"Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan on his critics, the American Dream, and why not to buy a puppy

Categories: Interviews

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Allan Weissman
The world of dog training can be as divided as religion or politics. And so it's no surprise that America's first canine expert to become a household name often comes under fire for his methods and eccentric personality. Now known to the world as "The Dog Whisperer," Cesar Millan originally came to the U.S. via an illegal border crossing from Mexico at the age of 21. After founding his own dog-training business, he was discovered by actress Jada Pinkett Smith (wife of Will Smith), who helped him build his brand, leading to the National Geographic Channel developing the wildly popular The Dog Whisperer show around him.

To launch his new show, Cesar 911 on Nat Geo Wild, Cesar Millan is now on a national speaking tour, bringing his message of "calm, assertive energy" to live audiences across the country. Millan has no shortage of critics (who like to point out that he has no formal training, and charge that his methods are dangerous and outdated). In anticipation of his appearance this Friday at the Paramount Theatre, we asked Cesar Millan about some of these concerns, also discussing his life with dogs on a Mexican farm, how dog training relates to being a parent, and why buying a puppy is usually a bad idea.

See also:
Temple Grandin, Colorado cow whisperer, gets local premiere

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Michael Pinto on the changing tattoo industry, respecting the art form and teaching the craft

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Photos courtesy of Thick as Thieves Tattoo
When Michael Pinto opened Thick as Thieves Tattoo in 2004, he wanted to create a place for people like him. A self-proclaimed misfit, Pinto has been immersed in the lifestyle since he was a teenager, and has been tattooing professionally for fifteen years now. Westword recently caught up Pinto, who shared his thoughts on the changing industry, preserving respect for the art form and teaching the craft to an apprentice.

See also: Artists explore ancient and modern body art in Tattoos in Contemporary Art

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Director Lisa Gunning on the Goldfrapp: Tales of Us music-video film series

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Alison Goldfrapp in Goldfrapp: Tales of Us.
As Goldfrapp, singer Alison Goldfrapp and musician/composer Will Gregory have created a discography of breathy, synthesizer-heavy songs that carry an inherent cinematic feeling. For the duo's sixth album, Tales of Us, Goldfrapp collaborated with Alison Goldfrapp's real-life partner, film director Lisa Gunning, to build a series of music videos, each with narratives of their own connected by the music. The series will be shown tonight, March 24, at the Sie FilmCenter, along with the screening of a Goldfrapp concert filmed live earlier this month. In advance of this one-night-only event, Gunning talked with Westword about how the project came together.

See also: Ozomatli's Raul Pacheco on collaboration, creativity and Dreaming Sin Fronteras

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Chris Fairbanks on Sexpot Comedy, suicidal civil engineers and the Tosh controversy

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Chris Fairbanks is a standup comedian, illustrator, and skateboarder who has appeared on Conan, Comedy Central's Premium Blend, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Fairbanks is making the most out of his trip to Denver this week, with performances scheduled every night starting with 8 p.m. Thursday, March 20 at Deer Pile, where he'll share a story for the Narrators podcast. At 8 p.m. Friday, March 21, he'll be at the Oriental Theater, co-headlining Sexpot Comedy's Vernal Equinox showcase with Rory Scovel and a load of local chucklers. Fans can also catch Fairbanks with the Fine Gentleman's Club at 10 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at the Meadowlark and performing with Andrew Orvedahl at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 23 Comedy Works South. Westword caught up with Fairbanks in advance of his packed visit to talk about Sexpot comedy, the Texas highway system and the Tosh rape-joke controversy.

See also: Comedian Rory Scovel on crowd tension, Bobcat Goldthwait and why Aurora didn't steal Batman from him

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Missy Rhysing on her introduction to art, old things and co-owning a business

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Photos courtesy of Missy Rhysing
Missy Rhysing became interested in art after getting her first tattoo.
Missy Rhysing was not exposed to art until she got her first tattoo. She immediately fell in love with the art form, and began working toward becoming an artist; she's now known for her work combining modern and antique imagery in portraits of women. Rhysing is co-owner of Ritual Tattoo & Gallery, which recently opened. Last week we spoke to her husband, Aries Rhysing, who talked about the importance art in their family; this week, Westword caught up with Missy Rhysing, who talked about her introduction to art, the influence of old things in her work and being the co-owner of a shop with Sandi Calistro.

