Basemental: What Are You Afraid Of? Fred Cracklin’s Looming Spook
May23

Basemental: What Are You Afraid Of? Fred Cracklin’s Looming Spook

Local legend Thurston Moore — Sonic Youth, Chelsea Light Moving, one off noise sets all over the Valley — had a cameo in an adult talk show called Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Moore played a character called Fred Cracklin in a 1996 episode of the Cartoon Network show dedicated to jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock. The show got weirder as it progressed — evolving from spoof to surrealism. Adam Bosse and Max Goldstein have fittingly adopted...

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Cinemadope: The deadly ‘crime’ of being black
May22

Cinemadope: The deadly ‘crime’ of being black

Last month, the story of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson lit up social media feeds everywhere. Two young black men, they were waiting quietly for a friend at a Philadelphia Starbucks when one of them asked to use the restroom. After an employee refused — they hadn’t ordered anything yet, and the bathroom was for paying customers, the men were told — they returned to their table. Soon after, three police officers arrived and promptly...

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V-Spot: Am I Getting Ghosted?
May21

V-Spot: Am I Getting Ghosted?

Dear Yana, Lately I’ve been in what I can best describe as a situationship; I want more and know that I have a lot to offer, but he semi-recently got out of a relationship in which his ex hurt him and he’s now scared and doesn’t want anything like that. We used to talk/text all the time. He would come over to my place at least once a week, we would sleep together, and it was pretty much a relationship without the title. But recently...

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National Marijuana Company GTI First to Open Medical Dispensary in Amherst
May18

National Marijuana Company GTI First to Open Medical Dispensary in Amherst

The big scissors were out in Amherst this week as the CEO of the national company Green Thumb Industries (GTI) cut the ribbon in front of the town’s first medical marijuana dispensary, called RISE Amherst. Despite being based in Chicago, Pete Kadens, director and CEO of GTI, said that GTI wants to be a positive contributor to the community by helping to alleviate the opioid crisis by offering an alternative medicine and employing...

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Stagestruck: A Valley native takes on I Am My Own Wife in Ashfield
May16

Stagestruck: A Valley native takes on I Am My Own Wife in Ashfield

“I think she may be the most singular, eccentric individual the Cold War ever birthed.” So says one of the three dozen characters in I Am My Own Wife. He’s talking about Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, née Lothar Berfelde, Berlin’s most famous transvestite. In Doug Wright’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play, all the characters, most of all Charlotte herself, are played by one man. In a set of upcoming performances, that man will be Rylan...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: The wines of Silicon Valley
May15

Monte Belmonte Wines: The wines of Silicon Valley

“Our neighbor in France had a trained donkey and a goat. We noticed the donkey and goat were always together during the evenings. During the day the goat was around but the donkey was gone. He had trained his donkey to do weed control in the vineyard. The donkey was really stubborn so he got it a goat as a companion animal. A calming goat.”   That’s where Jared and Tracey Brandt, the Berkeley, California, based winemaking couple...

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The V-Spot: My Vagina is Ruining My Relationship
May14

The V-Spot: My Vagina is Ruining My Relationship

Hi Yana! I’ve been with my partner for about a year, and in most ways our relationship is everything I want. We communicate really well, we have a great time together, our sex life is amazing, and I always feel supported by him. The problem is my vagina. For the first time in my life, I’m dealing with a variety of uncomfortable vaginal issues, most frequently yeast infections and BV (bacterial vaginosis). The onset of these...

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Cinemadope: Academy of Music hosts history tour, two great films this week
May14

Cinemadope: Academy of Music hosts history tour, two great films this week

Even in a New England town with a fair bit of history, the Academy of Music in Northampton has roots that run deep. Founded on the vision of philanthropist and Northampton native Edward Lyman, the Academy opened to the public in May of 1891 and quickly became a favorite stop on the tour circuit. Mae West, Sarah Bernhardt, and Boris Karloff — Frankenstein’s Monster! — have all graced the Academy stage. Harry Houdini (spoiler alert)...

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Down to Earth: A tree over the river
May10

Down to Earth: A tree over the river

I sit on the twisted root system of a great tree, a shelf of exposed roots thrust out over the Connecticut River at the edge of the Northampton Meadows. I’m perched 15 feet above the olive water. The muddy bluff has been licked and sucked away under the tree by years of the river’s lapping tongues. Even now in the calm of early summer, the water bites chunks of greenish sediment from the bank. The roots offer a writing nook of romance...

