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Helping Out

every holiday season an army of volunteers and kind-hearted souls stock, chop, cook, and clean to provide the less fortunate a holiday

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Cooking the holiday meals is no big deal for either Lloyd McGinnis or LeeAnn Adams.

So it is natural for them to volunteer to cook for the holiday meals in the area.

At 95, McGinnis took over the cooking when his wife became too ill to do it any more.

After 30 years he is still going strong, cooking breakfast Sunday mornings and the holiday meals for the VFW Post 4061 in Canon City.

“I (learned how to cook) by doing it,” he said. “I (also) read a lot of cookbooks.”

Preparation for the big meals begin around 3:30 a.m. Monday morning before Christmas and continue until the big day while the meals are served.

As part of his duties, he and two others cook the turkeys, but he makes the dressing and the gravy.

“I chop my onions and celery and cook it in the broth then use the broth for the dressing,” McGinnis said.

Born in Utleyville, he attended school then moved to Arkansas with his family. In 1938, McGinnis moved to Canon City, where he worked in the timber industry.

Along the way, he served in the Navy from 1943 to 1945 in the Pacific Ocean on an aircraft carrier during World War II.

In 1964, he joined the VFW Post 4061 and volunteers as a trustee and with Bingo.

After working in the timber industry, he learned about the job opportunity at the Colorado Department of Corrections.

“I needed a job and put in my application and went to work (in 1959),” he said. “I worked there 20 years (then) I retired as a captain in Cellhouse 3 in 1979. I enjoyed my work.”

When he retired, he worked for Fremont Construction for 10 years. That’s when his wife, Julia, became ill.

But cooking has been one of his greatest pleasures.

“I enjoy cooking the holiday meals very much,” McGinnis said. “I like to see people eat.”

On the other hand, Adams learned about Mercy Today Ministries offering weekly meals more than a decade ago.

“(Pastor Sheila Rollins) asked us why we were there,” she said. “I told her I got laid off from a preschool from where I was cooking. I’m a bookkeeper so I asked God why am I cooking and he told me soup kitchen.”

At that point, she began cooking and assisting Becky Rollins for the noon meal on Tuesdays every week.

“We take turns,” Adams said. “We each have our specials. Mine is putting together whatever is donated and making a meal out of that.”

Prior to the big day, she and Rollins began preparation on the traditional meal, cooking turkeys and whatever can be fixed in advance.

Born in Long Beach, Calif., Adams visited her brother in Colorado on vacation every year.

“I just love the mountains,” she said.

When construction took a nosedive in California, she and her husband decided to move to Colorado to be closer to her brother. When construction took a nosedive in California, they decided to move to Colorado to be closer to her brother.

Since then, she has volunteered in various organizations, but it’s cooking for Mercy Today that brings her joy.

“I love it,” Adams said. “It’s the best day of the week.”

While the holidays are a time to spend with family, it also can be a heartbreaking, lonely time. Not everyone can afford to buy presents or cook a big traditional meal. But there are many organizations to help.

In Pueblo, the Salvation Army collected 21,000 toys to help 4,500 children in the county last year.

“We are expecting more this year,” said Salvation Army Development Director Rose Mertz. “We started taking applications in the middle of October. A lot of people that are working don’t have enough money for Christmas.”

After collecting the toys, volunteers will take them and bundle them up, according to the children’s wishes in each family. In conjunction, the families will receive wrapping paper, cards and the gifts to wrap for their children.

In the meantime, the center provides emergency food boxes for families who are struggling.

“We’re seeing a bigger need for everything,” Mertz said. “We serve a hot meal every day for our people. A lot of times, it’s people who run out of resources in the middle of the month. Our numbers get bigger from the 15th until the end of the month. They just sign in. There’s no question. If you’re hungry, we feed you.”

In addition, Salvation Army provides the Red Kettles, which are set up in 21 locations in the area.

“If everybody put a dollar in the kettle in this county, we’d have (more than) $160,000,” Mertz said.

In Canon City, Loaves & Fishes Ministries Executive Director DeeDee Clement said they expected around 1,200 families to register for the Christmas meals this year.

“That equals about 2,000 meals,” she said. “That’s pretty close to what we did last year.”

To offset the expenses of buying the food, she said the center is asking for a donation to help, which the families said they are excited to do. The whole community is coming together to meet a need, she said.

“It’s not just us handing out food,” Clement said.

In the past year, Loaves & Fishes 1,438 families registered for food assistance.

“Of the 1,438 families, 290 of them are brand new, never having to receive assistance (before),” Clement said. “Another thing to remember sometimes we think folks getting food from our food bank have no income. That is not true. In fact, most of the folks who come to our food bank actually are employed or have some type of income coming in and probably around 50 percent receive food stamps, but it’s just not enough to make the ends meet. Generally food stamps run out after three weeks. So it’s that last week families are struggling.

On the other hand, Mercy Today Ministries was closed for two months when it moved from one location to another.

“When we reopened, we started (serving meals to) 100 people,” said Pastor Sheilah Rollins. “Since then, we’ve seen 30 to 40 more guests. That’s 15 to 20 percent increase since last summer.”

Mercy Today also provides food once a week for its clients, who are struggling in this economy.

“This year, the Marines’ Toys for Tots are taking on the Children’s Toy House,” Clement said. “We’re still working with them. We’ll still collect toys, but the Marines have the need as far as putting all that together.”

Also, the county has seen a need to purchase more toys for children over the past few years.

This year, the Royal Gorge Detachment of the Marine Corps League are collecting toys through its annual Toys for Tots campaign.

Coordinator Carl Clink said toys are needed for children ranging in ages from infant to 16. Toys can be anything from dolls to trucks, from electronic games to gift cards.

“Without the public support for donating toys, none of this can happen,” Clink said. “We rely on the generosity of the people of our county to help us collect the toys we need for children at Christmas. Our motto is every child deserves a little Christmas.”

The idea originally began with Marine Corps Maj. Bill Hendricks, who established theToys for Tots in Los Angeles, Calif., where he collected  5,000 toys the Christmas of 1947. The next year, the United States Marine Corps took over the Toys for Tots campaign and expanded it across the nation. Along the way, Walt Disney designed the train logo for the Toys for Tots poster, which has been used for many years.

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Arts & Culture

Art is Hard with Pueblo illustrator Riki Takaoka

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Takoka, Riki (web)

“I’ve almost quit doing art so many times.”

I’m at a coffee place downtown talking shop with Pueblo artist and illustrator Riki Takaoka. With works currently on display at the Q Pop gallery in Los Angeles, and a recent addition for possible contribution to nationally syndicated contemporary arts magazine Hi-Fructose, (not to mention freelance nominations from Paramount Animation Studios), I figured he and I were in for a quick convo about brushes or pen techniques. I wasn’t expecting that one of the quickest and most accurate caricature artists I’ve ever seen in my life would say he is quitting something he’s clearly great at.

But I was shocked to hear that come from his lips.

Shocked, but sadly not at all surprised. Talk to almost anyone in the so-called creative class, and they’ll tell you a similarly dismal story that usually goes as such;

1) Find something creative you love to do.

2) Take years and years honing and perfecting your craft.

3) Get good enough to be recognized for your art.

4) Ask for compensation for your art.

5) Get chided for daring to ask for said compensation.

image by Riki Takaoka

 

The worst part about hearing that from him is that the illustration work of Takaoka is flat out phenomenal. Blending playfully bold caricatures with a jagged surrealistic quality, Takaoka has developed a signature style and skill set that stands on its own. A style that he points out he has been brewing since childhood.

“When i was a kid, I would draw and redraw the same cover of PSM (PlayStation Magazine) over and over. I was just obsessed with it. I’ve stayed in my room for days sometimes, just trying to push myselfto do better,” Takaoka said.

But all the talent and hard work in the word can’t guarantee financial success in the art world.

When the topic shifts to art as a means of income comes up, Takaoka offers, “Art is hard. Not hard for me to make. It’s easy to make and I love it. Just hard for me to deal with. Or, I guess live off. Deal with trying to live off it. And it’s frustrating to spend hours making a commission piece for someone and then have to beg them to pay for it.”

Unfair doesn’t seem to do it justice. In no other profession other than the creative field will you hear of such a thing. I’ve never once heard of my food service friends offered to be paid by a future profit share, or my wife the hairdresser and stylist proposed exposure for their work as an alternative to actual money. But every day in creative lines of work, artists are at odds with clientele who want assets for nothing or damn near.

“I get that almost every time, everywhere. It doesn’t matter where I’ve been. I’ve lived in Hawaii, in Texas, here in Colorado.” he said. “Unless you’re a well known artist, people constantly try to get out of paying you for your work.”

“There’s been times where I haven’t drawn for three months straight,” he added, sounding a bit dejected. “Because sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth it. But it’s one of the only things I know how to do well.”

I asked him about his experience living and working out of Pueblo.

“It’s a nice place to live. It’s affordable. I can walk around and not feel stressed out about having to have two jobs to survive,” Takaoka said. “But the problem is no one wants to work with each other. Not everybody, but too many.”

Even though the art scene here is by no means perfect, he was quick to add, “but it is getting better I guess. And bigger. People doing more. Taking chances.”

In any other line of work, the odds of failure facing people would break most people. But not Riki.  At the end of our conversation, I asked if he considered quitting forever, which got a sly grin. “I can’t quit, I guess. Maybe I’ll just stop for a while. But not completely. At this point it’s like handwriting to me. Period. It’s almost subconscious. It’s the way I see the world. And deal with it.”

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Arts & Culture

Land Lines : PULP Artist of the Month

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Denver’s Land Lines occupy a truly unique headspace upon listening, which can only be described as “Fresh off the boat from Chilligan’s Island”. The Mile High trio, comprised of Martina Grbac (cello/vocals), Ross Harada (drums) and James Han (electric piano/organ), seamlessly meld vintage-modern baroque music with pop shimmer and gloss, like having a dance party at the symphony. Musically, Land Lines is at times is sparse and introspective, with clever and brooding lyricism, only to then turn that right on its’ ear as with bursts and blooms of  thundering pop force, (which contains equally clever and brooding lyricism). On their newest album “Natural World”, dark and moody synthesizer tones playfully buzz and pulsate to and fro over drums that are the audio equivalent of a saunter and sashay. But the lively pluck and eerie hum of the cello (compliments of Martina Grbac) is what sets this band apart from the pack, providing an melodic orchestral punch that cuts through the dense sonic layers like a Hattori Hanzo sword.

 

for fans of /// Portishead • Lady Lamb the Beekeeper • Beach Fossils

hellolandlines.bandcamp.com

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Music

The Local : BRIDGES

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BRIDGES may easily (and quite erroneously) get lumped in with every other current metal/hardcore band playing out today, but this does them no justice. Shifting between the audible snarl and massive attack of hardcore and metal to delicate and downright pretty alternative minded exalt on a dime, BRIDGES, in a very big sense, play simply heavy music. Not heavy in the classic metal distorted-and-detuned-riffs kind of way, but heavy in perhaps an emotive sense. There are elements of hardcore and modern metal, yes, but the real strength behind this band is that their music largely defies any easy categorization, instead using the 60+ years of combined innovation to bring about one of the most well versed and original bands currently in Colorado.   

On a whim, I asked them to quickly list the bands that they had played in or currently part of. They easily listed over a dozen, with some being short tenures in young acts fresh out of high school with others spanning for multiple years, tours, and record label heat.

But what really amazes me about BRIDGES is their reverence for each other. In all my time spent hanging out with bands (both my own and other), I have never encountered a band which seems to enjoy the presence of each other more. They bring the act of playing music back to a core that often falls by the wayside; Simply enjoying it.

I spoke with BRIDGES on a dimly lit porch, beers flowing, on a windy night Tuesday, November 10th 2015.

PULP/ Your previous bands all kind of sound like a lineage tree of Pueblo metal and hardcore. After hearing all that, how does it feel?

 

Matt (Herrera/guitar) / I think it’s really cool. I’ve always been fortunate that with all of the bands I’ve been in were with friends. Just playing together, getting along outside of music. And now, we’ve all been in other bands when we were younger. I met Joe and Adam when they were both probably like 14 o4 15, and now I’m playing in a band with them? I never would of thought.

 

Tyler (Boyce/Vocals) / But I can say that out of all the bands I’ve been in, this has been the most fun to be a part of. On a writing level and on a friendship level. It’s just always good.

 

In some of your previous bands, there was some label heat and contracts and business stuff. Are you dealing with any of that stuff now?

 

Tyler/ It’s definitely a lot easier with BRIDGES. With my old band, some of the guys got so sucked into wanting to “make it” that we were writing too fast and putting out stuff that wasn’t ready, and wasn’t as good as it should have been.

 

Matt /  Well with (previous band) Son of Man, it ended the way it did because by the end of it, it wasn’t any fun. It was all business. I want to try and take a more organic approach with this band. I want to still be busy, but not push anything that isn’t ready or right. Instead of worrying about obligations and the business of it, I want to focus on writing the best music we possibly can. Everything is so saturated right now in our genre. I don’t know exactly what our genre is, but it’s hard to stick out. I’d like to push our own thing, and not falling into a mold. My favorite bands have always been ones that are heavy, bot not in the usual way, you know?

 

How do you feel like BRIDGES differentiates from other acts out now?

 

Matt/ Well. Bands have started to, and I even hate saying this, but using dance moves and choreography.  It’s so stupid.

 

What does that mean? Like dancing with guitars?

