Design by Stefanie Vigoren

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity ... ” Not to get all Dickensian on your asses, but 2015 was a storm of contrasting forces, with some dizzying highs and devastating lows in our fair city. Anchorage turned 100 this year—albeit the party was over budget and funds were mismanaged—and celebrating our longevity was not without our share of growing pains.

Here are some of the more memorable moments from around town and the pages of the Press:


The new year started off with a bang, 12 of them to be precise as our city was left reeling from a dozen shootings (11 humans and a pit bull puppy) in just a month. Cops claimed most of the shootings were drug-related, with heroin and methamphetamine largely to blame.

On a lighter note, January also saw Muni worker Dustin Darden’s homemade signs pop up on snow berms throughout our city in his low-budget bid for mayor. His unconventional, earnest  approach to campaigning would not prove to be successful, but he did make us smile with gems like “I am 100 percent pro-life regardless of how conception occurred. I stand for the right for people to organize and the right for them to be alive.”


Meat Head

When trapping fur-bearing animals near Sitka, one is not allowed to use for bait the “edible meat” of a deer, defined by Alaska hunting regulations as follows:

The meat of the ribs, neck, brisket, front quarters as far as the distal joint of the radius-ulna (a.k.a. the knee), hindquarters as far as the distal joint of the tibia-fibula (the hock), and the meat along the backbone between the front and hindquarters.

So when Alaska Wildlife Troopers from Juneau and Yakutat who were on joint vessel patrol spotted “multiple trapping locations” on the shoreline of Kelp Bay, between Admiralty Island and Baranof Island, they checked the bait to see if was edible meat.

Yep, sure was. “Deer ribs and deer roast,” to be exact.

Troopers “found through investigation” that a 42-year-old Sitka man was “assisting a juvenile to use the deer meat for trapping purposes.” He pled no contest on January 6 to “one count of using edible portions of deer meat for trap bait.” Fine: $260.

Next time, hopefully, he’ll use inedible deer parts. That would be: Bones, sinew, viscera, and meat of the head.


The personal interplay of Sonia Milan and Mark Robokoff in The Ice-Breaker started Cyrano’s off to a great start.


Lynda Lyons and Graham Dane, “Sites Unseen,” Alaska Humanities Forum

Anchorage art lovers are familiar with Linda Lyon’s work. The magical realism landscapes in warm tones, patterns of light and repeated elements form part of collections across town and Alaska. It’s interesting to see Lyon’s work juxtaposed with that of Graham Dane, whose patterns and colors are at a different part of the painting spectrum. The works are drastically different but somehow complementary. “Sites Unseen” provided a metaphysical platform for their vision about philosophy and art.


Ida is set in 1962 Poland, when generations were still reeling from World War II, and the new and emerging Socialist political establishment was on shaky ground. Ida, however, addresses layers upon layers of issues from an intimate and personal vantage point. The film tells the story of a young woman who grew up in a Catholic orphanage and decides to take the vows of sisterhood, but before becoming Sister Anna, she meets her aunt for the first time. Their short visit turns into the quest of a lifetime for both women. Anna learns her name is Ida Lebenstein and that she is Jewish.  In Ida, filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski follows the cinematic traditions and aesthetics established by some of Poland’s most notable directors like Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Kieślowski.


Cirque du Soleil's Dralion

Every once in awhile the arts scene is treated to a truly magnificent performance company who travels to Alaska allowing locals to experience the wonder of a grand-scale international act. In January, Cirque du Soleil brought their world-renowned artistry to Anchorage with Dralion. There were acrobats, professional trampolinists and even a bit of slapstick comedy.


Bullets continued to fly in February, with two shootings in 24 hours in the Chilkoot Charlie’s parking lot. The big news, in a hurry-up-and-wait fashion, was the legalization of the private, adult consumption of marijuana on February 24. While a number of businesses jumped on the weed bandwagon, including Discreet Deliveries, legal, taxed and regulated cannabis commerce will have to wait for 2016.

"This is my favorite photo ever I've taken this year. A lot of people wouldn't be able to see the emotion in it, but knowing Alberto [Alcala, vocalist of Old Houds] and being able to capture a moment where I knew he was genuinely stoked to be singing with one of his favorite bands, Vanna, alongside Davey Muise was so special to me. This was my favorite show of the year and being able to take photos for it was amazing."—Rachael Peltier


The Last Pot Bust?

Thirty-one hours before marijuana possession became legal in the State of Alaska, Troopers conducted what may have been their last misdemeanor pot bust—ever. Troopers nabbed the hapless driver just before 5 p.m. on February 22 as he passed Indian heading south. Someone apparently saw the car swerving and dropped a dime, phoning in a REDDI report. What did Troopers find when they stopped the vehicle? Almost nothing. No expired license, no warrants, no impairment, no equipment violations—just a bag with less than an ounce of weed which landed the driver a Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance charge.


The memorable delivery of The Mountaintop, a tale of Martin Luther King Jr., is what hit hearts hard at the PAC, sharing the tale of the night before Dr. King’s assassination with humor and humanity alike.


Mariano Gonzales, “A Man in the Shadows,” Anchorage Museum

Mariano Gonzales never disappoints. His work is unapologetic and thoughtful. “A Man in the Shadows” was a socially critical exhibit calling attention to many of the problems society faces daily, including gun violence and the culture of apathy it has spawned. The show was controversial and even put the Municipality on edge for its use of fake guns. “A Man in the Shadows” was without a doubt one of the strongest shows of the year.


She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry by award-winning director and producer Mary Dore, is essential to understanding the political and social relationship of women to society in American history. This feature-length documentary covers a lot of ground in a remarkably focused way and at a satisfying pace. It uses old footage and interviews to juxtapose the emerging women’s movement of the 1960s and ‘70s to the current state of affairs. Dore’s expertise makes it possible for the documentary to present the thoughts and contributions of over 30 women who became the activists of their time and propelled opportunities for women all over the world. The images and footage work well with the interviews, and accompanying the history is a soundtrack that ties generations together, from Aretha Franklin and the Velvet Underground to Cat Power.