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Stagestruck: Words and music seek to heal a troubled world
May09

Stagestruck: Words and music seek to heal a troubled world

The Red Guitar, John Sheldon’s brilliant memoir-in-music, was a runaway hit at last summer’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Riding on its success in that international nexus of alternative arts, the show’s producer, the Valley’s Serious Play Theatre Ensemble, is taking it back again this year. It’s returning in tandem with a new piece, Manual Override, created and performed by Sheldon, percussion virtuoso Tony Vacca and spoken-word artist...

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V-Spot: My Haircut is Dictating My Sex Life
May08

V-Spot: My Haircut is Dictating My Sex Life

Hi Yana, I have a sex question! Over the past year, I’ve noticed a pretty substantial shift in the way people think I like to fuck and I’m having difficulty confronting it. It’s probably a common experience that when people make a change to their outward appearance (for me, cutting my hair short), that people then make different assumptions about how they like to have sex. It started with my last partner who was a long-time partner of...

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Cinemadope: A courtside seat with Norotious RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsberg)
May07

Cinemadope: A courtside seat with Norotious RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsberg)

Celebrity is a funny thing. Usually, it charts along one or two familiar trajectories: the discovery of some young talent, followed by either the long work of career-building or the short decline of a crash-and-burn. But once in awhile, someone captures the public imagination in a way that defies the expectations of even the most jaded celebrity observer. So it is with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the U.S. Supreme Court Justice who, now 85,...

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The Beerhunter Abroad: Norway – Despite strict alcohol laws, a new generation of craft brewers is born
May02

The Beerhunter Abroad: Norway – Despite strict alcohol laws, a new generation of craft brewers is born

As a New Englander accustomed to long, cold winters, I had never put the Arctic Circle atop my summer vacation list. But in case you missed the billboards along Interstate 91, Norwegian Air now offers discount flights to Europe from Boston, Providence, and New York City, some priced at around $100 (sadly, service into Hartford was short-lived). That’s how I found myself in the Arctic last July, dancing to Nordic pop music at the Riddu...

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The V-Spot: WTF even is college dating?
May01

The V-Spot: WTF even is college dating?

Hello Yana! I’m looking for advice on navigating college relationships. I’m a young lesbian and I’m trying to consolidate not feeling in a good emotional place for a full romantic relationship with also looking for physical intimacy. I had a short relationship earlier in the year and I don’t feel like I’m in a good time in my life to both take care of myself and keep my grades up and also maintain a healthy and loving relationship...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: It’s not your nana’s rosé
May01

Monte Belmonte Wines: It’s not your nana’s rosé

White Zinfandel ruined rosé. My Italian grandmother, Nana B, always had a bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel open in her fridge. She called it “Zin-fan-DEL,” with the accent on  the last syllable. I was allowed small sips as a child, and my mental memory of those sips helps inform grown-up Monte of the taste of wine when it’s been open for too long. Nana would leave a single bottle open and in the fridge for weeks. I loved my Nana....

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Free Will Astrology: Wreak creative destruction, Libra
Apr30

Free Will Astrology: Wreak creative destruction, Libra

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I hate rampant consumerism almost as much as I hate hatred, so I don’t offer the following advice lightly: Buy an experience that could help liberate you from the suffering you’ve had trouble outgrowing. Or buy a toy that can thaw the frozen joy that’s trapped within your out-of-date sadness. Or buy a connection that might inspire you to express a desire you need help in expressing. Or buy...

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Cinemadope: The kaleidoscopic philosophy of jazz percussionist Milford Graves
Apr30

Cinemadope: The kaleidoscopic philosophy of jazz percussionist Milford Graves

So few of us follow our deepest drives — it’s a path that leads along high wires and narrow ledges, and for many, the fear of failing big keeps us dreaming small. On the other end of human experience is a man like Milford Graves. Graves is a renowned percussionist who has been on the avant-garde jazz scene since the beginning, performing with the likes of Albert Ayler, Sonny Sharrock, and Paul Bley. As he and his fellow musicians were...

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Mass Cannabis Chefs elevate edibles across the state
Apr27

Mass Cannabis Chefs elevate edibles across the state

What does cannabis taste like? Many people might describe it as earthy, pungent, or bitter. According to Joe Nelson, 29, of Plymouth, one of the chefs and co-founders of Mass Cannabis Chefs, the idea that all cannabis tastes the same is a misconception. “It’s different all the time, it’s different for every plant,” Nelson said. Nelson said that he has tried plants that taste citrusy and lemony, and plants that taste more like pine. As...