See also: Aries Rhysing on geometric art, his family of artists and his new project

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Anthony J. Garcia on Ludlow: El Grito de Las Minas

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Valeriana Sloan
Yolanda Ortega, Magally Luna and Debra Gallegos rehearse for Ludlow: El Grito de Las Minas.
Amongst the striking coal miners and their family members murdered by the Colorado National Guard during the Ludlow Massacre were five Mexican-American children. To commemorate this almost-forgotten chapter of history, Su Teatro's Anthony J. Garcia wrote Ludlow: El Grito de Las Minas (The Cry of the Mines); he's directing a production of the play that will open tomorrow, March 13. In advance of the opening, Westword spoke with Garcia about the Ludlow Massacre, Chicano history and Su Teatro's new show.

See also: CSU-Pueblo Professor Tim McGettigan locked out for likening layoffs to Ludlow Massacre.


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W. Kamau Bell on political humor, rape jokes and why he wants an Obama cabinet position

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Matthias Clamer
W. Kamau Bell is a comedian and sociopolitical commentator who came up in the San Francisco comedy scene. Until recently, Bell served as the host and creator of Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, a political satire featuring revealing interviews and sharp political commentary steeped in the catharsis of laughter. In the wake of FXX's cancellation of his show, Bell has mounted the "Oh, Everything" tour, which lands in Denver at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 16, at the Soiled Dove Underground. In advance of that show, Westword called Bell to talk about his visit to Denver, how his standup act grew more politically engaged, the debate about rape jokes he hosted on his show, and why he thinks he should have a cabinet position in the Obama administration.

See also: Ten best comedy events in Denver this March

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Aries Rhysing on geometric art, his family of artists and his new project

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Images courtesy of Aries Rhysing.
Aries Rhysing's art incorporates sacred geometry and mandalas.
Early on in his career, Aries Rhysing heard many times that his style of art wouldn't transfer well into tattoos. But Rhysing persisted, and he has now mastered creating tattoos that incorporate the hypnotizing art of sacred geometry. Originally from Minneapolis and more recently living in New Mexico, Rhysing has been in Colorado for almost two years. He currently works at Sol Tribe, and is starting a project to donate the proceeds of his art to local charities. Westword caught up with Rhysing, who talked about geometrical art, his family of artists and his new project.

See also: Sandi Calistro on opening a new shop, traveling and creating art on canvas and skin

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Filmmaker Alison Klayman talks about her doc on Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei

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Ai Weiwei.
When Alison Klayman began filming artist and activist Ai Weiwei for a short introduction to be included with one of his exhibitions, the filmmaker had no idea it would become the beginning of a feature documentary about the controversial Chinese figure. But after shooting the initial footage, she kept filming and 2012's Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry was the result. Exploring Ai Weiwei's embodiment of the fluidity between the roles of artist and activist, Klayman builds a profile of one of the most fascinating sculptors/painters/installation artists/filmmakers and political dissidents in recent global history.

In advance of Never Sorry's screening on Tuesday, March 11 in Boulder as part of the University of Colorado's International Film Series, Klayman spoke with Westword about meeting Ai Weiwei and how she filmed, edited, produced and directed a documentary about one section of his fascinating life.

See also: Best of Denver 2013 - Best Celluloid Holdout: International Film Series

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Designer Selin Kent discusses clean lines, black diamonds and the vision behind her jewelry

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Selin Kent's debut collection.
There's a preciseness to Selin Kent's designs, a defining characteristic that makes the fledgling jewelry-maker's work immediately recognizable. Kent, a self-described "former academic" who found herself drawn to a more hands-on line of work, produces pieces that display a new side of fine jewelry, as she utilizes materials like champagne diamonds and black gold to express her ultra-modern aesthetic. In advance of her trunk show this Saturday, March 8 at Goldyn, the New York-based designer spoke with Westword about her creation process and where she gets the inspiration for her futuristic, wearable art.

See also: Westword Whiteout: Meet Vanessa Barcus, owner of Goldyn

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