Editor’s Pick: HOLLYWOOD PARK — A MEMOIR, By Mikel Jollett

By Kathryn M. Miller —

Mikel Jollett Photo: Dove Shore

Mikel Jollett broke my heart. And I encourage you to let him break yours, too.

Sadness, loneliness, grief, despair and rage; understanding, gratitude, love, passion, joy and hope — Jollett brings all of this and more to his forthcoming memoir, Hollywood Park.

Full disclosure, this book is not the first time that I have been left heartbroken by Jollett — his words, anyway. I have been a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event, the indie band that he fronts, from the first time I heard “Sometime Around Midnight” on the radio. He has a way of telling a story — raw, unflinching, truthful, beautiful. His ability to share his experiences, which are at once singular and yet universally relatable, entangles readers (and listeners), and they feel it: Every. Single. Exquisite. Emotion.

Hollywood Park begins with Jollett’s early memories of growing up in the cult Synanon as his mother engineers their escape. “We were never young,” he begins, and the reader recognizes that truth throughout the book. Once beyond the walls of the only home he has known, Mikel navigates the challenges of adapting to a world that is completely foreign to him.

Jollett lays bare the toll that family members can exact upon one another. He struggles to understand (and survive) the realities of physical, emotional and substance abuse, poverty, and mental illness, as he seeks to find his place in the world. Along the way, he discovers the true meaning of “F-A-M-I-L-Y,” connection and belonging. And when he finally finds his voice, he discovers his purpose: “Take your pain and make it useful,” he writes. “That’s what it means to be an artist.”

At the end of Jollett’s harrowing journey in Hollywood Park, readers will come away with a sense of hope and perhaps feel just a little less alone in their own struggles. In these unsettling and turbulent times, that is monumentally useful.

Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett, published by Celadon Books, will be available May 26. The Airborne Toxic Event’s album of the same title will be released to coincide with the book release, and, as of print date, a tour is scheduled to kick off in May, including a stop in Phoenix at The Van Buren, May 27 (www.thevanburenphx.com).

For more, visit www.celadonbooks.com or www.theairbornetoxicevent.com.

Kathryn M. Miller is editor-in chief at CITYSunTimes. @katsmeowaz

UPDATE: The Airborne Toxic Event announced May 15 that its 2020 tour has been rescheduled to 2021. The group will visit the Valley Feb. 16 at The Van Buren.

Local Band 23 Valkyries Releases Rock EP: DIRE QUESTIONS

By Kathryn M. Miller —

23 Valkyries, composed of Cameron Kulik (guitar, vocals, bass) and Chris Kontos (drums, backing vocals), has been writing, performing and recording together since early 2018. Last month, the band released what Kulik describes as one of his “bucket list” items: its first EP.

The duo met in in 2016 as students at Arizona State University.

“Cameron had joined the student club I was the president and co-founder of,” said Kontos. “Super rock and roll, I know. Just through conversion we discovered our mutual love for music. I had already played in other bands, been on tour, and been hired as a studio performer, while Cam was more or less just getting his feet wet.”

“We jammed a few times just for fun but didn’t play shows. I had finished school in December 2016 and moved away for work, but moved back to Phoenix in early 2018 and we started writing and practicing two to three times a week. Once we had some of our own songs and covers, we started playing open mic nights, which led to getting booked for proper shows.”

The band released the digital single “Hypnotist” in June 2019, which led to the 2020 EP, “Dire Questions,” released April 23.

Kontos describes the music as a blend different flavors of rock and roll that create “an honest and raw sound that borrows from the best parts of 70s, 90s, and current music.”

“The four EP tracks take the listener on a journey all the way from gentle melodies to powerful, unapologetic anthems.”

The opening track, “Delgado,” “blasts you back into your seat to a time when rock and roll topped the charts,” and the EP concludes with “Bloom,” an “honest and emotional account of young heartbreak with a touch of hope.”

“Our influences are found in different areas of rock music,” said Kontos. “My playing is very much rooted in 90s alternative and grunge, particularly Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins.”

Kulik agreed, and added, “My music influences were much more classic rock based (Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac) but have constantly shifted over time. If there is a guitar in the music, I’ll listen to it,” he joked.

