Arts & Culture

December 29, 2007

Sanae Sentissi, the owner of Casablanca Cafe, moved into the blue house at Fourth and Grant streets before the area became known for its ethnic restaurants. But no matter where she lived, she couldn't completely take herself away from Morocco.

Her husband at the time helped some of their friends open Puccini's, another ethnic restaurant on Fourth Street. After he quit working at Puccini's, they opened Casablanca in 1994, bringing a taste of Morocco to Fourth Street.

Sentissi was one of the first on Fourth Street to share ethnic culture through cuisine, helping make the tree-lined avenue the ethnic restaurant row that Bloomington knows today.

"There was only Siam House back then," she says.

December 15, 2007

Sitting at a messy desk inside her tiny office enclosed by curtains, Jaime Sweany laughs at the fake Turtle University diploma that hangs on the wall. The diploma says she is a "Master of Turtles."

Sweany, 49, is the master of turtles at Wandering Turtle in downtown Bloomington. She's no stranger to owning a small business and the challenges that go with it. Before opening the Wandering Turtle in 2003, she owned two other small businesses in Bloomington -- Wild Birds Unlimited and Illuminessence Photography.

"I've never had a real big business," says Sweany. "I owned Wild Birds Unlimited for about seven-and-a-half years. It was still a small business, but it was probably a more established business."

December 5, 2007

Watermelon Slim and the Workers
The Wheel Man
Northern Blues Music NBM0038

In the past few years, one of the biggest, most talked-about, emerging blues artists has been Watermelon Slim. Okie, Vietnam veteran, holder of blue-collar jobs, Watermelon Slim honed his hard-edged blues the old fashioned way: in small clubs and juke joints, but also at antiwar rallies, just playing the straight-ahead, raw blues from the heart before demanding but also straight-ahead, raw audiences who could tell who was real, and who was just faking it, as soon as they heard it. They heard the real thing in Watermelon Slim and his band, the Workers, and they rallied.

December 4, 2007

While most know that Monroe County is home to modern folk hero John Mellencamp, many aren't aware of the fact that the universal symbol of benevolence and charity himself, Santa Claus, is also an area homeowner.

The remote regions of the North Terrestrial Pole is where the globe's most recognizable jet-setting do-gooder spends most of his time, but the merry man in red escapes to his Bryan Park neighborhood getaway bungalow a few times a year.

Fresh on the heels of unseating Bill Gates as the world's top philanthropist as named by Business Week, and in town for a jug band extravaganza at Max's Place, Father Christmas recently sat down for an exclusive interview with The Bloomington Alternative.

December 4, 2007

My First Time
A Collection of First Punk Show Stories
Chris Duncan, Editor
Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2007

Yes, a review-essay on a new book about punk rock. So what’s that got to do with the blues? Plenty, as you’ll see below. This is exactly why my column is called “Blues and More.” Because, just as with the review last week of the killer CD by the Killer himself, classic rock ‘n’ roller Jerry Lewis, I wanted to be able to explore far more that is relevant to the living soul of the blues than just genre-specific blues music itself. And a good look at My First Times fits this format of doing blues – and more – exactly.

December 4, 2007

After an amazingly extended warm period, we finally got the cold temperatures that are expected during the holidays. By now, I hope all gardens have been put to bed, and gardeners take ample time to reflect upon the past year.

As an organic gardener, I have many memories of the year's growing season: the extremes of temperature, the ice storm, the drought, the survival (or demise) of plants, shrubs and trees. All brought lessons with them.

It may seem a distant memory, but spring 2007 was challenging. March suffered a deep freeze on the 4th and then a devastating ice storm on the 13th. Surviving that challenge, plants faced an early warming trend - unseasonably warm. Then, in early April, we had a deep, extended freeze.

November 20, 2007

Ann Kreilkamp isn't the hunched old hag most people think of when they hear the word "crone."

In fact, it's this unappealing image of aged womanhood that Kreilkamp - a spritely, bespectacled woman with short, frenzied hair and seemingly boundless energy - is bent on doing away with.

Next year, the Bloomington resident will launch Crone: Women Coming of Age, a semiannual publication dedicated to declaring and exploring the ways and wisdom of advanced womanhood.

"The crone is that part of us that is wise, and is authentic, and has learned from experience," says Kreilkamp, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston University and now lives in Bloomington.

November 20, 2007

Indiana University Photography Students 10th Annual Alternative Show will feature a collection of portraits celebrating the people who make up the Bloomington community.

The show, which includes the work of the 14 BFA photography students, opens Nov. 30, 7-11 p.m., at Third and Lincoln.

"Everyone is taking 20 photographs of people in the community," says Christina Allegree, who is in her third semester of the B.F.A. program. "There will be around 300 portraits. Last year the show was a community project, but only two people did portraits, so this year we wanted to involve the community more."

November 20, 2007

There are certain things in life that just sit with you. Maybe it's a song, maybe it's a scene in your favorite movie, or maybe it's a painting filled with color and life. Whatever "it" is, it rounds out your life and makes the journey a little easier to bear.

For me, it's an entire musical. Rent, the history-making rock musical based on Puccini's opera La Boheme, came to the IU Auditorium Nov. 13 and 14, and the experience filled a hole in my life that I didn't even know existed.

While I was already familiar with the music and storyline from the movie version that came out in 2005, I knew I needed to see it live to get the full experience. Well, I went, and I fell in love with the production all over again.

November 10, 2007

I'm a Rent fan. I love the music, I love the message, and I love the characters who tell the story through their eyes during "a year in the life." So, naturally, seeing the opera that inspired such a production
was crucial. It would be like seeing the movie without reading the book. For me, it was one of the last pieces of the puzzle to help me grasp the message of the plot: that through seasons, sickness, poverty and even death, love can still hold on.

And I loved every minute of it.

Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme played to a packed house in the Musical Arts Center on Nov. 9, and for good reason. The story of four young bohemians dreaming (and freezing) their way through winter in 1800s
Paris is a tale packed with human emotion and relatable experience, even if not all of us have lived it. The characters are strong, the plot even stronger, and for IU Opera Theater's production, the set just blows your mind.

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