Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School has arrived at The Sinclair


Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School has arrived at The Sinclair
Sammy Sutra during December’s Dr. Sketchy

An exciting new monthly event called Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School has arrived at The Sinclair. Dr. Sketchy’s was founded in 2005 by model/artist Molly Crabapple. In an effort to make the art world to feel less stuffy, she came up with the idea of a burlesque drawing event. Over the last five years, Dr. Sketchy’s has gone international with 100 branches all over the globe. Now The Sinclair, an establishment run by self-described artistic sorts, has joined the fun.

According to manager Christopher Farrell, they loved the idea of Dr. Sketchy’s as a way to take art off its high horse, make it accessible to everyone, and greatly help the push for a thriving arts culture in Jacksonville.

Dr. Sketchy’s atmosphere is bawdy, friendly, and just plain fun. Imagine an artsy Cheers with more engaging and exotic characters, and a burlesque beauty at the center of it all. Your hosts for the evening are Edward Mourningwood (Christopher Farrell), Anita Nightcap (April Schlegel), Belladonna Nightshade (Joy Smith), and Professor X (David Paul). Their model is the amazing Sammy Sutra, who had already been a fan of Dr. Sketchy’s for quite some time before it even arrived in Jacksonville.

Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School has arrived at The Sinclair
Sammy Sutra during December’s Dr. Sketchy

The night revolves around costume changes, fun drawing contests that even amateurs have a shot at winning, and musical entertainment. Throughout the night, participants, or art monkeys, are plied with free sake shots. Why? As Edward Mourningwood explains “Booze is a fantastic social and artistic lubricant.”

Mostly, The Sinclair understands that free shots are fun, loosen people up, and take all the anxiety out of drawing. Prizes range from the real treasures, such as next week’s Baby Tattoo books of stories and artwork, to the entirely silly. Farrell explains that The Sinclair’s goal is that “everyone leaves with something fun to remember the night.”

Though Dr. Sketchy’s sounds like a celebration of debauchery, it is not a strip club or even an R rated movie. Sammy Sutra wears more than you see girls wearing on Jacksonville Beach. As Joy Smith explains, women can be even sexier fully clothed than naked. Sammy Sutra really plays on her enthusiasm for the event, her connection with participants, and her own natural sensuality. So, art enthusiasts, both wild and meek, will find themselves completely at comfort.

Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School is a monthly event at The Sinclair. Its next event, entitled “Don’t Sketch With Texas,” is January 13th from 7:30 to 10:30pm. It is $6 at the door, if you bring paper and a pencil, or $8 if you just came to drool. To find out more, check out their event on Facebook.

The Sinclair would like to heartily thank its sponsors Bold City Brewery, Baby Tattoo Books, and Zupi Magazine.

The Decemberists at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre


The Decemberists were the featured band September 29th at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. It was a Tuesday, so there was not as much of a showing as expected for such an acclaimed band. Still, the audience was mostly made up of those who knew the songs, and were truly excited to be there.

The opening band was Laura Veirs and The Hall of Flames. The Hall of Flames was pleasantly matched with The Decemberists. They had a playful manner on stage and Laura Veirs has a voice with pure intents, curiosity, imagination, and an unjaded take on the world. If you are a fan of The Decemberists, I recommend you check them out.

When The Decemberists played, it felt very much like the audience was being taken on some sort of crazy time hopping trip. The songs unfolded like the scenes in a Victorian play, the music was reminiscent of ancient folk songs from as far back as the time of Gaels and Celts, and much of the singing could have been straight out of Woodstock.

This was entirely appropriate given that the concert’s set list was The Hazards of Love album played in order. The album is a story concocted by Colin Meloy, the lead singer, to play on the timeless theme of star crossed lovers so often found in the folk songs he has become connected to over the last several years.

Colin Meloy, sang for both the hero, William, and the villain, simply known as The Rake. Becky Stark played the heroine and William’s true love, Margaret. Shara Worden played the Queen, the adoptive nature mother of William.

credit: Audrey Keith
credit: Audrey Keith

Impressively, The Decemberists started on time at 8:30 PM, which is atypical of most concerts. The band made a dramatic entrance on stage. The spell was broken, however, when Jenny Conlee’s organ playing stopped momentarily and Colin Meloy apologized for what he termed a “train wreck.”

