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May 2019

Mighty Thunders and Borrowed Light open 2019 season at Hancock Shaker Village

Barbara Ernst Prey, School Room, 2019, watercolor on paper; [source Hancock Shaker Village].
Barbara Ernst Prey, School Room, 2019, watercolor on paper; [source Hancock Shaker Village].

by Jason Velázquez

This is the Top Left Corner. Today is Saturday, May 25, and you’re listening to episode #72. I’m your host, Jason Velazquez, and as always, thank you for tuning in. We have a huge show for you this week. We start off with a short hop over to Lenox where we check in with Shakespeare & Company, whose 2019 season kicks off with the Wavery Gallery. Then we spend the remainder of our show at Hancock Shaker Village, which begins its season with the opening of two major installations, Borrowed Light: Barbara Ernst Prey, and While Mighty Thunders Roll: Popular Artists Sing the Shakers, produced by Jeffrey Gaskill. We’ll finish up with some key segments of my conversation with Matt Lorenz known by his one-man band — The Suitcase Junket. Oh, and we’ve got some boss tracks from his new album to share with you, too.

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Forget Everything You Think About New York State Wine

Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan from Pexels
Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan from Pexels

by Nancy Koziol

I was living in Brooklyn on September 11, 2001. I was three years into the dumpster fire of my twenties and in more danger than I’ve ever been in my life. It wasn’t the attacks—the carnage and violence erupting in my city—that put me at risk. I was safely across the river. No, it was me who was responsible for the aforementioned inferno, but 9/11 that helped me start to put out the blaze.

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Game of Thrones Has a Serious Girl Problem

Composite image of familiar "Game of Thrones" faces Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen; HBO.
Composite image of familiar "Game of Thrones" faces Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen; HBO.

Like most of the civilized world, I’ve zealously planted myself in front of the TV on Sunday nights for the past eight years to watch Game of Thrones unfold. I’ve largely enjoyed it, at least up until the rush-to-the-finish seasons 7 and 8, which have packed far too much character development and time hopping into a handful of episodes (how did Jaime Lannister and Arya Stark get to King’s Landing so quickly?), in an effort to tie up loose ends dangled but not yet resolved by author George R. R. Martin’s source material. As the series marches toward its final episode this weekend, I’ve come to realize that beyond poor pacing, there’s something more I deeply dislike about it: Game of Thrones has a girl problem.

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Spring tonic

Green River, Williamstown, Mass.; photo by Sheila Velazquez.
Green River, Williamstown, Mass.; photo by Sheila Velazquez.

Within minutes of my house, the Green River meanders through a small park along the edge of a cemetery. In a twinkling I can be there, park by the rows of silent neighbors, and carefully make my way through wild edibles, ferns, and other flora wet with mist to sit on the bank and watch the foam rush by. Birds and insects are my only distraction. 

Here I feel my mood lift, pulse rate drop, and general overall feeling enhanced. I will not stay long. I don’t need to. More important is that I do this often. Breathe deeply, think deeply. 

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At the intersection of sound, space, and structure: ELEMENTAL

ELEMENTAL as viewed from the rear of the installation; photo by James Kennedy.
ELEMENTAL as viewed from the rear of the installation; photo courtesy Katya Popova.

Last Friday night I went to the 2019 opening of Installation Space in downtown North Adams to take in a new installation called ELEMENTAL.  The art exhibit is billed by Installation Space as “An immersive installation inspired by the basic structure of things. Its visual form explores the inner world of painting and cardboard, their visceral and abstract qualities—intersection, edge, line, negative space, texture, color, and movement. The installation is composed of sculptural visual elements, real time video re-projection, and sound.  The sound mirrors the visual net of  “the structures” by utilizing an algorithmic process of evolution of a complex modular texture.”  ELEMENTAL is the result of collaboration between two artists who both hold positions at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

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LETTER: Reader urges votes for Birch’s “measured approach”

To Wiliamstown’s Voters

Dante Birch deserves to be elected to the Williamstown Planning Board. He is not only well informed about the proposals the Board has been debating, but he is also committed to listening carefully to townspeople and to gauging the possible implications of every planning proposal.

