Can Western Mass Support Farm-To-Table For Everyone?
Jul24

Can Western Mass Support Farm-To-Table For Everyone?

Nathan pulls his mother by the hand through the Springfield downtown farmers market stopping at none of the booths she wants to visit: the cookie stand, the hand-made jewlery display, the gourmet chips, and honey.The 2-year-old loves the farmers market, his mother Emily Riehl says, but she wishes he would gravitate toward more of the farm than the market. Lured by the musicians who often play the Friday afternoon market, Riehl, 20,...

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Backtalk: In Defense of Iron Horse Entertainment Group
Jul24

Backtalk: In Defense of Iron Horse Entertainment Group

In Defense of Iron Horse Entertainment GroupTiring to see all the IHEG (Iron Horse Entertainment Group) bashing [“Behind the Music: The People and Promoters Going Beyond IHEG,” July 13-19, 2017]!First, people don’t realize how fortunate we are to have national acts coming to the area. I’ve personally enjoyed many awesome acts throughout the years at all the IHEG venues [Pearl Street, Iron Horse, Calvin, Mountain Park, The Basement] at...

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Between the Lines: What’s Another $1,000 on Top of Tuition?
Jul24

Between the Lines: What’s Another $1,000 on Top of Tuition?

The cost of a University of Massachusetts Amherst education has increased on average by more than $1,000 each year for the past three years.This, in a world where most working people can expect a 2 -percent cost-of-living raise — if that. In the summer of 2015, the increase brought the cost of UMass Amherst up above $25,000 for the first time — from $24,215 the previous academic year. With the past week’s 3-percent increase, the cost...

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Where You Can U-Pick In Western Mass
Jul24

Where You Can U-Pick In Western Mass

Why should the farmers have all the fun harvesting the fresh fruits and vegetables from their own farms? U-pick farms abound in the Pioneer Valley. Strawberry season has mostly gone by, but blueberries are ripe for the pickin’, and it won’t be long before apple season hits us. Below is a list of farms where you can grab your own produce. These farms have pick-your-own that is open to the public, but some area farms allow members...

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O Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds Of Massachusetts’ Pot Bill
Jul21

O Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds Of Massachusetts’ Pot Bill

We’re no Nevada, but last week Massachusetts took two rippin’ steps toward weed legalization and protection in the state. First the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a business cannot fire an employee for being a medical marijuana patient — a decision that is causing headaches in HR offices around the state who claim it will be difficult to maintain drug-free workplaces. Then the Legislature passed a compromise bill on...

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Pioneer Valley Roller Derby Open To More Than Just Fierce Females
Jul20

Pioneer Valley Roller Derby Open To More Than Just Fierce Females

In its heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s, roller derby was known for fierce females, fishnets, spiked hair and names like “Iron Maven.” After a lull in the ‘90s, roller derby was resurrected in the early 2000s as an all-female, athletic sport. But in the Pioneer Valley, which was at the forefront of the roller derby revival, the sport has evolved from, as Pioneer Valley Roller Derby (PVRD) Team Captain Teresa Huang described it, a...

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Bizarro Briefs: Robocop Becomes Self Terminator
Jul20

Bizarro Briefs: Robocop Becomes Self Terminator

A Suicidal Robot Our D.C. office building got a security robot. It drowned itself.We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots. pic.twitter.com/rGLTAWZMjn— Bilal Farooqui (@bilalfarooqui) July 17, 2017The Knightscope security robot, an R2D2-shaped rolling bot, can turn, beep, and whistle while on patrol. It can also self-destruct, as one proved while working outside the Georgetown Waterfront in Washington, D.C. It...

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Staff Picks: Harry Potter Inspired Music with Draco and the Malfoys
Jul17

Staff Picks: Harry Potter Inspired Music with Draco and the Malfoys

Draco and the Malfoys • Saturday  I held out on Harry Potter mania for years, but finally succumbed when the last book came out in 2007. I read them all in a matter of months, but I didn’t go as far as these folks, who wrote albums of Harry Potter-inspired music. I can’t think of a better venue to appreciate this band than a library, and that’s exactly where they’re having the show. Hoping they play “All...

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Bizarro Briefs: Holy Handgun, Batman!
Jul17

Bizarro Briefs: Holy Handgun, Batman!

A man and woman dressed as Batman characters were shot by police while having sex in an Australian nightclub. The man, dressed as the Joker, was shot in the stomach after police mistook his fake gun for a real one. The woman was dressed as Harley Quinn, and was shot in the leg. Roughly 40 police officers raided the event, called the Saints and Sinners Ball — and reportedly billed as a “no-holds-barred extravaganza of adult fun,” on...