Jenny Conlee’s response was “Can we just skip the intro and start with the first song?” This laid back attitude was quickly forgotten as soon as the breathtaking first notes of The Hazards of Love 1 were played.

Becky Stark was captivating, before she even began to sing. She was so very much in character and reminiscent of the silent film star Mary Pickford who so often portrayed damsels and waifs. Her voice was clear and delicate. She was perfect for the part of Margaret.

Shara Worden was definitely an audience favorite as soon as her low, sexy, throaty voice called out over the microphone. She was ideal as the Queen with an immensely earthy, wise, and seductive performance. Becky Stark and Shara Worden put even America’s most famous divas to shame with their voices.

The story played out beautifully and emotionally. Inevitably, Margaret and William died for love. The audience stood, clapped, and cheered enthusiastically as the band exited the stage.

Unexpectedly, the band rushed back on stage in less than a minute. Colin Meloy explained that he had just learned that St. Augustine had a curfew and he wanted to make sure that he could cram as much music in that night so that everyone could go home happy.

This is what separates The Decemberists apart from so many other big names. They don’t play to enjoy the limelight so much as to enjoy entertaining and pleasing their fans. They kept mostly to their upbeat songs and even jokingly played what Meloy termed the worst song he had ever written, Dracula’s Daughter. Then, Meloy decided to play O Valencia instead, fearing that audience members would call up their radio stations and demand to hear Dracula’s Daughter.

The band left and then rushed back on again as the cheering audience was contemplating how best to exit the theater. This time, he returned with Becky Stark and Shara Worden who sang their enthusiastic rendition of Heart’s Crazy On You that had the audience crying out in gratitude. All in all, this was an incredibly successful concert despite the small show of fans. Hopefully, North Florida will get another chance to see this amazing band.

The Ancient City Convention


The Ancient City Convention – Anime, Sci-Fi and Roller Derbies from Joey Marchy on Vimeo.

The Ancient City Convention, held at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront, was literally an underground event. So little was done to advertise the event, I didn’t hear about it until a friend of mine asked if I would come check out his booth.

It’s an unforgivable sin for an indie loving geek girl like me to not know about an all out convention for games, role play, cosplay, anime and manga, fantasy, Sci-Fi, Star Wars, horror, and roller derbies. I chalked it up to being incredibly busy and out of the loop 95% of the time. After finding my fellow geek buddies (I have plenty of them) had no clue this was going on, I knew some inadequate marketing was used to promote this event.

As I expected, the convention was sparse on visitors. Quite a shame, since it was packed with cool stuff to do and see. Before you even entered, there was a bright yellow Pikachu VW Bug to gawk over.

Inside were role-playing tables galore. A large section of the room was partitioned off for those interested in playing video games with the other convention goers. You could get your picture taken with Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, a number of anime characters, The Dread Pirate Roberts, and a smattering of lovely Lolitas.

There was a spread of booths for amazing, mostly local vendors and other groups. I had the pleasure of interviewing several of them for Urban Jacksonville.

Don Myers is the owner of Tshirtbordello.com, and a good friend. He’s working on some incredibly fun t-shirt designs with local artists.

Cari Wells is from St. Augustine is new to the convention scene. She creates ears, horns, and the like for cosplay. You can order via paypal on her myspace page.

Kevin Pettway is a comic book artist and writer who lives in the Riverside area. He has a twice-weekly comic about role-playing that you’re sure to get a good chuckle from.

The Jacksonville Roller Girls are looking for a few good women and men to help them with roller derbies and charity events. They need skaters, refs, EMT’s, hydration specialists, and bodies for their promotion team. What could be cooler than hanging out with a group of tough, stunning women?

The 7th Squad of 501st Legion of Storm Troopers was impossible to miss. They were all suited up and posing for photos with everyone. They even had a podcast (or should I say squadcast?) going live with Truffle and Mongo, the self-proclaimed Lex & Terry of storm trooper radio. This group dresses up for fun, the love of Star Wars, and charity.

All in all, it was incredibly fun and I was surprised to see what a wealth of talent we have in our town. Hopefully, next year the convention will be better advertised. Jacksonville really jumped up in my approval after attending the Ancient City Convention.