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LETTER: Reader says Birch “well-suited” to role on Planning Board

To the Editor:

I have been involved in Williamstown government for many years, but until today I have not publicly endorsed any candidate for elected town office. I am breaking my habit now to endorse Dante Birch for the Williamstown Planning Board because he possesses the personal qualities that are essential to the success and credibility of town boards.

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LETTER: Reader endorses Jeschawitz for second Planning Board term, Articles 32 and 33

Friends,

I’m writing to endorse Amy Jeschawitz for a second term on the Planning Board. It is the role of the Planning Board to envision and plan for our town’s future. That means they inevitably must grapple with questions of change: proposing adjustments to zoning bylaws to facilitate goals we want, while avoiding those harmful to us. It almost goes without saying that when the Planning Board is doing its job, residents will view it with a fearful eye—for no other reason than that it could bring change, and many of us like things the way they are. But Williamstown needs change. In particular, we need to diversify our housing options—doing nothing is tantamount to passive gentrification.

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I Am Going to Leave Her Here

The lush, stone-walled Italian Garden at The Mount provides a respite from Northeastern summer heat and humidity; early morning photo by Kevin Sprague.
The lush, stone-walled Italian Garden at The Mount provides a respite from Northeastern summer heat and humidity; early morning photo by Kevin Sprague.

by Robin Catalano

The homes of favorite authors are always must-stops on my travel itineraries. But perhaps owing to the old adage “Never meet your heroes,” the reality of where my favorite writers lived and worked has usually been less than remarkable, running the rather limited gamut from the spartan and unexceptional to the unkempt, if not derelict.

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Op-Ed: Who will roam the Stop & Shop aisles?

The reasonably autonomous drone, "Marty," that patrols the aisles at Stop & Shop, and other stores owned by parent company Ahold Delhaize. The anthropomorphized robot's job is, ostensibly, to monitor for spills and safety hazards, as well as to identify items running low in stock; photo by Jason Velázquez.
The reasonably autonomous drone, "Marty," that patrols the aisles at Stop & Shop, and other stores owned by parent company Ahold Delhaize. The anthropomorphized robot's job is, ostensibly, to monitor for spills and safety hazards, as well as to identify items running low in stock; photo by Jason Velázquez.

As union workers celebrate the win over Stop & Shop, owned by Dutch multinational Ahold Delhaize, the face of organized labor appears very much alive. The corporation had wanted to cut staff costs, ostensibly to provide “better customer service.”  While citing that labor costs are having a “major impact” on the company’s ability to compete in the changing market, Stop & Shop nevertheless secured a $2 billion profit in 2019.

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A Wake-Up Call at MASS MoCA: Suffering from Realness

Cassils, Inextinguishable Fire, 2015, Single-Channel Video with Sound and Fourteen Encapsulated Breaths, 2017, Hand-Blown Glass, Each Unique; photo by Hideyo Okamura.
Cassils, Inextinguishable Fire, 2015, single-channel video with sound and Fourteen Encapsulated Breaths, 2017, Hand-Blown Glass, Each Unique; photo by Hideyo Okamura.

by Sara Farrell Okamura

It opened with a funeral procession. A mariachi band, the artist, Vincent Valdez playing trumpet, led a band of mourners channeling a New Orleans jazz–styled funeral march through the newest exhibit to open at MASS MoCA. Pallbearers hoisted Requiem, a black patina bronzed colossal carcass of an American Bald Eagle, to their shoulders, carrying him past the monumental charcoal drawings of Robert Longo, past Robert Taplin’s giant alabastrine clown, Punch (Punch & Judy puppets) silently preaching to an imaginary crowd, past the immense green squares of MPA’s examination of binaries, past Hayv Kahraman’s Three Celebrities, depicting an image of three women arguing over a pile of gold, a treasure secured by appropriating the suffering of refugees, past Christopher Mir’s paintings, symbolizing anxieties and hopes, past Titus Kaphar’s paintings and sculptures correcting history. The American eagle, created by Valdez and fellow artist Adriana Corral, was lowered to lie in repose in front of Corral’s white wall with 243 dates embedded into the museum’s drywall, submitted by 243 Americans (one for each year designating the age of the United States). Each of these dates symbolized a personal or historical event. Suffering from Realness was now on view to museum visitors.

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