Trajectory Album Release Show

Lots of bands put out albums this year, but few had a release show line-up as loaded at Trajectory. Self-proclaimed stoner-rock/shoegaze band Dutchess, indie-rockers Dabarko and blues-rockers The Dirty Hands all showed up to support their pals. The show had a good turnout, with Dabarko proclaiming later on their Facebook page that it was their ‘funnest show yet.’


This month the Press sent ace freelancer Aurora Ford to hang out with the Duggars at Alaska Right to Life’s fundraising banquet. We also detailed the Humpy’s group’s plans for the old Covenant House building, which has now become Williwaw. Meanwhile, just down the street from Press headquarters, Charlo “fuck it I quit” Greene saw her cannabis club headquarters raided by officers with assault rifles and would eventually be charged with nine felonies.


Close, Cold Calls

Tolvana Hot Springs is not a place you would head to on a whim, especially in the dead of winter. Located 100 miles north of Fairbanks, the natural springs have a temperature of 125 to 145 degrees and the location is set up in a decidedly and intentionally rustic manner. There are two pools to take a dip in, a couple of rudimentary cabins, and getting there means braving a 10-mile trail from the Elliott Highway.

In the wee hours of March 12, Troopers received a report that a couple from Eielson Air Force Base had decided to make a run for the natural hot tubs and set out on snowmachine with temperatures hovering around -30 degrees. Six miles in, the snowmachine became stuck and the couple, who had next to no survival gear with them, decided to hoof it for the remaining four miles. The wind and frigid temperatures became too much for them and they sought shelter in a very large, empty, plastic water tank they happened upon. When the elements proved too much to endure, they started texting friends, one of whom alerted Troopers.

Two sergeants set out with warm gear for the stranded couple, whom they located and were able to return to their snowmachine and dig it out of the drifts. The couple made it back to their vehicle approximately seven hours after Troopers were first alerted.


Walking Shadows Theatre Company brought to stage the richness of the McCarthy Era gay issues in Perfect Arrangement, whose timing and engaging story kept people engaged and moved.


International Gallery of Contemporary Art, various artists

The exhibits at the IGCA for the month of March were a nice mix and included: “Paradox” by L. Saunders McNeill; “Spring Birch” by Ted Herlinger; “You grow inside me, I grow around you” by Laura Avellaneda-Cruz, Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz, with Ash Adams; and “Night Owls Rejoice” by Mikey Huff.  L. Saunders McNeill’s was especially interesting inside and out, as the egg shell structure was delicate and its size impressive.


Human beings transforming to animals, and animals transforming to human beings, are metamorphoses at the heart of myths told across cultures, from Ovid’s work, to the Celtic stories and beyond. The Song of the Sea, written by Will Collins and Tomm Moore, and directed by the latter, retells an Irish story about a “Selkie,” a mythical being who transforms from a seal to a human and can live among them, even fall in love and procreate, but always longing to return to the sea. A Selkie can only transform to a seal again with its coat. Without it, a Selkie is trapped in its human form. In some myths, human beings attempt to hold on to Selkies by hiding their skins, yet trying to hold on to Selkies always leads to unintended consequences.


Chef Chris Vane has transformed the Pubhouse (located inside the Inlet Towers on L St in South Addition) into a destination for fine cuisine. The bartender and dessert chef (yes, there is a dessert chef) are dedicated craftsmen as well. The menu rotates frequently, and the cooks incorporate local food whenever possible. Don’t be misled by the apparently banal menu: Vane’s concoctions take typical bar food to another level of gastronomic precision and complexity. And the menu often includes more substantial, perfectly executed entrees like sherried chicken, in which the crisp, juicy meat rests on a fluffy pillar of polenta.


Slow Magic

When Slow Magic returned to Alaska for a second show, all of Anchorage took notice. The good folks at ShowDown Productions brought the enigmatic chillwave DJ to Anchorage for a one-night-only performance at the Fiesta Room. The sold out show was one of the most talked about of the year. At one point during the set his brother and father joined Slow Magic onstage; later, he went into the center of the crowd with a drum and started banging on it like a maniac, and was even joined onstage by Mac Holtan, drummer of local metal band Griffith.

Plagiarist Album Release

One of the strongest album release's in 2015 was the self-titled debut EP from Plagiarist. With the vocal talents of frontwoman Kate McVey leading the charge, it’s hard not to come out swinging. Strong and funky guitar riffs accompany her deep, gravelly tone. Our pick for best song on the album is “Hard to Ignore.”


This month we recommended you head up to the Eagle Glacier and Eklutna Icefield, which stretches from Girdwood north. Access the icefield via Crow Pass trail (warning—can be serious avalanche hazard) and Raven Glacier, or by taking a $350 helicopter ride (total cost for up to three people) with Alpine Air out of Girdwood. Stay in Rosie’s Roost after paying your membership dues to the Mountaineering Club of Alaska, and ski some of the peaks around Eagle and nearby glaciers. Note that the icefield has crevasses, so all members of the party should have glacier travel experience, equipment, and take appropriate travel precautions when on the ice.


We don’t really remember April, as much of our staff was busy judging strains and edibles for the Cannabis Classic. We do know that Charlo Greene threatened to sue everybody, and Amy Demboski’s assertion that Eagle River folks don’t want to be a part of Anchorage resurfaced. We were stoked to see local photographer Nathan Wilder’s photos published in the Guardian, and saddened at the loss of the Motherlode Lodge at Hatcher Pass, which burned to the ground on April 17. Former Anchorage Daily News Editor Pat Dougherty wrote a scathing commentary on the Alaska Dispatch which we published right in time for the Alaska Press Club conference. At the April 25 awards ceremony, the Anchorage Press took home 13 awards.

