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HR-NO?

This article has been updated.

In an attempt to wrest control of Jacksonville’s government from its duly elected representatives, the Washington, D.C., Lynchburg, Virginia and Orlando-based Liberty Counsel has released a three-page memorandum arguing that when Mayor Lenny Curry said he would let the human rights ordinance expansion become law without his signature, even though he does not believe that legislation protecting the LGBT community from discrimination is necessary, he “actually vetoed the HRO.” No, we are not making this up.

The memorandum from Liberty Counsel's assistant vice president of legal affairs, Roger K. Gannam, takes 1,231 words to reach this shocking (read: yawn) conclusion: Until City Council concludes its next meeting on Feb. 28, “…Curry still has the power to veto the HRO.” You may remember Gannam from his ongoing efforts to equate laws banning discrimination against LGBT people with discrimination against those Christians who justify bigotry by clinging to the belief that their faith demands they deny others marriage licenses, wedding cakes and the right to choose their own clothing.

Liberty Counsel launched itself into the national consciousness in 2015 when it volunteered to represent Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who infamously refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. Keeping with their mission to let certain Christians discriminate against gay people, they parachuted into town the last time HRO came around for a press conference at First Baptist Church that was as long-winded as this memorandum. Deemed “a legal organization advocating for anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of religious liberty” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Liberty Counsel justifies its extremism by equating homosexuality with pedophilia, arguing that homosexual conduct is inherently damaging to society and various other debunked, bigoted and …   More

FOLIO ARTS

The Abstract TRUTH

Princess Simpson Rashid’s newest show, Constructed Narratives in Red, Black and White is the logical conclusion to what might be termed “phase one” of the artist’s investigations into formal and chromatic reduction. Her works, which take as their points of art historical reference Motherwell, Mondrian and Kandinsky, are the unexpected result of research she was doing for a large commissioned piece several years ago. “I became very interested in Mondrian’s use of space and distilled color,” explains Rashid .

Thus, she began this new, red, black and white geometric body of work with small studies: "The ‘thing’ that got me going,” Rashid explains with a smile, “was a cartoon—Samuri Jack.”

Samuri Jack is minimally rendered in a reduced palette of reds, blacks and oranges (overall) and the drawings are very geometric. Cinematic in scope, and reliant on visual cues more than dialogue, once Simpson Rashid mentions the connection to the cartoon, it is very clear. However, unlike many other artists who take cues from popular culture, Rashid succeeds in rendering images that have a relationship to their catalyst, but are still wholly unto themselves as paintings.

“I strive for poetry, and no, it is not for everyone,” says the Northeast Florida-based artist, of her process and goals. Indeed, if poetry is vigorous and introspective, if it excavates the personal and turns it into the symbolic, then Rashid has passed her own litmus test. Recalling her background in the sport of fencing, the works seem to bristle with bottled—and then intentionally released—gestures. The works range in size from (approximately) five by seven inches to (approximately) three by five feet. This disparity in size is important. The works leap from small, sketchbook-sized studies, to large works that seek to preserve the minimal monumentality of the studies. The work also shifts from mostly …   More

FOLIO THEATRE

A Woman on the Verge of a Nervous BREAKDOWN

An entire play taking place in the comfort of one room might sound strikingly boring to some, yet Henrik Ibsen, the creator of the 1890s play Hedda Gabler, succeeded in making it exhilarating.

Ibsen wrote a letter to one of his colleagues in December 1890 stating, “My intention in giving this name was to indicate that Hedda, as a personality, is to be regarded rather as her father’s daughter than as her husband’s wife.” This kind of familial dysfunction, disconnection and discord drives the gripping drama.

St. Augustine’s Limelight Theatre is currently staging this one-setting play which shows how Hedda faces the battles of the domestic sphere in 19th-century Norway.

Theater lovers interested in modern dramas, rebellion and violent demonstrations of power and manipulation are sure to enjoy the final stagings of this production, mounted through Feb. 19 at this intimate theater.

