Sports Drinks: The Hype Over Hydration
Aug29

Sports Drinks: The Hype Over Hydration

If you caught much of the Rio Olympics this summer, you may have noticed a blitz of sports beverage commercials featuring Olympic athletes like boxer Shakur Stevenson swilling fluorescent blue Powerade, or Usain Bolt and Serena Williams pushing Gatorade. Aside from a heavy-handed dose of inspirational words and imagery, the ads have something else in common. They both seem to be directed at kids, with child actors portraying the...

Read More
Scene Here: Slippery Slope
Aug29

Scene Here: Slippery Slope

It’s human nature to want to see just how far an idea can be pushed. Take Slide the City for instance,  the 1,000-foot slip-and-slide that transformed Appleton Street into a lazy river for the Celebrate Holyoke festival this past weekend. It’s easy to imagine the thought process that gave rise to the creation of this monstrous rubber ode to summer childhood fun: Perhaps its creator was enjoying the ride on that iconic piece of...

Read More
Kitten Stolen from Springfield Shelter — Watch the Security Footage
Aug19

Kitten Stolen from Springfield Shelter — Watch the Security Footage

SPRINGFIELD — Dakin Humane Society is reporting that two unidentified women entered the animal shelter at 171 Union Street at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Thursday and made off with an eight-week-old kitten.But now the cat’s out of the bag — the incident was caught on security camera footage provided to the Advocate Friday morning.Dakin’s executive director Carmine DiCenso says that the two women entered the shelter...

Read More
Big Box Pot Shop: Potco in Springfield aims to become the “Costco of pot”
Aug15

Big Box Pot Shop: Potco in Springfield aims to become the “Costco of pot”

Above a gray storefront on the corner of Sumner Avenue and Dickinson Street at the X in Springfield hangs a sign that reads, in leafy green letters, “Potco: Everything that goes in the POT…” Yes, “pot” is indeed written in all caps and followed by an ellipsis, conveying its meaning in no uncertain terms to even the squarest passerby.Providers of growing equipment who once did business with a nudge and a wink are now losing their...

Read More
Nerding Out: Dana Lemon, Bluebird Conservationist
Aug08

Nerding Out: Dana Lemon, Bluebird Conservationist

If you’ve ever done any birdwatching in the quaint pastoral landscapes of the Wilbraham-Monson area, you may have noticed a striking abundance of bright blue little thrushes with vibrant orange and white stomachs merrily chasing bugs and perching on nest boxes and power lines.But in the middle of the 20th century, they began to vanish from the fields and forest edges where they were typically found. Pesticides and competition from...

Read More
Between the Lines: Building on Lies, Trump’s Plans for Mexico
Aug08

Between the Lines: Building on Lies, Trump’s Plans for Mexico

This morning I somehow ended up in the scant “positions” section of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign website on the “Pay for the Wall” page, hoping to settle in my mind once and for all exactly how The Donald proposes to get our neighbor to the south to foot the $5-$10 billion bill for a structure that’s financially and geographically infeasible — not to mention ineffective.What I...

Read More
Vermont’s Short-Lived GMO Experiment
Aug08

Vermont’s Short-Lived GMO Experiment

Vermont’s experiment with GMO labeling was brief, but memorable. In July, the single month that House Act 120 was in effect, consumers saw new signs popping up at grocery stores — just not the type many were envisioning.“We apologize that we can no longer offer this product to you,” reads one such sign at the Price Chopper in Brattleboro. “Its manufacturer will not be updating its packaging to comply with the new GMO labeling law.”The...

Read More
Show Us Your Tattoo: Josh Charland
Aug08

Show Us Your Tattoo: Josh Charland

About seven years ago, I was tattooed by Bravo at Vipers Nest II in West Springfield. The past 20 years, technology and computers have always been a passion of mine. I’m an IT [information technology] consultant and learned a tremendous amount of knowledge from Google throughout the years. I use Google every day to stay current with technology, virus/spyware removal methods, and also for troubleshooting. Years ago, there used to...

Read More
Are GMOs Safe to Eat?
Aug08

Are GMOs Safe to Eat?

The research-based answer to this question is: yes, GMOs are no more or less safe to consume than traditionally grown foods.The FDA, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academies of Sciences, the World Health Organization, and the American Council on Science and Health are among the groups issuing statements that say as much. But a 2015 Pew Research survey found that 63 percent of the general public...