We are particularly proud of Contributing Editor David Holthouse’s accomplishments. Holthouse won the Leslie Ann Murray Award for Best Editorial or Commentary for “It’s Never Too Late to Tell.” Judge Tom Condon called it “a power and personal indictment of child sexual abuse. The piece is well paced as it moves to a reform recommendation that would clearly help break the silence that surrounds this heinous crime.”

Holthouse also knocked it out of the park with his powerful investigative series on the Alaska National Guard scandal. As Judge Lois Norder put it, “Wow! Anchorage Press built a damning indictment in an almost unbelievable scandal. There is so much here to admire, from its efforts to obtain records to compelling writing that guides readers through the complexities of the case. By laying out evidence for the public to examine, Anchorage Press addresses questions about what the governor knew and when he knew it.”

"One of the best events of the year is the Trapper Creek Bluegrass Festival. It's also one of the best places to photograph some of the interesting characters Alaska has to offer. Walking the mile-long dirt loop provides a seemingly endless supply of individuals."—Kerry Tasker


Sloshed Slednecks

Troopers had their hands full patrolling the annual Arctic Man event at Summit Lake near Paxson, a booze-filled weeklong party that may just be the largest snowmachine event in the world. Attendance hit 13,000 participants and spectators who gathered in the middle of nowhere to  celebrate snowmachines hauling skiers up harrowing slopes.

Well, that and the beer garden.

Just after 8 p.m. on April 11, a 19-year-old woman was found to be so intoxicated she could not properly take care of herself. She was taken to the Glenallen jail to sleep it off under safer conditions.

Two hours later a 31-year-old North Pole man in a drunken stupor mistook a Trooper for someone else he must not have held in very high regard, and began spitting on and yelling at the Trooper while grabbing him. The drunken man was escorted out of the bar where the incident occurred, issued a criminal citation and released to the custody of a sober friend.

At 11 p.m. a 51-year-old Palmer man was arrested for being drunk on licensed premises and disorderly conduct when he began to fight with Troopers.

A little after midnight a man was nabbed for driving around on his snowmachine drunk.

Just before 2 a.m. on Sunday morning a 28-year-old from New York started mouthing off and acting aggressively in the beer tent and refused the Troopers’ suggestion that he leave. The man was arrested and taken to a special Arctic Man jail erected at the site for just this sort of incident.


"Pupil + Paper," Anchorage Museum

This annual fundraiser featured garments designed by students using only used, recycled or reclaimed materials. This year there were 18 student teams participating. Their works were inventive and delightful and represented everything from the environment and nature, to social and personal experiences. There were long gowns and short fantastical dresses. Funds were raised for scholarships that help these young designers take bigger steps towards success.


A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an American movie by British-born, Iranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour. The movie is in Farsi and set in Bad City, a fictional ghost town. Southern California transforms beautifully into the desolate, depressed and semi-abandoned Iranian town. A Girl is about a Persian vampire living alone in Bad City. She  watches as misogynistic and unscrupulous elements oppress and exploit those around her. The Girl observes, learns from, mirrors and even mimics her victims as she hones in for the kill. The Girl has a moral compass, and while she kills to survive, she at least offs characters that viewers dislike.


Sultan Shawarma, located in Mountain View, is the best food truck in Anchorage, our reviewer assures us. The proprietor, Omima, has developed a menu from some of the most popular, satisfying foods in the Middle East, including shawarmas and falafel.


Jack White

It was one of the most exciting events to happen in Anchorage this year, and there was only four hours of advance notice. Co-founder of the band White Stripes and member of the supergroup The Dead Weather, Jack White came to Alaska for a one-night-only acoustic performance where tickets were just $3. Thousands of music fans waited in line outside the Wendy Williamson auditorium in the hopes of getting a seat. When it was all said and done, 900 fans got to bear witness to Jack White’s first show in Alaska. With his hair slicked back and surrounded by live musicians, White dazzled in his dapper all-black suit. It was one of the most talked about events this year.


The Chickaloon River isn’t packrafted as a hike-in overnighter all that often, but it should be. There is easy access up an ATV trail that turns into a single track footpath. Hike in 14 miles to camp beneath towering rock walls and enjoy the river’s best whitewater. That includes a passage through overhanging cliffs so narrow that a fallen tree straddles the void overhead. The Chickaloon is Class II-III at lower autumn levels or a much more continuous, powerful, and potentially dangerous Class IV at normal summer flows. At those higher flows, take out before the ledge with a hydraulic that is alongside the road at the end of the run.


The Press endorsed Ethan Berkowitz for mayor, and he still won in spite of being sullied by association with such a tawdry, liberal rag.  We also published a moving and beautifully written story by Debra McKinney on a young mother, Jael Hamblen, who vanished in 2014 and has yet to be found. Anchorage welcomed veteran musicians Blues Traveler to town, and South, a new restaurant from the folks at Snow City/Spenard Roadhouse opened its doors.