Sharon Resnikoff is brilliant as Hedda Gabler, a newly married aristocrat who is unwilling to accept the rôle of a passive wife, the usual fate to which women were relegated in that era. Born the daughter of a famous general, Hedda is accustomed to the finer things in life and refuses anything that is not up to her standards. Throughout the play, we see Hedda use her intelligence to manipulate her husband and friends with recurring acts that make her seem dishonest and unpredictable. Resnikoff is skilled at capturing both the complexity and tragedy of the title character.

In the opening scene, we discover that Hedda and her well-heeled husband Jorge Tesman (Thomas Muniz) have returned from a six-month-long honeymoon to a lavish home that Tesman bought to impress his new bride. Yet this stately manor looks like a prison to Hedda’s eyes. The fact that the new home was purchased by Jorge’s Aunt Julle (played by Francesca Bellavista) only adds to Hedda’s resentment that her groom is not the deep-pocketed husband on whose fortune …   More

THE FLOG

Sensory Deprivation and CHILL

Northeast Florida is now home to both a sensory deprivation tank facility and a whole body cryotherapy chamber: respectively, H20m Float on St. Johns Bluff Road South and Outlast Cryotherapy + Performance Training in Ponte Vedra Beach. In the interest of science, I decided to try both.

Sensory deprivation tanks, also called float pods, are like large bathtubs with a pulldown lid attached. They are filled with 10 inches of saltwater to make floating easier. Floating has many benefits ranging from relaxation to stress relief to decreased restlessness — it can even be somewhat of a detox.

I’ve always considered myself adventurous, so when asked to try a sensory deprivation tank, I immediately said, “Hell, yes.”

I usually enjoy my bathtub at home with candles, a book, music and plenty of bubbles; the sensory deprivation “bath” would be pitch-black, soundproof, salty and bubble-less. Initially, it seemed like spending an hour in a giant, darkened bathtub was the furthest thing from scary. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, “Oh, shit.” The very idea of floating in a body of water, alone with my thoughts, coupled with a fear of drowning, had me second-guessing my decision. So I gave myself a quick pep talk while driving to the facility.

If you’re wondering how sanitary these tank things are, the facility’s website states that the water is filtered five times between each session and is sanitized with UV light and an ozone purification system. These facilities are held to the same Florida Department of Health sanitation standards that apply to public swimming pools.

The spa-like lobby at H20m Float was scented with essential oils and there were several sea salt dispensers on one wall. Manager Kylie Stein greeted me and checked me in. There was no turning back now.

The tanks are in separate rooms, ensuring privacy to those who visit. Stein handed me some earplugs and towels …   More

THE FLOG

Fear and Loathing in JAX-VEGAS

Hunter S. Thompson wrote in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, “You better take care of me Lord, if you don’t you’re gonna have me on your hands.” It’s a terrific line. Since the origins of this country, we have used religion to justify many forms of discrimination and prejudice. Grounded in self-determined moral high ground, our society has used fear and a myopic view of “God’s image” to justify actions which probably would lead one to be denied entry at St. Peter’s gates.

The most recent battleground is Jacksonville’s lack of a Human Rights Ordinance protecting sexual orientation and gender identity. Everyone from Desmond Tutu to Shad Khan has weighed in on it. In 2012, Desmond Tutu specifically compared Jacksonville to South Africa, saying, “…We quite deliberately ensured that gays, lesbians and bisexuals were included in South Africa’s Constitution. Having ourselves suffered terribly, we did not want to inflict discrimination on any group that lived within our borders.” Last year, Khan told Florida Politics, “It’s like civil rights. It’s so late that it’s not even worth talking about.” He's been more vocal recently.

It is worth talking about. We must talk about it.

I want to address some of the common misconceptions and use of fear and loathing to oppose passage of an inclusive Human Rights Ordinance.