And the band name? Kulik explained that it is in part inspired by the Jimmy Eat World song, “23.”

“The message of the story is all about how you can’t wait for the best time to do something you want. At some point you realize the perfect time to do something will never come, and that you just have to jump in.” |CST

“Dire Questions” is available now on major streaming platforms. A physical CD is planned for later release. For more, follow the band on Instagram (@23valkyriesmusic) and Facebook (fb.me/23valkyriesmusic) or send an email to 23ValkyriesMusic@gmail.com.

Editor’s Picks — ‘The Making of Outlander: The Series: The Official guide to Seasons Three & Four’ by Tara Bennett

At our staff meeting today, some of us were lamenting the fact that we don’t have time to curl up with a good book as much as we would like to — and after spending the day at a computer reading emails, writing and editing copy, sometimes we’d rather just give the peepers a rest or maybe zone out with a favorite show on television. Then I received a copy of The Making of Outlander: The Series: The Official guide to Seasons Three & Four by Tara Bennett and decided to make some time.

As fans of the Starz television show can attest, the time between one season to the next can feel like forever. #Droughtlander, anyone? But Bennett’s new book will help viewers bridge that gap and provides some deeper insight into the making of this epic series.

This most recent The Making of Outlander: The Series takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of seasons three and four with a recap of each episode and interviews with the writers, directors, actors and other creatives in the production team (hair, make-up, costuming, lighting, locations etc.). Mixed in with the commentary are beautiful photos of scenes from the show as well as outtake photos with the actors. The book also spends time exploring each of the main characters with standalone chapters.

As an original fan of the books that inspired the television show (Arizona author Diana Gabaldon‘s  Outlander series), I’ve enjoyed watching characters that I’ve known longer than my children come to life on the screen (and — SPOILER ALERT — sometimes continue living well beyond their book life…looking at you Murtagh.)

The Making of Outlander: The Series: The Official guide to Seasons Three & Four is an excellent companion to the show and a perfect way to pass the time waiting for season five, which premiers on Starz Feb. 16 and is based on the fifth book in Gabaldon’s Outlander series, The Fiery Cross. The book is available at local booksellers, including The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale and Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix and Tempe.

— Kathryn M. Miller, editor-in-chief, CITYSunTimes


Hermosa Inn Presents Colorful Workshop With Scottsdale Artists’ School

In keeping with its long-standing commitment to offer unique artistic experiences to its guests and community, The Hermosa Inn announced in January a partnership with the Scottsdale Artists’ School. Led by distinguished and extraordinary artists, the workshops will capitalize on Hermosa’s idyllic setting.

With class size limited to just 20, advance registration is required and can be made by calling 602.955.8614. A $75 fee includes all supplies, a mimosa and pastries.

Coming up Saturday, February 17, a 3D Chalk Art Painting workshop will be held from 9:30 to 11:30am.

Participants will transform LON’s Hideaway Patio into a colorful trompe-l’oeil panorama, using pastels on pavement while creating their own one-of-a-kind vibrant and dramatic painting as they are introduced to the magic of the long-time art form that originated in 16th century Italy.  Darlene Curtis will demonstrate how Renaissance art is brought to life, ranging from recreating tightly-rendered realistic photos, to very loose impressionistic works, incorporating professional techniques for masking, stenciling, shading, and enlarging a picture. Every artist will also complete their own 2’ x 2’ masterpiece on wood as a keepsake.

The Hermosa Inn is located at 5532 North Palo Cristi Road in Paradise Valley. For additional information, visit www.hermosainn.com.

Arizona Snowbowl Celebrates Eighty Years — February Party & Concert Planned

Established in 1938, Arizona Snowbowl is one of the longest continually operating ski resorts in the country and this season marks Arizona Snowbowl’s 80th anniversary. To celebrate, Snowbowl is hosting an on-mountain party and a free concert in Downtown Flagstaff, February 23–24.

Friday, Feb. 23, Arizona Snowbowl will kick off 80th celebrations with a family-friendly, 80s-themed deck party at the Hart Prairie Lodge from 3 to 7pm. Enjoy delicious barbeque with a DJ spinning 80s music, food and drink specials, complete with a Torchlight Parade at dusk. Snowbowl staff members will traverse the mountain lighting up Hart Prairie with torchlights at every turn.