 

Matt /  Yeah, like head banging and spins and stuff. It used to be, when a band was getting into the music, it was just something that happened naturally. In Son of Man, really we were all just trying to keep up with (SOM bandmate) Mo. But I get it, when I was younger and in a band, we did tons of stupid shit. I mean, it was the late 90’s. We all loved Korn and Limp Bizkit, so use your imagination. (laughs) But it totally sucks when people and bands are more worried about a dance move or a look than what they are writing.

 

Josh (Ewing/bass) / Every time we jam, it’s all organic. (laughs) When you start choreographing it, it seems fake and more like going through the motions than having fun.

 

BRIDGES has always been a more sonically adventurous band to me. You’re heavy, but it’s more in layers rather than in riffs. Is that something you try to do on purpose?

 

Matt/ We’ve always made it a point to not write the same way twice.We all love different things; Clean parts, and having melodies and parts that go places, rather than just the same riff over and over. There’s no point in having two guitar players who are playing the exact same thing. We even talked about writing a pretty and clean (guitar tone) song at some point. It’s always better to try and work toward something new. It’s exciting.

 

Tyler/  And that’s one of the thing that initially interested me about trying out for the band. Like you said, there are layers to it. And it’s very intricate. You can dissect it, and you can find so many different types of music in it.

 

Joe (Johnson/Guitar)/ It’s just nice to have the people to do it. We’re all open minded.

 

Do you think Pueblo is hurting for an all ages place to play?

 

Matt/ Oh, totally. I think it has taken Phil’s (Radiator) being gone, and kind of ripped out without a choice, for people to realize that it is hurting. Sure, they’ve re-opened now, but they’re not all ages. It feels like there’s this big gap, but it’s slowly being filled back up. We played a show at the Daily Grind a while back, and we got to play for a bunch of kids who wouldn’t have otherwise got to see us. There’s an untapped youth market here in town, but there’s nowhere for them to go see bands play.

 

Tyler/ Another thing, is there are now finally young bands still in high school that are starting to pop up. But this scene isn’t what it used to be. Everyone we know now is older, and no one really kept going. Where are these new bands supposed to go?

 

Matt/ It’s a bummer because I’ve never even heard of these guys, and there’s nowhere to check them out. We’ve only played Pueblo twice in the last year.

 

Any reason for that?

 

Tyler/ It’s hard to find places where you can play. It’s hard when no one wants to invest in Pueblo. Everyone thinks that Pueblo is this s— hole, and it is a small town, but I love it here. I’ve seen and met a lot of cool people, and there’s a lot of cool things happening here. But nobody chooses to get up off the couch to see them. and yet everyone complains that there’s nothing to do. That’s the saddest part.

 

Josh/ There’s a lot of great stuff here that fails due to lack of support.

 

Matt/ There’s so much negative stuff being said and reported about our city, it’s just nice when people can get out there to other places and show them that we’re not all gang bangers and drug addicts. I mean, we all make jokes sometimes, but I want to share that there are good people and good things going on here. When bands come down here to play, they all say it’s great, you know?

 

With the band all coming from such different musical styles, is writing the way you do more difficult?

 

Tyler/  When we write stuff, we all kind of write with it too. Someone has an idea, and we all try to make it fit with how we see it, and still make it into something we’re all looking for. We all compensate for each others’ styles in that way. It’s a team effort.

 

Josh/ I think it helps that we all try to have an open mindset with writing. No one ever comes in and says “I have an idea and it has to go exactly like this.”

 

Do you feel like it makes it more unique that way?

 

Matt/ It makes it more real, and definitely gives it a more unique identity. It’s great. It makes it so that we can’t make anything cookie cutter. It’s good to be able to do that. More rewarding that way.

 

Tyler/ I also think it’s maybe why we all get along so well too. There’s never anyone jumping down someone’s throat about not playing something the “right” way. We just want to make something that we like a lot and can be proud to show people. We put a lot of time into it, and when we get any kind of good feedback about it, to say that it gave them some sort of feeling or emotion, that’s the coolest thing about making music. And makes us happy.

 

Josh/ And it’s totally applicable to anyone doing any kind of art. If you’re doing it the way you want, not under anyone else’s guidelines, and attain results that they’re proud of, especially if it’s someone telling you they love it, definitely makes it way more rewarding.

 

Is that part of the reason you guys play music to begin with? For that feeling?

 

Josh/ Oh, definitely. The core factor of it comes down to I love to do it for myself. I love playing music and playing it with my best friends.

 

Tyler/ Exactly. The best part, is you get to show up, hang out with your best friends, and make music that hopefully you can all enjoy and get behind. If not, why are you doing it?

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