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Echo Eats<br />

We give you plenty to feast on, from delicious<br />

dishes to organizations combating food insecurity<br />

LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT | Vol. 32, #6 | Issue 738 | <strong>March</strong> 2021 | COMPLIMENTARY


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Whew! We made it<br />

through 2020, and<br />

here we are at the<br />

beginning of 2021. A new year,<br />

a new sense of optimism and<br />

opportunity, and a new direction.<br />

2020 had many challenges, but<br />

it also presented opportunities<br />

for those that were ready. We<br />

acquired three new LGBTQ+<br />

media assets Echo Magazine,<br />

Phoenix Out & About Magazine,<br />

Nashville, CAMP Magazine,<br />

Kansas City, and launched<br />

OUTvoices, Chicago. We<br />

developed and launched two<br />

new industry associations, The<br />

Aequalitas Content Creators<br />

Association and the Gay Travel<br />

Business Network, and we are<br />

far from being done.<br />

We currently have three<br />

LGBTQ+ media properties in<br />

the acquisition pipeline for 2021,<br />

and there are more in various<br />

stages of negotiation and we are<br />

on track to launch the first-ever<br />

24/7 LGBTQ+ internet-based<br />

Talk Radio Station aptly named<br />

OUTvoices Radio in <strong>March</strong>.<br />

We will also be rolling out our<br />

OUTvoices TV YouTube Channel<br />

in May featuring original content<br />

such as the Gaycation Travel<br />

Show w/Ravi Roth and the<br />

Gay Gourmet cooking show<br />

with chefs Art Smith and Joe<br />

Morales, and much more.<br />

2021 will also see BIG changes<br />

coming to all of our individual<br />

brands. As we continue to unify<br />

our voices and our media assets,<br />

one of the biggest changes will<br />

be the name changes. Beginning<br />

on May 1, Echo Magazine will<br />

become OUTvoices Phoenix, Out<br />

& About Nashville will become<br />

OUTvoices Nashville, and<br />

CAMP Magazine will become<br />

OUTvoices Kansas City.<br />

Our strategy has been and<br />

is a simple one. To create a<br />

network of local LGBTQ+ media<br />

that maintains a relationship<br />

with the communities they serve<br />

as we increase our national<br />

OUTvoice. Each local media<br />

and members of OUTvoices will<br />

add their voice to our growing<br />

national OUTvoices network.<br />

OUTvoices “bureaus” will be able<br />

to share content with each other<br />

allowing access to a much larger<br />

audience. A new OUTvoices.us<br />

website (Going live May 1) will<br />

reflect an LGBTQ+ website that<br />

offers content from the whole<br />

spectrum of our community,<br />

not just from the gay male<br />

perspective. The .us extension<br />

for the website makes a bold and<br />

clear statement that OUTvoices<br />

is about US, ALL of US.<br />

New initiatives on the<br />

OUTvoices Network will include<br />

content that speaks to our<br />

Transgender, Lesbian, and<br />

Queer audiences and much<br />

more.<br />

As we continue our policy<br />

of supporting LGBTQ+ media<br />

we will offer ALL LGBTQ+<br />

websites that are part of the<br />

OUTvoices Network access<br />

to OUTvoices Radio and all of<br />

the programming contained<br />

therein for 24/7 LGBTQ+ talk<br />

radio, and they will also be able<br />

to broadcast all of our original<br />

OUTvoices video content on<br />

their digital platforms, all at no<br />

cost.<br />

“A rising tide lifts all<br />

boats.” As small to medium<br />

sized websites continue to be<br />

overlooked by major brands<br />

and agencies, we are creating<br />

DJ Doran, President/CEO, Aequalitas Media<br />

a FREE network where others<br />

can join with us to change an<br />

industry squeak to a roar. We<br />

can add all of our small reaches<br />

and audiences to a single<br />

point, OUTvoices.us to get a<br />

piece of the digital advertising<br />

pie. Whereas, many blue-chip<br />

advertisers would not normally<br />

consider advertising on our<br />

individual websites, they will not<br />

be able to ignore the combined<br />

audience and voice of our<br />

membership.<br />

While others may beat the<br />

drum of impending doom and<br />

gloom for LGBTQ+ media, I<br />

see opportunities to unify and<br />

become stronger, to evolve and<br />

grow, to reinvent ourselves and<br />

become indispensable.<br />

I see the opportunity to not<br />

only survive, but thrive in an<br />

evolving media landscape.<br />

It may be true that parts<br />

of our media like print are<br />

struggling, but I don’t believe it’s<br />

on its death bed, not by a long<br />

shot. The market is telling us<br />

what it wants and needs, and we<br />

need to listen and pay attention.<br />

Print publishing is here to stay,<br />

period, but it’s relationship to<br />

advertisers is changing.<br />

Whereas print used to be<br />

the lead entrée for advertisers<br />

and digital offerings were<br />

the "added value," that is now<br />

changed. Digital content has<br />

become the lead platform for<br />

many advertisers and print has<br />

become the "added value."<br />

Aequalitas Media recognizes<br />

Expert service,<br />

fast closings,<br />

and loan programs<br />

as diverse as<br />

our community!<br />

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this and we have led the way<br />

in the transition from print to<br />

digital in 2020 and will continue<br />

to do so in the future. 2021 will<br />

still have its challenges, but it<br />

will also have an abundance<br />

of opportunity. These latest<br />

changes reflect our dedication<br />

and commitment to the<br />

survivability of legacy and<br />

non-legacy publications and<br />

will continue to preach the<br />

importance of a vibrant, healthy<br />

and locally focused LGBTQ+<br />

media.<br />

Change can be scary, I<br />

know, but change can also be<br />

reinvigorating and exciting. The<br />

name of the publication may<br />

change but our history will not,<br />

our relationship to our audience<br />

will not and our dedication<br />

and commitment to journalistic<br />

excellence will not.<br />

I am looking ahead to a<br />

brighter future as we focus<br />

forward and continue to<br />

re-invent ourselves to better<br />

reflect the needs and wants<br />

of our evolving sophisticated<br />

audience.<br />

I hope you will stay with us<br />

and share the journey toward an<br />

exciting future as we continue to<br />

transition into a unified, stronger<br />

new brand, OUTvoices.<br />

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ECHOMAG.COM | MARCH 2021<br />




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ISSUE<br />

Matthew Moody and Ruben Gonzales<br />

Issue 738 | Vol. 32, #6 | <strong>March</strong> 2021<br />

NEWS<br />

5 Publisher’s Letter<br />

8 Editor’s Note<br />


14 Without Reservations<br />

20 Not That You Asked<br />


Handmade pretzels from The Salted<br />

10<br />

Intense ‘Industry’<br />

opening<br />

Matthew Moody and Ruben<br />

Gonzales took a big chance<br />

opening Industry during the<br />

pandemic. Jason Keil talks<br />

to them about how things<br />

are going in this central<br />

Phoenix spot.<br />

16<br />

Kitchen basics from a<br />

professional chef<br />

Joe Morales is the pro chef<br />

behind Joe Eats World, a<br />

site where he shares recipes,<br />

tips, and culinary information.<br />

Here, he examines the many<br />

options of cutting boards<br />

available to help you maximize<br />

your kitchen skills.<br />

Knot AZ<br />

www.facebook.com/thesaltedknotaz<br />

Photo by Maria Vassett<br />

Echo Eats<br />

We give you plenty to feast on, from delicious<br />

dishes to organizations combating food insecurity<br />

LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT | Vol. 32, #6 | Issue 738 | <strong>March</strong> 2021 | COMPLIMENTARY<br />

