Category: Entertainment

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics icon, passes at 95

This past Monday on November 12th, Marvel mogul Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95. The creator of iconic superheroes like Spider-man, Hulk, Wolverine and so many more was beloved by generations—from adult comic lovers to young Marvel movie fans.

Lee began his career in the comic industry during a tumultuous time in the country. Starting at the Timley Comics company in the year of 1939, Lee began his career in the industry as nothing more than an office assistant. As time went on, he became more interested in comics, sticking with the publisher even when it underwent a name change in 1960. The new name of the company?  Marvel Comics. In an attempt to keep up with D.C. Comics after they received a huge popularity boost with the introduction of Justice League, Lee created the Fantastic Four, changing the comics industry forever. 1

Stan Lee also aided in the development of Captain America, one of Marvel’s most famous characters, who served as a hopeful symbol to the United States in a time of war. Lee was the writer who introduced the iconic shield as Captain America’s weapon of choice, which now acts as one of the defining characteristics of the hero.

Once Marvel comics made the transition to screen, Stan Lee was introduced to younger audiences through a number of cameos—appearing in nearly every Marvel film as a random, often eccentric unnamed character. Audiences were always delighted to see him on screen, sometimes going so far as to clap during viewings when he showed up in the plot. Though his life has come to an end, his legacy will continue to live on as the Marvel franchise endures.

 

 

1 Source https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/stan-lee-creator-legendary-marvel-comic-book-superheroes-dies-95-n819371

Image Sourced at https://variety.com/2018/biz/news/stan-lee-hospitalized-hospitalization-1202685164/

Already missing Halloween? Here’s a list of our favorite horror movies that will help keep the spooky spirit alive!

Though we’ve just left the Halloween season in the dust, that doesn’t mean we have to give up any and all things spooky and scary! Horror, to me, is one of the most interesting film genres, though it doesn’t get near as much love as films that fit into boxes like romance and comedy. Many may think horror movies are corny, dumb, or just downright disturbing– and sometimes, they are! But despite these preconceptions, it’s still possible to find enjoyment in a scary movie every now and then. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my all-time favorite horror movies. Some are merely slivers of a larger series of films—others are standalones. That’s not to say the series as a whole isn’t good, but these films in particular are the best of their counterparts! Beware of spoilers in the descriptions of each movie!

  1. Paranormal Activity (2007)
  • I have to say that I’ve never found these movies to be truly scary. They’ve startled me a couple of times, but I’ve never been clinging to my seat with my heart in my throat. I remember watching this film for the first time. The concept of telling a story through security cameras was groundbreaking, and to this day, I can’t think of another movie that accomplishes this style as well as Paranormal Activity did. It’s a great movie to watch curled up with friends in the winter weather!

 

  1. Scream (1996)
  • Scream has become the pinnacle of 90’s horror– calling out dumb tropes, being self-aware of its own ridiculousness, and giving the horror genre a number of iconic scenes, Scream is commonly known as one of the most widely known slasher flick of all time.

 

  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  • While The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t at all a traditional horror feature, it surely has a number of scary or spooky moments that could leave anyone with chills. Done in the style of claymation, the chilling setting and movement of the characters sets a tone that is sure to put a shiver down your spine. And, with Christmas fast approaching, it’s a perfectly appropriate film to watch by a fire with a cup of cocoa in hand!

 

  1. The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
  • The Purge franchise tends to get a lot of flack—many say the kills are over the top, and the plots aren’t well crafted, but I want to give the series some credit. When the Purge came out, I was pretty dissatisfied. There were some good moments, but overall, I thought the movie wasn’t anything spectacular. However, when Purge: Anarchy came out, I was astounded how different the sequel felt to the original. To go from a fight in the house of a rich person to people defending themselves on the street gives the audience a neat view on how the premise of the Purge works. The Purge: Anarchy was the first movie I have seen which changes the entire premise of the series halfway through.

