From the Editor’s Desk 64
Ultra Billions


Ultra Billions at The Pinhook last night brought back a fistful of memories.

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Sean Thegen had warned there would be lasers.

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There was also a smoke machine. And luscious, deep lounge music.

I haven’t raved on the Costa del Sol yet, but I imagine Ultra Billions sound and moniker could slide right in.

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What’s the phrase? They were lit af. In a rhythmic, dreamy, sumptuous way that brought back nights in New York when we used to roll to a club called Nell’s on 14th Street. It was velvet ropes, but still as yet on the DL. Samantha and Megan Marquis were ferocious enough to get us in anywhere. And the Dude, may or may not have had wavy hair and massive sideburn chops. File under rumors confirmable only on 35mm film.

Nell’s had a huge room where the congregating and music was loud and fancy, chandeliers and world-class shoe game. It had a darker den downstairs where the walls sweat and the bodies undulated in such waves that individuality became indiscernible, one mass, like marionettes on the end of ethereal strings running from turntables to heartbeats.

When dance had raised the soul as far as possible, it was often necessary to take breaks and remember to breathe. To center and slow down and feel.

There was yet another room thoughtfully designed for that very purpose. Plush, deep couches and seemingly centuries-old, straight-backed, French chairs bearing arms with such swirls that one could get lost in the Mobius strips and chambered nautili.

This is where Ultra Billions would have been playing, in that silky, lush, chill-out lounge.

Last night in The Pinhook was pretty dope, to sway to those rhythms and recall, to stand amongst friends, in our Durham of two and ½ degrees separation, this our village, for $5 cover. Two PBR Tallboys and tips took the tally to $17 minuscule dollars. Consider that a public service announcement for those of you overwhelmed by the influx of condos, outsiders, pricey restaurants, and their accoutrements.


Surprise highlight of the night: Shirlette Ammons hopping on stage with The All Things and just killing a hip hop beat, spitting fire, and leaving the joint shaking on the close out line.

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Shirlette Ammons may be faster than the speed of light…

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Fuck yeah, that happened.

Aaron Mandel

Aaron Mandel is a writer and an accomplished public speaker. He is the publisher of the Clarion Content. For more than a decade, the Clarion Content has covered Durham’s arts, politics, music, and cultural milieu. From breaking news stories to the hottest local acts, the Clarion Content is on the scene. The Clarion Content published more than twenty distinguished guest columnists and garnered nearly a million views. Mandel is a volunteer for the Durham Mighty Pen Literacy Project and serves as the President of the Board of Sustain-A-Bull Durham, a local small business collective with more than 200 members. He writes regularly on the Clarion Content and has been quietly writing fiction since the 4th grade. Mandel has been published in the Raleigh News and Observer. He has also produced numerous art shows, including, “Durham under Development”. He was a featured speaker at “The State of Publishing” conference. He has presented to Durham Chamber of Commerce, “Chamber U” on the “New Media”. He has also served as the play-by-play announcer for the D.B.L., a Durham youth basketball league. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religious Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. An avid policy debater at Indiana and a Nation Debate Tournament qualifier, Mandel was also a member of the New Jersey State Champion two-person Policy Debate Team. He has lived in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, and Baja California, Mexico.

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