive, dense poet, haunted by myth and by language. But she is also, in almost every line, funny, poignant, and self-impugning, measuring her pinprick dramas against the cosmos."

Her famed facility with language results directly from a complicated upbringing and a precocious childhood. Mlinko's family has linguistic roots in Hungarian, Portuguese and Belorussian. She had read Chekhov by 11 and by 15.

"Mlinko's work, in …   More

the flog

Sex and This City

The ninth edition of River City Raunch has hit the streets, and that is cause for celebration. This Saturday, Oct. 27 at Rain Dogs in Five Points, the zine’s producers are throwing an all-day party whose proceeds will help fund the purchase of equipment for the all-new River City Raunch podcast. The event features some of the indie scene’s leading lights: DJs Ali Youngblood and Giani LaDavia in the front room, and Halloween-themed covers by bands like FFN, United Tylers of Tyler and the estimable Brothers Shuck (Charlie and Joe) in the listening room.

There will also be food, drink and a raffle ($2.50 a ticket) with prizes galore, courtesy of businesses including Mossfire, Wall Street, Sweet Theory and Sun-Ray Cinema. The event even boasts a kissing booth, the sign for which was custom-built by that luminous legend of local art, Jason Wright. The evening culminates in an “All Glam Revue” by the band Kisses Only. The project has evolved quite a bit since we last profiled its creator, but these new changes have brought with them exciting challenges. Folio Weekly spoke with Lindsay Anderson, auteur of the project. We asked her a few questions via email.

 

How long has the podcast idea been in development? What will it be about?

I was approached in May this year by a team of people who have podcast experience. They had the idea to create a podcast that highlights love and sex, and were told about my zine River City Raunch. We had a meeting and talked through the details of podcasts, which was an option I had never considered before. I explained in detail what RCR was and what is non-negotiable and, together, we decided to move forward to develop the idea. I was offered complete creative control because of my extreme protectiveness of the confessions that are given to me, and the podcast team would provide the equipment, recording space and editing needed to publish the podcast online.

My intention is to keep the main …   More