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Back Talk: IHEG Under Fire
Jul17

Back Talk: IHEG Under Fire

Iron Horse  Entertainment Group Under FireSeveral readers took issue with what they perceived as a lack of interest in the local music scene from IHEG in the comments section and on Facebook in last week’s cover story, “Behind the Music,” July 13-19, 2017. Here are a few examples.Austin Hatch: As a member of a local band, we DO have some power to change this. My band won’t play IHEG venues, and we’ve turned down booking...

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Between the Lines: Peacefully Resisting ICE Raids
Jul17

Between the Lines: Peacefully Resisting ICE Raids

Western Massachusetts advocacy groups know that there are many in immigrant communities living in fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and arrests, and over the course of this year have been working to do something about it — particularly in light of President Donald Trump’s stances on immigration.Groups including the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and Jobs with Justice have begun training people to be part of a...

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Choosing Abortion In Massachusetts: Stigma and Obstacles Remain
Jul17

Choosing Abortion In Massachusetts: Stigma and Obstacles Remain

“Everyone thinks of Massachusetts as such a liberal place, but I don’t think they realize how big the stigma is even here.”Those words were spoken by Alice, who will begin her third year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst this fall. Now 21, Alice chose to get an abortion when she was 19 and became pregnant with her boyfriend during her senior year in high school.Alice, who agreed to speak with the Advocate only if we...

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UMass Quidditch Team Hopes to Attract Harry Potter Fans and Athletes Alike with Summer Camp
Jul13

UMass Quidditch Team Hopes to Attract Harry Potter Fans and Athletes Alike with Summer Camp

The Harry Potter books and films have inspired many real world spillovers, including real-life wizarding schools and online quizzes that determine your magical house. But among the more surprisingly widespread are the leagues that have sprouted up to play the magical sport quidditch, which takes elements of handball, lacrosse, rugby, and dodgeball and brews them together with magical maneuvers on a flying broomstick. The University of...

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Northampton Activists Demands ICE Release Former Florence Resident
Jul11

Northampton Activists Demands ICE Release Former Florence Resident

When he was 15 years old in 1976, Niberd Abdalla immigrated to the United States from Iraq fleeing persecution due to his family’s Kurdish heritage and democratic activism. He’s lived as an undocumented person in the United States for the past 41 years and has complied with biannual immigration enforcement check-ins for the past seven years. On the morning of June 8, when Niberd, a former Florence resident who now lives in...

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Behind The Music: The People and Promoters Going Beyond IHEG
Jul10

Behind The Music: The People and Promoters Going Beyond IHEG

For years the Iron Horse Entertainment Group with its quintet of venues — Pearl Street Nightclub, The Calvin, The Basement, The Iron Horse Music Hall, and Mountain Park — reigned over the Pioneer Valley music scene.IHEG’s rule has irked some people.Frustration with the entertainment group boiled over recently leading to a guerilla campaign against IHEG owner Eric Suher, and two widely circulated news stories about crumby conditions at...

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Between the Lines: Frances Crowe Has The Right Idea
Jul10

Between the Lines: Frances Crowe Has The Right Idea

In the small Berkshire County town of Sandisfield, there’s a battle being waged over public lands and environmental concerns stemming from a natural gas pipeline being installed in Otis State Forest.More than 30 protesters have been arrested this year for trespassing on an easement granted to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, for construction of its $93 million Connecticut Expansion Project that would run...

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Introducing … Bizarro Briefs
Jul10

Introducing … Bizarro Briefs

Last week we got the surprising news that longtime News of the Weird feature writer Chuck Shepherd is retiring! Like, very surprising, because we had no idea this was coming. BUT, the Advocate is all about weird news, so we’re going to keep it going ourselves!Without further ado, the following are the strange, eclectic, zany, madcap, and — as Chuck might describe them — weird stories we found in the news this week: Putting The Weed In...

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Down to Earth: No, The Car Is Not King
Jul10

Down to Earth: No, The Car Is Not King

We’re in the middle of a national crisis of public life. The idea that we can make life better by sharing our collective wealth (money and natural resources) and brainpower (science, engineering, literature and the arts) is under threat.In a recent article for Salon, Henry A. Giroux called it “the withering of civic attachments, the undoing of civic culture, the decline of public life and the erosion of any sense of shared...