The festivities continue Saturday, February 24 in Downtown Flagstaff with a special free concert at the Orpheum Theater from 7 to 11pm by the band Mogollon. The Orpheum Theater will be transformed into a snow globe with an ice bar, photo booth with free photo strip takeaways, and more.

“We’re excited to celebrate Arizona Snowbowl’s 80th anniversary with all of our passholders, guests, partners, employees, alumni and the town of Flagstaff,” stated J.R. Murray, general manager of Arizona Snowbowl. “It’s a great opportunity for us to say thank you for your support over the past 80 years!”

Since 2012, the resort has experienced a complete transformation with more significant improvements at Snowbowl over the past six years than during the past 74.

“Snowbowl has certainly come a long way over the years, but even more so in recent history, which has really made an impact on the resort, our services and the product we offer our guests,” stated Murray. “Arizona Snowbowl has truly gone through a renaissance over these past six years with major improvements to the mountain that have significantly enhanced our guests’ experiences.”

Since 2012, Snowbowl has added snowmaking infrastructure, which revitalized the ski resort. Snowbowl now has more consistent slope conditions, and longer and more reliable seasons. Its state-of-the-art snowmaking system provides coverage of more than 65 percent of designated trails. Snowmaking has significantly improved the ski product and provides a solid base of snow throughout the entire season. Guests can plan winter trips, including spring break vacations in March and April with more confidence. Employees also have more consistent work throughout the season.

Snowmaking isn’t the only major improvement at the resort. Over the past three years, Snowbowl has added a new lift every year. In 2015, Snowbowl opened its first new chairlift in 30 years, the Humphrey’s Peak Quad, which serves popular intermediate trails, including Route 66 and Pluto. In 2016, Arizona Snowbowl installed its first high-speed lift — the only high-speed six-person lift in Arizona. The new Grand Canyon Express, named because you can see the Grand Canyon while riding the lift, transports skiers up the mountain in six minutes with access to more than 80 percent of the ski area. The top terminal is located on Ridge Trail at 10,900 feet in elevation. In 2017, Snowbowl’s old double Hart Prairie chairlift was replaced by a new quad chairlift with a loading conveyor, which makes loading the lift easier and more efficient, especially for beginners. The new lift’s capacity is 1,800 people per hour which is double the old two-person lift, reducing wait times for skiers and snowboarders.

Also new this winter, Snowbowl is opening a new 300-seat restaurant, doubling the dining capacity at the base area. A new pedestrian overpass now connects the Hart Prairie Lodge with the Grand Canyon Express and Sunset chairlifts, eliminating the previous crosswalk, and helping reduce traffic and improve flow up to the Agassiz Lodge. The Flagstaff ski resort also refreshed its brand and logo this season. The new logo incorporates a contemporary mountain design, which is integrated in Arizona Snowbowl’s new website which makes finding information and buying lift tickets, season passes, rental packages, ski and snowboard lessons much easier.

These enhancments are part of multi-mountain capital improvement projects totaling $35 million over three consecutive seasons from 2015 to 2018 across five mountains: Arizona Snowbowl, Purgatory Resort, Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort, Pajarito Mountain, Hesperus Ski Area, plus Colorado’s largest snowcat skiing operation, Purgatory Snowcat Adventures.

“While Snowbowl celebrates its 80 year-long history, the resort continues to keep its eye on the future with a strong commitment to enhancing the overall guest experience,” stated Murray. “Our team continues to enhance our mountain master development plan and work with the Forest Service so we can provide mountain biking and other multi-seasonal activities at Snowbowl.”

Arizona Snowbowl is open daily with eight lifts turning from 9am to 4pm. For more information about Arizona Snowbowl, visit snowbowl.ski.

Photos courtesy of Arizona Snowbowl

The Listening Room Phoenix To Open November 20

Grand Opening Event Features Woodstock Legend, Melanie, along with Special Guests

Valley music lovers will soon have a new space for enjoying live acoustic music. The Listening Room Phoenix, an intimate live video recording studio and performance space, will open its doors in Midtown Phoenix on Sunday, November 20 at 6pm with a special performance, Melanie – An Intimate Evening of Song and Conversation. This exclusive night will provide guests unprecedented, up-close-and-personal access to the songs and stories by Woodstock legend, Melanie, along with her son, guitar master Beau, and daughter, singer-songwriter, Jeordie. Guests will have the chance to interact with the musicians during a post-show meet-and-greet.

