Talk about an arts destination. I finally visited the Beréskin Gallery & Art Academy for the opening of Bettendorf native (in from Kanas City) Troy Swangstu's animal paintings. His meaty semi-abstract paintings are up through March 9 and are well worth checking out, especially if you are into Basquiat and Bacon, and wish you had gotten to visit the Caves of Lascaux, too.

Let's put a new twist on an old format – the ubiquitous year-end lists about music. We invited over 50 Quad Citizens who we know contribute to, support, and/or promote the local-music scene to give us their takes on 2017 via a 3-2-1 format. We asked: What are the three top songs they loved listening to this year; the two top live shows they saw in the Quad Cities; and the number-one artist they most want to see perform here live in 2018?

Step away from the game console. Step away from the screen. Extract yourself from the Faceborg. Visit dozens of places around the world, eras, concepts, ideas, history and art – all inside the Figge Art Museum.

The River Cities' Reader begins its 25th year of publishing this Fall. With the domination of big social media, independent publishers like the Reader must establish a direct transactional relationship with its readership, or perish.

Over the decades, our readers and advertisers have repeatedly told us how important the locally-owned Reader, and its coverage, are to the Quad Cities' vitality and culture.

It's often what has kept us going.

2017 Misssippi Vallery Blues Festival Downtown Davenport, Iowa

The River Cities' Reader begins its 25th year of publishing this Fall. With the domination of big social media, independent publishers like the Reader must establish a direct transactional relationship with its readership, or perish.

Over the decades, our readers and advertisers have repeatedly told us how important the locally-owned Reader, and its coverage, are to the Quad Cities' vitality and culture.

It's often what has kept us going.

Our 2017 short-fiction contest features 10 prompts from Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, first published in 1889.

“Ped’go!” I would bark out every time I ran into Steve Pedigo, always glad to see him – which was too infrequent these past couple years. Steve was as multifaceted as they come, and he was a lot of things to a lot of people. He was everything from a loving father to a political pundit to a handyman to a motorcycle mechanic to a blues ambassador to a radio disc jockey. Steve’s waters ran deep, and if you named a topic, he could carry on an engaging discussion. I always felt time with Steve was well spent, no matter where, when, or for how long. He was self-deprecating and incisively funny.

How meaningful is the media-fueled binary battle between the deplorables and the corruptibles when the very election systems used to count the votes are susceptible to manipulation and fraud? It’s a topic very few wish to engage with. For, if true, all the spent energy and resources and the lost or frayed friendships over such a contentious national election would be for naught.

This issue's cover story on the business of medical marijuana brings into focus just how hypocritical and duplicitous state government can be when donning its cloak of benevolence. Many people I know were cheering about Illinois making "pot legal for medicinal purposes," seeing the move as a harbinger of more state-government largesse to come. Re-legalizing self-medicating with a plant that one can grow on one's kitchen windowsill, anywhere in America, is really the auctioning of privilege that politicians and bureaucrats will use to fortify their fiefdoms and power structures.

Jonathan Narcisse

If you're an independent candidate for governor in Iowa, you know you're getting traction when your message earns the support of county chairs from both major parties across the state. Your campaign must be striking powerful chords when you get endorsements from both conservative talk-radio hosts and liberal-activist leaders alike.

Jonathan Narcisse is running for governor again. (I have volunteered for and contributed to his campaign.) And if he garners at least 2 percent of Iowa's vote, the Iowa Party will have official party status, which means automatic ballot access for all partisan elections for the next four years. The potency of this political weapon cannot be overstated.

Narcisse points out that partisan politics is the tail that wags the dog in Iowa, keeping voters distracted on presidential and national politics rather than focusing on how citizens' tax dollars are extracted and spent in their hometowns, school districts, and counties - right where they live.

(This was never more evident than when, at the Scott County Republican Party board election, the central committee was told repeatedly by the leadership: "We don't deal with issues here; we're here to get good Republicans elected.")

"The Occupy and Tea Party movements championed their causes through the Democrat and Republican parties, but after they helped get someone elected, they had no mechanism to hold them accountable," says Narcisse. "The Iowa Party is not ideologically driven; it is an accountability party." If Narcisse succeeds, the Iowa Party could be the "None of the Above" party that changes Iowa politics forever.

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