Posts Tagged ‘portland’

Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged

Ben Franklin: Unplugged

Ben Franklin: Unplugged

Who exactly was Benjamin Franklin? Was he the randy old guy who jet set to Europe, flew kites and signed the declaration of Independence? Or was he an egotistical grump who feuded with his son and ultimately let him rot in jail? In his show now playing at Portland Center Stage, Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged, monologist Josh Kornbluth tries to discover the truth about one of America’s most recognizable historical figure.

Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged begins with the realization that Josh Kornbluth bears a striking resemblance to the guy on the $100, but unlike Hal Holbrook (and his Evening with Mark Twain) couldn’t imagine parading around stage in impersonation of the founding father. A curiosity to his likeness leads Josh on an adventure into the life Benjamin Franklin and those people who study him. Some surprising omissions from Franklin’s own autobiography set Josh Kornbluth on an adventure which leads him into the depth of Yale University, onto the streets of New York dressed in full Franklin garb and to an old storage facility that hold the keys to both Franklin’s life and Josh’s own relationships.

Josh Kornbluth has made a career out of autobiographical monologues, but in Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged he puts his focus clearly on Franklin. Throughout the ninety minute show (with one intermission) we learn a tremendous amount about the life of Benjamin Franklin, especially his complex and ultimately troubled relationship with his son William. Although it’s packed with history Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged is not just a history lesson, it’s a theatrical journey which humanizes one of the nations most iconic figures. Watching Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged I was reminded of Robert Wuhl’s HBO special “Assume The Position” where common perceptions of history are unspun and often debunked. Instead of Robert Wuhl’s blitzkrieg of historical facts and musings we get a very real story of a man’s search for the person behind history.

Many monologues are delivered from behind a desk or on a stool, but Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged breaks this mold with a full set, lighting props and costumes. Josh Kornbluth moves around the stage dramatically building the world of his story, often playing characters he encounters. Kornbluth’s energy fills the stage and it’s often easy to forget that it’s only a one man show.

My favorite part of Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged comes from the interaction between Josh Kornbluth and Benjamin Franklin scholar Claude-Anne Lopez. Lopez plays Yoda to Kornbluth’s Luke Skywalker and the interchange manages to be insightful, funny and highly entertaining. Something magical also happens in the second act of the show when Kornbluth dons full Ben Franklin regalia, it energizes and transforms the piece as if he were Clark Kent putting on the Superman cape.

Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged was given a full seven week run at Portland Center Stage a bold statement of support from that organization for the talent of Josh Kornbluth and extraordinary thing for a monologist. Josh Kornbluth is immensely talented and Benjamin Franklin: Unplugged is extremely entertaining absolutely worth seeing.

Portland Musicians Launch “Fair Trade Music” Campaign


Project Seeks to Establish Minimum Pay Guarantees for All Working Musicians

Portland, OR – September 8, 2009 – A coalition of Portland musicians has launched the “Fair Trade Music” campaign, which is seeking to establish minimum pay guarantees for all performing musicians in the Portland area.  Co-sponsored by Local 99 of the American Federation of Musicians and the Labor Education and Research Center, the coalition includes union and non-union musicians.

Most music fans assume that 100% of the cover charge goes to the artist but in fact, through extensive deductions for venue expenses like sound staff, door staff, promotional fees, and ‘house fees,’ musicians routinely see their compensation reduced to a tiny fraction of what was brought in.  “This is simple,” stated Bruce Fife, President of the Musicians Union, “we think there ought to be a reasonable, minimum compensation for musicians when they work for a business enterprise.  And when you, the consumer, pay your $5 or $10 at the door, we want you to know that your money actually makes it to the artists.”

In response to this ongoing problem, the Fair Trade Music coalition has developed a tiered pay scale based on venue type and capacity that adequately compensates musicians while still allowing the house to make a fair profit and eliminates questionable deductions for venue overhead.  Fair Trade Music asks the general public to only patronize venues displaying Fair Trade Music window stickers indicating their support and commitment to fairness.

Ryan Biornstad of the band Starf*cker said, “I fully support the Fair Trade Music campaign.  It reimburses musicians fairly for their time, both onstage and off – where most of the real work happens.  Musicians need to realize that their time and energy is worth something and clubs need to properly appreciate that.  You spend a lot of money on equipment and a lot of time writing and recording and then you have to haul your gear to the club and that’s just to get paid nothing.  That’s just the norm right now, but we can change it.  I hope all Portland musicians will join the campaign.”

Fair Trade Music is endorsed by over 200 Portland-area bands including such well-known acts as March Fourth, 3 Leg Torso, and Keegan Smith.  It is also supported by the Cascade Blues Association, the Portland Songwriters Association and the International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees (Local 28).