18<br />

Mutual aid efforts strengthen relationships in communities<br />

Jonmaesha Beltran examines food insecurity in the community and the people<br />

and organizations striving to provide help.<br />

Leon Polk Smith: Hiding in Plain Sight; courtesy of the Heard Museum<br />


Visit <strong>echo</strong>mag.com for more<br />

food-related articles, including a<br />

restaurant feature by Niki D’Andrea<br />

and an update on farmers’ markets<br />

around the Valley. You’ll also find<br />

the launch of a new, monthly column<br />

titled Just A Stage, which focuses<br />

on local theater, by longtime Echo<br />

contributor Buddy Early.<br />

22<br />

Leon Polk Smith: Hiding in Plain Sight at Heard Museum<br />

Painter and sculptor Leon Polk Smith’s current exhibition features more than<br />

40 of his most celebrated works. Jenna Duncan discusses the artwork, talks to<br />

curators, and delves into the artist’s history.<br />

ECHOMAG.COM | MARCH 2021<br />



By Amy Young<br />

Welcome to our <strong>March</strong> issue, Echo<br />

Eats. Our annual food issue<br />

comes during a time when food<br />

insecurity dominates the lives of many,<br />

around the globe, due to the COVID-19<br />

pandemic. It’s not merely a result of the<br />

pandemic, of course, as in this country,<br />

particularly, there is a wealth inequality<br />

that makes the daily need to eat a struggle.<br />

COVID, however, has intensified the<br />

situation.<br />

Many individuals, groups, and<br />

organizations are finding ways to help<br />

people in need. Mutualaidphoenix.com<br />

and a group moderated by Equality<br />

Arizona that you can find at facebook.<br />

com/ groups/632742627272730/ are two<br />

destinations that come to mind if you’re in<br />

need or if you have time, money, or items<br />

to donate. The saying, ‘Together, we are<br />

stronger,’ is further cemented as truth<br />

by groups like this. Reporter Jonmaesha<br />

Beltran, in her article on page 18, talks to<br />

and about people involved in mutual aid<br />

groups around the Valley.<br />

Owning a restaurant is a challenging<br />

business adventure in the best of times.<br />

Opening one during a pandemic, well, I don’t<br />

think I need to point out how hard that could<br />

be. Matthew Moody and Ruben Gonzales<br />

opened Industry PHX since COVID hit. They<br />

talk to Jason Keil about how it’s going. We<br />

appreciate them taking the time.<br />

Did you know there was a speakeasy<br />

above Citizen Public House in Old Town<br />

Scottsdale? In this intimate space, you<br />

can find Benjamin’s Upstairs, where Chef<br />

Benjamin Graham serves up his signature<br />

dishes. Head to page 14 for all of the<br />

delicious details.<br />

We’ve also got a new food-focused<br />

column debuting this issue: Joe Eats World.<br />

Joe Morales loves food. He’s a trained<br />

chef and culinary instructor who is also<br />

passionate about traveling, so when he’s<br />

on adventures, he’s partaking in the food<br />

culture of wherever he lands. Each month,<br />

he’ll be sharing new information, from tips<br />

on kitchen equipment, as you’ll see in this<br />

issue, to mouthwatering recipes.<br />

What you don’t see in print, you’ll find<br />

online. Please visit <strong>echo</strong>mag.com as new<br />

content is added daily. Additional Echo Eats<br />

articles include a feature on a local dining<br />

spot by Niki D’Andrea and a roundup of<br />

area farmers’ markets by Tim Rawles.<br />

As you’re checking out this latest issue,<br />

you’ll also see a letter from our publisher,<br />

DJ Doran. He explains all of the changes<br />

in the works for Echo and the other<br />

publications under the Aequalitas Media<br />

umbrella. There’s so much in store as the<br />

Aequalitas team works to broaden its<br />

LGBTQ media network.<br />

Amy Young is the editor-in-chief<br />

of Echo Magazine. A longtime<br />

journalist, her work has appeared<br />

numerous publications, regional<br />

to international. Please contact<br />

her at editor@<strong>echo</strong>mag.com.<br />



PUBLISHER: Aequalitas Media<br />


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Amy Young<br />


Jonmaesha Beltran<br />

Kimberly Blaker<br />

Grace Bolyard<br />

Stefan Contreras<br />

Niki D'Andrea<br />

Jenna Duncan<br />

Buddy Early<br />

Michelle Talsma Everson<br />

Endia Fontanez<br />

Jason Keil<br />

Jason Kron<br />

Jeff Kronenfeld<br />

Megan Lane<br />


PHOTOGRAPHY: nightfuse.com.<br />



Kris Radtke<br />

602-266-0550x704 or kris@<strong>echo</strong>mag.com<br />

National Advertising Sales: Aequalitas Media at<br />

312-600-8823 or sales@aequalitasmedia.com<br />

ECHO READERSHIP: 50,000<br />

SUBSCRIPTIONS: $29/year<br />

Echo Magazine LLC<br />

Laura Latzko<br />

Sydney Lee<br />

Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen<br />

Anika Nayak<br />

David-Elijah Nahmod<br />

Timothy Rawles<br />

Tom Reardon<br />

Terri Schlichenmeyer<br />

Carly Schorman<br />

Anika Nayak<br />

Sojas Wagle<br />

Velvet Wahl<br />

MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 16630<br />

Phoenix, AZ 85011-6630<br />

PHONE: 602-266-0550<br />

EMAIL: manager@<strong>echo</strong>mag.com<br />

Copyright © 2016 • ISSN #1045-2346<br />

MEMBER:<br />

Echo Magazine is published by Echo Magazine LLC, Inc. Echo<br />

is a registered trademark of Echo Magazine LLC, Inc. All rights<br />

reserved. Written permission must be obtained in advance for<br />

partial or complete reproduction of any advertising material<br />

contained therein. Opinions expressed therein are not necessarily<br />

those of the publisher or staff. Echo Magazine LLC, Inc. does<br />

not assume responsibility for claims by its advertisers or advice<br />

columnists. Publication of a name, photograph of an individual<br />

or organization in articles, advertisements or listings is not to be<br />

construed as an indication of the sexual orientation, unless such<br />

orientation is specifically stated. Manuscripts or other materials<br />

submitted remain the property of Echo Magazine LLC, Inc.<br />


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ECHOMAG.COM | MARCH 2021<br />