Audrey Keith, Urban Jacksonville’s most colorful contributor, is an Internet and TiVo addicted quirky suburban mother of two girls, Madeleine and Penelope. She loves to travel, write, delve into the arts of all types, and put together clothing of her own design. Her blog is roaringtulips-audrey.blogspot.com and her Twitter name is @roaring_tulips.

Why I Love Jacksonville


credit: minds-eye
credit: minds-eye

From the first moment I can remember, I’ve had a feverish case of wanderlust. As an adult, I’ve indulged myself with a fair amount of traveling and have even lived in a diverse variety of settings. Usually, I get the itch to leave a place around the year mark. Now, I live in Jacksonville, FL. For the first time, I feel like I’m home. There are some great things about this town and, if allowed to, I see a great future for it.

First, Jacksonville can be quite beautiful. I’ve seen many stunning sights from lights of New York at night, petals falling like pink snow from forests of cherry blossom trees of Ueno Park in Tokyo, and twin bucks leaping over a shimmering creek in the deepest woods of Georgia.

Still, one of the most breathtaking views of my life occurred shortly after turning onto I-95 South from I-10. A blue bridge shone clear and bright over a black satiny river. Behind it was a backdrop of buildings from a variety of eras and visions of what a Bold New City of the South should be. Their windows twinkled like Christmas tree lights in the dark night. I still crane my neck every time I pass the point at night. In one day you can witness the gentle marshes of the north, the bright beaches of the east, the motley arrangement of homes from Avondale to Murray Hill in the west, and the manicured look of the south.

credit: Ed Yourdon
credit: Ed Yourdon

Then there are the people of Jacksonville. When I lived in New Orleans, it was easy for me to spot the people who belonged and those who were just visiting. Really, I could do that just about any place I lived in or visited. The only defining characteristic I have identified in Jacksonvillians is that they all seem to know each other. For a town of this size and population, it is unusual how many connections people seem to have.

The most important quality that Jacksonville has is its potential. Jacksonville has a lot of opportunities it should take advantage of. I work with local businesses and I’m always impressed with their competency, optimism, and amiability. They embrace the new even if the changes seem a bit scary.

credit: DeusXFlorida
credit: DeusXFlorida

We have amazing resources like the Beaver Street Enterprise Center for these businesses as well! We have communities with creative solutions to make living in Jacksonville a great experience for everyone. We have a unique arts and culture scene. We have incredible restaurants, even if we’re having a difficult time defining our town’s culinary brand.

There are clearly challenges with Jacksonville. Some of the worst drivers in the world seem to live here, Downtown is struggling to stay the hub of the city, and there is definitely a crime problem. We’re not New York or Seattle or New Orleans so when people hear about Jacksonville, they don’t automatically have a sense of what this town is about. I truly do believe we are on our way though and I am thrilled to be witnessing it all.

So, this traveler has found her home base. I get the urge to jump on a plane and I greatly enjoy my journeys. Still, it’s such an enjoyable moment when I arrive back in the Jacksonville International Airport and sigh “home at last.” And then I brave our traffic.

Audrey Keith, Urban Jacksonville’s most colorful contributor, is an Internet and TiVo addicted quirky suburban mother of two girls, Madeleine and Penelope. She loves to travel, write, delve into the arts of all types, and put together clothing of her own design. Her blog is roaringtulips-audrey.blogspot.com and her Twitter name is @roaring_tulips.

Five Things I Found In Japan That Should Be In Jacksonville


credit: gmetrail
credit: gmetrail

Audrey Keith is an Internet and TiVo addicted quirky suburban mother of two girls, Madeleine and Penelope. She loves to travel, write, delve into the arts of all types, and put together clothing of her own design. Her blog is roaringtulips-audrey.blogspot.com and her Twitter name is @roaring_tulips.

Whenever I travel somewhere, I think to myself “Why isn’t this in Jacksonville? This would be awesome at home!” This was especially true of Japan. However, I managed to limit myself to five things I truly feel we should have in Jacksonville.

credit: dugspr — in Osaka
dugspr — in Osaka

More support for mass transit

Let’s face it. We are not our best selves early in the day, desperately trying to reach the place that gives us money for our time. I experience this every morning as I travel from Mandarin to the junction of University and Beach.

