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May 2016

INDIEcent Exposure #23 — Whiskey Treaty Roadshow

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow plays as the houseband for MASSGathering May 28, at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, Mass. (submitted photo).
The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow plays as the houseband for MASSGathering May 28, at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, Mass. (submitted photo).

To be perfectly honest, there’s just not much I can say about the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow that either hasn’t already been written, isn’t about to be said (check for an article in an upcoming issue of Relix), or you aren’t going to hear in this interview. Torey Hannah and Billy Keane generously talk with us for well over the 20 minutes they said that they could spare on a practice night, so thanks, gents. Keep Reading

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MCLA to Host North County Eighth Grade Career Fair

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will welcome eighth grade students from seven Berkshire County schools on Thursday, June 2, and Friday, June 3, when they attend the Fifth Annual Eighth Grade Career Fair in Bowman Hall on the MCLA campus.

Eighth graders from Abbott Memorial School in Florida, BArT Charter School in Adams and Hoosac Valley High School in Cheshire will attend the Fair on June 2. After a welcome address at 8:45 a.m. in the Venable Gym, the students will attend two workshops in Bowman Hall, from 9:05 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and from 9:35 a.m. to 10:05 a.m.

Students who are in the eighth grade at Herberg Middle School in Pittsfield also will participate that same day in a second session, 9:45-11:30 a.m.

On June 3, eighth grade students from Drury High School in North Adams and Nessacus Regional Middle School in Dalton will come to MCLA to attend the Fair, 8:45-10:05 a.m. They will be followed that day by students from the John T. Reid Middle School in Pittsfield, who will participate from 9:45 to 11:30 a.m.

Career fair helps students understand choices

Funded in part by a $7,500 grant from the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America in Pittsfield, and sponsored by MCLA and the Berkshire Compact for Education, the Fair will help students learn about different types of jobs and careers so that they can make informed decisions about course selection in high school and begin to think about higher education and a career.

According to Jake Eberwein, dean of Graduate and Continuing Education, “MCLA is pleased to partner with Guardian Life and many community organizations as part of the Berkshire Compact effort to raise aspirations among county students and, in doing so, further advance our region as a place to live, work, and play.”

The Fair will include a motivational video from the state’s “WOW Initiative,” to introduce students to career opportunities within the, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

Each student also will attend two workshops of their choice, which will be led by local employers, as well as high school and college faculty.  The 19 career workshops include those in education, forensics, journalism, law enforcement, culinary arts, health care, law, engineering, advanced manufacturing and green technology.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

For more information, go to www.mcla.edu.

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“Jerry’s Java for Jesus” — Flash Fiction

"Homeless on Bench," by Tomas Castelazo; CC BY-SA 3.0; GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons
"Homeless on Bench," by Tomas Castelazo [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

"Homeless on Bench," by Tomas Castelazo; CC BY-SA 3.0; GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons
“Homeless on Bench,” by Tomas Castelazo [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
flash fiction by Sheila Velazquez

Once a day, around noon, an old white Ford van pulls into the alley and parks in the lot of the apartment buildings.

Jerry serves between forty-five and sixty meals a day. He calls his mobile ministry “Java for Jesus,” and although he is not connected to any particular religion, Jerry does operate on faith. Most of the food Jerry serves comes from the local food bank and the Salvation Army, and the other costs are supported by donations. He never asks for money, but he manages to get by with help that comes in unexpected ways.

Jerry says that whenever he has a need, it is somehow met. On one particular day, he had plenty of hot dogs to cook for the hungry, but no buns, and no money to buy them. Just as he was about to serve the hot dogs, a man stopped at the van and told Jerry he had twelve dozen hot dog buns in his car, left over from an event held the previous evening. Did Jerry want them?

Along with the meals Jerry cooks and serves, he often gives away goods that he stocks in the van. Most popular are socks. Many of the homeless have no way to do laundry, and new socks are always welcome. He has blankets and other clothing and occasionally is able to offer donated sleeping bags and tents. He has been working on the old bus parked in his driveway for four years, a vehicle large enough to accommodate both a soup kitchen and more supplies, but it isn’t yet ready. With all of its riches, the town doesn’t have a homeless shelter. A church offers shower facilities, and Jerry offers food. He would like to open a shelter and set up a system for day laborers. The homeless are often put on a bus and sent elsewhere. No sense cluttering up the view with them.

Many of the people Jerry serves are drug and alcohol abusers, and he says that meth use is wreaking havoc on poor families. He notes that many of his clients aren’t really homeless, “just houseless.” Some live in their cars, while others have set up small camps. Some survive as mountain men, living off the land and fishing. Jerry serves hitchhikers who are passing through. He wishes that more working people and businessmen would come for a free lunch so that they could see the need and meet the needy.

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“Wherefore, Egypt?” — Microfiction

by Jason Velázquez

“¿Mamá?” Esperanza’s question reverberates musically in the back of the Econoline, “¿Will I get to meet my papá?”

Dolores strokes the 11-year-old’s hair with one hand as the other glides reflexively to where, under her oil-stained work shirt, a circular pattern of raised, and occasionally sensitive, skin is a lighter color than the surrounding flesh.

Esperanza’s features are so fine, her frame so delicate and unlike her own, Dolores considers, that she might actually be able to identify the father. He will certainly introduce himself to Esperanza. The barest hint of curve, disguising the bony angles of fifth grade, will not escape their notice. ¿How long—weeks? Maybe just days after the pair is deposited in a town she hasn’t seen since she was still Lolita.

“Yes, bebé,” Dolores quietly decides as the van sails through the darkness. “You are going to meet your papá,” she reassures the figure cradled in her lap that is so graceful, even now, in its stillness.

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INDIEcent Exposure #22 — Welcoming a New Reality with Starseed

We’ve been away too long, I know (hangs head in shame). It’s been a brutal couple of months, that’s all I can say. Fortunately, we’re facing a New Reality now that spring is finally here. Dayne Herndon, the mind behind the musical project, Starseed, joins us to talk about his latest release. Keep Reading

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FICTION: “A Contest of Wills”

“A Contest of Wills”
by Jason Velázquez

A few wire hangers bobbed back and forth absently, out of time, in the closet on his side of the bed. The deflated heap composed of grey wool socks, jeans, boxers, flannel shirt, and tee shirt huddled apologetically on the floor in front of the nightstand.

“You can damn well sit there until this house crumbles around you,” she informed the heap tonelessly as the Goodwill truck below rumbled and navigated the tight corner out of the driveway in reverse, beeping incessantly in warning.

#‎microfiction‬ ‪#‎fiction‬

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