The brainchild of music industry veterans Jim Colletti and Adam Smith, The Listening Room Phoenix was designed first-and-foremost with the performer in mind. Smith, a singer-songwriter and his manager, Colletti, dreamed of a space where everyone could enjoy pure, acoustic music that is free from the distractions of outside noise, clinking dishes, chatter and other unwelcome sounds that often lessen the experience. With sound provided by Bose, The Listening Room is acoustically balanced and technically sound, offering the perfect space for acoustic performance artists and the people who appreciate them. Unlike any music space in the Valley, the 50-seat audience actually becomes part of the experience. Each show is recorded before a studio audience, enabling musicians to have a professional demo of their work in a distraction-free, live performance setting.
According to Colletti, “We truly believe if the performer has everything needed to present their best possible performance, the audience will surely have the best possible experience.”

Melanie first shot to stardom in 1969 with her unforgettable appearance at the Woodstock Festival. The performance prompted the now common phenomenon of signaling an artist for an encore by holding up some form of light. In her hit song, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain), Melanie shared her experience of when the audience lifted up their candles in the rain during her set at Woodstock. Melanie’s singles Brand New Key (Roller Skate Song), Lay Down (Candles in the Rain), Peace Will ComeLook What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma and Ruby Tuesday have all achieved chart success, with Brand New Key reaching number one and remaining in the charts for 18 weeks in 1971.

The Listening Room Phoenix is located near Seventh Street and Camelback Road at 4614 North 7th Street, Phoenix. Tickets to Melanie – An Intimate Evening of Song and Conversation are $50 (+service fee) and can be purchased by visiting www.thelisteningroomphoenix.com.

Make Your Voice Heard: 2016 Election Dates To Know

You may have noticed, it’s election season. Here are a few dates to be aware of:

Aug 1, 2016
Voter registration deadline for Primary Election
Aug 3, 2016
Early Voting begins for Primary Election
Aug 30, 2016
Primary Election
Oct 10, 2016
Voter registration deadline for General Election
Oct 12, 2016
Early Voting begins for General Election
Nov 8, 2016
General Election

voteTo register to vote, or for more information on upcoming state-wide and federal elections, visit the Arizona Secretary of State website.

For additional information, visit the the Maricopa County Recorder website or your contact your municipality for local information:

Town of Carefreehttp://www.carefree.org/167/Elections

Town of Cave Creek: http://www.cavecreek.org/index.aspx?NID=228

City of Phoenixhttps://www.phoenix.gov/cityclerk/services/election-information

City of Scottsdalehttp://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/elections

Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary In Danger Of Closing

Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary is searching for a new location. The Scottsdale facility not only provides shelter to the third most surrendered animal (rabbits), they are a cornerstone to something much larger by providing volunteer and educational opportunities to all ages. The sanctuary’s educational youth programs offer an opportunity to teach children about leadership, kindness, compassion and responsibility. And its annual Holiday Pet Festival, scheduled for December 3 at WestWorld of Scottsdale, offers a day of interactive activities, demonstrations, exhibitions, shopping  and the opportunity to adopt animals from a number of area rescue groups.

And now, the animal sanctuary is in need of support from the community it serves. Executive director Kelly Ames says that an out-of-state investor purchased the building Tranquility Trail has called home for the past five years, and opted not to renew their lease without a “massive” increase in rent. Tranquility Trail has six weeks to find a new location to continue their work in the community.

“We would love if property owners could contact us directly,” says Ames. “We are looking for 4,000-6,000 square feet, fully air conditioned, wide open floor plan. We are trying to stay under 95 cents a square foot. The sanctuary, our retail pet supply boutique and our resale boutique will all be part of the location we are seeking.”

Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary welcomes worldwide travelers on a monthly basis and was voted in the top 20 shelters worldwide and favorite shelter in Arizona for the past three years. The organization has to be out of its current location at 7848 East Redfield Road, Suite 7, by the end of August.