“One of the best events of the year is the Trapper Creek Bluegrass Festival. It's also one of the best places to photograph some of the interesting characters Alaska has to offer. Walking the mile-long dirt loop provides a seemingly endless supply of individuals.”—Kerry Tasker

“This is my favorite photo I've taken this year. A lot of people won't be able to see the emotion in it, but knowing Alberto [Alcala, vocalist of Old Hounds] and being able to capture a moment where I knew he was genuinely stoked to be singing with one of his favorite bands, Vanna, alongside Davey Muise was so special to me. This was my favorite show of the year and being able to take photos for it was amazing.”—Rachael Peltier


I’m on a Boat

It was near 10 p.m. on May 5 in the Aniak slough and a couple of buddies were on a boat, busting five knots with the wind whipping out their coats. “You can't stop me motherfucker cause I'm on a boat,” they thought to themselves. Although they weren’t riding on a dolphin doing flips and shit—it’s Aniak, after all—they were sipping on a heck of a lot of that crisp Santana champ. And they were shooting shit. And smoking shit. An off-duty VPSO took a good hard look at the motherfuckin’ boat and called in troopers. The men tried to fly their boat to the moon somehow, but troopers eventually caught up with them and discovered they were both operating the vessel after having consumed alcohol and pot, had four loaded guns with them and a bunch of dead critters. Both had previous DUI convictions making the boat charges felonies. They were charged with Felony Boating under the Influence, Misconduct Involving Weapons, Eluding, Failure to Have Trapping License in Possession and Failure to Register the Boat.

"I always try to get to events early and photos like this are the reason why. Sometimes the 'getting ready' photo is better than shots of the event itself. Imperial Court Shuffeur Emma Walden wanted to look her best for the Pride Fest Parade and watching her carefully applying her lip gloss in the rear view of her red '71 chevelle said 'pride' to me more than  any of the pictures I took during the parade itself."—James R. Evans


Cyrano’s blend of technology and re-energized history made their production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth beautifully done.


Clouds of Sils Maria is the dramatic articulation of the timeless phenomenon via the story of a middle-aged movie star who comes full circle in her art and in the process is confronted with past and present, aging and change. Clouds of Sils Maria is one of Olivier Assayas’ stronger works. Like his contemporary, Pedro Almodovar, Assayas is a director of actresses. He engages them on an equal footing resulting in intelligent, charismatic, performances with complex and fluid character development. Juliette Binoche plays Maria Enders, a movie star in her mid-40s whose career is solid and still thriving but whose choice of roles is changing along with her personal and physical life—basically, she’s getting older. Maria’s dependence on, and interconnection with, her assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart), grows more complicated as Maria deals with the death of an old friend and playwright.


Anchorage diners run the gamut through the good, bad, and ugly. For classic diner fare, Café AK, a new greasy spoon in Spenard, stands out. Its co-owners are dedicated and attentive to detail, and the menu is a little richer than at the chain-type establishments. Fresher, higher quality ingredients and the cooks’ close attention make the difference even though the underlying dishes vary little.


Touché Amoré

There was a lot to talk about this May, and one of the biggest heavy concerts of the year was Touché Amoré. While the band itself is one of the biggest metalcore bands around, many local metalheads were most excited to see Griffith’s reunion show. Frontman Matt Young flew from South Carolina to join the rest of the Griffith boys for the night’s set, and it was one of the best-received local sets of the year. Combine that with Touché frontman Jeremy Bolm inviting Brian Benavente on stage to perform a song with the band and you get one of the most entertaining shows of the year.

Trapper Creek Bluegrass

Trapper Creek Bluegrass is, in many ways, the official start of the summer. It was the first big festival of the season and one of the most widely attended. Justin Boot’s annual party in the woods hosted a variety of acts: from Blackwater Railroad Co. and Animal Eyes to Snarley Brown and Saucy Yoda.


The Lion’s Head section of the Matanuska should be on your list every summer, and it’s fun in a raft, whitewater canoe, packraft, or kayak. For most people, a raft is the most practical way to float past the Lion’s Head massif and the old terminal moraine of the Matanuska Glacier. Rarely do such vertiginous rock formations, rivers of ice, and joyous whitewater converge.


June saw David Holthouse’s story, “Outing the Bogeyman” on our cover, and Holthouse’s subsequent testimony in Juneau on behalf of Erin’s Law. If you didn’t catch the story, you should. Here’s a snippet: "They both told me they had read my original article, ‘Stalking the Bogeyman,’ and suspected they knew the identity of the unnamed rapist. They said they had been thinking about contacting me for years, because they knew stories about the same man victimizing other children in two different communities in Alaska in the 1980s, when he was an adult. They both said the name.”


“I always try to get to events early and photos like this are the reason why. Sometimes the ‘getting ready’ photo is better than shots of the event itself. Imperial Court Chauffeur Emma Walden wanted to look her best for the Pride Fest Parade and watching her carefully applying her lip gloss in the rear view of her red '71 Chevelle said ‘pride’ to me more than any of the pictures I took during the parade itself."—James R. Evans

“Listening to We Came As Romans in my high school years made capturing this moment pretty surreal to me. It was one of my most exciting photos of the day. Not a lot of bands go out of their way to really interact with the crowd this way, so getting shots like this is rare.”—Rachael Peltier


Define “Pleasuring Himself”

Dutch Harbor is an interesting place—one only need read its police blotter to find out. On Monday, June 8 about 11:30 in the morning, this balding dude with a ‘stache in fishnets and a long dress (sounds fairly modest) was walking back and forth near a particular docked boat. The boat’s captain called the cops when, the captain said, the man was now sitting in a pickup on the dock next to the boat, “pleasuring himself.” Cap was worried some of the ladies and young’uns on his crew might be offended, and they might have. Dutch Harbor officers talked to the mustachioed man in fishnets, and he admitted to some elements of what the Cap said (the report doesn’t specify which elements), and the officers “advised him that he might be better off pursuing his activities in a private location.”


Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Recent Works, International Gallery of Contemporary Art

Very few artists can fill all three of the spaces at the IGCA successfully and beautifully, but Sonya Kelliher-Combs is one of them.  Kelliher-Combs is an artist of international caliber. Her mixed media work is unique in Alaska. An Alaska Native from Nome, her work continues to evolve and grow while retaining ties to her unique experience and roots. She redefines contemporary Alaska Native art through masterful design and skill. Her mixed media works are almost translucent, they possess an organic quality and composure reflective of arctic sublimity.