“The HRO Caters to a Minority Group”

These ordinances are designed to prohibit discrimination by employers, prevent discriminatory housing and stop unequal treatment based on age, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, and even marital status. Proponents of the human rights amendment seek to add sexual orientation and gender identity, essentially. The science is clear that sexual orientation is genetic, unlike say, marital status or some handicaps and disabilities. Yet opponents urge …   More

FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, BAKE THAT CAKE.

In the ongoing effort to pass a fully inclusive human rights ordinance in the city of Jacksonville, it seems one proverbial example continues to exemplify the dissonance between the call for protection from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and those who, out of religious beliefs, see this as an infringement on their own identity: whether a family bakery has the right to refuse baking a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. Now, my understanding of God’s grace leads me to the full inclusion of LGBTQ people, but even if another Christian doesn't, this article seeks to provide a religious argument that it is not only acceptable, but imperative that we, as a Christian community, bake that cake.

“Sanctification involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in man. (1)...[The Holy Spirit] dwells in believers, not merely as to His gifts, but as to His substance.” (2) These are the words of the great theologian Martin Luther, the founder of the protestant reformation. It is a profound and true statement. God’s very self, through the Holy Spirit, dwells in us and takes up residence in our very lives. What is particularly miraculous in this action is that it shouldn’t be possible. God, who is without sin, resides in every human being, who can’t help but sin. The pure and sinless is intimately a part of the sinful. This should not be, and yet it is what God does.

As followers of Jesus Christ, and recipients of His Holy Spirit, we long to be transformed by God (sanctified), and as a part of that transformation we seek to follow Christ’s teachings and example (discipleship). Jesus, the Word of God, took on flesh and dwelt among us (John Ch. 1), and so Luther tells us, “[J]ust as he himself did all things for us-not seeking his own good, but ours only…, so also he desires that we also should set the same example for our neighbors.” (3)

And so, as Christians who long to be …   More

THE FLOG

Pay Me to PROTEST

So, where can I get paid? Where are those millionaire benefactors who are paying other protesters? Because I have put in countless hours making phone calls, writing emails, marching, blogging, rallying and organizing. I am, in fact, losing money by protesting as it takes away from my freelance work. I’d like to find out how I can get paid, so I can let all the other people who are protesting for free know how they can get paid as well.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, I took part in two rallies outside of Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Jacksonville, Florida. They were organized by MoveOn.org and Indivisible, and attendees represented a broad range of ages, from a young boy to senior citizens. The protestors came from all over Northeast Florida, and we numbered about 50.

We were given comment forms to fill out, which we took and filed with Sen. Rubio’s office in groups of four at a time. We spoke with the receptionist/aide, dropped off our comments, then left and continued our rally outside.

While in line, I listened to people pouring out their hearts about dire health issues like breast cancer and leukemia, about the environment and immigration. I cried when I spoke about my father being an immigrant and how voting to confirm Jeff Sessions would be a signal to people of color that the government did not care about white supremacy.

Outside we chanted, talked, bonded with the local police department who checked in on us to be sure we were not being harassed (thank you, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office!), and felt that, if nothing else, we had done our civic duty and exercised our right to freedom of speech.

Therefore, I was truly shocked to see Sen. Rubio’s response to our heartfelt comments:

“The leftwing extremists at MoveOn.Org and their paid protesters are entitled to express their opinions, and like all presidents, Trump is entitled to nominate his cabinet." (“Momentum Grows for Locals Opposed to Trump’s …   More

Playing for Something Better than a Trophy

If you identify as a bad ass, football-loving woman interested in showing off your skills on the field, look no further than Jacksonville’s newest sports team, the North Florida Pumas. This women’s semi-pro football team utilizes the same rules as the National Football League - with the exception that they are able to have just one foot down in the end zone to get a touchdown. There is already one local team in the league, the Jacksonville Dixie Blues.

The Pumas are a part of the Women’s Football Alliance. According to the website, “The Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) was designed to create the largest and most competitive women’s tackle football league in the world.” The website notes that women’s tackle football teams and leagues have been around for over 40 years, but the last several years have seen the sport take off nationally. 