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Valley Show Girl: Snacktime! Musical story time with a pirate from the Valley
Apr26

Valley Show Girl: Snacktime! Musical story time with a pirate from the Valley

Valley Advocate writer alum Tom Sturm has a new gig these days. Dressing like a pirate and singing the songs of pirate life for kids — but pleasantly appealing for adults as well. With the album glued in my CD player in my car for weeks, my 7-year-old son and I knew each song by heart. And when the music on my phone synced up to the car, he’d request Snackbeard instead of his normal faves, The Talking Heads or Bowie. I sadly missed...

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Basemental: Attention to detail sets new Taxidermists’ record ‘Tax’ apart
Apr26

Basemental: Attention to detail sets new Taxidermists’ record ‘Tax’ apart

Tucked away in an old house in Hadley live two musicians named Sal and Cooper, who collectively make up the rock duo The Taxidermists. The band has nurtured something of a cult following from DIY persistence and their 2015 record Honesty Box. One showgoer recently told me told me it was his favorite record of all time. Once associated with the now defunct Dark World Collective, Sal McNamara (drums) and Cooper Handy (guitar/vocals)...

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Stagestruck: Post-Apocalyptic Foolery
Apr23

Stagestruck: Post-Apocalyptic Foolery

The scene: desolation. The time: the aftermath of a cataclysm that has destroyed civilization and left only industrial scaffolding and piles of junk. Piles that include, let’s see, a bucketful of juggling clubs, a couple of unicycles, a teeter board and, oh yes, a drum kit. In the whimsical imagination of Machine de Cirque, this wasteland provides the raw material for rebuilding the world. It may have ended with a whimper but it’s...

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The V-Spot: Help me flirt with an Aquarius!
Apr23

The V-Spot: Help me flirt with an Aquarius!

Hi Yana, Okay. I gotta know. How does one flirt with an Aquarius? There’s an Aquarius male that I like … and I’m a really bad flirter. I don’t do well with flirting because I’m trying to overcompensate with my intelligence to offset my sexy social media presence. Like, I tend to talk as intelligently as possible with dudes because I don’t want to be mistaken for naked on the internet = unintelligent. I don’t want to be mistaken...

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Beyond 4/20: Criminal Justice Reform and Cannabis in Mass
Apr20

Beyond 4/20: Criminal Justice Reform and Cannabis in Mass

If any day could be called National Marijuana Day, it’s 4/20. Cannabis consumers are celebrating an exciting year for cannabis in Massachusetts with the first recreational marijuana licenses already approved, but many people, particularly in communities of color, are still dealing with the effects of prohibition. Andrew Stachiw is a worker owner at Toolbox for Education and Social Action; he’s worked with people at the Franklin County...

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Cinemadope: Into the Doc
Apr20

Cinemadope: Into the Doc

If you caught the 2016 screening of Khalik Allah’s Field Niggas at Amherst Cinema, you got an early look at the filmmaker’s meditative and searching vision. That film, an hour-long gaze at the faces and bodies of the men and women passing through an East Harlem intersection during the summer of 2014, captured both a spiritual beauty and a rough reality with a richness and clarity that made it something more than most documentaries....

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Julia Caesar?
Apr20

Julia Caesar?

Julius Caesar is one of the most macho plays in Shakespeare’s male-heavy canon – only two women in the cast, both of them in and out before the thing is half over. But a new production puts many more women onstage, one of them in the play’s most macho role. Performed in the Bridge Theatre, London’s newest playhouse, it’s beamed stateside (and around the world) as part of the NT Live series of HD-satellite broadcasts from British...

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Stagestruck: Women Take the Reins
Apr18

Stagestruck: Women Take the Reins

Three shows up and down the Valley this weekend put a modern and feminist spin on some classic tales from Shakespeare and the Bible – Wayward Home in Ashfield, The Annotated *Taming* in Turners Falls and Julius Caesar in Amherst. Wayward Home, weaving the Noah’s Ark story into contemporary migration narratives, is “a musical folktale about a family forced to begin again,” according to the show’s description. “Through original music...

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The CDs You Gave Me: ‘Hush Money’ is pure catharsis
Apr18

The CDs You Gave Me: ‘Hush Money’ is pure catharsis

Last year, I reviewed psychedelic bluesy rock band, Old Flame, with their debut extended play (EP) “Wolf in the Heather.” Now, a year later the band has released a new six-song EP called “Hush Money” continuing to create political charged art rock that takes an every-man approach mixing politics with raw emotion.   Hush Money by Old Flame Hush Money kicks off with “Hollow,” a psych rock meditation with intricate guitar riffs that...

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Stagestruck: In the Valley and New York, history becomes personal
Apr18

Stagestruck: In the Valley and New York, history becomes personal

The tattoo From the title, you might think The Tattooed Man Tells All is a memoir of life on the carnival circuit. It’s anything but. This man’s tat is a five-digit number that was etched into his forearm in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Peter Wortsman’s one-man play receives its U.S. premiere next month at Silverthorne Theater Company in Greenfield, directed by Ellen Kaplan and starring Keith Langsdale. Woven from interviews the...

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V-Spot: Help Me Kick My Hitachi Addiction
Apr17

V-Spot: Help Me Kick My Hitachi Addiction

HELP YANA! I’m addicted to my Hitachi! I’ve had a primary partner for just under a year. The sex is awesome, intimate, and fun. However, very rarely can I have sex and get off without using toys, and I think it’s starting to frustrate them. I don’t have a lot of clitoral sensitivity as it is, so my Hitachi is always involved. I don’t want them to feel like they are taking a back seat to my toys, or for them to feel disconnected...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: Giving Pinot Grigio another shot
Apr17

Monte Belmonte Wines: Giving Pinot Grigio another shot

I hate to write about the most boring grape in the wine world, Pinot Grigio, two columns in a row. But I threw down the gauntlet in my last wine column and challenged someone to convince me that Pinot Grigio is not the most boring of all wine grapes. “Part of me contacting you wasn’t that I think Pinot Grigio is so amazing. It’s that a great wine is about the place and it’s about the people who make it.” Cristiano Gazzara from...

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Cinemadope: Getting schooled on schools – A Backpack Full of Cash
Apr16

Cinemadope: Getting schooled on schools – A Backpack Full of Cash

American schools — and the teachers and students that fill their halls — have been in the news quite a bit lately. More and more, it seems that the reality of the classroom has become lost in a fog of “thoughts and prayers.” But it isn’t only during the aftermath of what seems to be an unyielding string of school shootings that the clang of disconnect rings out; listen to the everyday stories of those who live and work in...

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Bank bails on Mass cannabis businesses
Apr13

Bank bails on Mass cannabis businesses

April 20 (4/20) can be an auspicious day for cannabis-related businesses. But this year, some of them will see their bank accounts abruptly closed. Citizens Bank, based in Providence, Rhode Island, informed an unknown number of customers with connections to the cannabis industry that they would be closing their accounts on April 20, offering no explanation in the letter as to why. “We felt like having the account closed on 4/20 was...

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Down to Earth: Sugaring in a warmer world
Apr12

Down to Earth: Sugaring in a warmer world

In the sugaring room of North Hadley Sugar Shack and Market on a recent Saturday, a trio of young farmers manned the massive wood-fired evaporator slowly boiling off water from maple sap. Mahogany-colored product rushed every couple minutes from the spigot. On a smaller corner woodstove, a kielbasa sausage bubbled for their lunch in a pail of sap. I’d just ordered my breakfast of two eggs, bacon, home fries, and – of course – the...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: What is Thunderbird Six???
Apr12

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: What is Thunderbird Six???

Hands up! — how many readers remember HL Childs’ toy store in Northampton? I was there on closing day and came across a massive “Thunderbirds Island” playset commanding an entire shelf. As you may recall, “Thunderbirds” was a British TV show featuring marionettes and plastic rocket ships (in an earlier column I reviewed the movie version of the show, “Thunderbirds Are Go”). Anyhow, I was (atypically) inclined to financial prudence...

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O’ Cannabis! Inhale, Exhale: Cannabis friendly yoga comes to the Valley
Apr10

O’ Cannabis! Inhale, Exhale: Cannabis friendly yoga comes to the Valley

Slow, meditative breathing is an important part of most yoga classes, but at Chronic Trips’ first cannabis-friendly yoga class on April 7, there was also a different kind of inhaling going on. “We want to reduce the stigma of the lazy stoner,” said Chronic Trips owner Seth Frappier. Frappier hosted the first Inhale Exhale yoga at Ora Care in Springfield, a store and café that sells hemp and CBD (cannabidiol) products. Participants...

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