"Photojournalism, as I was taught once upon a time, is all about the pictures miserable people dying in third-world countries. What a bummer. I always loved Norman Rockwell paintings and I think if you look hard enough, and get over the cynicism the 21st century has blessed us all with, you can still see those innocent, funny, quintessentially American moments happening all around us. Every once in a while I get lucky and the expressions tell the story just the way old Norm would have painted them. This is what kids at a small town parade have looked like for as long as there have been small town parades in America."—James R. Evans


Güeros, the Mexican film by Alonso Ruizpalacios, takes the viewer on a hell of a ride along with the four protagonists through the periférico or peripheral ring of highways encircling Mexico City (known as “el DF” for Federal District ). With over 27 million people, el DF is sprawling and vast. The road trip that weaves in and out of neighborhoods and suburbs doesn’t have to leave the area in order to take viewers and protagonists on a journey through the long history of revolution, race and cultural identity in contemporary Mexico. Like many metaphorical journeys, the destination is ultimately one’s self. The plot of the story in Güeros is based on the 1999 student strike at the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico), which is Latin America’s largest university and has been pivotal to social and political movements since its inception.


Tropical Latin, located on Boniface Parkway just south of the Glenn Highway, has the best lunch and dinner deals in Anchorage. Its Puerto Rican and Dominican proprietors prepare a huge spread of stewed and roasted meats served with rice, beans, plantains, and yucca root. Spicy pork and ribs are some of my favorites. Tropical Latin also has the most representative clientele of anywhere I’ve eaten in Anchorage: Any given lunch hour, it’s packed with service members and people speaking a half dozen different languages.



All around the world June is a time of joy and celebration in the LGBTQIA+ community. And here in Anchorage the celebration was vibrant and jam-packed. While festivities took place from May 30 to June 6, the last day of Pridefest featured the annual Pride Parade and a day of fun, games and entertainment on the Park Strip. LGBTQIA+ owned and LGBTQIA+ friendly vendors sold local products, Alaska’s best drag queens performed and the nationwide "We Are You" photography project stopped by to take photos of LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals.

Road to Warped Tour

Road to Warped: Alaska celebrated a second successful year this past June, and there were some big names who took to the stage. One of the most anticipated bands was ISSUES, whose vocalist Tyler Carter performed their entire set without his in-ear monitor working and still managed to kill it. Also making their first appearance in Alaska was The Wonder Years, New Found Glory and PVRIS. But the star of the day was definitely We Came As Romans’ Kyle Pavone, who jumped into the crowd, microphone in hand, and stood above the sea of hands being held up by his fans.


Not just in the world of myth do lakes and rivers emerge within calderas before flowing to the sea. The Aniakchak River originates in Surprise Lake, which is surrounded by Aniakchak caldera and her numerous smaller craters. Blazing colors from mineral springs and pure snowmelt contrast with turgid waters from a remnant glacier. Frothing whitewater pours from the lake through The Gates as the Aniakchak rushes to the Pacific Ocean. And you can walk there, after a relatively short and affordable flight to Port Heiden. This incredible traverse, which takes about a week, should be on every backcountry traveler’s list.


It was the story that broke the internet, or at least our server, and it was about a bar. Not just any bar, mind you, but the legendary Chilkoot Charlie’s and owner Mike Gordon, who announced that he would be selling the 45-year old business to a group of employees. This was the month the Marijuana Control Board held its first meeting, just as cops were seizing marijuana delivery service cars. A new report showed that things really suck for cops in Anchorage and morale was at an all time low. Thanks to the former mayor's policy of understaffing and dissolution of special units and resources, the overall feeling at APD, as shown by Anchorage Police Department Employees Association survey, was despondency. Could a new chief make a difference?

Jane’s Addiction came to town and played a show despite torrential rains which flooded midtown streets, and Donald Trump mused about offering Sarah Palin a cabinet post.


Now This is Combat Fishing

In Crooked Creek on Wednesday, July 1, troopers got a report that a man was firing on a group of three adults and three children who were at the fish cutting area. There’s no apparent motive in the troopers’ report, but the 30-year-old man, who was well into his cups, had tried to slice or stick two of the adults with knives about an hour earlier, and “advised” (who doesn’t love trooper talk?) responding troopers that while shooting his 30.30 rifle at the group “he was attempting to kill one of the adults whom he had attempted to assault with the knives earlier.” Um, “knives” plural?


Ricky Tagaban, “Sexual Sovereignty,” International Gallery of Contemporary Art

Southeast Alaska artist Ricky Tagaban creates works that are deeply rooted in Alaska Native tradition to express contemporary experiences. Tagaban is a master weaver who pushes the limits on content and design, making work that makes viewers curious about the meaning of shapes and significance of textures.

"Listening to We Came as Romans in my high school years made capturing this moment pretty surreal to me. It was one of my most exciting photos of the day. Not a lot of bands go out of their way to really interact with the crowd this way, so getting shots like this is rare."—Rachael Peltier


A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is the third installment in Roy Andersson’s Living trilogy, and intellectually delightful. In an age where thoughts, images and sounds pass viewers by at a million miles per hour, the film will challenge viewers to wait for it, and wait for it until there it is, like magic! A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is a quiet film, but the pace is consistent with Andersson’s comedic timing. Some of Andersson’s vignettes express an overarching sense of lassitude that flows into the realm of depression, but just when they get to the brink of falling into the abyss something happens—and it’s funny. Other vignettes are socially critical of Swedish and European history. There are a couple of scenes in particular that will take viewers aback because of how beautifully they come about without ever breaking the pace or pattern of the film, and yet they are jarring and damning commentaries on the many social and scientific achievements in the developed world that have come at the expense of nature and people in underdeveloped or developing nations.