The coalition is offering all musicians Fair Trade Music buttons and stickers to display at their gigs in silent solidarity with the campaign.  Musicians are encouraged to visit the Fair Trade Music website ( for more info and to register their endorsements. Additionally, the campaign will be hosting regular gatherings to raise awareness and answer questions about the program.

Simply put, “When a band performs for exposure,” said local blues great Norman Sylvester, “they expose themselves to poverty.”

** FAIR TRADE MUSIC – Because Music is a Day Job!  **

Burgerville Announces Latest Sustainability Innovation: Makes its Drive-Thru Open to Bicyclists

Burgerville, the Pacific Northwest’s environmentally-conscious quick serve restaurant company, today announced it will allow bicyclists to order and pick up food through its 39 drive-thru lanes, making it the company’s latest sustainability innovation.  The company will announce a formal bicycle drive-thru program within the next two weeks.

Burgerville is creating a chain-wide formalized bike-friendly policy, which was galvanized yesterday in part due to an experience chronicled by Sarah Gilbert, an avid Portland cyclist. Ms. Gilbert attempted to order cheeseburgers at Burgerville’s Southeast 25th Avenue and Powell Boulevard drive-thru and was rebuffed.  The company previously had an ad hoc approach to serving bicyclists at drive-thru windows, leaving the decision up to its individual general managers. Due to the Company’s ad hoc approach to serving cyclists, the Burgerville team member staffing the drive-thru window was uninformed about that location’s willingness to serve two-wheeled vehicles.  Burgerville has since issued an apology to Ms. Gilbert for the inconvenience.

“We’ve been handling bikes in the drive-thrus on an ad hoc basis and Ms. Gilbert’s experience helped accelerate our decision to develop a formal bike-friendly program. Her experience highlighted inconsistencies in our bike policy,” said Jack Graves, Burgerville’s chief cultural officer.  “Opening up our drive-thrus to the large cycling community in our area is a natural for us and is very much in line with our overall values. While we are sorry that Ms. Gilbert was inconvenienced, we appreciate the passion she brought to the issue and her commitment to the environment and our food.  We are excited about the positive impact we will be able to make through our new bike policy.”

The formalized bike-friendly drive-thru lanes are the latest sustainability innovation by the company which has previously instituted wind power for every location and is recycling its vegetable oil for biodiesel fuel production.  Burgerville also sources its many fresh ingredients from local providers.

Burgerville expects that all 39 of its locations will be able to accommodate cycle-thru orders within the next two weeks as the company finalizes operational and safety aspects of the program.

Oregon Cultural Trust Announces $1.45 Million in Grants

Nice to see the Oregon Cultural Trust Back in Action:

Oregon Cultural Trust Announces $1.45 Million in Grants

Cultural Grants Benefit 48 Heritage, Arts & Humanities Nonprofits,

39 County and Tribal Coalitions and Five Statewide Partners

Day of Culture 2009, a Statewide Celebration, Confirmed for Thursday, October 8, 2009

July 27, 2009. Salem, ORE The Oregon Cultural Trust announces $1.45 million in fiscal year 2010 (July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010) grants to humanities, heritage and arts nonprofits across Oregon.  This year’s granting represents a 12% reduction from the prior year’s $1.65 million due to a slight decrease in donations and a drop in interest earned by the Trust’s endowment.

Each year, the Trust distributes as grants 42% of the prior fiscal year’s revenues; 58% remains in the endowment.  In FY 2009, Trust revenues totaled $3,737,526:  $3,515,643 in contributions and $221,883 in interest.  The Trust’s permanent fund is invested conservatively in an interest bearing instruments and did not suffer the recent steep losses experienced by other endowments.  At $11.3 million on June 30, 2009, it remains strong to support Oregon culture in the future.

Norm Smith, Chairman of the Cultural Trust Board, commented, “The past 10 months have presented extraordinary challenges for Oregon’s cultural nonprofits and for the Oregon Cultural Trust.  But the Cultural Trust is working the way it was intended to – providing cultural funding in good times, and bad.”

Executive Director Christine D’Arcy added, “The Cultural Trust is the only fully integrated cultural funding mechanism in the country.  The grants announced today not only fund major efforts at OPB and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which received the largest awards of $35,000, but increased grants to local coalitions for grassroots cultural activity in virtually every county and tribe in the state.”

Trust Manager Kimberly Howard observed, “The Trust received 144 eligible applications. The 48 funded projects represent important efforts, from preserving our history and celebrating our heritage, to bringing Oregon writers and artists to communities across the state, and fostering creative expression in towns large and small.  Donors to the Oregon Cultural Trust should take pride in this year’s grants; they are made possible by the generosity of thousands of Oregonians.”

D’Arcy also announced that Oregon’s second statewide Day of Culture would take place on October 8, 2009, marking the seventh anniversary of the effective date of Oregon’s unique cultural tax credit.  The annual event draws attention to the breadth and vitality of Oregon culture and invites Oregonians to celebrate, participate in and donate to Oregon culture.

