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April 2019

Unsung Eats: Desperados
North Adams — fresh Tex-Mex for the frugal

Desperados, at 23 Eagle Street in downtown North Adams, is part of an expanding constellation of restaurants that send your taste buds south of the border; photo by James Kennedy.
Desperados, at 23 Eagle Street in downtown North Adams, is part of an expanding constellation of restaurants that send your taste buds south of the border; photo by James Kennedy.

The rise in popularity of Tex-Mex restaurants in the U.S. is of no surprise when you consider the increasing cultural and culinary diversity of Americans and America itself.

When we consider what makes for a good comfort food, Americanized Mexican food (known as Tex-Mex) can hold its head high with its shredded meats and melted cheeses, the deep rich sauces, the contrasts of crunchy and creamy and spicy and cool.

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TLC #70 — The Berkshire Music Project Launches with Lady Moon & The Eclipse

Lady Moon & The Eclipse released their debut EP, "Believe" in 2018, and are currently producing their full length album "Journey to the Cosmic Soul," due out in 2019; photo by Jose Cotto.
Lady Moon & The Eclipse released their debut EP, "Believe" in 2018, and are currently producing their full length album "Journey to the Cosmic Soul," due out in 2019; photo by Jose Cotto.

by Jason Velázquez

In this episode, we speak with Josh Bennett, founder of the Berkshire Music Project, which seeks to grow the area’s live music scene. The very first show features Afrobeat and R&B-influenced Lady Moon & The Eclipse at 7:00 p.m. Friday, April 26 at Mr. Finn’s Cabaret in Pittsfield.

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Fast Fashion: The environmental threat hiding in your closet

Photo source, Pixabay.com.

When we think of pollution, we tend to think of single issues like air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, and the bottom line, the climate change that is exacerbated by the production process. But the fashion industry encompasses all of these — the “Four Horsemen” if you will. And it destroys lives.

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Panther on the Prowl:
Katherine Bernhardt GOLD

Katherine Bernhardt, Love Online, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura.
Katherine Bernhardt, Love Online, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura.

While making your way through Hudson Valley’s pastoral countryside, it is easy to understand what inspired the Hudson River School of painters such as Thomas Cole and Federic Edwin Church. Your destination is Ghent, New York, a present day farming community about 20 or so miles north of the city of Hudson, and Olana, Church’s family estate, now a historic site. Passing halcyon landscapes, dotted with yellow dabs of color emanating from forsythia and daffodils, you arrive at Art Omi, a contemporary sculpture park, gallery, and international artists residency that rests on 120 + bucolic acres. After initially being greeted by Chicago artist, Tony Tasset’s giant sculpture of a fawn, you enter a contemporary edifice, the Beneson Center, housing the Newmark Gallery. BAM, to quote Roy Lichtenstein’s early pop painting, you have left the serene world of idealized romanticism and entered the universe of master painter, Katherine Bernhardt.

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Stop & Shop Workers Strike across New England

North Adams Stop & Shop workers assemble in the early hours of the UFCW strike against the supermarket chain on Thursday, April 11, 2019. Union steward Bill Laviolette (front, giving the thumbs up) coordinated the location actions; photo by Jason Velázquez.
North Adams Stop & Shop workers assemble in the early hours of the UFCW strike against the supermarket chain on Thursday, April 11, 2019. Union steward Bill Laviolette (front, giving the thumbs up) coordinated the location actions; photo by Jason Velázquez.

Talks set to continue as union and company measure each other’s resolve from across parking lots.

NORTH ADAMS — Today is Saturday, April 13, 2019, I am your host, Jason Velazquez, and I’d like to welcome you to Episode #69 of our flagship podcast, the Top Left Corner.

What you heard coming into this program was the scene outside the Stop & Shop in Chicopee, Mass., as workers from that and other stores represented by United Food and Commerical Workers Local 1459 rallied near the tail end of a string of negotiations that began in the Autumn of 2018. Stop & Shop workers throughout New England have been working without a contract since February. All those heated talks between the Union and Dutch international retailer Ahold Delhaize reached a stalemate Thursday, and at about 1:15 p.m. local time, The UFCW texted their workers en masse to let them know that it was time to strike.

