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The Slants are coming to Tucson

Later this week, the University of Arizona College of Law hosts what has to be the best law-related but not so damned lawylerly event of the year when it welcomes The Slants, all-Asian American band—which is all up in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s business.

The event is on Thursday. It begins with a noon talk (room 164) about their current trademark case pending before the Supreme Court. And then, because law school needs a relief valve, they’ll perform a concert at 8 pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

OK, so what is all this about?

“The Slants are known as the first all-Asian American dance-rock band in the world. The band is well known in legal circles due to their battle with the United States Trademark Office with In Re Tam, which is now before the Supreme Court of the United States and known as Lee v. Tam.”

All-Asian American band The Slants

All-Asian American band The Slants

“The friction with the USPTO comes from the band’s name—a reference to their ethnicity—which is the subject of a protracted legal debate. After the band’s request to trademark its name was denied, they took the issue to court. In December 2015, a federal appeals court overturned a previous ruling that upheld the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of the band’s application by striking down part of a law that allowed the government to reject trademarks it deemed offensive or disparaging to others. The majority opinion stated, in part, that ‘[w]hatever our personal feelings about the mark at issue here, or other disparaging marks, the First Amendment forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find speech likely to offend others.’ The band’s frontman, Simon Tam, explained that while the First Amendment should protect the band’s right to use the name regardless of their reasons, they had chosen the name in order ‘to undercut slurs about Asian-Americans that band members heard in childhood, not to promote them.’”

But the USPTO takes its faux disparagement seriously, so now we await a SCOTUS opinion.

If you enjoy more detail that doesn’t come from a law review, here is a helpful article from Chief Justice John Robert’ favorite publication, Rolling Stone.

Meantime, I know you’re curious about the type of music they write and perform. I’ve listened and enjoyed it, but I leave it to the band and the crowdsourced genius at Wikipedia to describe their thang:

“The Slants describe themselves as ‘Chinatown Dance Rock’ and are often compared to electro rock bands such as The Faint or early 80’s synthpop groups such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, Duran Duran, The Cult, and Joy Division. Critics also compare The Slants with modern artists such as The Killers, VNV Nation, and Mindless Self-Indulgence.”

Gotta love me a little synthpop.

The Slants UA flier University of Arizona Law School

Whether you’re an electro-fan or not, the band is here.

You might enjoy this brief video tracking their trip to Washington DC for Supreme Court oral argument regarding their trademark registration. At 1:36, you’ll see the tiniest of concerts they staged on the SCOTUS steps.

And be sure to watch this trailer for The Band Who Must Not Be Named.

You can see more of their work on their own Youtube page.

If you go to the Tucson concert—(please go!)—would a photo or two kill you? Maybe a brief video? A signed T-shirt? Whatever.

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In partnership with the Florence Project, The Rogue Trio will perform February 24 at ASU's Katzin Hall.

In partnership with the Florence Project, The Rogue Trio will perform February 24 at ASU’s Katzin Hall.

This month’s headlines were filled with developments regarding immigration law and significant changes that are proposed for its enforcement.

If you’re seeking a very creative way to be imbued with the immigrant experience, an event this Friday night at ASU may be the (free) ticket—or the boleto, if you’d prefer.

Florence Project logo 25 years

As organizers describe it: For one night only, The Rogue Trio partners with the Florence Project to create a unique musical experience, featuring testimony of Florence Project clients. Making his southwest debut, composer Ralph Lewis takes powerful testimony of immigrants detained in Arizona and combines their accounts with live and electroacoustic music for a moving musical juxtaposition that brings hope amongst fear.

Did you catch that? Migrant testimony in combination with music.

florence-project-rogue-trio-immigration-music-event

The performance will be held at Arizona State University’s Katzin Hall on Friday, February 24, at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 7:15 p.m., and admission is free. Parking information can be found here. If you have any questions, reach out to Greer Millard at gmillard@firrp.org or 602-795-7407. More information on the The Rogue Trio is here.

And who are The Rogue Trio? They are: Justin Rollefson on saxophones, Kathleen Strahm on violin, and Mary Strobel-Price on piano. They describe their work as “a contemporary chamber ensemble that explores the diverse color palate of an unconventional assortment of instruments.” Color me interested. You can visit their website here, and find them on Facebook here.

Meantime, in other legal news related to the high-profile nature of immigration cases today, here’s an ABA Journal article about a website that connects volunteer lawyers with travelers affected by the immigration ban.