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Backtalk: Independent Media More Reliable Than Mainstream Lemmings
Jul10

Backtalk: Independent Media More Reliable Than Mainstream Lemmings

Independent Media for the WinDuring this past presidential election season mainstream media focused their cameras on an empty podium waiting for Donald Trump to give a speech. They could have broadcast images of Bernie Sanders giving his message to the people but they chose not to do so. This decision was made by mainstream media officials.The present situation has gotten worse. The White House Press Corps has become a bunch of weak...

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Quakers Make Coal Plant Pilgrimage To Fight Fossil Fuels
Jul07

Quakers Make Coal Plant Pilgrimage To Fight Fossil Fuels

A religious pilgrimage is taking place to oppose fossil fuel use in New England.Members of the New England Yearly Meeting, a group made up of Quakers from the six New England states, plan to walk 60 to 70 miles the week of July 9 from Schiller Station power plant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Merrimack Station in Bow, New Hampshire — two of the few remaining coal-powered plants in New England (Schiller also burns wood and other...

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The Future of Western Mass Music Is Here: Next Wave Stage at Green River Fest
Jul03

The Future of Western Mass Music Is Here: Next Wave Stage at Green River Fest

On July 14, attendees of the Green River Festival will get a taste of the future of music in the Valley. The Next Wave Stage will feature a five-band concert with local bands with members ages 18 and younger. As a bonus, anyone 18 and under gets into the festival for free that day.During the spring, bands from Western Mass and Southern Vermont applied to get on the stage’s debut lineup. Jim Olsen, president of Signature Sounds and the...

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What’s Next for Weird (Zany) News: An Advocate Chat
Jul05

What’s Next for Weird (Zany) News: An Advocate Chat

The Advocate Chat is a recurring series where the Valley Advocate staff talks about a topic on their minds. The text below has been lightly edited. dave.eisen (Managing Editor Dave Eisenstadter): Last week we got the surprising news that longtime News of the Weird feature writer Chuck Shepherd is retiring! Like, very surprising, because we had no idea this was coming. BUT, the Advocate is all about weird news, so we’re going to...

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Back Talk: With Rep. Neal in Office, Who Needs a Republican?
Jul03

Back Talk: With Rep. Neal in Office, Who Needs a Republican?

With Rep. Neal in Office, Who Needs a Republican?Thank you for the excellent article on Representative Richard Neal (“Can Rankled Rural Voters Dethrone Congressman Neal?” June 22-28, 2017). I remember when the state redrew our districts so that Northampton and Amherst, both from the 5 Collegeliberal quadrant, were separated. This thrust Northampton, where I lived, into Neal’s district, something at the time I was not happy about...

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Jossie Valentin: I Just Went to Cuba, and Trump Policy is Wrong
Jul03

Jossie Valentin: I Just Went to Cuba, and Trump Policy is Wrong

When Donald Trump was making his announcement about reversing steps his predecessor — Barack Obama — took in normalizing relationships with Cuba, Holyoke City Councilor Jossie Valentin had just returned home from a trip to the island to talk with women there.Valentin, who was first elected as a City Councilor for Ward 4 in November 2013, is a senior academic advisor at Holyoke Community College. She left for Cuba on May 28 — her first...

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The News of the Weird Author is Retiring: Here’s a Retrospective
Jul03

The News of the Weird Author is Retiring: Here’s a Retrospective

Editors Note: News of the Weird is ending, but we’ll be continuing the tradition at the Advocate, starting our own feature highlighting the oddities we find in the news. Watch for it next week!Weird News is forever, but this is my last “News of the Weird” column, as I am now exhausted after almost 30 years in the racket. In this final edition, I remember a few of my favorites. My deep thanks to Andrews McMeel Syndication and to...

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Near-Centenarian Frances Crowe Says Pipeline Threatens Life On Earth
Jul03

Near-Centenarian Frances Crowe Says Pipeline Threatens Life On Earth

Ninety-eight-year-old peace activist Frances Crowe of Northampton is thinking about the future. That’s why she was arrested last month along with seven other people protesting Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s $93 million 13-mile tri-state Connecticut Expansion Project in Sandisfield’s Otis State Forest on June 24. The group, including Crowe, is set to appear in Southern Berkshire District Court for civil violations of trespassing on July 18....