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The Pillar Profiles:
Lindsey Schmid

Editors Note: What does it mean when we say that someone is a “pillar of the community?” How you answer depends a lot on your experiences and intersections with the people who, in your mind, help support and strengthen the areas of local life that are most important to us. In this new series, we’ll surely tread some well worn paths in search of those personalities. We’ll blaze new trails looking for emerging leaders, as well as expand our vision of where to look for these pillars of our community. Know someone you think fills the bill? E-mail us.

When most of us Berkshires dwellers encourage friends to visit, we usually highlight the traveler’s trifecta of arts, culture, and outdoor recreation. But for Lindsey Schmid, tourism in the Berkshires is a lot more specific and varied. It’s about mindfulness and wellness. It’s about glamping and hotspots for watching wildlife. It’s the craft beverage trend, farm-to-table foods, and cannabis tours. And it’s about interactive experiences and behind-the-scenes tours of well-known venues—all the better to attract thrill seekers jonesing to be the first person to post on Instagram and say, “I did this!”

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What We Leave Behind

Dan Devine, Calf, plaster detail; Dan Devine, Calf, plaster; Giroux Gallery (photo: Sara Farrell Okamura).
Dan Devine, Calf, plaster detail; Dan Devine, Calf, plaster; Giroux Gallery (photo: Sara Farrell Okamura).

Impact, New Works by Dan Devine, Thompson Giroux Gallery

Enter Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, New York from now until May 5 and you are walking into Impact, the latest body of work by Dan Devine. Chalky white plaster sculptures cast from the metal remains from collisions and crashes are installed throughout the space. On the walls hang rubbings on creamy white paper, from ruined remains of motors, a melting icicle, a toy assault rifle, and the skeleton of a lamb. The immediate sensation is you have wandered into an anthropological museum, situated on some newly settled planet, circa 2100, dedicated to treasures recovered from the demise of Earth and the empire where we now reside.

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Your lawn mower misses you. After a long winter, it’s hungry.

[source: Pexels]
[source: Pexels]

It’s a bright sunny Sunday morning with a bit of Spring chill in the air and the recent rains have worked well to wash away the curse of winter from our yards and our minds. There are random fallen branches to pick up, flower beds to rake out, and, of course, the lawnmower to get running. 

After being in the lawn mower repair business for the better part of thirty years, as both a mechanic and a shop owner, I can assure you that if you have neglected your lawn mower you are not alone — and there is certainly no shame in it.

Here, I will tell you how, with a basic set of hand tools and a little patience, you can carry out the process of getting your lawn mower ready for reliable service all year long.

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A View from the Tracks: Day Tripping in Chatham & Ghent, New York

A lonesome balloon glides silently above field and forest near Tice Hill in the Ghent dawn; photo by Zach Neven Creative, Columbia County New York.
A lonesome balloon glides silently above field and forest near Tice Hill in the Ghent dawn; photo by Zach Neven Creative, Columbia County, New York.

The morning sun reflects off the remnants of a hard crust of snow with a luminous quality that makes the towns of Ghent and Chatham, New York, appear suffused by stage lights. It’s been a long winter—about six months’ worth, by most people’s accounts, though they use much more colorful language; like the Inuit and their multiple words for snow, residents of upstate New York have a remarkable array of vivid, sometimes profane, epithets for the season. On this 50-degree day in March, the first hint that winter is finally releasing its skeletal grip on the region, people are emerging from their woodstove-warmed saltboxes and Cape Cods, primed and ready to enjoy the landscape and a sun no longer obscured by clouds heavy with the promise of more white stuff.

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Glyphosate: Why we need a clean food revolution

Pl77 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Liquid spraying equipment at work in a corn field, by Pl77, [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“If it was bad for us, they wouldn’t sell it.” This was the response I got from the maintenance man when I objected to his spraying weeds with Roundup. Well actually, that isn’t true. “A number of cities, counties, states and countries throughout the world have taken steps to either restrict or ban glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer,” notes Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman PC here in a recently updated list. The firm has links to several lawsuits brought against Monsanto by plaintiffs who claim their cancers were caused by Roundup, including the action of Edwin Hardeman, which was settled on March 27, for more than $80 million in damages.

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