“This photo was one of my favorites used for the Press just because the entire event (The International Gallery Contemporary Art Block Party) was centered around art, dance, and music. The dancers were in some extravagant costumes and really captured the fun of the moment with their moves.”—Charles Earnshaw


Ok, Glenallen isn’t exactly the middle of nowhere, but it has a fine culinary outpost: the Tok Thai food truck. For Alaskans used to finding reheated hamburgers and other bland fare in rural restaurants, Tok Thai’s massaman and drunken noodles might come as a shock—but a pleasant one. The Thai iced tea is similarly gratifying when you’re driving back from dipnetting on the Chitna or fishing on the Gulkana. It is a shame more Alaska crossroads don’t have such wonderful food. Or anything with a vegetable in it.


American Authors and KONGOS

Humpy’s annual Big Spawn concert series featured two alt-rock bands that had breakout hits this year. The first, American Authors, is perhaps best known for their hit “Best Day of My Life.” KONGOS, on the other hand, had the smash it “Come With Me Now.” F Street was overflowing with locals who were looking forward to the concert event of the summer, and neither set disappointed. Zac Barnett was electric on stage during the AA set, and the KONGOS dazzled with their impressive instrumental skills.


The southern flanks of the Brooks Range have become increasingly brushy as temperatures in northern Alaska have warmed some five to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the last half-century. As a result, parts of Gates of the Arctic and other parks have become more treacherous to walk through, since head-high brush can make it tough to see bears in trail-less terrain. Headlamp's Zack Fields had just such a nasty encounter with a grizzly while walking and paddling from Anaktuvuk Pass to the Arrigetch Peaks area this summer. The takeaway? It’s hard to move fast and safely through brushy terrain. The north flanks of the mountains are less brushy, and another option is to design trips with relatively more paddling and less bushwhacking. Or go with a larger group for improved safety.


The president is coming! The president is coming! Quick, let’s paint the roses red, clean up town square, fix broken streetlights, and do our best to hide our homeless from international media. Besides word that the POTUS would soon be be among us, August was mainly known for the first wave of bad spice to hit the streets. During the first two weeks of August the Anchorage Fire Department had transported 100 suspected spice users to the emergency room, most coming from downtown, many homeless. It was the first indication of an epidemic that hopefully will play itself out in 2016.


Technology is a Bitter Mistress

A 29-year-old man in Fairbanks was arrested and charged with DUI and failure to immediately report an accident after his car issued an Auto Crash Notification. Troopers got the crash notification and found a 2013 Ford Taurus had plowed into a stand of birch trees near an apartment complex. The airbags had gone off and had blood on them. They checked the vehicle’s records and found the owner lived in the apartments where the crash happened. There was fresh blood near his front door, and they found him in a rear bedroom sleeping. After being woken up by troopers, he stunk of booze and was swaying “6 to 12 inches back and forth” while he talked to the troopers. He said he’d been drinking that night, but not driving—the car had been stolen, he told troopers. No dice. His girlfriend told the troopers he’d only been home about five or 10 minutes before they’d arrived.


Anchorage Community Theatre brought out a surprising gem with their edgy interpretation of Bus Stop when director Krista Schwarting (with mentee David Alvarez-Lemp) highlighted the domestic abuse that gets portrayed in a comedic manner by other versions of the show.


Ted Kim: “Transitions,” International Gallery of Contemporary Art

Artist Ted Kim, who has been collaborating with Duke Russell on recent exhibits and projects, delivered intimate and delightful work. Kim has something many artists seem to lack, imagination. Lines flow skillfully from his hand to paper. His work is honest, clean, and beautiful; as strong as the darkest lines, and as sublime as butterflies in flight.

“Wixaritari: People Walking Toward Dawn,” Out North Contemporary Art House

Anchorage art lovers got a rare opportunity to glimpse the visual journeys of shaman and renowned mara’akame artist José Benítez Sánchez. Wixaritari are also known as Huichol, and the exhibit was a collaboration between Out North Contemporary Art House, the Mexican consulate in Anchorage, and the Alaska Humanities Forum. "Wixaritari: People Walking Toward Dawn,” featured more than 30 yarn paintings Sánchez produced in the years just before his death in 2009. Curator and deputy director of the magazine Artes de México, Gabriela Olmos, was present to give context to the colorful dream interpretations and universal significance of the pieces.


There are many reasons to watch The Tribe but none of them are easy. The Tribe pushes the limits of filmmaking by engaging viewers in a completely different sensory experience. The film tells the story of a group of young men and women at a boarding school for the deaf. Director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky successfully places the viewer in the role of a voyeur as he or she can hear all the environmental sounds but unless the viewer knows Russian Sign Language (RSL), he or she is left to interpret the plot and understand the characters directly from their individual characteristics and actions. The film does not contain a single spoken word and has no subtitles whatsoever. At over two hours, The Tribe takes huge risks of losing the viewer and dropping the thread of the action—but it succeeds and delivers a complex story that holds the attention of the viewer from beginning to end.


Granddad’s Dumped

Earlier this year, Press staff writer Zakiya McCummings gave Granddad’s Dumped a five-star review. As we reflect on this year’s best in local music, it would be almost blasphemous not to include an album we gave such high praise. Dumped was penned by vocalist and guitarist Kellen Baker and explores the turmoil of going through a break up. It’s raw, it’s loud and at times the lyrics are painfully uncomfortable because they’re so real. Combine that rawness with the fast-paced drumming of Matt Harris and you get one of the best albums of the year.

Emma Hill & Bryan Daste, Ten Years

Emma Hill has been a magnetic force in the Anchorage music scene for over a decade, but it was her longtime friendship and stage partnership with Bryan Daste that inspired the live album Ten Years. With 10 tracks—one for each year of their professional relationship—Emma and Bryan explore their musical career with new renditions of old jams reimagined in present time. It’s a tender and thoughtful album that delves deeper into the meaning of each song and by design, Hill and Daste’s relationship.


