Simmons may have good reason to be angry. He was convicted
of rape 20 years ago, and evidence suggesting that one of
the two women he allegedly violated was a virgin—and therefore
not a victim of rape—may have been suppressed during his
trial. When Simmons went to his parole hearing, hoping to
prove his innocence or at least be given the opportunity
for a new trial, the board dismissed his claims and sent
him back to complete his 100-year term at Angola State Prison,
also known as the Farm, in Louisiana.
of Doubt, the new documentary by Academy Award-winner
Jonathan Stack (pictured), reveals the conflicting stories
of how three people’s lives were changed by a horrific crime
that allegedly took place in a small town in Louisiana.
The documentary will be shown next Thursday (April 4) at
the Albany Law School.
In the film, Simmons pleads that he is innocent and shows
evidence that he did not receive a fair trial. Karen and
Sharon Sanders, the women who say they were sexually assaulted,
unquestionably believe that Simmons was the man who raped
them when they were only 14 years old. The twins discuss
the devastating effect that the rape has had on their lives.
The film is a continuation of Stack’s Academy Award-winning
documentary The Farm: Angola, USA, about life inside
one of America’s most notorious prisons. Stack first introduced
Simmons’ case in The Farm, which depicted Simmons’
parole hearing. The attitude of the parole-board members,
who were convinced of Simmons’ guilt regardless of evidence
presented to them, enraged audiences throughout the world.
Three years after making The Farm, Stack returned
to Angola—and the little town of Marksville in Avoyelles
Parish, La.—to discover what happened that night 20 years
ago. Shadows of Doubt delves into the inconsistency
in the case brought against Simmons, and tells a larger
story of a town and a criminal-justice system that is clearly
divided by race. The documentary feature interviews with
whites who talk nostalgically about a time when “blacks
knew their place” and African- Americans who say that no
black person can get a fair trial. At the end of the film,
it’s unclear if Simmons is innocent or if the twins who
accused him of raping them are telling the truth.
The local screening of Shadows of Doubt is presented
by Albany Restorative Community Justice and Roots to Reel.
“We have a lot of issues to tackle here locally,” says Isla
Roona, Albany Restorative Community Justice’s project coordinator.
“Race is a big one, and it’s a big issue in criminal justice,
and it is something that we need to continuously think about.
I think this film helps us do just that.”
of Doubt will be shown next Thursday (April 4) at 6
PM in the east wing of Albany Law School (80 New Scotland
Ave., Albany), and director Jonathan Stack will speak at
the screening. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
For more information, call 471-9713.
J, Mistle Thrush, the Bird Circuit
just in: Bela Lugosi is still dead. But David J, former
bassist for goth-rock legends Bauhaus, is alive and well
and coming to Valentine’s tomorrow, on Good Friday (of all
Though the band (named for an early 20th-century art movement
originating in Germany, which emphasized minimalism and
functionality over ornament and aesthetic delicacy) called
it quits in 1983, their sparse, angular, brooding—even chilly—vibe
established a template for intelligent underworld rockers
that still holds sway: Jane’s Addiction and Type O Negative
(not to mention lesser lights such as Prodigy, Orgy and
Marilyn Manson) have more-than-noticeable traces of the
brash, slashing guitar work, the spidery keyboards and/or
the unblinking fascination with the morbid that typified
Bauhaus. Interestingly, J himself has not been bound by
his band’s legacy.
After the dissolution of Bauhaus, J went on to collaborate
with a number of Northern English eccentrics from his hometown
of Northampton, creating soundscapes for comic-book artist
Alan Moore, and contributing to the odd pop of the Jazz
Butcher; he also worked with poet-artist Rene Halkett, a
member of the original Bauhaus movement. He did team with
ex-bandmates to form Love and Rockets, who scored in 1989
with the single “So Alive,” but even that project had a
sound distinct from his earlier, angstier work. J’s hushed
and reserved voice is—some might say—a little creepy, but
the sentiments expressed in his recent work steer clear
of the gothic metaphors that he helped institutionalize.
A track on an upcoming EP, The Guitar Man, testifies
to both J’s influential place in the history of pop music
and his own stylistic diversity: The title track is an old
Bread song, and the support players flocking to J’s side
include Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction,
Mark Kozalek of the Red House Painters and Bruce Kaplan
of the American Music Club. (Those folks won’t be in tow
for the Valentine’s show unfortunately, but J will have
cellist Joyce Rooks and percussionist Kris Krull backing
Opening for J will be Mistle Thrush (pictured), whose guitar-heavy
psychedelia has drawn comparisons to everyone from Sonic
Youth to Jim Morrison to Kate Bush. The band themselves
cite Zeppelin, Floyd and PJ Harvey as influences, but perhaps
Virtually Alternative had the right approach by skipping
the listing of sound-like references: “Mistle Thrush pushes
the borders of indie guitar rock . . . combining the ethereal
and the unforgiving.” Also on the bill will be the Bird
David J will play Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany)
on Friday (March 29) at 9 PM. Mistle Thrush and Bird Circuit
will open. For more information, call 432-6572.
you get the feeling sometimes, flipping through the pages
of Mixer, that your humble abode in the Capital Region
is—how should we put it—something less than cutting-edge
when it comes to pop culture, dig this: After spearheading
the trance movement of electronica in London, achieving
massive success, then blowing open the genre and achieving
even massiver success, and then bringing their massivosity
across the pond to a residency at Twilo in New York City,
where do you suppose Sasha + Digweed will go? Disneyland?
No way, man. They’re going to Clifton Park. Yes, superstar
DJs Sasha + Digweed—whom folks in the know are expecting
to achieve the kind of crossover success last visited upon
Moby—are hitting Northern Lights on Tuesday (April 2) for
an all-ages blowout. And have we mentioned their massivitude?
Tickets for the 8 PM show are $35, $30 advance. For more
information, call 371-0012.