The Pumas’ journey began in July 2016 when Kim “Rocky” Brown decided to take her 18 years of experience playing women’s football and coach a team. In recent months, the Pumas have taken shape. So far 22 women have signed up to play for the Pumas and the team is actively seeking to fill the rest of the roster. 

“We’re building this from the ground up so we’re constantly taking new players. We have about 22 on the roster and I would like to have around 30,” Brown said.

Brown says the Pumas want to empower women on and off the field. They are actively seeking women at least 18 years of age of any body type who are passionate about the sport and eager to play. 

“Football is a type of sport that is for every size, every body type, and every weight. You need everything because every body type has a different position on the field. That is what makes it a winning team,” said Jordi Granger, the team’s general manager.

Prior experience is not necessary; the Pumas are more than willing to teach …   More

THE FLOG

Momentum Grows for Locals Opposed to Trump's Policies

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

In the brisk, sun-washed mid-morning, today citizens from five Northeast Florida counties gathered outside Senator Marco Rubio’s office on the Southbank to urge the senator to oppose Betsy DeVos’ and Scott Pruitt’s confirmations as Secretary of Education and head of the Environmental Protection Agency, respectively, and to express their disapproval of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order that temporarily banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.

In an email to Folio Weekly late yesterday, Indivisible Nassau County co-founder Chad Brockman wrote that they believe that the order “created a backdoor ban on Muslim immigrants.”

As to DeVos, Brockman wrote, “We believe her lack of experience, plans of vision along with outdated policies would be harmful to public education.” Their opposition to Pruitt’s confirmation is based on the belief that “his allegiances to big oil and other dirty energy along with his choices to sue the EPA to block important public health protections prove that he is the wrong choice to lead the EPA.”

Many people outside Rubio’s office held signs of protest, but theirs was not merely a message of opposition; several indicated that they have previously been impressed by Rubio, but said they are concerned that he has been too willing to obey the Republican Party and the president.

“In the end, he folds and falls in line with the party,” Brockman said.

Representing Indivisible groups from Nassau, St. Johns, Duval, Clay and Flagler Counties, the people outside Rubio’s office today were primarily, but not all, white and middle-aged or older. They held signs that read “Save ACA,” “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to break free,” “Say No to Sessions and DeVos!!!” and more; their chants …   More

The Flog

Peter Pan Prequel Soars, Carried by Ron Shreve and Taylor Kearschner’s BREAKOUT PERFORMANCES

Few characters are as timeless and ageless as Peter Pan.

Few authors can concoct their fantasies as senselessly and breathlessly as Dave Barry.

Theatre Jacksonville takes on the challenge of staging Peter and the Starcatcher with their stars performing double duty. And delivering indubitably.

Fans of Pan, of Dave Barry’s silliness, and of fantasy will find much to like during the final four shows of this production — January 26 through 29 at this theatre in San Marco, now in its 97th season.

For those who simply must ship off completely spoiler-free, stop now, buy your tickets here, and board Theatre Jacksonville blindly without learning any more about Black Stache and the origins of the boy who lives without ever growing up.

Ron Shreve plays that titular character who just wants to be a “boy for a while” — who is an orphan without a home and a name (for now) — and who hates those lying grown-ups.

Taylor Kearschner’s precocious Molly offers that stunning contrast to Shreve’s Boy — she’s a leader who knows exactly where her moral compass points and is intent on doing right.

As for thoughts of aging up, we learn right away that when she sees him, “Something about the boy makes Molly feel like she just grew up a little.”

They each rise to craft a memorable performance.

Shreve — the ultimate supporting player as stage manager and artistic director in other productions — goes under the brightest lights here. He crows with the best of them, and more importantly, he deftly handles the challenge of a coming-of-age turn for the ageless Pan.

Kearschner’s wide-eyed Molly proves to be the right counter to Peter — stern but curious and revealing vulnerability as she copes with the pressure of doing the right thing, and what that is.

Boy and his orphan friends Prentiss (Jordan Born) and Ted (Malik Bilbrew) are pulled into this adventure — …   More