Chitna Pass has been a favorite of Alaskan backpackers for decades. Three days is the perfect amount of time to wander through the Talkeetna’s highlands, far above treeline, where blueberries and tundra stretch for miles amidst stark peaks and herds of caribou. Late summer has fewer bugs, and if you go before hunting season there will be less ATV traffic. Definitely go during a dry spell, since part of the route follows ATV trails and can be really boggy after periods of rain.


Anchorage was completely twitterpated by President Obama’s visit, and perhaps no one more so than staff and diners at Snow City, where POTUS stopped for a bit of sweet sustenance for his team. Were we embarrassed that Bear Grylls had to be part of the equation? Does a sitting president need to appear on a reality show known for fraudulent depictions of survival? Who cares when you have Air Force One on the tarmac and Denali’s got its name back.

And thanks in particular to Bill Evans and Patrick Flynn, on September 29 the Anchorage Assembly voted 9 - 2 to make it illegal to discriminate over sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The Fairbanks Four protest at AFN was a pretty powerful thing to witness. On the one hand, Walker and Mallott appeared to have a lot of supporters in the room. On the other hand, no one was going to let this issue slide. Too often in the media we see politicians and protesters shouting each other down, arguing in hyperbole and denigrating one another's points of view. This was different. A thousand or so Alaska Natives simply stood together, raised their four fingers and, in short, said ‘Fix this injustice.’ The two politicians had no choice but to stand on that stage, surrounded by all those hands and faces, and simply acknowledge.”—James R. Evans


Homeland security

On Thursday, September 10, troopers were called to the Inter-Island Ferry Terminal in Hollis on Prince of Wales Island for a report of a possible explosive in an exterior trash can. The building was evacuated, the ferry held at Ketchikan, air traffic was routed away, and vehicle and foot traffic were blocked. Troopers snapped a photo of the device, and explosives experts at the FBI “decided there was a high likelihood that it was real.” After checking surveillance footage, troopers identified the person who put the device in the trash can and were able to find the person. The person confirmed to troopers that the device was a novelty alarm clock that was thrown away because it was broken. All clear.


The feature length documentary Meru is jaw-droppingly heartbreaking and compelling because it is as truthful as it is beautiful. The documentary tells the story of Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk’s first attempt to climb the Fin in 2008, their return to Meru in 2011, and their lives in between expeditions. Meru is not the tallest peak in the world, it’s about 7,000 feet lower than Everest, but climbing Meru is the Holy Grail for climbers.


Spider & the Webs

An iconic figure of the ‘90s rock scene and original riot grrl, Toby Vail is best known as one of the three original members of Bikini Kill as well as a good friend and ex-girlfriend of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and David Grohl. But over the last 10 years she’s been involved in Spider & the Webs, a project she started with James Maeda (guitar) and Chris Sutton (drums and bass). While onstage at TapRoot, Vail captivated the audience when she traded places with Sutton for “Mr. Hypnotist,” a rockin’ track that got the crowd dancing.


The Mountaineering Club of Alaska’s annual Ice Fest is the best place to learn ice climbing. Held every September at the Matanuska Glacier, experienced climbers and rescue professionals offer their expertise to teach novices, intermediates, and more advanced climbers a range of ice skills. These range from anchor construction to climbing form to placement of protection during a climb. In addition to the instruction, September is a magical time to be on the glacier, as golden hues light up the surrounding forest and snow flecks the Chugach’s high peaks.


"Spice is not slang for a certain drug. It’s slang for a delivery system for a lot of different drugs. It’s slang for a foil sachet of mystery high, and for the phenomenon of users not caring what’s in the shit, as long as it gets them really fucked up for a really long time for a few dollars a dose," wrote David Holthouse in a an October 15 cover story entitled "Spice City." The story appeared two days after Anchorage drew international attention when a spiced-out and naked woman trashed a Subway restaurant to the tune of $20,000 in damages.


Lubricant for the Repair

On Monday, September 21, at about 5:45 p.m., troopers in Fairbanks received a satellite relay text message reporting that an airboat—with a possibly intoxicated driver—sank in the East Fork of the Chena River, and that a young boy had fallen in the river but been rescued. Upon arrival via helicopter, troopers discovered that everyone was okay—the airboat had sank, and the young man was rescued from the water. Two hunters at a nearby camp said the driver of the airboat stole a bottle of whiskey from their tent after the mishap, and drank the entire thing while fixing the boat and returning it to the beach. The 36-year-old airboat driver was subsequently charged with DUI, but not for theft of the whiskey.

“It was bittersweet shooting the last performance of Pretty Birds That Kill, especially since it was one of their best shows. They brought the house down with their raw energy that night. Hopefully they come back for next year’s Cat Party.”—Kerry Tasker


Rarefied Light, International Gallery of Contemporary Art

Rarefied Light is a long-standing juried photography show in Alaska. This, along with Alaska Positive, are the two most prestigious photography shows in the state.  Juror, Susan Burnstine, awarded Kaitlin Wilson the well-deserved Best of Show for her print “house in the birch forest.” The tall print featuring a small house amid a curtain of birch trees is beautifully done with undulating shades of black, white and grey. The composition and balance are beautifully executed.


The Second Mother is an important film on many fronts including as a social reflection of the Brazilian class system, as a powerful and engaging work of art, and its place in contemporary cinema made by women. The plot is deceptively simple but the dynamics that unfurl are not. Director Anna Muylaert, is an exceptional auteur with a well-rounded knowledge base and experience in the industry that includes film/TV, writing film critiques and journalism. All her talents converge to deliver a brilliant film that is solid to the core, with a sharp focus that balances the emotional nuances of every character with their interactions.