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We Got Our -ERN Back, Now How Bout That $80,000
Jun30

We Got Our -ERN Back, Now How Bout That $80,000

Four months ago, then-Advocate arts editor Hunter Styles wrote an excellent take-down of the hugely unpopular ad campaign trying to rebrand our region with the name “West Mass.” The heart of it was a list of questions about a dizzying, poorly-thought-out video released along with the brand name — among them “Did it really need to cost $80,000 and take 11 months to decide to take the letters “-ern” off the existing name?”This week, the...

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Protesters want Baystate Medical Center to stop killing pigs for surgical training
Jun29

Protesters want Baystate Medical Center to stop killing pigs for surgical training

Over the last 20 years, medical education institutions across the nation have been phasing out the practicing of surgical procedures on live animals, but Baystate Medical Center in Springfield is bucking the trend and keeping it old school.The protest on June 29 outside Baystate was organized by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to rail against the hospital’s practice of using live pigs to train the next generation of...

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News Of The Weird: Carrier Pigeons Carrying Drugs
Jun26

News Of The Weird: Carrier Pigeons Carrying Drugs

Customs officials in Abdali, Kuwait, apprehended a pigeon in May with 178 ketamine pills inside a fabric pocket attached to its back. UpdateThree weeks ago, News of the Weird touted the “genderless,” extraterrestrial-appearing Hollywood makeup artist known as Vinny Ohh, but then Marcela Iglesias announced (following a leaked TV clip) that she had formed an agency for would-be celebrities who had radically transformed their bodies (and...

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Summit View Rocks With Trailer Trash
Jun26

Summit View Rocks With Trailer Trash

Take in Some TrashTrailer Trash is headlining this Friday’s edition of Summit View’s Pavilion Summer Concert Series. The immensely popular weekly shows at the banquet hall, on Route 5 in Holyoke, are free and open to the public. There’s a BBQ buffet for purchase and a cash bar to keep you sated and dancing. The buffet opens at 5:30 p.m. and the music goes 6:30-10 p.m. Trailer Trash plays covers of modern country hits and has built up...

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Long Live the Staycation! Why Leave Western Mass?
Jun26

Long Live the Staycation! Why Leave Western Mass?

Hanging around the house is something we all do, but usually in an unfocused, squished-between-chores-and-obligations sort of way. But when you stay home for vacation, your dwelling can become a sanctuary, free from the day-to-day grind. If you can’t afford to get out of town, treat your home like a resort: stock it with your favorite goodies, splurge a bit on something comfy, and postpone responsibilities for a while. Indulge in the...

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RISE UP Board Game Is All About Fighting The System
Jun26

RISE UP Board Game Is All About Fighting The System

What do you do when the state of the world makes you so angry and/or demoralized that you don’t even want to leave the house? A new board game called Rise Up: The Game of People & Power, and created by former Hampshire College students, is the answer!Rise Up is a collaborative board game in which you and your fellow players are activists fighting against “the system.”So, of course, the Advocate had to play!Before the game begins,...

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Go See: Ghosts of Industry by Catherine Gibbs
Jun26

Go See: Ghosts of Industry by Catherine Gibbs

Familiar Forgotten PlacesCatherine Gibbs picked a ubiquitous, but faded piece of local history for her exhibit at the Elusie Gallery in Easthampton: Mill buildings and train yards. Though not as much is manufactured here anymore, not that long ago people in places like Easthampton, Northampton, Holyoke, and Chicopee would tell time by the manufacturer whistles signaling breaks and shift switches. And the trains that would haul away...

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Back Talk: Congressman Neal Needs A Progressive Challenger
Jun26

Back Talk: Congressman Neal Needs A Progressive Challenger

Readers Respond to Story on Congressman NealSeveral readers wrote in about our cover story on rural and progressive activist dissatisfaction of Congressman Richard Neal [“Can Rankled Rural Voters Dethrone Congressman Neal?” June 22-28, 2017]. Here are some of the responses.Progressive Challenger Needed Against NealTerrific in-depth piece on Richie Neal. Thanks. Small correction: Neal was unopposed in the 2012 general, but was...

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O Cannabis!: Mass. Politicians Want to Charge How Much For An Eighth?
Jun26

O Cannabis!: Mass. Politicians Want to Charge How Much For An Eighth?

The battle over how recreational marijuana will be taxed and managed in Massachusetts will come to a head Friday.Gov. Charlie Baker has said he wants a bill on his desk by June 30 in order to allow enough time for retailers to apply for marijuana sales licenses and open shop on July 1, 2018 — a delayed timeline lawmakers approved following the successful November 2016 statewide vote to legalize recreational weed.So far, there are...

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