In Tokyo and its surrounding towns, there were commuter trains. Almost everyday of my trip there, I traveled from Hon Atsugi to Tokyo. It turned a long and stressful trip into one that was far briefer and safer. I know commuter trains aren’t exactly a novel concept, ask anyone from New York, but still seem like some foreign concept in Jacksonville.

I can’t help thinking the majority of Jacksonville’s traffic problems would be solved if there were better access to mass transit and we turned off our prejudices about it. What is it about sharing a ride with strangers that offends us so much that we’d rather spend a fortune on gas and destroy the atmosphere of the only planet we have?

We’re all pretty much heading the same way anyway, why don’t we capitalize on that? It may sound impossible to make such a commuter conversion. There doesn’t seem to be that much available to those of us heading downtown from our suburban homes, event though we have train tracks all over town. JTA provides us with some buses, a skyway, and a small trolley system too. With more support from the citizens of Jacksonville, there’s no telling just how transit might grow to suit our needs.

credit: jpellgen
credit: jpellgen

Vending machines for everything

In Japan there is a vending machine around every corner. You can often find them in unbelievably long rows and you shouldn’t be surprised to spot one off a rarely visited road winding through acres of rural fields.

Some of them have over thirty selections, ranging from the expected to the kinky. I can’t describe the convenience of buying my coffee and my breakfast from the same machine. I can get it hot or cold. I can even get a toy for my kid. These machines will even break down large amounts of money into slightly smaller amounts. I was so impressed with their vending machines that I wanted to start my own business bringing them over here.

credit:  _Kempton_
credit: _Kempton_

Boss Coffee

The best thing about the vending machines was Boss Coffee. I often joked with others that if I sold Boss Coffee in the States my ad campaign would be “You can get it hot. You can get it cold. You can get it in a little can with a toy car.”

I think the Boss Coffee company had a better idea when they got Tommy Lee Jones to endorse the canned coffee. He stars in a series of commercials as an alien having a hard time on our planet, but Boss Coffee always makes everything better.

Besides having an awesome ad campaign, Boss has a great product. A wide range of coffee products in cans of different sizes; much like the products Starbucks hocks, but with real coffee. There is none of this milk with a dash of mocha and a pinch of coffee stuff.

Even better, the cans are made almost like a thermos. A vending machine can keep it icy cold or a perfect warm. The outside of the can is just warm enough to thaw your hands on chilly mornings. I loved Boss Coffee so much I saved one of the cans. Maybe, one day, Jacksonville will be lucky enough to have this delightful beverage. In my experience, caffeine in convenient packaging makes the world a better place.

credit: sakuraboy
credit: sakuraboy

A crazy variety of frozen yogurt flavors

Like every sane person in this town, I am all about the free frozen yogurt at some restaurants, but, we’re limited to vanilla, chocolate, and the combination of vanilla and chocolate.

Imagine strawberry, grape, caramel, cappuccino, green tea, and black sesame. Green tea and black sesame may sound untrustworthy. However, a country full of children cannot possibly be wrong about sweets. Business would be great for restaurants that could offer this sort of deliciousness. More importantly, I think we’d all be happier people.

credit: jmurawski
credit: jmurawski

The world’s largest haunted house

When I found a theme park in Japan called Fuji-Q Highland had Guinness World Record breaking rides with a breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji, I said to myself “I might have to put that on our to do list.” When I found out that it also had the world’s largest haunted house, I said “I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.”

It was an absolutely huge “haunted” hospital. You walk in and see a movie that gives you that “Ringu” feeling and then proceed through a labyrinth of passageways. Occasionally, there were emergency exits available to visitors who couldn’t handle the terror of it all. Seriously though, you would have to have been a total wimp to bail out. Despite its amazing size and fantastic attention to creepy detail, it just wasn’t scary. I got more scared at Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando. This is why we need to bring it to Jacksonville.

We live in the land of theme parks and the closing shipyards on the northbank has left us land already being considered for some sort of tourist attraction. We need to have the world’s largest haunted house just because we really are that awesome.

As you can see, Jacksonville could definitely benefit from a little Japanophilia. Even if you don’t agree with all of these, I am sure you must see the advantages of one of them.

Editors note: I do not agree with placing any sort of theme park on The Shipyards land. I am for a transit oriented development, affordable housing, or both. I do however want some Boss Coffee.