Read More
Scene Here: Cat 4 Prez
Aug01

Scene Here: Cat 4 Prez

A crowd of several hundred people, made up largely of children, packed the lawn of the Springfield Museums Quadrangle on Tuesday morning in eager anticipation of a stump speech by the self-proclaimed “children’s candidate,” the latest to enter the presidential fray. The Cat in the Hat had announced his candidacy just that morning alongside his blue-haired running mates, Thing 1 and Thing 2, on the front steps of the childhood home of...

Read More
4,500 Square Feet of Eden Blooms in Holyoke: A mega farm on a mini lot
Jul25

4,500 Square Feet of Eden Blooms in Holyoke: A mega farm on a mini lot

In the middle of an ordinary residential neighborhood in Holyoke lies a hidden Garden of Eden, where pollinating insects buzz from flower to flower and nearly everything is edible. Despite appearances, this place was no act of divine creation. The garden was born of the hard work and ingenuity of Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates, two self-proclaimed plant geeks with a reverence for the complex web of systems that make up a...

Read More
Scene Here: Tuesday Night Classics
Jul25

Scene Here: Tuesday Night Classics

The setting sun glints off a sea of chrome and glossy paint jobs — fiery reds, cool blues, and slick blacks. The sounds of classic rock ‘n’ roll echo through Stearns Square and the smell of fried food lingers. It’s Tuesday Cruise Night, an event put on by the Springfield Business Improvement District this summer aimed at bringing people together with the near universal appeal of antique cars. Who wouldn’t turn their head at the sight...

Read More
The CityBlock Summer Concert Series is back! Again.
Jul19

The CityBlock Summer Concert Series is back! Again.

Springfield’s Summer Concert Series at Stearns Square has undergone its fair share of transformations since it was founded in 1999. The latest happened last year when the concert series shed its title as the Stearns Square Concert Series and reclaiming its original moniker: the CityBlock Concert Series.In years past, the concerts had drawn out motorcyclists by the hundreds — even thousands, by some accounts — to the point where it was...

Read More
Adventures in Troll Land: Can cyber-harassment laws keep pace with technology?
Jul05

Adventures in Troll Land: Can cyber-harassment laws keep pace with technology?

In our June 23 – 29, 2016 issue, the Advocate ran a piece called “Uncivil Discourse,” which was about the online backlash incurred by two local college students after they aggressively protested a panel discussion at UMass. The reader response surprised us and inspired us to take a closer look at the laws and issues around online harassment. According to a 2014 Pew Research study, 40 percent of all internet users have been...

Read More
Could You Spot Someone Drowning? Spoiler: Probably not
Jul05

Could You Spot Someone Drowning? Spoiler: Probably not

For most people, the closest they get to drowning is watching someone on TV or in the movies going through the motions: screaming, flailing arms, and lots of splashing. So, when someone actually drowns, you’d think it would be easy to spot. But not always.In real life, drowning people rarely look like the water-drenched actors on screen. In fact, drowning people usually don’t make much of a commotion, according to the Red Cross, which...

Read More
Making it in Downtown Springfield: Pop-up makers’ space in the city
Jun27

Making it in Downtown Springfield: Pop-up makers’ space in the city

The lights are finally on in a small storefront on Worthington Street in downtown Springfield, just in time for the official June 8 kick-off gala for Make-It Springfield, the “pop-up makerspace” that’s aimed not just at refurbishing the empty storefront it moved into, but also providing opportunities for residents that they might not otherwise get.Michael DiPasquale, the director of the UMass Amherst Design Center in Springfield and...

Read More
Scene Here: Abuzz About Drones
Jun20

Scene Here: Abuzz About Drones

In a cozy courtyard in downtown Springfield, nestled among red brick buildings and gray concrete parking garages, a small white quadcopter suddenly whirs to life on a makeshift launch pad in small patch of grass. At the controls is 16-year-old Briyanna Henry, who’s learning how to fly the drone as part of a workshop put on by UMass Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program and Make-It Springfield, a pop-up makerspace on Worthington...

Read More
Uncivil Discourse: The Triggering at UMass is over, but the harassment it has unleashed rages on
Jun20

Uncivil Discourse: The Triggering at UMass is over, but the harassment it has unleashed rages on

On April 25, the UMass College Republicans hosted an event in Stockbridge Hall featuring several prominent pop-conservatives. The event, “The Triggering: Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?,” was billed as a discussion of the perceived excesses by social justice movements from feminism to microaggression. British conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos opened the forum with the mic-dropper: “Feminism is cancer. Thank you very...