Intense ‘Industry’ opening<br />

The restaurant has struggled since opening<br />

during the pandemic<br />

By Jason Keil; photos courtesy of Industry PHX<br />

It’s tough getting any Valley<br />

restaurant off the ground.<br />

But Ruben Gonzalez, the<br />

owner of Eleventh Monkey,<br />

and Matthew Moody really had<br />

their work cut out for them<br />

when they opened Industry<br />

PHX, located where The Louie<br />

once stood at 607 West Osborn<br />

Road, late last year. Even before<br />

the pandemic forced businesses<br />

to readjust, the duo, who were<br />

the minds behind The Hustle<br />

10 MARCH 2021 | ECHOMAG.COM<br />

dance parties at Kobalt, dealt<br />

with investors pulling out and<br />

headaches from neighbors.<br />

What’s kept them going<br />

through all of the stress is their<br />

desire to give the community<br />

something they knew it needed:<br />

a safe space for everyone.<br />

They shared some of their<br />

stories with Echo Magazine in<br />

February. This interview has<br />

been edited for length and<br />

clarity.<br />

Echo Magazine: I’m sure<br />

this has been an intense<br />

experience. Is there a<br />

particular moment that stands<br />

out?<br />

Matthew Moody: You can start<br />

with the obvious: we are in an<br />

unprecedented time in the<br />

history of the world. We were<br />

under the belief that we would<br />

be able to open and function<br />

as a whole entity. Then you<br />

learn you can only open at half<br />

capacity, and you have to do<br />

this and that, so you’re already<br />

dealing with a lower income<br />

rate, and bills are coming in.<br />

And people understandably<br />

don’t want to come out, but you<br />

need them to so you can stay<br />

open. And we’ve never opened<br />

a restaurant before, so there’s<br />

a lot we had to learn in a short<br />

amount of time.<br />

Ruben Gonzales: We also got<br />

put into litigation by our old<br />

partner. We can only say so<br />

much [about it], but it put us<br />

in a position that almost any<br />

money that Matt and I did have<br />

leftover as a cushion was gone.<br />

We had to go to something<br />

else, and that added a ton of<br />

stress. We were going to start<br />

in the negative, but we figured<br />

it out and got on our feet. But<br />

there’s always something you<br />

don’t know. Water lines break,<br />

pipes don’t work, and toilets<br />

don’t flush.<br />

Matthew Moody: I tried to<br />

route a cable through a ceiling,<br />

and I drilled into a water pipe.<br />

I had a full mental shutdown. I<br />

didn’t know what to do.<br />

Ruben Gonzales: It was like<br />

a waterfall, but now we know<br />

where all the water valves are.<br />

Are you able to hold events<br />

right now?<br />

Matthew Moody: A couple of<br />

weeks ago, I got four phone<br />

calls back to back from a city<br />

inspector saying that we can’t<br />

have events. I told them we’re<br />

not, but it took a while into<br />

the fourth phone call for him<br />

to understand that watching<br />

RuPaul’s Drag Race is like<br />

watching the Super Bowl. He<br />

said, “I need to call back. How<br />

big is your stage?” “It’s exactly<br />

zero inches. We don’t have a<br />

stage,” I replied. He asks, “Are<br />

people going to be dancing<br />

with masks on?” He didn’t<br />

know that it was a television<br />

show. And he finally grasped it,<br />

but the word “event” causes a<br />

problem.<br />

Since the day we opened, I<br />

don’t think there hasn’t been a<br />

public office that hasn’t been<br />

called on us. When we started,<br />

we got a “Stop Work” sign on<br />

our window. And that’s not a<br />

joke. And it’s because I started<br />

posting pictures of our progress<br />

as we go, so the community felt<br />

part of what we were doing. All<br />

that did was allow somebody<br />

to make up stuff that was<br />

happening in the photo that<br />

wasn’t real and send it to the<br />

inspector’s office.<br />

Ruben Gonzales: The city<br />

manager came in with a stack of<br />

photos. He saw what we were<br />

doing, and he was so annoyed<br />

that he had to come in.<br />

It amazes me that people have<br />

the time to call and complain.<br />

Matthew Moody: It’s so we<br />

wouldn’t exist or be competition<br />

to their favorite place. One of<br />

the things we’ve said from the<br />

beginning is that we didn’t want<br />

to compete with anyone. We<br />

thought there were missing<br />

pieces in our community. There<br />


were people who didn’t feel<br />

safe in certain spaces. We’re<br />

shouting, “This is for you!” We<br />

are all about radical inclusion.<br />

Once we fully get to open, we<br />

won’t be doing anything near<br />

what other bars do.<br />

Ruben Gonzales: I’ve<br />

experienced this with Eleventh<br />

Monkey. People tend to get<br />

into this thing when a new<br />

business opens where they<br />

need to be greedy and can’t<br />

allow someone to go to another<br />

place. There’s enough business<br />

for everyone everywhere.<br />

Instead of being greedy, why<br />

don’t we work together to<br />

see what each other is doing<br />

to coincide with each other?<br />

Share the wealth.<br />

PPP Loans weren’t available<br />

for anyone who opened after<br />

February 15. Are there other<br />

options you’re looking into?<br />

Ruben Gonzales: Every bank<br />

is getting it differently, and I’m<br />

taking on that role and seeing<br />

what we can do. We’re allowed<br />

to apply for the second round.<br />

Matthew Moody: We’ve had<br />

zero dollars of help.<br />

Ruben Gonzales: People told<br />

us we could still apply during<br />

the first round. Technically we<br />

couldn’t. We had no money<br />

flowing. There was no number<br />

they could derive from because<br />

we didn’t have any employees.<br />

Now there is, so we’ll see what<br />

comes of it.<br />

Matthew Moody: We’re trying<br />

to do all these things that the<br />

money is here for, but they<br />

mean everyone but us.<br />

Have you used social media to<br />

help drum up business?<br />

Matthew Moody: We’ve paid<br />

for ads and are working with<br />

alcohol distributors.<br />

Ruben Gonzales: And anytime<br />

we have a viewing party, we’ve<br />

had local organizations come<br />

out and give out condoms,<br />

lubes, lip balm, and at-home<br />

HIV testing kits, which is very<br />

important right now. These are<br />

things that we’re able to do<br />

because we have the space now.<br />

The community needs it.<br />

Matthew Moody: Both Ruben<br />

and I are crazy different guys<br />

who happen to like a lot of the<br />

same stuff, but we both said<br />

coming in that this wasn’t going<br />

to be a rush for bucks for us.<br />

It’s about our community and<br />

having a creative space for<br />

creative queer and non-queer<br />

people to come out.<br />

We have a giant neon sign<br />

that says, “You are safe here.”<br />

It’s the focal point of the space,<br />

and it’s the whole point. The<br />

only rule is don’t be an asshole.<br />

We want people to talk to each<br />

other.<br />

Ruben Gonzales: The city has a<br />

hold on our permit because of<br />

COVID. We’re at a point where<br />

if we can’t navigate through the<br />

pandemic as safely as possible,<br />

then nobody will be open. We<br />

both take COVID as seriously<br />

as possible. Eleventh Monkey<br />

is partially a mask show, which I<br />

never thought I’d be doing.<br />

We want people to feel<br />

comfortable walking in the doors<br />

knowing that we’ve taken the<br />

best precautions we can take<br />

to survive. It’s still nice to see<br />

someone. There are things as<br />

human beings that we all need.<br />

We get flack from some people<br />

for being open, but they’re not<br />

paying our bills. We have to do<br />

this. We employ people, and we<br />

need to keep their livelihood<br />

going, too.<br />

Learn more about Industry PHX<br />

at industryphx.com.<br />

Jason Keil is a freelance journalist based in Phoenix and is<br />

the co-host of the podcast What the Fork: Exploring The<br />

Good Place. His work has appeared in Phoenix New Times,<br />

AZCentral, and Phoenix Magazine, and he tweets about pop<br />

culture @jasonekeil.<br />

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our BIGGEST client.<br />

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saving money and time.<br />

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ECHOMAG.COM | MARCH 2021<br />



Shucking and clucking at<br />

Benjamin’s Upstairs<br />

By Jeff Kronenfeld<br />

Hidden in the speakeasy above<br />

Citizen Public House in Old Town<br />

Scottsdale is Benjamin’s Upstairs, a<br />

new restaurant and bar offering sanctuary<br />

to the hungry and amorous alike. While not<br />

actually a secret, ascending its stairs makes<br />

you feel like a VIP nonetheless, and we<br />

haven’t even gotten to the fried chicken,<br />

oysters, or natural wine. Chef Benjamin<br />

Graham succeeds in serving up a unique<br />

dining experience that is both romantic<br />

and filling.<br />

Opened in August of last year, the space<br />

has just six tables and is only open three<br />

nights a week, which is why reservations<br />

are essential. I booked five days in advance,<br />

and most of the coming Saturday’s time<br />

slots were already spoken for, though not<br />

all. I considered this a good sign while also<br />

wondering how crowded the swanky sky<br />

parlor would be. Old Town was certainly<br />

bustling when we arrived shortly before<br />

the appointed time. As we approached the<br />

entrance, the beauty from the thousands<br />

of golden bulbs strung from trees and<br />

awnings was balanced by the loud yelling<br />

from a pack of passing carousers.<br />

This and all other thoughts of the<br />

outside world were quickly forgotten<br />

once we entered CPH. A host escorted us<br />

around the bar, through a narrow hall, and<br />

up a dark flight of stairs. Emerging from<br />

the shadowy underworld into the gleaming<br />

light of the chandelier and flickering glow<br />

of the candles was disorienting in a good<br />

way. There were no clocks or windows.<br />

Chef Benjamin Graham; courtesy of In Good Spirits<br />

Oysters and fried chicken; courtesy of In Good Spirits<br />

Instead, the walls were covered in old<br />

recipes framed like works of art. The<br />

room’s black and white color scheme was<br />

occasionally interspersed with an intricate<br />

geometric pattern. Here the food, drinks,<br />

and, of course, your company are the<br />

evening’s center of attention, with the<br />

other elements serving as complements<br />

rather than distractions.<br />

My concerns that the elevated eatery<br />

might be too small or densely packed were<br />

quickly allayed. A little like a Tardis from<br />

“Dr. Who,” the space seems larger than you<br />

would guess from the outside. In fact, the<br />

distance between tables is greater than<br />

in most full-size restaurants I’ve visited of<br />

late. Ensconced in our romantic nook and<br />

far from the two couples who were there<br />

before us, we felt comfortable turning our<br />

attention to ordering when our very helpful<br />

waiter Scotty arrived.<br />

The food and drink menu is small but<br />

varied. Wanting to take our time after<br />

hustling all week, we opted to start with<br />

refreshments. Cocktails, beer, and more<br />

familiar varieties of wine are all available,<br />

but the selection of natural wines are<br />

the real stars. Listed under the heading<br />

pétillant naturel, which literally translates<br />

into natural sparkling, these bubbly drinks<br />

are made by adding wild or ancestral<br />

varieties of yeast at the time of bottling. As<br />

the fruity fluid ferments, CO2 is produced<br />

as a natural byproduct, giving these wines<br />

an effervescent quality without recourse to<br />

some cringy industrial process. Sometimes<br />

14 MARCH 2021 | ECHOMAG.COM<br />


Yellowfin tuna sashimi; photo by Jeff Kronenfeld<br />

also called the Méthode Ancestrale, this<br />

winemaking technique is the definition of<br />

an oldie but a goodie.<br />

My dining companion ordered the<br />

Morphos, a merlot rosé from Maine.<br />

Described on the menu as wild and tart,<br />

we found it tickled the tongue with a<br />

refreshing but mild dry sweetness. Readily<br />

confessing my ignorance on matters of the<br />

vine, I asked Scotty for a recommendation.<br />

He suggested the Vegas Altas, a Macabeo<br />

and cabernet rosé from Spain. It, too, was<br />

lighter and more refreshing than what<br />

I usually drink, leading me to conclude<br />

the natural wine craze is not just some<br />

gimmicky fad.<br />

As we savored our pleasantly<br />

intoxicating aperitifs, I again turned to<br />

Scotty for advice. Like the space itself, the<br />

menu is compact. With only eight dishes,<br />

picking what to order might seem simple. I<br />

knew we were going to try the Benjamin’s<br />

fried chicken, which comes with mashed<br />

potatoes and collard greens. I also planned<br />

on ordering at least a half-dozen oysters,<br />

but I was torn when it came to selecting<br />

our third dish. The shrimp cocktail and<br />

cornbread waffle both looked inviting,<br />

but so did the vegetable Crudo and beef<br />

tartare.<br />

Scotty pointed me to the Yellowfin tuna<br />

sashimi, which I ordered as an appetizer.<br />

When it arrived soon thereafter, I knew<br />

our waiter had again nailed it. Thin slices<br />

of almost neon pink fish rested beneath a<br />

lean-to of crispy leeks, cubes of cucumber,<br />

crushed peanuts, and a few fresh greens.<br />

Beside it was an arty smear of jalapeno<br />

ginger aioli sprinkled with what I believe<br />

were toasted sesame seeds. The crispy<br />

leek straws added a satisfying crunch and<br />

complex flavor to the tender, cool fish. We<br />

quickly scraped the plate clean as omega-3<br />

fatty acids flooded my brain, or maybe it<br />

was just wine. Whatever the case, I liked it.<br />

It was not long before our next oceanic<br />

delight arrived. The half-dozen raw<br />

oysters were served<br />

on a plate packed<br />

with ice, three sauces,<br />

a lemon slice, and<br />

two small forks. The<br />

oysters were large<br />

and filled with juices,<br />

as well as the fleshy<br />

mollusk bodies. After<br />

a generous spritz of<br />

citrus, I decided to use<br />

one sauce per oyster<br />

since we split the six<br />

evenly. I enjoyed both<br />

the classic mignonette<br />

and the hot sauce, but<br />

the vinaigrette was my<br />

personal favorite. I felt like I could have<br />

eaten about 100 more of these delightful<br />

bivalves but was glad I exercised restraint<br />

when our bird at last arrived.<br />

Before I even saw the fried fowl,<br />

the dish was already winning on the<br />

presentation. It came neatly packed in a<br />

white metal bucket. Lifting the lid was a<br />

little like opening presents on Christmas<br />

morning, or so this Jewish journalist<br />

imagined. Inside were two large pieces<br />

of reddish-gold fried chicken, two white<br />

containers filled with collard greens and<br />

mashed potatoes, respectively, plus a little<br />

side of bourbon honey.<br />

I started with a few bites of the sides.<br />

The potatoes were good, your classic<br />

milk butter clouds, but the greens were<br />

exceptional. Soft, tangy, spicy, and<br />

savory, they were the best collard greens<br />

I’ve ever had the pleasure of inhaling. I<br />

thought I tasted the smokey fat flavor<br />

of bacon but later learned from Graham<br />

it was actually smoked pork shank.<br />

Regardless, the greens were so good I<br />

devoured them all before even trying the<br />

chicken.<br />

When I did finally get to the bird, it<br />

didn’t disappoint. The breading was crispy,<br />

warm, and loaded with savory flavors. A<br />

24-hour bath in pickle brine kept the meat<br />

inside moist. Aromatic steam wafted from<br />

the juicy flesh as I slowly pulled it apart.<br />

It was so good I completely spaced the<br />

bourbon honey until I was nearly finished.<br />

Once I finished it, I could understand<br />

why the owners of In Good Spirits — the<br />

company behind Benjamin’s Upstairs,<br />

CPH, and the Gladly — were so eager to<br />

build a menu around this delectable dish.<br />

While both the atmosphere and food<br />

served at the speakeasy are fancy,<br />

Graham himself is refreshingly down to<br />

earth. The Minnesota native attended<br />

culinary school and got his start cooking<br />

for a professional hockey team in his<br />

home state. In 2008, the then 21-year-old<br />

got fed up with the Midwest winters and<br />

migrated to the Valley.<br />

Graham soon found work for Gio Osso,<br />

who we interviewed about Pizzería Virtù<br />

in October. Not just a boss, Osso was also<br />

a mentor. Through him, Graham met the<br />

owners of In Good Spirits, who brought<br />

him on when they opened CPH roughly<br />

a decade ago. He worked his way up the<br />

kitchen’s hierarchy over the years, though<br />

he never forgot his first culinary teachers.<br />

“I actually got into cooking because<br />

of my mom and my grandma,” Graham<br />

explained. “I would always cook with my<br />

grandma when I would go visit her, and<br />

then obviously I cooked with my mom all<br />

the time.”<br />

Graham’s mom initially freaked out when<br />

he moved to Arizona without a job lined<br />

up, something he enjoys teasing her about<br />

today. It’s those early lessons in the kitchen<br />

that helped him climb up the culinary<br />

ladder to the very lofty perch he inhabits<br />

today, not that he lets it get to his head.<br />

Case in point, Graham originally wanted to<br />

name this restaurant within a restaurant,<br />

the Shuck and Cluck. While we prefer the<br />

name Benjamin’s Upstairs, whatever it’s<br />

called, Graham has us crowing for more.<br />

Jeff Kronenfeld is an independent journalist<br />

based out of Phoenix, Arizona. His writing has<br />

been featured in Java Magazine, the Arts Beacon,<br />

PHXSUX, and the Phoenix Jewish News, where he<br />

received the Simon Rockower Award<br />

for excellence in news reporting<br />

from the American Jewish Press<br />

Association. Links to his previously<br />

published work are available at<br />

www.jeffkronenfeld.com.<br />


ECHOMAG.COM | MARCH 2021<br />



By Shopify Partners/Burst<br />

Kitchen basics from a professional chef<br />

By Joe Morales<br />

I<br />

wasn’t sure how I wanted to<br />

introduce myself, considering<br />

this is a new monthly column. I<br />

planned to jump in feet first and<br />

give you some amazing recipes,<br />

but at the same time figured it<br />

might be best to start with the<br />

basics.<br />

By basics, I mean what tools<br />

to use, what tricks are out there,<br />

what you really need to be a<br />

good, or better, cook.<br />

It’s always important to use<br />

the right tool for the job. So,<br />

what are you cutting on? The<br />

first discussion is going to be<br />

about cutting boards. I know,<br />

it doesn’t seem that would be<br />

a likely place to start but trust<br />

me, this is going to be just as<br />

important as what knives you<br />

use (next article).<br />

Cutting boards come in<br />

several different materials:<br />

stone, glass, wood, and plastic.<br />

Stone Cutting Boards<br />

Stone cutting boards are<br />

beautiful, heavy, and expensive.<br />

I only use these for charcuterie<br />

boards or large serving platters.<br />

You can find stone boards in<br />

a variety of forms: marble,<br />

granite, and slate.<br />

Why, you ask? Because stone<br />

boards are hard surfaces. It<br />

will take one time of chopping<br />

vegetables before you will need<br />

to sharpen your knife because<br />

the stone dulled your blade.<br />

Sure, they’re easy to clean<br />

and sanitize, but they are hard<br />

on knife blades, requiring more<br />

frequent sharpening.<br />

Glass Cutting Boards<br />

Glass cutting boards are much<br />

more cost-effective than stone<br />

but are also hard on your<br />

knives. They are tempered,<br />

lightweight, durable, and you<br />

can place them in dishwashers<br />

(usually).<br />

You will still have the same<br />

issues with dull knives and the<br />

ease of cleaning and sanitizing.<br />

Wood Cutting Boards<br />

Wood cutting boards are made<br />

from bamboo, walnut, cherry,<br />

maple, or a combination of<br />

walnut, cherry, and maple. You<br />

have to work a bit harder at<br />

keeping them clean, but they<br />

definitely provide less wear and<br />

tear on your knives. Wooden<br />

boards are prone to knife cuts<br />

and dents but are forgiving.<br />

Unlike marble or glass cutting<br />

boards, you cannot place<br />

wood cutting boards in the<br />

dishwasher. It should go without<br />

saying that you cannot put them<br />

in the oven to dry, either. Trust<br />

me; it’s been done, with no<br />

positive results.<br />

The easiest way to clean the<br />

cutting board is to use soap<br />

and water. To rid the board of<br />

smells and stains, use a lemon<br />

cut in half with some kosher salt<br />

and rub it on the surface of the<br />

wood, then rinse. After washing,<br />

towel-dry the excess water and<br />

set the board standing up or on<br />

an angle to dry thoroughly.<br />

Every once in a while, it is<br />

necessary to oil the board, so it<br />

isn’t stripped of its natural oils<br />

and prolongs its life. Make sure<br />

you use food-grade mineral oil<br />

or creams.<br />

It’s more work, but it will<br />

save you money on knife<br />

replacement in the long run.<br />

Plastic Cutting Boards<br />

You can find plastic cutting<br />

boards in just about every<br />

restaurant kitchen around the<br />

world. Why? Because they are<br />

easy to use, clean, and store.<br />

All they have to do is run them<br />

through the industrial sprayer<br />

and dishwasher, where they get<br />

cleaned and sanitized in one<br />

shot.<br />

Cutting boards made of<br />

plastic are prone to knife<br />

cuts just like wood but last<br />

quite a bit longer. They come<br />

in several different types of<br />

plastic, too. You can purchase<br />

the thin, foldable “boards,” or<br />

you can go with a inch to inch<br />

thick plastic. You would think<br />

that all plastic is created equal,<br />

but it isn’t. There are harder<br />

plastic boards, and there are<br />

softer plastic ones. It’s all<br />

about your preference, but I<br />


By Bonnie Kittle/Unsplash<br />

tend to lean toward the softer<br />

plastic ones.<br />

The best part, you can rinse<br />

them off and toss them in the<br />

dishwasher and run them with<br />

the rest of your dishes.<br />

My Recommendation<br />

As a professional chef, I use and<br />

recommend wooden and plastic<br />

cutting boards. I have both at<br />

home, and they get equal use ...<br />

well, almost. I tend to favor the<br />

wood cutting board — just my<br />

personal preference.<br />

I don’t ever use stone or glass<br />

(for cutting); I strictly use wood<br />

and plastic. I usually catch my<br />

husband using just the granite<br />

counter, and I always ask if he<br />

is using a cutting board. Also,<br />

don’t use your countertop as a<br />

cutting board. This is why I don’t<br />

allow him to use my good chef<br />


knives, which we’ll cover next<br />

time.<br />

I don’t recommend using<br />

the thin folding plastic boards.<br />

While they seem convenient,<br />

over time, they warp and never<br />

lay flat. They are also flimsy and<br />

can get holes in them or stab<br />

marks. Trust me, that happens<br />

too.<br />

You can find cutting boards<br />

in all shapes and sizes. Pick the<br />

one that fits your needs.<br />

Professional tip: To keep<br />

your cutting board from sliding<br />

around while using it, wet some<br />

paper towels or a tea towel,<br />

wring out the excess water,<br />

place it on the counter and put<br />

your cutting board on top of<br />

it. This will keep your cutting<br />

board in place and stop the<br />

extra sliding around, which<br />

leads to injury.<br />

Joe Morales is a passionate traveler, trained chef, and culinary instructor. When<br />

he isn’t off exploring the world, you can find him at home with his husband DJ and<br />

dog Oliver. Joe spends a lot of time in the kitchen working on his latest recipes.<br />

You can read more about Joe’s easy to follow recipes and<br />

how to’s by visiting his website, Joe Eats World (joeeatsworld.<br />

com). You can also follow him on instagram at JoeEatsWorld1<br />

and also on Facebook at JoeEatsWorld.<br />

YOU<br />

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info@azperfectcomfort.com<br />

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ECHOMAG.COM | MARCH 2021<br />