By law, the Trust awards grants through three programs.  The FY 2010 awards comprise:

  • Competitive Cultural Development grants of $484,010 to 48 cultural non-profits in 17 counties
  • Cultural Participation grants totaling  $484,010 to 39 county and tribal coalitions
  • Cultural Partner grants of $484,010 to the Trust’s five statewide cultural partners:  Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Council for the Humanities, Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office

The competitive Cultural Development grants provide state recognition and support to significant cultural programs and projects, preserving and enhancing Oregon’s diverse arts, heritage and humanities programs.  After a rigorous process that included five review panels before a decision by the Trust board, 48 of 144 eligible applicants received funding in the areas of Access, Capacity, Creativity or Preservation.

The projects unfolding over the next year in 17 counties include preserving historic buildings like the Whiteside Theatre (Corvallis), the Brown House (Stayton) and the Liberty Theater (Astoria); building community through White Bird’s Asian dance programming (Portland) and The Museum at Warm Springs’ regional “The Baskets Tell a Story” exhibition  and supporting creative enterprises such as Portland Opera’s Northwest premiere of Philip Glass’ Orphée and the world premiere of Craig Wright’s The Grey Sisters by Third Rail Repertory Company (Portland).  Twenty-one percent (10 of 48) of the awards are to first-time grant recipients.

Cultural Participation grants provide Trust funding to cultural coalitions in Oregon’s counties and  federally recognized tribes.  With the addition of carry-over funds, 39 cultural coalitions will receive a total of $618,029 to re-distribute to local projects according to cultural plans specific to their area’s assets and needs.  These grants, factored on a base of $6,000 plus a multiplier based on population, range from $6,095 to Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw to $78,641 in Multnomah County.

Help Preserve Oregon Arts, Culture, and Humanities Funding

***ACTION ALERT from The Regional Arts & Culture Council ***

Help Preserve Oregon Arts, Culture, and Humanities Funding

If you read the newspaper and listen to broadcast media, you know that Oregon is facing one of the most significant budget shortfalls in its history. The State issued its revenue forecast on Friday. Revenue projections are now an additional $55 million over the previously announced shortfall of $800 million in the State’s General Fund. Lottery revenues are also down.

Legislators issued a “cut list” last week. It contains proposed reductions and fund sweeps for all agencies to re-balance the 2007- 09 budget, assuming an $800 million hole. This represents a serious threat to state funding for culture.

In this proposal are the following reductions in current year spending:

$211,384 cut to the Oregon Arts Commission
$350,000 cut to the Oregon Historical Society
$ 64,085 cut in lottery funds to the Office of Film and Television

Finally, and most sobering: the “funds sweep” list of Other Funds includes the recapture of $1.8 million from the permanent fund of the Oregon Cultural Trust. The $1.8 million includes $1.3 million in cultural license plate revenue generated since 2003 – plus interest.

The Cultural Trust was authorized by the Legislature in 1999 – ten years ago – to grow and stabilize funding for culture – in good times and in bad. To skim the Trust fund and re-allocate cultural license plate fees for the General Fund is a violation of trust with the buyers of the plates who assumed they were supporting Oregon culture with their purchases. To raid the fund to pay for other state services simply violates the very purpose of the Trust and the intent of the Trust’s thousands of donors: to protect and invest in Oregon’s cultural resources.

This situation is very serious. Not only are legislators dealing with a large revenue shortfall and the potential of an additional $55 million in cuts, there are efforts underway to hold k-12 school funding from further reductions.

Take Action Now.

Use the Cultural Advocacy Coalition’s website to send a message directly to your legislators. You can use one of the messages on the website – or write your own message to convey the importance of cultural funding in your city, town or county and why the Oregon Cultural Trust needs to be remain intact and taken off the fund sweep

Work to re-balance the state budget is proceeding very quickly and may be completed by this weekend. Weigh in with your opinion. Click here to send a message to your legislators NOW. It will only take two minutes of your time!

Thank you.

Eloise Damrosch, Executive Director
Regional Arts & Culture Council
108 NW 9th, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97209

Darius Goes West Benefit Screening – Don’t Miss it!

dairusgoeswestSome films just need to be seen, and Dairus Goes West is one of those films.

Local filmmaker and former WWeek film editor David Walker is presenting two screenings of this incredibly moving film.

Here are the complete details:

The critically acclaimed documentary Dairus Goes West returns to Portland for two very special screenings to benefit Muscular Dystrophy research.