The Smile Ease

Smile Ease is an indie-pop quintet who describe themselves as a music collective, and their sounds is one that must be experienced live. How else could one fully understand the expanse of their sound, the harmony of all the instruments within the band coming together as one? Celebrating the release of their vinyl record, The Lion Rampant, they were joined by The Maddox Debate at TapRoot.

“James Temte had invited me to meet up at Bean’s Cafe for a new art project that he had planned to do with some classmates. The idea was to meet a few of the folks who were at Bean’s to get their portraits and talk to them about their stories to see how and why they were there. The man on the right of the picture told me about his younger days growing up in Nome and how fond he was of dog mushing and the Iditarod. When I asked him if he would ever want to go back, he said that he would like to, but now that his parents have passed away he isn’t sure he would enjoy being there again.”—Charles Earnshaw


Alpenglow, the queen of Turnagain Arm, is our favorite hike of the year. Cross Six Mile Creek at the Third Canyon takeout (turn on the unmarked gravel road around mile 7.1 on the Hope Road) using a packraft or canoe, then ascend through 2,000 feet of forest and brush to treeline. Continue climbing over a small false summit on tundra and scree. Traverse a narrow, rocky skyline to the base of a steep, chossy incline. Don helmets for rockfall and climb to the summit plateau. Alpenglow has heart-stopping views of the Chugach and Kenai mountains, and is probably the single best place to watch the bore tide roll in. Give yourself a full day for the roundtrip—there are no trails.


In a story that went viral, and rightfully so, the owners of Little Italy Restaurante, P.J. and Spiros Gialopsos decided to ban a customer who called their delivery driver an idiot, claiming he was strung out on drugs. The driver is actually autistic, although highly accomplished, but the customer wasn't buying it. Now he or she will be buying nothing from Little Italy.

Spice continues to make the news. Marijuana delivery service ACDC offers to trade weed for spice, hoping to get the far more dangerous drug off the streets. And Amy Demboski effectively accuses Bean's Café and Brother Francis of being complicit in dealing the drug. “We would not tolerate this from a bar owner who was dealing heroin in their parking-lot,” Demboski said during an Assembly meeting “Why the heck are we giving them a pass? It’s not acceptable.”


A Bit Frigid

Troopers went to Ekwok on Friday, November 6, to arrest a 24-year-old local on outstanding warrants for first-degree vehicle theft, first-degree burglary, and failure to appear. The miscreant made a run for it, heading to the Nushagak River, where he tried to get away in a boat. He realized the cops were hot on his tail, and jumped into the river instead. The river was really fucking cold, so that didn’t last long—he came out and was arrested.


F Street Station’s seafood is so good it’s almost demeaning to call it food from a bar. It’s really a matter of geographic circumstance: The cook line is behind one of the two bars, so you can see the cooks—who clearly love their craft—frying up halibut and calamari several feet from the bar. At $10 per overflowing basket, the calamari is among Anchorage’s best (perhaps second behind the Pubhouse) and has the most generous helpings. F Street’s French Dip is legendary, and their butter clams are as plentiful and savory as the calamari. Yes, there are beers on tap, but the food will probably distract you from them.


Cat Party 5

Just one weekend after Halloween, TapRoot and Pretty Birds That Kill called on the citizens of Anchorage to get dressed up one more time for Cat Party 5. This annual pussy celebration is one of the biggest Spenardian parties of the year. This year’s show was extra special, as it was the final show of Pretty Birds That Kill after eight years on the Anchorage music scene. There were prizes, performances and lots of painted-on paws.


“Living Alaska: A Decade of Collecting Contemporary Art for Alaska Museums,” Anchorage Museum

The exhibit, which is on display through February 2016, is a survey of works of art purchased through the Rasmuson Foundation Art Acquisition Fund. The exhibit is curated by Sven Haakanson, Jr. and features 25 pieces from 12 museums. Over the last 10 years, the Fund made 173 grants to 33 museums, which then purchased works by 436 artists. Viewers will appreciate that the Fund has made a significant contribution to Alaskan museums, and some of the works are compelling, but some are not, and this is the interesting part … is it time to have a conversation of how art is valued, chosen, presented in Alaska?

“Being one of the biggest shows ShowDown Productions put on this year, Senses Fail was wonderful. So much crowd participation and everyone seemed stoked to be there. Being able to capture crowd reactions and the general vibe of a show is really important to me. This photo was one of the best crowd shots I got this year.”—Rachael Peltier


Thankfully the rest of the year didn't keep up with January's pace of shootings, but when Jeramyha Talauega, 22, and Robin Porter, 31, were shot and killed in a Spenard drug deal gone bad on December 20, the number of homicides via gunshot wounds reached 25.


Nice try

There's a Latin truism that's survived the centuries: in vino veritas. It means literally, “in wine, truth.” Who hasn't spilled some secrets after downing a few drinks? Well, one dude in Fairbanks proclaimed the opposite when police found him behind the wheel of his red Dodge Ram stuck in the center median of the Richardson Highway. The 28-year-old North Pole man was the only one in the car, and cops said the truck smelled “overwhelmingly” of alcohol. But, the guy told them, it certainly was his truck, but someone else had been driving it. The cops asked exactly who the driver was, and the man responded, “I can't tell you the truth 'cause I've been drinkin'.” He then said he'd been drinking a lot, and couldn't remember who'd been behind the wheel. The cops saw two footprints by the driver's side of the truck from someone getting out to see how fucked the stuck truck was, but no other footprints, and none that led away from the truck. Eventually the dude admitted he'd been driving and the truck got stuck because its tires were bald. He failed field sobriety tests and wouldn't take a breath test, so he was charged with DUI and refusing a BAC test.


“100 Stone,” Point Woronzof

Sarah Davies' art installation at Point Woronzof amplifies an important conversation about mental illness and its impact on individuals, families, friends, and communities. The project has garnered inte

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