Mutual aid efforts strengthen<br />

relationships in communities<br />

By Jonmaesha Beltran<br />

Every Sunday, NourishPHX,<br />

a group of volunteers,<br />

meet in Phoenix to<br />

assemble and deliver food<br />

boxes to queer families in need<br />

of food, household supplies,<br />

hygiene products, and diapers,<br />

emphasizing that the service is<br />

solidarity, not charity.<br />

Since the beginning of the<br />

coronavirus pandemic, mutual<br />

aid projects, like NourishPHX,<br />

appeared in almost every city<br />

throughout the United States.<br />

Volunteers utilized Google Docs,<br />

Facebook, Instagram, Slack, and<br />

other social media platforms to<br />

create networks that picked up<br />

where the government lacked.<br />

Last year, a host of Arizonans<br />

created mutual aid networks to<br />

sew masks, deliver groceries and<br />

medication, collect household<br />

supplies, and more for<br />

vulnerable communities. Many<br />

mutual aid organizers focused<br />

their efforts on combatting food<br />

insecurity.<br />

Almost one in three<br />

households in Arizona<br />

18 MARCH 2021 | ECHOMAG.COM<br />

experienced food insecurity<br />

since COVID-19, which is a<br />

28 percent increase from the<br />

year before the pandemic,<br />

when the food insecurity rate<br />

was 25 percent, according to<br />

the National Food Access and<br />

COVID Research Team.<br />

Before the pandemic,<br />

the Williams Institute, which<br />

conducts research on sexual<br />

orientation and gender identity<br />

law and public policy, found that<br />

one in four LGBT individuals<br />

experience food insecurity. Boss<br />

is the name of one of the people<br />

we spoke with who, like others,<br />

created networks that center<br />

queer communities.<br />

“I was looking for a way to<br />

keep us connected and make<br />

sure we were in communion<br />

in a safe way, and we continue<br />

to affirm that we got us and<br />

that our family doesn’t die just<br />

because the spaces that we<br />

usually gather do,” Boss, 28, said.<br />

In <strong>March</strong>, Boss, who uses ‘they’<br />

pronouns, began networking<br />

through Instagram with friends<br />

in the drag community that they<br />

usually would see at the bar<br />

every week, asking if anyone<br />

needed food or had a surplus<br />

of food to donate. Boss started<br />

collecting food donations in their<br />

studio apartment and making<br />

deliveries to the homes of those<br />

who needed it.<br />

Boss, 28, lead organizer with NourishPHX. Photo courtesy of Boss<br />

“It was really heartening every<br />

day to wake up and be reminded<br />

of why that food was there — it’s<br />

because I was connected with<br />

the community.”<br />

Soon later, the network<br />

grew to more volunteers and<br />

implemented two donation<br />

sites at Whyld Ass and Xanadu.<br />

NourishPHX also stopped taking<br />

in dairy and meat products,<br />

requesting that people donate<br />

plant-based non-perishables.<br />

The network doesn’t accept<br />

plastic bags and tries to work<br />

outside of institutions like<br />

Amazon and Walmart.<br />

The network serves 10 to 15<br />

families throughout the Valley,<br />

from healthcare workers,<br />

independent business owners,<br />

bakers and chefs, and out-ofwork<br />

drag queens. It also has<br />

six volunteers who assemble<br />

the food boxes and three<br />

people who deliver to houses in<br />

Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe.<br />

Before each Sunday, a<br />

volunteer picks up homemade<br />

sourdough on Fridays, made<br />

by a friend of Boss in Tempe.<br />

Another volunteer picks up 70<br />

pounds of produce on Saturday<br />

that NourishPHX purchases for<br />

$12 from Borderlands Produce<br />

Rescue. The volunteers also<br />

create prepared foods for the<br />

families, and volunteers are<br />

encouraged to also receive the<br />

food as a way to eliminate the<br />

idea of charity work.<br />

Each family’s food box<br />

includes a grain, protein,<br />

veggies, fruit, and fluid. “We<br />

might do some Gatorades, some<br />

veggie broths, some pasta, and<br />

sauce, with a bunch of fruit and<br />


Boxes prepared by volunteers of NourishPHX. Photo courtesy of Boss

vegetables on top,” Boss said,<br />

adding that they are currently<br />

looking to include zines that<br />

highlight how the community can<br />

stay united.<br />

Mutual aid networks have a<br />

long, rich history and can be<br />

traced back to early fraternal<br />

organizations. But it wasn’t until<br />

1902 when Peter Kropotkin, a<br />

Russian anarchist, popularized<br />

the term “mutual aid” in his essay<br />

collection “Mutual Aid: A Factor<br />

of Evolution.” Kropotkin used<br />

examples of animals and humans<br />

to argue that cooperation was<br />

the most important factor of<br />

evolution.<br />

For communities of color,<br />

mutual aid networks have always<br />

been formed out of necessity and<br />

as a response to discrimination.<br />

During the 1700s, free Black<br />

Americans founded societies that<br />

aimed to provide aid to freed<br />

slaves. In the late 19th-century,<br />

Mexican Americans founded<br />

Sociedades Mutualistas that<br />

aimed to provide economic<br />

protection, education, and<br />

community services to members<br />

who emigrated from Mexico and<br />

native Texans.<br />

When Chinese immigrants in<br />

San Francisco were denied health<br />

care by mainstream hospitals in<br />

the 1800s, they built Tung Wah<br />

Dispensary, a hospital that served<br />

primarily Chinese residents.<br />

When it was destroyed in the<br />

earthquake of 1906, 15 community<br />

organizations formed the Chinese<br />

Hospital Association to reinvent<br />

it as the San Francisco Chinese<br />

Hospital.<br />

During the height of the HIV<br />

epidemic in the 1980s, many<br />

queer activists organized mutual<br />

aid networks. One network was<br />

the AIDS Coalition to Unleash<br />

Power, which advocated for HIV<br />

research, treatment, and policy<br />

change. After Hurricane Katrina<br />

in 2005, New Orleans activists<br />

formed the Common Ground<br />

Clinic, which started as a first aid<br />

station.<br />

Through these mutual aid<br />

projects, many have learned<br />

that it’s okay to ask for help and<br />

that people don’t have to go<br />

through things independently.<br />

NourishPHX educates people who<br />

donate and volunteer about the<br />

practice of mutual aid and how it<br />

works as a service rather than a<br />

favor.<br />

“For all the volunteers who<br />

come to us, we let them know<br />

that while a one-time volunteer<br />

is appreciated,” Boss said. “The<br />

long-term commitment and<br />

working these practices in your<br />

everyday life is what really causes<br />

transformation from the inside<br />

out.”<br />

Randall Denton, co-owner of<br />

Xanadu, said he appreciates the<br />

mutual aid efforts residents are<br />

making in Phoenix and that it<br />

reminds him of his experiences of<br />

being in a punk rock band.<br />

“Sleeping on people’s couches,<br />

trusting that when you go to a<br />

city that there will be a place for<br />

you to sleep and people who will<br />

take care of you. I feel like a lot of<br />

this comes out of that, where you<br />

try to pay it forward, and you pull<br />

resources, distribute them evenly,”<br />

he said.<br />

Paulann Egelhoff, a<br />

photographer, started delivering<br />

food created each Sunday for<br />