Fifteen-year-old Darius Weems and eleven of his best friends set off across America with the ultimate goal of getting his wheelchair customized on MTV’s Pimp My Ride. Not only does Darius Weems bravely face his own inevitable fate with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), but through his unflinching humor and his extraordinary laugh, he sparks a revolution in the lives of everyone who crosses–and then shares–his courageous path. The result is a rarely seen testament to the explosive idealism of today’s youth, as well as a vivid portrayal of adventure, of brotherhood, and of the character and strength it takes to shed light on an uncertain future. Part revolution, part revelation, this film proves to people of all ages how life, even when imperfect, is always worth the ride.

Having taken top awards at over twenty film festivals in 2007 and 2008, the cast and crew of Darius Goes West is back on the road as they work to sell one million DVDs in one year. Each DVD costs $20, $17 of which goes to funding research to find a cure for DMD, the number one genetic killer of young people in the world.

Join Darius Weems, director Logan Smalley and the rest of the Darius Goes West crew for two special screenings, followed by Q&A sessions. DVDs will be available for sale after both screenings.

6:30 pm, Thursday, Feb. 19th

Portland State University, Smith Memorial Student Union, Multicultural Center, 2nd Floor, Room 228

Free admission, donations gladly accepted.

Sponsored by Disability Advocacy & Cultural Association (DACA)

Co-sponsored by Disability Resource Center (DRC)

1 pm, Saturday, Feb 21st

Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Boulevard; (503) 281-4215

$5 adults, $2 students w/ I.D. and children 12 and under

Here’s the trailer for the movie:


The Roseway Theater – Interview and Tour

Here’s a video tour of The Roseway Theater, an all digital, single screen theater in Portland which was amazingly restored to it’s 1924 glory:


Roseway Theater is located at 7229 NE Sandy Blvd Portland, OR 97213. Visit The Roseway Theater Website and see More photos of The Roseway Theater.

The Auteur Premieres Friday at Cinema 21

The Auteur at Cinema 21

The Auteur at Cinema 21

The Auteur, a new film by Portland filmmaker James Westby has its big Portland premiere this Friday at Cinema 21 (8:30pm).

The film is a mockumentary of Arturo Dominingo, an aging porn director trying to make sense of his life and career.  I saw the film in an early preview before it went of to the Tribecca Film Festival and it’s hilarious.

The Auteur stars Melik Malkasian (who won best actor at the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival), John Breen (of the Liberators), Katherine Flynn, and Cara Seymour. It also features music from The Decemberists, The Shaky Hands, Viva Las Vegas, Ron Jeremy, Malice 666, Copy, Au, Laura Gibson, MarchForth Marching Band, Katie O’Grady, Ritah Parrish, Michael Fetters, Victor Morris, and many more!!

Friday’s premiere will be followed by a Q&A with director James Westby and an after party at Slabtown (sponsored by Amber Geiger and Porter Panther)

Holiday Gift Idea – Have You Seen The Horizon Lately

Have You Seen The Horizon Lately by Jamie S. Rich

Have You Seen The Horizon Lately by Jamie S. Rich

Giving someone a good book for a holiday gift is giving them something that they’ll experience for hours. A good book can also be an amazing experience, and experiences will always trump any physical gift you can ever give someone.

Have You Seen The Horizon Lately, was written by Portland author Jamie S. Rich and published locally by Oni Press. It one of the most stunningly emotional and well written books of the year. It’s quite possibly the very best book you’ve never heard of.

In Have You Seen The Horizon Lately characters grapple with deep emotional issues, struggle to find a way to connect to each and desperately seek the road to happiness.  This is the kind of book that you simply won’t put down and one you’ll never forget.

Giving someone a great book that they’ve never heard of, but fall in love with is a blockbuster gift, and in this case it’s an extremely affordable one too.

Other novels by Jamie S. Rich to check out include:  Cut My HairI was Someone Dead and The Everlasting.

Also check out his graphic novels including: Twelve Reasons Why I Love Her (with Joelle Jones) and Love The Way You Love.

Be a Karaoke Super Star (in private)

Voice Box

Serenade Someone Special in a Private Room

There are many great Karaoke options in Portland and some of my most enjoyable evenings out have been spent with friends at places like The Alibi,  The Ambassador Restaurant and The Galaxy.

In Portland karaoke is a pretty big deal. That’s why it’s so exciting to have a new option on the Portland karaoke menu: Voicebox.

Officially opening this Friday, Voicebox takes karaoke to an entirely different scale. Instead of getting up in front of a huge (smokey) bar of strangers, you can get a group of people together and rent a private room.

Voicebox is designed around the traditional Asian karaoke clubs but with a decidedly Portland twist (meaning it’s clean, smoke free and has great food, beer, wine and sake options).  Prices average around $7 per person, per hour in groups of four or more.

It’s an ideal place for meetups and an excellent ice breaker for small groups. Given the fact that the rooms are private Voicebox is sure to open the door to karaoke in Portland for people who could never get up in front of a room full of people to sing, but would love to sing karaoke.

Voicebox is at 2112 NW Hoyt St. (503) 303-8220.

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