As ABA Journal reporter Debra Cassens Weiss writes, “Airport Lawyer allows users to input information about people targeted by the ban who are traveling to the United States—whether it’s the user, a friend or family member. The information can be shared with lawyers who can be available at the airport to monitor arrivals. … A list of the airports where volunteer lawyers are available through the app is here.”

airport-lawyer-website-connects-volunteer-lawyers-with-travelers-affected-by-immigration-ban

Does your workplace foster engagement, or the opposite? (employee motivation morale leadership dave-wheeler harvard business review

Does your workplace foster engagement, or the opposite? (illustration by Dave Wheeler, Harvard Business Review)

Easy lifting is my Friday mantra, and I wish the same for you. For an enjoyable read, I suggest Ashley Kasarjian’s blog post that could transform your workplace.

Ashley is an employment & labor attorney at Snell & Wilmer—and the chair of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board. So she has great experience about what works and what doesn’t in regard to motivation and morale.

And you’ve got to be wowed by the way she pairs her advice with song choices. I love the smell of leadership in the morning!

Ashley Kasarjian

Ashley Kasarjian

(You might recall I wrote before about Ashley’s being honored with a 2015 Athena Award—so well deserved!)

After reading Ashley’s insightful post, please send me a note to say which morale-boosting tip is your favorite.

I admit it’s hard to separate the wisdom from whether you love the song that inspired it. So my favorite—Michael Jackson and making a change—might be musically driven as much as workplace driven!

Meantime, if you needed more evidence that de-suckifying your workplace may help your staffers’ morale, I have one word for you: Harvard!

That’s right, who isn’t impressed by words of wisdom that emanate from that Ivy League school on the Charles River? So head over to read a great piece on employee motivation and your company’s culture in the Harvard Business Review.

Here is one graphic from that article. I suspect we all have aspects we could improve in our organizations. Let me know what you’re doing in your law office. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Company process and employee motivation (frightening graphic by Harvard Business Review)

Company process and employee motivation (frightening graphic by Harvard Business Review)

Have a terrific—and lyrical—weekend.

Arizona lawyer—and our arts competition music winner—Stu De Haan made a devilish argument about free speech and freedom of religion.

Arizona lawyer—and our arts competition music winner—Stu De Haan made a devilish argument about free speech and freedom of religion.

If politics and religion are two topics we should never discuss in polite company, the Phoenix City Council seems like the ideal place to address both.

This week has seen a firestorm of hellish indignation over the news that a group of satanists petitioned the Phoenix city clerk’s office to offer the “invocation” at an upcoming City Council meeting. After reviewing the request and the fact that municipalities cannot be in the business of “picking winners and losers” when it comes to deities, it OKed the request.

As Phoenix City Attorney Brad Holm said in a statement, “Consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s direction, the city cannot dictate religious viewpoints or the content of a prayer.”

Imagine that—following the law.

Cue the choirs, celestial and otherwise.

Read a news story about the devilish quandary here.

To the surprise of almost no one, there is not unanimous agreement with the decision—though the February 17 meeting will likely be standing-room only due to the controversy.

One Phoenix councilman said it’s “a dumb idea,” and another insisted the Satanists should have been denied and simply let them sue. Knowing there’s often fire where there’s smoke, media are all over this. Here’s a video news story:

I confess I’m surprised by the uproar. I’ve been in that chamber many times, and I’m pretty sure I’ve spotted Lucifer at numerous zoning hearings. And who hasn’t smelled the distinct odor of sulfur as countless variance requests are rubber-stamped? Or maybe I need to get my eyes and nose checked.

Wherever you stand, this is a fantastic lesson in the First Amendment, playing out right in the heart of our state. You’re welcome, America.

Stu De Haan and his instrument in Arizona Attorney Magazine, May 2015.

Stu De Haan and his instrument in Arizona Attorney Magazine, May 2015.

And yes, there is an even more intimate legal angle to this. Spokesman and legal adviser to the Satanic Temple (and a “Satanic Templar”) is Arizona lawyer Stu De Haan. And here at Arizona Attorney Magazine, we are a big fan of him—and his music.

Those with good memories will recall that Stu was the winner in the Music category in our 2015 Creative Arts Competition. He appeared on our cover and inside pages, and we featured “Don’t Get Stuck in a Roadside Ditch” online. That song is by his band Scar Eater, “a five piece post-hardcore band from Tucson.”

As Stu described his song, “This song is about facing fears, shedding one’s negative past, and embracing an aggressive but positive outlook on the inevitable difficulties of life.”