 

  1. The Thing (1981)
  • This movie, while it isn’t at the top of the list, is one of my all-time favorites! The Thing is a film which is unafraid to develop layers in both character and plot. The concept of aliens is always a fun one to explore, and The Thing does so with vigor. There is so much we don’t know about space, and The Thing takes full advantage of that lack of knowledge. This movie tests the trust of everyone, relying on the build of paranoia in audiences rather than jump scares or gore. The entire premise of this movie is that an alien can transform into any living thing, so no one knows if a person is who they say. Setting up that suspense and never settling down makes this a great horror movie.

 

  1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  • This movie is a jewel in the sand of horror movies. Night of the Living Dead was one of the first movies to establish the zombie theme in horror, and I think it’s the only one that has done it right since its original release. The film itself has a controversial history behind it, being that it was one of the first movies of to have a black lead protagonist. (Spoilers ahead!) This black lead also had one of the most controversial deaths in cinema, being shot at the end of the movie for seemingly no reason. Did the shooter believe Ben, the black character played by actor Duane Jones, think he was a zombie, or did he have quiet racist intentions? This question is never answered, which leads watchers to delve into some introspection after the credits start rolling.

 

  1. Halloween (1978)
  • Being one of the titans of the horror genre, Halloween, similarly to Paranormal Activity, is considered a classic! This film was the first to establish the monster that is Michael Myers, making this antagonist a household names to both those who love and hate horror. I give major credit to John Carpenter for his tremendous work during this movie and the others of the series, as well as Jamie Lee Curtis for giving us in the audience such a chilling performance.

 

  1. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)
  • So, I’m breaking the one rule I set up for myself, which is to not include more than one film from a single series, but for good reason! This movie has never felt like a true sequel to Halloween, in my opinion. What gives this movie an edge over the original Halloween is that the plot of this movie is gruesome, much more gruesome than the first two of the series. To sum up the plot, a man sells a few masks to some local children and on Halloween night, he attempts to use a stone from Stonehenge for a Celtic ritual which will melt the heads off all the kids wearing the masks. While to some the concept may sound ridiculous, to a kid who still finds joy in dressing up on Halloween, this is terrifying. I’ve been afraid of wearing masks for years, and watching this movie again still terrifies me. A great flick to watch if you’re already missing the Halloween season!

 

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
  • It’s hard to describe to people why I love this movie, but I’m going to try. I think what puts this movie over the other Nightmare on Elm Streets is that this movie lets Freddy have fun, or as much fun a psychotic supernatural killer can have. I think a lot of his most memorable kills from the franchise come from this movie. You have a girl being electrocuted through a television, another being injected with poison filled syringes, and a kid being thrown off a building after being strung up like a puppet by his tendons. It sets itself apart from the others by playing loose with the rules of reality for Freddy, and I think that makes the film all the more entertaining. Freddy doesn’t have to make sense because in the world of Elm Street, it’s Freddy that makes the rules.

 

  1. Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter
  • The Friday the 13th films were the first I ever watched as a kid. I remember being terrified yet amazed by the killer that is Jason Vorhees. He goes from being a killer living in Crystal Lake to an immortal being to killing in Manhattan to being sent off to space. This man/supernatural monster/psycho killer has seen it all! Now, while I do love the entire franchise, part 4 takes the place of my number one pick because of one character alone. Tommy Jarvis. (Spoilers ahead!) In the beginning of The Final Chapter, Tommy starts as an innocent nerd, but after witnessing all of the evil committed by Jason, he snaps and kills Jason himself. Yes, he kills Jason! The twist of having a seemingly defenseless nerd murder the famous antagonist is brilliant and shocking.

 

Was one of your favorite horror flicks not included on this list? Let us know! We at the Crux would love to hear your opinions on what you like to watch when you find yourself missing the Halloween season.

By Dane Shaull

Top 5 Shows On Netflix You Can Binge Right Now

Too much homework? Need a mental break from all those studies? Well, then take the time to binge a new TV series on Netflix! Regardless of whether you’re mooching off your parents account or if you’ve got your own, here’s a list of the 5 best shows to binge on Netflix when you’re not in the mood to cram.