Ames can be reached via email at kelly@tranquilitytrail.org. For more information, visit www.tranquilitytrail.org.

Photos courtesy of Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary

Newest Phoenix Fry’s Food Store Features Mural By Local Artist

Fry's MuralThe Public Art Program of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, in partnership with Fry’s Food Stores, commissioned Valley-based artist Lauren Lee to create a mural in the newest Fry’s Marketplace. The store, located at 1311 East Bell Road, opened on Friday, July 15.

Lee was chosen from among 23 Phoenix area artists who applied for the $7,500 commission to paint the 12ft wide by 5ft high mural.

“Lauren was selected because she was able to convey the spirit of community and Arizona’s vibrant landscape with a bold and interesting graphic treatment.” says Bo Wachendorf, Fry’s Food Stores Art Project Manager.

The mural for the new Fry’s Marketplace in Phoenix draws upon iconographic imagery from the nearby community and celebrates the diverse landscape and wildlife of Arizona’s desert.

Lee is a full-time artist whose large-scale murals can be seen throughout the Valley. She divides her time between painting murals and smaller works for her frequent gallery exhibitions. She is a 2007 fine arts graduate of Arizona State University.

“Lauren’s mural underscores the unique value and sense of place art can add to our experiences in stores and other private developments,” says Edward Lebow, director of the Phoenix Public Art Program, which ran the process of selecting the artist. “We’re pleased that Fry’s is taking the lead in bolstering community connections between private development and the arts through mural commissions like this one.”

For more information on the Office of Arts and Culture, visit phoenix.gov/arts or call 602.262.4637.

Law Enforcement Community Hosts Fundraiser To Support Phoenix Police Officer Ben Denham’s Fight Against Rare Autoimmune Diseases

Denham Family

The Denham Family

A community fundraiser will be held on Saturday, July 16, from 9am-1pm at Deer Valley Airport in the Phoenix Police Air Support Unit hangar to benefit Phoenix Police Officer and father of four, Ben Denham. Officer Denham was diagnosed with two rare autoimmune diseases, Systemic Sclerosis and Polymyositis. Currently there is no cure for either disease, but there are treatments available to manage his symptoms.

Officer Denham has been a member of the Phoenix Police Department for 15 years. His desire is to get the treatment necessary to slow the progress of his diseases so that he can rehabilitate and return to work in order to finish the 20-year career goal of public service he started. Due to Denham’s diagnosis and ongoing medical treatments, he needs financial support to make it through the tough road ahead. The treatments are expensive and his medical bills have exceeded $300,000 to date. Any funds raised from the event will be used towards Denham’s continuing treatment and rehabilitation so that he can return to serving the community.

Officer Denham and his son

Officer Denham and his son

The fundraising event is open to the public and will feature a pulled pork cooking competition, a magic show and a live band, among other attractions. To raise funds, lunch will be available for $5 a plate. In addition, there are raffle items, including Arizona Diamondbacks tickets, ASU tickets, Arizona Cardinals autographed sports memorabilia, stainless BBQ Grill, themed gift baskets, flat screen TV and much more. Vendors and food trucks will also be on site to support the cause.

“This is a cause that is near and dear to our heart and we support Officer Denham and his family,” says Keith Politte, Phoenix Police Sergeant. “Our job is to serve the community as well as fellow officers who are in need. We want Officer Denham to return to doing the job he loves.”

The fundraiser is a collaborative effort of community volunteers, local law enforcement and other first responders and is being organized by Sergeant Politte a Phoenix Police veteran who has coordinated multiple community fundraisers for law enforcement officers in need.

The Phoenix Police Air Unit, Deer Valley Airport is located at 102 East Deer Valley Drive in Phoenix.

For those wanting to make a donation directly, a GoFundMe page has been set up for Officer Denham (https://www.gofundme.com/officerdenham), or checks can be mailed to the Phoenix Police Foundation:
Phoenix Police Foundation c/o Sergeant Charmane Osborn
620 W. Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85003

All donations made to the Phoenix Police Foundation will be accepted in accordance with 501(c)3 #861014450.

For more information on the community event and fundraiser, visit the ‘Support Officer Denham’ Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SupportOfficerDenham.

%d bloggers like this: