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Jason Velazquez

Jason Velazquez has 45 articles published.

Jason Velázquez has worked in print and digital journalism and publishing for two decades. E-mail: editor@greylockglass.com Phone: (413) 776-5125

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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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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Berkshire County legal system comes under the gaze of court watchers

Berkshire County Courthouse, photo by Alexius Horatius; [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons.
Berkshire County Courthouse, Pittsfield, Mass., photo by AlexiusHoratius; [ CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

by Jason Velázquez

The public has had a fascination with justice, or at least the meting out of punishment, since at least as early as the Middle Ages. Gathering some rotten produce and taking the kids down to the local stocks, gallows, or executioner’s block is a sure way to turn any Saturday morning into memorable family time.

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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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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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March 15, 2019:
International Youth Climate Strike

Members of the student group, R.E.V., at Mt. Greylock Regional School, Karen McComish, Sophie Jones, Maddy Art, and Ella Dudley speak at the Feburary 24 meeting of Greylock Together at the UNO Center in North Adams; photo by Jason Velázquez.
Members of the student group, R.E.V., at Mt. Greylock Regional School, Karen McComish, Sophie Jones, Maddy Art, and Ella Dudley speak at the Feburary 24 meeting of Greylock Together at the UNO Center in North Adams; photo by Jason Velázquez.

The youth of Earth have a message for its leaders today: You have failed to lead, so now you’ve forced us to.

By synchronizing worldwide demonstrations demanding action to reduce the human activities driving climate change, young people from elementary school on up through college are staging sit-ins, walkouts, marches, strikes, and town halls to make it clear to elected officials that they won’t sit by idly as the planet burns. Or floods. Or is ravaged by extreme weather. Or all of the above.

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Family Ice Fishing Festival on for February

Ice fishing, circa 1910.
Ice fishing, circa 1910.

The question of how long humans have been ice fishing might be best answered by another question: How long have humans run out of food in the middle of winter? One can imagine an ancestor gazing hungrily out over a frozen expanse of lake or pond, a gnawing ache in the belly matched by a gnawing panic about the survival of self, family, tribe. A prehistoric thought likely occurred one desperate day that provided a glimmer of hope: “If I’m awake and hungry during this deadly, dormant season, maybe, just maybe, those tasty fishes are awake, too, under that barrier of ice.”

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Happy New Year, Greylock Nation!

I took last week off from putting out our newsletter to give us all a break. No last-minute appeals to the spirit of holiday generosity. No sentimental journeys. Not even my esoteric stream-of-consciousness prose that seems to be pretty popular with y’all. Keep Reading

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Hitting the Slopes — preventing youth skiing injuries

Helmets are now required during high-speed winter sports for anyone under the age of 18 in many states; photo courtesy maxpixel.net.
Helmets are now required during high-speed winter sports for anyone under the age of 18 in many states; photo courtesy maxpixel.net.

by Jason Velázquez

A few years ago, when I told my buddy Mike that my eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son would be taking skiing lessons through their school next week, he reminded me that his own daughter had been skiing since she was three.

Helmets are now required during high-speed winter sports for anyone under the age of 18 in many states; photo courtesy maxpixel.net.

When Mike and I were talking about skiing —before my kids had shown any real interest in the sport — he had encouraged me to take them to the slopes, assuring me that the younger kids learn, the safer they are, and the more naturally they adapt to the sport. Due to shortages of money, time, and trust that my babies would survive the bunny slope, however, somehow the winter slipped by with no skiing for my darling little daredevils.

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Team ClearHeels 413 says goodbye to director, Continues support for exotic dance community

You may have missed the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW) this year. It passed by without much fanfare in the U.S. If you happen to be a subscriber to the Trinidad Express or the Bendigo Advertiser (serving the towns of Bendigo, Jackass Flat, and others in Victoria, Australia) you’d have known that this day, designated by the United Nations in 1999 to encourage action defending women’s human right to be free from violence and abuse, was observed on November 25.

MEMBERS ONLY CONTENT AVAILABLE

NOTE: Greylock Nation Members at the “Zinger” level and up can enjoy the full-length audio and transcript of our interview with Bella Vendetta HERE. A VERY enjoyable 30 mins. Be sure to log in for access!

Not simply a solitary date shoehorned in at the bottom of the calendar, IDEVAW kicks off “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.” Human Rights Day, December 10, caps off the run. As with IDEVAW, however, the two weeks–plus of activism has gone largely unremarked on in the Western press.

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Cole Harrison on Senate vote on Saudi-led war in Yemen

Villagers scour rubble after the bombing of Hajar Aukaish, Yemen, April 2015; photo by Almigdad Mojalli.
Villagers scour rubble after the bombing of Hajar Aukaish, Yemen, April 2015; photo by Almigdad Mojalli.

In this episode of Growl, we speak with Cole Harrison, Executive Director of Massachusetts Peace Action, based in Cambridge, Mass. At issue is last week’s Senate vote in favor of allowing floor debate on Senate Joint Resolution 54 to proceed, which would pave the way for ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign against Yemen.

Villagers scour rubble after the bombing of Hajar Aukaish, Yemen, April 2015; photo by Almigdad Mojalli.

Harrison says that Mass Peace Action is encouraged by this legislation, introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) but notes that this is just a first step towards shutting down a conflict that has ballooned into the planet’s worst humanitarian crisis in the last four years.

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Advertiser Types

The survey is closed, but if you’re here and simply must check off boxes and fill out forms, be our guest—the survey is below. Otherwise, enjoy checking out the results.

THE RESULTS

Before we get to the specific advertiser types, I thought it was important to point out two points of data that shocked me. What were almost afterthoughts were two questions that I hoped would help describe people’s attitudes about their own responsibility for supporting their local news sources. The answers were deeply, deeply troubling.

Are you concerned about the decrease in local news reporting locally and nationally?

Yes: 85%,     No: 3%,     Didn’t know a there was a decline: 11%

Are you currently paying for a subscription or membership with a local news source?

No: 85%,     Yes: 14%

These figures show that  a tremendous number of people want more local news coverage, but almost nobody wants to pay for it. And while 75% of respondents said that they thought that people should pay for a Greylock Glass membership (see below), not one person has coughed up a dime since the survey was launched. And since I know exactly how many paying members the Greylock Glass has, that’s a lot of folks who don’t put their money where their mouths are.

My guess is that people assume that somebody else is paying for it. That they’ll get around to pitching in one day, just not right now. It’s funny—no one thinks you can just pour yourself a mug of beer at the pub and pay for it when you feel like it, or maybe never. As delightful as beer is, it doesn’t do for the individual and society what a free and independent press does. It depresses me that when publishers put content behind  paywalls, all of a sudden people whip out their wallets and come up with the paltry sums required to access the articles or podcasts or videos or whatnot. But maybe that’s where the Greylock Glass is headed. Shame, too, since just a fraction of the audience who can afford $5 a month, or even $1 a month could have kept it free for those who legitimately can afford it.

The ADVERTISERS

What kind of a reaction would respondents have if their news source displayed ads from:

Gun Shops

Negative: 44%,     No Reaction: 52%,     Positve: .04%

Tobacco/Vape

Negative: 33%,     No Reaction: 59%,     Positve .07%

Cannabis

Negative: .04%,     No Reaction: 74%,     Positve: 22%

Liquor

Negative: .04%,     No Reaction: 93%     Positve: .04%

Adult Entertainment (Strip) Clubs

Negative: 55%,      No Reaction: 44%,     Positve: 0%

Adult Gift Shops

Negative: 33%       No Reaction: 67%

Political Candidates/Parties

Negative: 52%,      No Reaction: 48%

FAIR PRICE FOR THE GREYLOCK GLASS

Asked what people thought a fair monthly membership price would be for full access to the Greylock Glass, 40% didn’t respond (they probably thought I could track them down—I can’t). But of the people who DID respond:

13%   —   $10
44%   —   $5
18%   —   $1
25%   —   $0.00 (And yet, you keep consuming our content…🤔)

I think it’s so frigging awesome that a full 75% of you think that we deserve to get paid for our efforts! What sucks? Almost none of you are. The coin I earn, I earn as a freelance editor/project manager in other sectors of publishing. Don’t get me wrong, I am so incredibly grateful that I have clients who value my time and skills—I’m spending this weekend working on a project for my favorite one, in fact. But I’d rather be working for you. These numbers explain the situation pretty well, though, don’t they? You have the power to change that.
Become a supporting member right now.

TAKE THE SURVEY!

The Greylock Glass is poised for amazing growth, and needs to determine where the money is going to come from to make that happen. This survey is designed to gather community opinion about supporting news coverage with advertising from certain business types. Thanks for your honest answers!

NOTE: All questions are optional, and you do not have to provide your name or e-mail.

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