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June 2019

Phoenix Rising — 48 Hours in Portland, Maine

The City of Portland, Maine rises above the waters of Portland Harbor, which is filled with sailing vessels and pleasure boats. The landmark Time and Temperature building can be seen, reading 5:39; photo by Benjamin Williamson.

By Robin Catalano

Even on a raw, rainy afternoon, with a uniform blanket of cinder-block gray settling over the sky, it’s easy to see why Portland, Maine, has smitten so many travelers. Raindrops the size of lima beans melt down the sides of buildings. The wind whooshes and gusts, cutting through coat sleeves and tossing hats. Atlantic waves wallop the jagged rocks in a spray of white foam. Still, the city seems just as beautiful, and possibly even more transfixing, as it does when there are blue skies for miles over Casco Bay.

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Water, water, everywhere
Nor any drop to drink

Photograph: Public water fountain. Newly installed public water fountains in high traffic/athletic areas grant near luxury-level access to the most basic of human needs; photo by Sheila Velazquez.
Newly installed public water fountains in high traffic/athletic areas grant near luxury-level access to the most basic of human needs; photo by Sheila Velazquez.

The title is a line from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, spoken by a sailor surrounded by a salty sea. The sailor had no choices, but we do. We have available fresh water, for now, and can choose to use tap water, filter it or not, and bypass the aisles of bottled water when we shop. We can choose to help ourselves and Mother Earth.

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Film Review: The Biggest Little Farm

Emma, the pig, and Mr. Greasy, the rooster, are frequent scene-stealers in The Biggest Little Farm, showing just what's possible with a little inter-species understanding; NEON.
Emma, the pig, and Mr. Greasy, the rooster, are frequent scene-stealers in The Biggest Little Farm, showing just what's possible with a little inter-species understanding; NEON.

A folksy, daydream quality suffuses about half the frames of The Biggest Little Farm, out now from NEON, and showing in artsier cinemas and festivals around the country.

This cinematic pixie dust is the film’s greatest strength. It also risks placing the picture, written and directed by acclaimed wildlife photographer, John Chester, precariously at the edge of fictionalized memoir — not through untruth or exaggeration, but omission and artifice.

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To buy or not to buy, that is the question: Wary shoppers slow retail sales

Mannequins doing their best to incite consumer desire; photo by George Shervashidze, from Pexels
Mannequins doing their best to incite consumer desire; photo by George Shervashidze, from Pexels

Quarterly financial reports often portend the future. The retail apparel numbers are out for the first quarter of 2019, and they aren’t pretty. Sales dropped by 24 percent, the biggest decline since the first quarter of 2008, when they were a bellwether for the last recession. People aren’t buying clothing. Maybe some of them read my article about how Fast Fashion is contributing to climate change. If not, they should.

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It’s A Painting, It’s A Drawing, It’s A Sculpture, It’s Ceramics, It’s Beautiful — Lauren Mabry: Fused

Abstract scupture by Lauren Mabry, Loopy Cylinder Black Textured with Striped Interior Detail, ceramic; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura
Lauren Mabry, Loopy Cylinder (Black Textured with Striped Interior), detail, ceramic; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura

Enter Ferrin Contemporary, a gallery dedicated to ceramic artists, from MASS MoCA’s parking lot and find your self gazing at an array of beautiful, vibrantly colored vessels, relief paintings, and sculptures. What resemble the most vivid, glistening rubber band-like loops hang from a myriad of pegs on voluminous vessels and relief paintings that are round, rectangular, and square. The inside of each vessel is glazed in unexpected hues that play with the sense of depth and width. This is the work of Lauren Mabry, an artist re-imagining the definition, technique, and outcome of ceramics.

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Unsung Eats: Valhalla, Adams — mythic taste, priced for mere mortals

The aptly named burger, "The Balder," bravely adorns itself with lettuce, roasted tomatoes, and onions, allowing it's brave flavors to shine through. Highly recommended side item? The hand cut wedge fries; photo by James Kennedy.
"The Balder" burger bravely adorns itself with lettuce, roasted tomatoes, and onions, allowing its flavors to shine through. Recommended side item? Amazing hand cut wedge fries; photo by James Kennedy.

Here at Unsung Eats we usually have to search out the rare gems for great food at a good value but in this particular case the eatery found us.  We kept hearing, “Hey, have you tried Valhalla yet?” and when the Greylock Glass ran its Greylock Nation’s Greatest: 2019 readers poll, it was Valhalla Eatery in Adams that kept on popping up, so we knew who was going on the short list.

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