Read More
People Would Go With Olive Branches and They Would Meet Them with Bullets: A Westfield refugee’s story
Jun14

People Would Go With Olive Branches and They Would Meet Them with Bullets: A Westfield refugee’s story

From the comfort of a ranch-style home in Westfield, Zaid AlNassar says that the difference between his family’s situation in the strife-torn Middle East and their new life in the U.S. is “like the Earth and the sky.”The worries of those days seem a world away as his children run in and out of the house, playing and laughing. AlNassar’s wife brings a tray of steaming Middle Eastern coffee and homemade lemon-coconut squares into the...

Read More
Retired: Northampton’s ‘Downtown’ Daniel Packs Up His Guitar
Jun06

Retired: Northampton’s ‘Downtown’ Daniel Packs Up His Guitar

Daniel Evans, 63, has been playing his guitar on Main Street in Northampton for over 15 years, but as of Sunday, June 5, the man locals have come to know as “Downtown Daniel” has officially retired. Evans, who’s struggled with homelessness, became a part of the fabric of downtown Northampton by frequently busking in front of Bueno y Sano.Since 2010, he’s been working with First Churches of Northampton on Cathedral in the Night and...

Read More
‘Gross negligence’ alleged in death of research primate at UMass Amherst
Jun06

‘Gross negligence’ alleged in death of research primate at UMass Amherst

An animal welfare watchdog group is alleging that “gross negligence” led to the death of a research monkey in a UMass Amherst animal care facility on Oct. 15, 2015. The marmoset was severely burned while it recovered from surgery. The incident was noted in a May 2016 inspection report by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Activist Jodie Weiderkehr doesn’t believe the federal review went far enough. Weiderkehr is...

Read More
Book Review: ‘Camouflage Country,’ adventures in surrealist America by Easthampton’s Bosworth
Jun06

Book Review: ‘Camouflage Country,’ adventures in surrealist America by Easthampton’s Bosworth

Mel Bosworth caught the writing bug early. In fifth or sixth grade, he told his mother about an idea he had for a newspaper column and she immediately brought him down to the newspaper’s office to pitch the column to the editor. He spent the following summer producing weekly pieces on movies, pets, and other things of interest to young readers.“It was all downhill from there,” Bosworth jokes, but since those days, he’s authored...

Read More
‘Gross Negligence’ Alleged in Death of UMass Lab Monkey
Jun03

‘Gross Negligence’ Alleged in Death of UMass Lab Monkey

By Peter Vancini An animal welfare watchdog group is alleging that “gross negligence” led to the death of a research monkey in a UMass Amherst animal care facility on Oct. 15, 2015. The marmoset was severely burned while it recovered from surgery. The incident was noted in a May 2016 inspection report by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Activist Jodie Weiderkehr doesn’t believe the federal review went far enough....

Read More
Oh, Honey: Can spoonfuls of the all-natural sweet stuff help ward off allergies?
May31

Oh, Honey: Can spoonfuls of the all-natural sweet stuff help ward off allergies?

Ah, spring: The time of year when nature wakes up from its deep winter slumber: birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and allergy sufferers are miserable. A runny nose, itchy eyes, and constant sneezing are facts of life for the nearly 8 percent of Americans that suffer from allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than a minor nuisance to some, seasonal...

Read More
The Perks and Price of GREEN Building:  You don’t need a lot of money to live eco-friendly, but it helps
May23

The Perks and Price of GREEN Building: You don’t need a lot of money to live eco-friendly, but it helps

When Ray Sebold set out to build his environmentally-friendly dream house in Montague, he knew he would have to do it on the cheap. “By no means are we rich,” Sebold says. “There’s no family money involved here. I personally have more skills than money.” Seabold, 64, is a craftsman with a broad knowledge of building methods and standards, acquired through years of experience. His partner, Donna Francis, 61, is an environmental science...

Read More
Scene Here: Afternoon Nighthawks
Apr25

Scene Here: Afternoon Nighthawks

A crisp smack of cold beer hits my palate; a dark, hearty rye. I’m engulfed by laughter and spirited conversation, lost in the dull roar, a wave washing over me. A sudden crash, a peaceful respite as it rolls back, redoubling its efforts at sweeping me away … but not for a little while longer.It’s 6 p.m. on a Thursday at the High Horse in Amherst. A few tables have filled up in the dining section, but most of the barstools are...

Read More