From The Editors
Our new issue - the first issue of Volume 3 - comes out tomorrow. Wondering what's in store? Well, wonder no more!
Nine days ago, we raised our champagne-filled glasses to resounding cheers, as we turned the page from 2012 to 2013. Like any other year, one chapter closeth, another beginneth. No Earth-shattering kaboom, as so many thought the Mayans had predicted. No event to end all events. No foundation-crumbling happenings to send us back to heaps of rocks and stones. Yes, just like any other year, we tiptoed across the threshold from one year -- 2012 -- to another -- 2013 -- as the sun quietly set on this big blue ball only to rise quietly once again the next day.
But while we witnessed no apocalypse and found our infrastructure still intact, left only to conclude one year as we start another, we live in a troubled world and a troubled country. We live in a world that forces us to discuss gun-control after the fact while peering over the crag of impending economic doom as Internet hate groups spring up to "blast" random victims.
Although we didn't drive/fall/trip/dive off/over/over/off the Fiscal Cliff, we're still discussing it and what the implications of soon-to-be-made decisions mean for our future. In this issue, Rebecca Styn and guest contributor Robert Cogan both explain and explore the Fiscal Cliff, hoping to bring some clarity to the much-talked about and often misunderstood crisis with which we've come face to face.
And this is an easy topic to rant about -- something renowned commentator Lewis Black, the feature of issue's cover story, likely will expound upon when he comes to Erie Friday, Jan. 11. Cory Vaillancourt had the chance to interview Black, and rather than chewing over the known topics, the two discuss much, much more, which resulted in an insightful anecdote from Black where he recounts his time at The West Bank Café Downstairs Theater Bar, the place where Black was "discovered" after emceeing there.
As Black recalls, the place was first mostly for music, but then he and troupe came and started performing plays. "The idea," Black says, "was that you could bring a play in – don't worry about the set or the costumes – bring in something simple that you can put up in (there)."
All he needed, to finally break it big, was a place open to his ideas and creativity. Much like a place right here in Erie: Basement Transmissions.
Bob Jensen, the person in this issue that we're suggesting You Ought to Know à la a Matthew Flowers interview, has seen struggles many of us never will, like literally learning to walk again. After such trials, after being dealt such a bummed hand by the almighty Dealer, no one would've blamed Jensen for cashing in his chips to sit the rest of his hands out. Instead, he kept playitng, and now he's all in on a city and a scene about which he cares deeply. And thankfully for us -- and this city and its youth interested in arts, culture, and music -- it's a good bet, one that if not made, we'd all find ourselves far less rich than we could be.
It's people like Bob Jensen, as well as those creating pro-Erie Facebook groups reveling in a city pride and highlighting Erie's amazing denizens rather than trying to tear them down, that give us hope for a bright future. As Tears For Fears sings, it is indeed a mad world out there. But if there's ever a time for a renaissance, a rebirth, an emergence out of the fog and into the light of day, it is now, because these visionaries are remaining a strong, effective presence in our Gem City.
Just look at Dramashop, who presents a challenging and topic play in the coming weeks, which Alex Bieler writes about in this very issue. The startup theater company aims to provide "entertaining and provocative theatrical experiences designed to challenge and engage the Erie community." And over two years into their existence, the organization soldiers onward to great success.
To grow, to develop, to change, to evolve, we need to be challenged, provoked, and engaged. And we need to take notice to the people fervently working to hold the mirror up to this city to ask what it seems while also bearing the candle to illuminate the path ahead as we transition from night to dawn to day to see that the best -- our collective best -- still lies ahead of us.