You can read more what I wrote about Stu, and listen to “Roadside Ditch,” here.

Arizona Attorney Magazine May 2015 cover arts competition winnersA final thought: It bears noting that Stu and his fellow Satanic Templar Michelle Shortt are traveling north from Tucson to deliver an invocation—and make a point, I suppose—because the Tucson City Council gets to the work of its meetings without bothering with a prayer of any kind. No muss, no fuss.

Imagine that—focusing on governing.

As we head into our Friday, please enjoy “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones. “Pleased to meet you; hope you guess my name.”

Have a terrific—and free-speech-filled—weekend.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’azatty’ show_count=’yes’

Irene Diaz, Phoenix Convention Center, July 16, 2015.

Irene Diaz, Phoenix Convention Center, July 16, 2015.

How about a nice easy musical Change of Venue Friday? Agreed?

I managed to attend a few great sessions yesterday at a national conference held in downtown Phoenix. Amidst the #NN15 panel discussions on redistricting and other legal-ish topics, I saw that singer-songwriter Irene Diaz would be there.

You may already be a fan. And you may have seen her featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. But there she was, in person, in the Phoenix Convention Center.

I took a (terrible) Vine of one song as she played and sang. (I also used Periscope to stream another, but getting to see a Periscope is a had-to-be-there affair, so don’t ask).

Much better than my Vine is enjoying a higher-quality video of one of her performances, here, where she sings Tricky Game.

Once you’ve done that, go to her website and buy some darned music, why don’t you.

Have a great and musical weekend.

George Bisharat is Big Harp George, and he's a presenter at the 2015 #azbarcon

George Bisharat is Big Harp George, and he’s a presenter at the 2015 #azbarcon

Last week, I wrote about an #azbarcon panel discussion on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. I’ll be there when it starts at 2:00 today.

But in the meantime, you should take a moment to hear from one of the panelists, Professor George Bisharat. (I disclosed before that he was my law school crim-law professor.) Today, he’ll be giving insight on the Palestinian side of the dialogue. But more pertinent for your lunchtime listening? He is Big Harp George, an accomplished harmonica player.

He’s released a CD (maybe more), but here is one of his songs.

Here is news that he was nominated for Best New Artist Album at the Blues Music Awards.

And here is his website and Facebook page.

Here’s hoping you have some chromatic blues in your day!

Grant Woods The Project logo

In “The Project,” Grant Woods aims to support the arts and repair a state’s image.

Interested in seeing—and hearing—Arizona in a new light? You may want to attend a September concert.

The impetus for the concert and a related CD is partially an expression of a love for the arts, as expressed by Grant Woods—a former Arizona Attorney General and current columnist in Arizona Attorney Magazine. His newest musical initiative is called The Project, and it’s described here.

The Arizona Republic’s Ed Masley did a great interview with and story about Grant and his newest project; you can read it in today’s newspaper.

Aiming to improve the state’s tarnished image—and to engage the songwriter part of his brain—Woods gathered a group of remarkable musicians and performers to launch a CD and hold a benefit concert (there is some overlap in who’s on the CD and who will perform in concert). The concert will benefit Arizona School for the Arts (disclosure: One of our daughters attends there, and our older daughter graduated from there.)

The first thing to know: I’m told the concert will be a hot ticket, and so you should consider buying for the September 18 show early rather than late. Tickets are on sale here.

Former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods (left) works on a song with guitarist Michael Nitro at 3 Leaf Recording in Phoenix on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. (Photo: Michael Schennum/Ariz. Republic)

Former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods (left) works on a song with guitarist Michael Nitro at 3 Leaf Recording in Phoenix on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. (Photo: Michael Schennum/Ariz. Republic)

Second: Called “The Project,” the CD became available on May 14, and was described by the producers:

The Project, a collaboration of Arizona musical all-stars performing 10 of Woods’ original songs, will be released today. Performers on The Project, each of whom volunteered his or her time, include Nils Lofgren of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Gin Blossoms guitarist Scott Johnson, Lawrence Zubia of the Pistoleros, Al Ortiz, Francine Reed and Ray Herndon (both touring with Lyle Lovett and his Large Band), Michael Nitro, Alice Tatum, Walt Richardson, Blaine Long, Mindy Harris and Hans Olson.

More detail is here.

Finally, because we’re visual thinkers, enjoy this video about the making of The Project. It’s always nice to get behind the music.