  1. Grey’s Anatomy- Love drama? How about hot doctors? Well then you have come to the right place. The show follows Meredith Grey, who is starting off as an intern at a hospital in Seattle. Not only do we watch her struggle with maintaining relationships with her colleagues and trying to keep a lid on some family drama, she finds herself in a forbidden romance as well. With 14 seasons posted on Netflix, with number 15 on the way, this show will have you drooling for more.greys-anatomy-memes-long-live-grey-s-5b1ed102fa6bcc0036c4d53b.jpg
  2. Stranger Things- Full of sci-fi and 80s culture, this thriller follows Joyce as she investigates the disappearance of Will, her 12 year old son. As they investigate Will’s disappearance, they come to unravel a series of conspiracies, exposing the details of government experiments and the collusion of supernatural forces.  With Stranger Things seasons 1 and 2 both on Netflix, it will keep you hanging on the edge of your seats. There are, of course, jumpscares. You’ve been warned.1464696-strangerthings-1500797978-936-640x480.jpg
  3. Daredevil- Are you a Marvel fan but you can’t wait for the next Marvel movie? Daredevil is the perfect watch for breaks between films. It will also get you hooked and transition you into a Marvel Defender. By day, Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer, trying to fight for the little guy in court. At night, he hunts the dark streets and alleys of Hell’s KItchen. With his senses heightened, Murdock takes on mobsters and villains alike. With season 3 on the way, Daredevil will open up a new world of fantastic Marvel characters for you.daredevil-netflix-190285.jpg
  4. The Office- Based off of the originally British television show, The Office is a documentary style show following the co-workers of Dunder-Mifflin and how they run their business as well as the shenanigans they get up to. With 9 season now added to the platform, it’s perfect to binge watch when your trying to study. MDot-TheOffice-640x360-MP.jpg
  5. Friends- Rich with 90s pop culture, this sitcom follows 6 friends living in New York City and the crazy twists and turns of their lives. With plenty of relatable characters and great stories, you’ll be laughing on the sofa with a cup of coffee.0091876_0.jpg

Why We Need Love, Simon.

When I first realized I liked girls, I was only ten years old. I had been watching Teen Titans, a show on the Cartoon Network one Saturday morning when the character Starfire came on screen. She had bright red hair and an outrageously animated body, but the way her character spoke had made my chest feel warm.

Being a child, I shoved the feeling away to analyze at a later date, unable to recognize how much that moment would shape my young life. The time for analysis never came. Instead, I worked my way through middle school, developing crushes on girls in my grade, but all the same shoving the infatuation away because of course, it was wrong. Unnatural. After all, it was Rose that fell in love with Jack, and it was Edward that fell in love with Bella, and that was just the way things were.

The way everything was.

download.jpegRecently, however, the film Love, Simon has challenged this heterosexual status quo, the movie hitting theaters internationally, acting as a shock to the largely straight system of cinema. The film has earned mixed reviews from people both within and outside of the LGBT+ community. A majority of the reactions have been positive, celebrating the success of one of the first, widely released young adult films that features a gay protagonist.

However, some critics have picked the film apart, discrediting every cliche and dismissing every cheesy one liner, all the while posing the question of whether Love, Simon was necessary.

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In a society completely saturated with films based around teen stereotypes, it surprises me that only now is the necessity of high school rom coms called into question. Films such as Fault in Our Stars, Twilight, and Ten Things I Hate About You, which all feature heterosexual, high school couples, have had the honor of becoming classics among the millennial generation.

Yet, now that a film of the same formula has taken the box office by storm with a gay main character, Hollywood has suddenly “run out of ideas,” repeating the same narrative and pandering to “PC culture.”

I understand the frustration with Hollywood’s monotony. Love, Simon is by no means a cinematic masterpiece. At times, the writing heavily relies on stereotypes audiences may be tired of, and the use of clichés sometimes pushes the narrative right over the line of cheesy. But that’s what makes Love, Simon so crucial in the fight for representation. Finally, the LGBT+ community has gotten their own Twilight, just… with less vampires and more rainbow motifs.

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Image from Trailer Addict: https://www.traileraddict.com/blue-warmest-color/poster/1

To give context to why a film like Love, Simon is so important, it’s necessary to understand the current state of LGBT+ cinema. One of the most popular movies ever to feature a gay couple is the French film Blue is the Warmest Color. The movie illustrates a relationship between a nervous 18-year-old named Adèle and an older, free spirited woman named Emma, who is implied to be in her 30’s. Their relationship is taboo and secretive, which eventually causes a rift between them. Eventually, Adèle is left behind by Emma, and, with the love of her life gone, Adèle spirals into depression while her ex moves on to a more mature, stable relationship. To make matters, and the film as a whole, even worse, spliced between scenes of emotional manipulation and angst are vulgar, bordering on pornographic sex scenes between Adèle and Emma.

 

These distressing themes are commonplace within LGBT+ films. Characters tend to either be hypersexualized or broken apart, a happy ending out of the question. For a young member of the LGBT+ community, it can be frightening to look towards media for reassurance, only to be told that the kinds of relationships you may be looking for can only end in tragedy. Love, Simon takes these thematic elements, these pornographic scenes, and flips them on their head, instead creating a sweet but inspiring tale that seeks to empower teenagers who are just starting to explore their identities and sexualities.

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In fact, even members of the cast of Love, Simon themselves have been inspired by the film, the lead actor Keiynan Lonsdale (pictured right) coming out as queer just after shooting for the movie was wrapped. Reflecting on what it was like to play a closeted gay character, Lonsdale said to the Hollywood Reporter on March 16th, “Representation matters, and it’s just the truth. You watch something, and depending on how the story is told and how these characters feel to you, it influences your life, it influences how you feel about yourself and people that you meet.”*

Stories like Lonsdale’s unfold every day– kids coming out to their families and friends all the while never knowing exactly what kind of reaction they’ll get. Lonsdale acknowledges that he was lucky to come out in an environment that was so immediately accepting, though he admits that, regardless of knowing he’d be met with nothing but support, it was still a terrifying experience. Love, Simon was created with the purpose of quelling some of that inherent fear. By giving an honest, yet lighthearted look into the life of a gay teenager, Love, Simon has become an invaluable resource for queer kids who are terrified of making themselves known. Seeing the main character find peace in his own skin gives kids within the LGBT+ community an example to look towards, letting them hope for their own happy ending.

By Mimi Ottavi

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/love-simon-keiynan-lonsdale-talks-coming-set-1092851

 

Chicago 17 – Album Review

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By Christian Perez


 

Imagine the perfect band.

For some, that might involve massive guitars, pounding percussion, and vocalists that hit astronomically high notes. Others may be picturing a traditional ensemble, draped in the velvety colors of the symphonic orchestra. You might even prefer the artist’s focus on songwriting instead of musical skill!

My idea of the perfect band comes in the form of Chicago. Not only is their individual musicianship excellent, but their collective knowledge and application of jazz sets them apart from other rock groups from the 60s-80s. They found a way to seamlessly blend the intricate harmonic devices of that genre with an accessible approach to songwriting and lyricism.

While Chicago 17 maintains that essential integrity, this album doesn’t always stay consistent in terms of re-imagining the 80s pop formula. Some songs fare better than others, but the overall vibe seems much more manufactured and produced than their earlier jazz-rock works (such as Chicago V).

The opening song of this album is a wonderful example of this supposition. “Stay The Night” sits in this strange middle ground for me. The guitars, synths, and drums hit harder than a brick wall, but the rather odd delivery of the lackluster lyrics brings the whole track down a couples of notches. There’s just not enough depth to this song to keep me engaged, and that tarnished the initial impression I got from the excellent instrumental track.

However, the album gets progressively better after the opening.

Take for example, one of my favorites off of the album, “We Can Stop The Hurtin'”. It directly proceeds “Stay The Night”, and immediately lifted my hopes for Chicago’s seventeenth collection. It opens with an arpeggiated synth bass, a funky clean guitar, and a bare drum beat. Robert Lamm starts his verse by describing the rather desolate condition of society, but transitions into the harmonically-dense chorus by admitting that “If we found a way to reconcile, we could stop the hurtin’ for a while”. I’d recommend that you give this track a listen!

I couldn’t really complete this review without mentioning the two hit ballads off of this album: “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re The Inspiration”. These are some of my favorite songs of all time, and I’d like to share why these stand out to me.

“Hard Habit to Break” is one of the most intricate power ballads I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In terms of the song’s composition, I find that Steve Kipner keeps the song interesting by changing the keys many times, as well as emphasizing his wonderful lyrical contributions. Of course, this song wouldn’t have been as successful and as poignant without the fantastic vocal performances provided by Peter Cetera and Bill Champlin! The unique timbre of both of these performers only supplement the excellence of their vocal abilities.

Performed at the Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas.


The song “You’re The Inspiration” follows a similar standard in performance. However, this song serves as a wonderful vehicle for showcasing Cetera’s vocal ability and his skills as songwriting (with a little bit of help from producer David Foster). I don’t believe I can properly explain to you all how great this song is, so here’s a link to a live performance of the song:

Peter Cetera performs this song, independent of Chicago, for the DVD Peter Cetera with Special Guest Amy Grant.


Overall, I think that this album deserves a listen, but keep in mind that the songwriting and 80s aesthetic can sometimes feel both underwhelming and overwhelming. The high points on this album are glorious, but the low points seem to bring you down as well.

Here’s the album on Spotify:

Final Score:

7/10

 

Additional Information

Chicago 17 came out on May 14, 1984 to massive sales (1). It became the group’s best selling album of all time, and cemented the aging group’s musical influence for years to come. The singles from this album include “Stay the Night”, “Hard Habit to Break”, “You’re The Inspiration”, and “Along Comes A Woman”.

Sources:

  1. https://www.chicagotheband.com/albums/chicago17.html
  2. http://vinylalbumcovers.com/chicago-17/

 

 

$4 Million Festival In Cedar Rapids Ft. Maroon 5 & Kelly Clarkson

By Allie Evans

Cedar Rapids, IA, is debuting a brand new $4 million cultural festival named newbo evolve, in the heart of little bohemia featuring headliners Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson, from August 3rd through 5th. newbo evolve celebrates not only the Bohemian creative spirit in Cedar Rapids, but the rebirth of the city after the 2008 flood.

This festival, according to their website, newbo evolve has a purpose of celebrating “the creative Bohemian spirit through music, art, fashion, dance, food, and technology” by providing 40 keynote speakers, various activities and experiences, alongside the well-advertised concerts of Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

Watch a video by Go Cedar Rapids about newbo evolve, here!

Interested attendees have the option of purchasing a 3-day pass for the festival at $375 dollars, or individual tickets to the headliner shows of Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5. The festival directors are receiving criticism for the pricey 3 day pass, the lack of a-la-carte passes for sessions, and that tickets are limited to 18+ audiences.

In response to this criticism, KCRG, did some research about the costs of festivals and confronted the directors of newbo evolve. Lollapalooza, the 4-day all music festival near Chicago only has a 4-day admission of $335. Aaron McCreight, the President of Go Cedar Rapids, and the creators of the festival stated that “So for the evolve pass for $375 you get reserved seating, preferred seating right up front in front of the stage. You get there whenever you want. Nobody will be in your seat, and it’s actually a chair,” and expressed their desire to create a reasonable and affordable price for all the activities provided.

According to the festival website, the price of everything included in the $375 package is well worth over $600. This price includes reserved seating at both headlining and to-be-announced local artist concerts, access to all celebrity lead keynotes throughout the three days, and exclusive access events and locations that are listed on their website, here.  

However, do not be discouraged by the price tag if you were interested in seeing Maroon 5 or Kelly Clarkson. There are general admission tickets available for purchase through the US Cellular Center for Maroon 5 starting at $70, here, and Kelly Clarkson starting at $54.50, here.

 

What do you think about a festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, costing more than Lollapalooza? Would you attend newbo evolve for the span of 3 days, or would you rather attend only the concerts? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

newbo evolve logo courtesy of gocedarrapids.com

A Delicious and Melodious Night in Japan

By Maggie Christianson

On October 25th, 2017 the Edward and Cathy Gallagher Arts at Clarke series hosted A Night In Japan in Jansen Music Hall. The event, starting at 7:00pm,  began with music ensembles from Clarke under the direction of Andrew Alegria and David Resnick and concluded Tsukasa Taiko’s Japanese drumming performance.  Alongside these acts, the series provided food options ranging from sushi to matcha white chocolate mousse before the event at 6:30 in the Atrium.

My adventure to A Night In Japan started when I arrived at the Atrium with an empty belly, ready to enjoy some sushi, only to discover the long line almost headed down the hall. It felt like forever, but once I received my plate, I grabbed as much food as I could. I tried everything they had, from veggie and tuna sushi to their dumplings filled with delicious pork.

For dessert, the staff had prepared a creme cheesecake puffball and white mousse. I wasn’t a huge fan of the cheesecake, which was perfect for my friend, Mariah, who attended the concert with me because she fell in love with the flavor. I really enjoyed the mousse. It had the texture much like frosting and a sweet flavor that wasn’t too rich, making it easy to enjoy.

After finishing our dish, some friends and I headed into the Jansen Music Hall and found ourselves right in front. The wind ensemble started off the 1st act by beautifully performing Japanese folk songs. My personal favorite was Fantasy on a Japanese Folk Song by Samuel Hazo.

The 1st act continued with Sharon Jensen playing Hanawa- Saku (Flower will Bloom) by Yoko Kanno, on the piano. Following her was Cantabile, singing two songs, Nanatsu No Ko, a Japanese Children’s Song, and Sakura Sakura- arranged by Douglas E. Wagner. All the students and professors did an amazing job performing all these beautiful Japanese songs and created a great beginning to this wonderful night.

The 2nd Act was performed by Tsukasa Tako. Here is where they performed on the taiko drums and showed the different festival performances the drums were used for. Part of the show was demonstrating the movements of the beating of the drums which I found very memorizing. The speaker was very engaged with the audience, telling us stories about the music and how he started this group.I was amazed by the classical dance, getting to listen to live music as well as watching a dancer perform to said music.

 

I honestly enjoyed my evening. It was overall a great experience, from the delicious food to the wonderful music. I feel that whether someone went only for the food or the music, everyone found something to enjoy, as I heard nothing but good things about the night.

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Quick After Class Halloween Costumes With Makeup

Check out this video by Maggie Christianson and Lauryn Pritchard if you woke up this morning with the realization that you have no costume for the holiday. These makeup tutorials will help you with that last second Halloween costume, using the materials you already have in your room (and maybe from a quick Target run).

A Taste of the 50’s

Each Friday and Saturday night, two films play back to back in a lot 5 miles south of Maquoketa off Highway 61. In a generation that constantly refers to the aesthetic of the 1950’s, there’s nothing more beautifully cliché than a drive-in theater. The 61 Drive-In is authentic in its vintage appeal, opening in 1950, being taken over by its current owner, Dennis Voy, in 1972. According to Voy, the year he started running the 61 was a big year for drive-ins all around.

61DriveInTheaterMaquoketa

Photo Credit: Travel Iowa

“Drive in theaters became very popular because cars were so in fashion,” said Voy. “Business was really at its peak. As time went on, though, a lot of them shut down because they were at the edge of town. People didn’t much see the appeal of driving out, but we’ve survived. We’re still here.”

With the ever-expanding list of ways to watch movies nowadays with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other forms of streaming as well as the in-town theaters such as Mindframe and AMC, it’s easy to see why drive-ins fell out of popularity. Other methods of watching films have an aspect of convenience. However, there’s one thing a drive-in has that new modern forms of movie going doesn’t: nostalgic charm.

Popcorn, soda, the smell of grass and fresh air as the windows of the car are rolled down, and the crackle of the radio turning on as the opening lines to a movie are pumped through the speakers. The 61 isn’t just a relic of the Golden Age, it’s a genuine, beautiful experience to share with friends, family, and romantic partners.

“It’s a bargain, you know,” stated Voy. “Two movies for $8, concessions, and a unique environment that’s hard to find somewhere else. 61 is one of the only places in the area you can get a real taste of the 50’s.”

By: Mimi Ottavi