NourishPHX in the fall. She<br />

delivers food to two families,<br />

which she already knew from<br />

other queer spaces.<br />

“It’s interesting to be in a<br />

position where there’s a mutual<br />

aid group that’s not only feeding<br />

our community but feeding the<br />

queer families that we know,”<br />

Egelhoff, 33, said.<br />

Egelhoff said since her<br />

involvement in the mutual aid<br />

network, her relationship with<br />

the people she delivers to has<br />

become stronger.<br />

“I feel better knowing that I can<br />

help meet their needs in some<br />

way with some group,” she said.<br />

Some have questioned the<br />

longevity of many of the mutual<br />

aid projects that arose during the<br />

pandemic. Still, many organizers<br />

are figuring out ways to combat<br />

food insecurity after the<br />

pandemic.<br />

“I’m hoping that Nourish<br />

continues to be something that<br />

queer Phoenix know is always<br />

there them,” Boss said.<br />

Jonmaesha Beltran is a California native living in Phoenix, Arizona, where<br />

she studies journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and<br />

Mass Communication. She’s passionate about amplifying the voices of<br />

marginalized communities. Her dream is to become a staff writer at a<br />

national magazine.<br />


ECHOMAG.COM | MARCH 2021<br />



Why I Love Nancy Pelosi and AOC<br />

By Buddy Early<br />

Some time ago, I ignited a firestorm<br />

on social media when I said I would<br />

most appreciate a viable presidential<br />

candidate under 50. Holy smokes, did<br />

I get roasted for being ageist! How<br />

could I possibly just write off an entire<br />

generation of hard-working, experienced<br />

Americans when it comes to our nation’s<br />

highest office? I was even called part<br />

of “the entitlement generation” by one<br />

particularly triggered individual.<br />

Now, while I stand by my belief that a<br />

fresh, energetic change-maker would’ve<br />

best served our country’s needs during<br />

this messed up time, I’ll also accept<br />

that dismissing a large portion of our<br />

population in that way was a bit harsh.<br />

Maybe it’s because I will, in fact, turn 50<br />

this year, and I certainly don’t want to<br />

be overlooked in favor of some young<br />

whippersnapper who wears skinny<br />

jeans and Converse and understands<br />

Bitcoin – and that goes for any upcoming<br />

presidential race or a game of dodgeball.<br />

But back to my point: I was wrong.<br />

Ironically, most of the folks who tried<br />

to cancel me for my ageist views are<br />

the same folks on the progressive left<br />

who wanted to run Nancy Pelosi out<br />

of her House leadership because she<br />

is out of touch with young folks. (This<br />

is called a segue.) Pelosi will turn 80<br />

this month, and in her more than three<br />

decades as a member of the U.S. House<br />

of Representatives has been elected four<br />

times to the position of Speaker. Prior<br />

to taking on that role she was tapped as<br />

20 MARCH 2021 | ECHOMAG.COM<br />

Minority Whip and then Minority Leader<br />

by her Democratic colleagues.<br />

Essentially, Nancy Pelosi has earned<br />

and has long had the respect and<br />

appreciation of her peers. Those who<br />

have worked with her in Congress,<br />

people inside the beltway, and pretty<br />

much everyone who has followed national<br />

politics for the last few decades know her<br />

as a leader, a tough negotiator, and an<br />

effective policymaker. Even opponents<br />

on the other side of the aisle who hate<br />

everything Pelosi stands for would not<br />

argue she hasn’t been good at her job.<br />

We can and should expect Republicans<br />

– particularly the current brand that has<br />

no integrity or morals, and relies on lies<br />

and conspiracy theories to inform its<br />

actions – to balk at the things Pelosi tries<br />

to accomplish. What we shouldn’t have to<br />

deal with is members of the Democratic<br />

Party disrespecting her accomplishments<br />

and experience. Even more dispiriting,<br />

I’ve noticed, is the manner in which many<br />

members of the LGBT community have<br />

decided Pelosi is ready for the trash heap.<br />

It’s not just disrespectful; it’s ignorant.<br />

Nancy Pelosi has been there for us,<br />

time and time again. During her first<br />

speech on the House floor in 1987, she<br />

made it clear that fighting AIDS would<br />

be a top priority. And she has stayed true<br />

to that promise: challenging President<br />

Reagan to step up in the fight; securing<br />

AIDS funding first for her home district<br />

then subsequently through the Ryan<br />

White CARES Act and even across<br />

the globe; and she was instrumental in<br />

bringing the AIDS Memorial Quilt to<br />

Washington and increasing awareness<br />

when most Americans were still clueless.<br />

On the political front, Pelosi was<br />

among the first members of Congress<br />

to support same-sex marriage, joining<br />

an underwhelming minority in 1996 to<br />

vote against the Defense of Marriage<br />

Act. She’s supported our community on<br />

every issue facing the country. She lent<br />

her name to and was present at major<br />

LGBT events, including the 1987 <strong>March</strong> on<br />

Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights.<br />

Despite any missteps or occasions<br />

where Pelosi had to be educated about<br />

an issue, and despite any time she had to<br />

compromise to get shit done, I will always<br />

love Nancy Pelosi.<br />

If I’m being perfectly honest, I might<br />

be more closely aligned politically with<br />

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than I am with<br />

Nancy Pelosi. I’m somewhere in the middle<br />

right now but becoming more progressive<br />

with each passing year. AOC’s role as an<br />

ally to the LGBT community is unmatched.<br />

She is uncompromising, unflinching, and<br />

you can be damned sure she will never sell<br />

us out. Beyond her support for gay and<br />

lesbian equality, she has been vocal about<br />

the rights of Trans Americans more than<br />

anyone else ever in Congress.<br />

I am thrilled that AOC and other<br />

young progressives like her are making<br />

waves in Washington. While I may not<br />

be on board (yet) with every aspect of<br />

her agenda, nothing she is proposing<br />

would bring harm to America. She has a<br />

vision of an American utopia that doesn’t<br />

deserve to be disrespected by older, more<br />

conservative members of her own party.<br />

And I like that she scares the shit out<br />

of the likes of Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham,<br />

and Josh Hawley.<br />

Even in scenarios where her approach<br />

may not be incredibly wise, or she may shoot<br />

herself in the foot with her own actions, I will<br />

always love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.<br />

Nancy Pelosi and AOC are two sides of<br />

the same coin. They will have battles, for<br />

sure, and some may even argue they will<br />

ultimately “fight for the soul of the party.”<br />

But they support us and will go to the mat<br />

for us; the last thing they need is for us<br />

to pit them against one another. We need<br />

both of them.<br />

Buddy Early grew up in Tempe<br />

and has been involved in various<br />

communities across the Valley since.<br />

He is a former managing editor of<br />

both Echo Magazine and Compete<br />

Magazine.<br />


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ECHOMAG.COM | MARCH 2021<br />


Leon Polk Smith —Hiding in Plain Sight<br />

Leon Polk Smith: Hiding in Plain Sight at<br />

Heard Museum<br />

By Jenna Duncan. Photos courtesy of Heard Museum<br />

The mood of the midcentury<br />

built many memorable<br />

masters in art and<br />

architecture — many of whom<br />

were reacting to American and<br />

European recent history and<br />

events. Family life and education<br />

often shaped an artist’s<br />

experience, but an even more<br />

intrinsic, influential force came<br />

from the environment.<br />

Such is the case of painter<br />

and sculptor Leon Polk Smith,<br />

who may have emerged from<br />

obscurity in New York City, but<br />

was captivated by the American<br />

Southwest from the time of his<br />

youth in Oklahoma Territory,<br />

throughout his later life, work<br />

and travels. “Leon Polk Smith:<br />

Hiding in Plain Sight” at Heard<br />

Museum features more than 40<br />

of the artist’s most celebrated<br />

works.<br />

LPS grew up on a farm near<br />

Pocasset, Oklahoma, living with<br />

his mother, father, and nine<br />

brothers and sisters. He was<br />

born in Oklahoma, a year before<br />

the territory received statehood.<br />

He grew up near Chickasha, the<br />

nations of the Chickasaw, and<br />

Chocktaw, his neighbors. Smith<br />

claimed the Southwest as his<br />

home, describing its influence<br />

on his art and his spirit.<br />

“I believe his creative self was<br />

already shaped by this exposure<br />

to the Tribal communities,” Baker<br />

says. “The dances, the social<br />

gatherings — all of which he<br />

participated in,” Baker says the<br />

evidence is shown in his free use<br />

of color, which reflects palettes<br />

of historic beadwork and ribbon<br />

work.<br />

Baker describes the<br />

development of Oklahoma<br />

state as a time of creativity,<br />

lawlessness, and invention.<br />

“From that space, that place,<br />

came all sorts of innovations<br />

and creative individuals.” For<br />

example, Richard Adams,<br />

Delaware Indian poet, writer,<br />

and activist; Lewis W. Ballard,<br />

composer and former music<br />

director of Institute of American<br />

Indian Arts; and Lynn Riggs, who<br />

wrote the play “Green Grow the<br />

Lilacs,” Baker says.<br />

As a young man, Smith’s<br />

mother and father faced the<br />

foreclosure of their land and<br />

family farm, and he was sent to<br />

work to try to save it. Different<br />

accounts find him traveling the<br />

country, working as a laborer<br />

with Roosevelt’s Civilian<br />

Conservation Corps, and as<br />

a railroad laborer, where he<br />

landed a brief stint in Arizona.<br />

The wildly colorful desert<br />

sunsets may certainly have<br />

played into Smith’s adopted<br />

color palette, as did the<br />

decorative trends of the time.<br />

In one of his most memorable<br />

paintings, “Stonewall,” (1956),<br />

two red-orange orbs gently<br />

graze one another. But these<br />

shapes are more than just<br />

decorative — they suggest<br />

human energy, momentum — two<br />

planets about to form an eclipse<br />

or two lovers about to share a<br />

kiss.<br />

“To me, it’s very much a part<br />

of the pow wow,” Baker says of<br />

Smith’s vibrant color palette and<br />

what informs it. “A riot of color,<br />

in movement.”<br />

Though some of LPS’s early<br />

work was figurative, and he<br />

did experiment somewhat with<br />

Surrealism, LPS never truly<br />

“[Leon Polk Smith] spent<br />

the first 40 years of his life in<br />

Oklahoma. It has a warm place<br />

in my heart and everywhere in<br />

his painting,” says Joe Baker,<br />

co-curator of the exhibit<br />

and executive director at<br />

the Mashantucket Pequot<br />

Museum. “I give all the credit to<br />

Oklahoma,” Baker quotes Smith<br />

as saying near the end of his life.<br />

Leon Polk Smith —Hiding in Plain Sight<br />

While he was interested in the<br />

artist for many years prior, Baker<br />

says co-curating this exhibit gave<br />

him the chance to delve into<br />

Leon Polk Smith’s early years.<br />

22 MARCH 2021 | ECHOMAG.COM<br />


veered from Hard-Edge painting,<br />

Baker says. Geometry and<br />

vibrant color play big roles in<br />

Smith’s work. Many attribute Piet<br />

Mondrian as one of his primary<br />

influences, and he was friends<br />

with many other working artists<br />

of the time, including Martha<br />

Graham and Carmen Herrera.<br />

Baker has a special connection<br />

to Heard Museum and Leon Polk<br />

Smith. For one, Baker was at<br />

Heard Museum for 12 years, first<br />

in education and then serving<br />

as Lloyd Kiva New Curator of<br />

Fine Art. And another significant<br />

connection, Baker is also from<br />

Oklahoma and a member of the<br />

Delaware tribe. “I know the town<br />

he was born in,” Baker explains. “I<br />

know how that part of Oklahoma<br />

feels — the difficult history of<br />

the founding of the state of<br />

Oklahoma. It became a very<br />

personal experience for me.”<br />

The difficult history, as Baker<br />

explains, covers Oklahoma’s<br />

timeline from the 1800s into the<br />

early 20 th century. “It’s important<br />

to realize there were over 60<br />

Native American communities<br />

that were forced into what I<br />

refer to as a holding area,” Baker<br />

says. “They were misplaced by<br />

expansion until something could<br />

be decided about what to do<br />

about the ‘Indian problem.’”<br />

It was a time in the nation’s<br />

history when communities of<br />

diverse Native people, owning<br />

different customs and different<br />

languages, were forcibly pushed<br />

together into the “no man’s lands.”<br />

“What I do know that resulted<br />

from that action was really<br />

something quite beautiful,”<br />

Baker says. “Tribal people<br />

came together; there was a<br />

lot of sharing and exchange.<br />

They contributed formatively<br />

to the formation of the state of<br />

Oklahoma.”<br />

Smith was also coming of<br />

age in this era, embedded in<br />

a turbulent time. Baker says<br />

he wasn’t able to find any<br />

documentation that the Smith<br />

family had a tribal affiliation, but<br />

it has been said they were of<br />

Cherokee heritage. LPS didn’t<br />

speak much during his life about<br />

his Native American background,<br />

but his lifelong partner, Robert<br />

(Bob) Mead Jamieson, in<br />

interviews with the Leon Polk<br />

Foundation, did state that both<br />

of LPS’s parents had Cherokee<br />

ancestors.<br />


Smith and Jamieson met in<br />

a bar called Goody’s in New<br />

York City in the early 1950s,<br />

Baker says. Baker tried to track<br />

down the place but could not<br />

find a record of it. He did find<br />

records, though. The Smith<br />

maintained studios around<br />

Union Square and Greenwich<br />

from the mid-century to his<br />

later life.<br />

But before he got to New<br />

York, he enrolled in some<br />

classes at a college in Aida,<br />

Oklahoma. Initially, LPS had<br />

planned to become a teacher.<br />

“Somehow, during his time on<br />

campus, he walked by an open<br />

studio in the department of art<br />

and was just fascinated with<br />

painting class,” Baker says. “He<br />

looks in the door and somehow<br />

this moment of recognition<br />

that this was his calling.” LPS<br />

convinced the professor to<br />

let him sit in, and this initiated<br />

his formal investigation of the<br />

medium.<br />

Throughout his active art life,<br />

LPS evolved his style to include<br />

more curves. He also began<br />

to experiment with alternative<br />

shapes for his canvases,<br />

embracing the “tondo,” or round<br />

disk shape.<br />

“All of that was inspired<br />

by baseballs,” Baker says.<br />

His interpretation is that the<br />

seams on the ball held for<br />

LPS a connection to space<br />

and the endless horizons,<br />

inspiring his group of paintings,<br />

“Constellations.”<br />

Baker says last year, he<br />

visited the foundation and LPS’<br />

home studio in Long Island<br />

before it was sold.<br />

“What we found in a box was<br />

his notebooks, which had never<br />

been seen before by anyone<br />

at the foundation. It was really<br />

exciting because there are<br />

really meticulous records of<br />

the painting — where they were<br />

exhibited, where they traveled.<br />

Along with pencil sketches.<br />

References to colors. All of<br />

this provided insight into the<br />

mind of the artist; you could<br />

see his literal side. He was also<br />

very fastidious with his recordkeeping<br />

and note-taking.”<br />

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The Heard has on view some<br />

never-before-exhibited pages<br />

of the notebook. Also on view<br />

is a painting very atypical of<br />

LPSs work, “Black Black,” Baker<br />

says, which was produced<br />

during his time in Santa Fe on a<br />

fellowship.<br />

Leon Polk Smith died in 1996<br />

at age 90. He was active in<br />

painting for more than 70 years.<br />

“Hiding in Plain Sight” is on view<br />

at Heard Museum through May<br />

31. For more information, visit<br />

heard.org.<br />

Jenna Duncan is writer, community college instructor and artist based in Phoenix,<br />

Arizona. She leads the training program for journalism at Glendale Community<br />

College. Her video art and documentaries have screened in Phoenix, NYC,<br />

and Berlin. Jenna holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from University<br />

of Arizona, an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in<br />

Vermont, and a Masters in Media Studies from The New School.<br />

Jenna is a freelance reporter and editor for a few local magazines and<br />

co-hosts a biweekly pop culture podcast with fellow Phoenix writer,<br />

Jared Duran, called HootNReview.<br />

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Leon Polk Smith —Hiding in Plain Sight

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