Backtalk: No to GMOs, Right to Roam, and Hot Takes on Pearl Street Nightclub
Aug29

Backtalk: No to GMOs, Right to Roam, and Hot Takes on Pearl Street Nightclub

Avoid GMOs; go organicFarmers have increased their pesticide use on GMO crops three-fold compared to standard conventional use; that’s enough reason to avoid GMOs (“Vermont’s Short-Lived GMO Experiment” Aug. 11-17, 2016).Most GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are “Roundup Ready” meaning the plant is resistant to the pesticide containing glyphosate, its main ingredient. The World Health Organization, and California, have labeled...

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Backtalk: Irate over Iraq, Going Green, and Cat Burglars
Aug22

Backtalk: Irate over Iraq, Going Green, and Cat Burglars

We’re Back, IraqRecent headlines announcing more U.S. troops to Iraq made me feel like the character in Bill Murray’s movie Groundhog Day, and with good reason … The politicians in Washington have been duped into believing that more violence will solve the problem — but it has not. The current political campaign reveals that neither candidate is capable of achieving a solution. The people of our country stopped a viciously violent war...

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Back Talk: There is money to be made with co-ops
Aug15

Back Talk: There is money to be made with co-ops

Cooperative Behavioral Health Care Deserves a ShotThe Valley Advocate’s excellent piece on cooperative businesses (“Surprise! It’s a co-op. Any business can be a worker-owned business,” Aug. 4-10, 2016) was just the sort of education and inspiration we need to stem the oppression posed by today’s corporatocratic political and economic hegemony. With the will, creativity, and initiative, we’ll indeed see many new types of businesses...

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Back Talk: Inspired by Erykah, Disgusted by Gerena
Jul25

Back Talk: Inspired by Erykah, Disgusted by Gerena

InspiredI am truly inspired by Erykah’s courage (“In Her Own Words: Incarcerated in a Greenfield men’s correctional facility, Erykah Carter documents her transition”). Even as painstaking as it must of been. The feelings of being scared, or accepted by not just your family and friends, but society in general can be terrifying , people can be cruel. Most people claim to be “non-judgmental, ” but the truth is...

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Back Talk: Why not deport criminals? Mourning So Many
Jul11

Back Talk: Why not deport criminals? Mourning So Many

Why Not Deport Criminals?The following is in reference to the article, “Between the Lines: Report a Crime, Risk Deportation” June 9-15, 2016. Why is it a bad thing to deport people who are here illegally who have committed not one, but two crimes? I’m not versed in this matter and am truly curious. Your article says that the person suspected of being here illegally would have to be arrested and be a “high priority” for ICE...

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Back Talk: Mental for Basemental
Jul05

Back Talk: Mental for Basemental

Mental for BasementalI’ve been a reader of the Advocate for many years and I just wanted to say that I have really been appreciating Will Meyer’s Basemental column over the last several weeks. I’ve been to some of these basements and DIY venues he’s writing about, and it is really good to see this side of the local music scene covered — usually ignored by the IHEG/Signature Sounds powers that be. I met Will at...

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Guest Column: We had our own Brock Turner situation in the Valley
Jun27

Guest Column: We had our own Brock Turner situation in the Valley

We Had Our Own Brock Turner  Situation in the Valley The sentencing of Brock Turner by California Judge Aaron Persky has sparked a national discussion of how we hold young drunk college men accountable for sexual assault. The general sentiment is that Persky was far too lenient, sentencing the Stanford University student and swimmer to just three months in jail and probation. There is now a recall effort underway to remove Persky from...

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Back Talk: ‘As a firearm-owning gay man, I thank you!’
Jun20

Back Talk: ‘As a firearm-owning gay man, I thank you!’

Guns ‘N’ Education“The Kirk Whatley Challenge: Before you write guns off, shoot one — safely” (June 16-22, 2016) by Hunter Styles attracted a lot of attention online. We posted the article to Facebook along with the question: Can you truly be anti-gun without first firing one? Is that fair?Here’s what people had to say:Corinne Shaw: Can you be straight without trying out a homosexual experience?Josh Pelland: Before firing one take a...

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Back Talk: What Killed the Monkey; Pride Month Massacre
Jun14

Back Talk: What Killed the Monkey; Pride Month Massacre

What Killed the Monkey Facebook reactions to “Gross Negligence Alleged in Death of UMass Lab Monkey”William Robinson: Sounds like the incident didn’t have much to do with the nature of the research itself, but a veterinary mishap resulting from pure accident — not neglect or malice. Consider how frequently standard surgeries on humans have complications. I’d be curious to hear more about the specifics of the studies...

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Back Talk: What is Columbus Day Really?; Triple Beef
Jun06

Back Talk: What is Columbus Day Really?; Triple Beef

 What is Columbus Day, really? Interesting article by Kristin Palpini (“Between the Lines: Columbus, Genocidal Slave-Traders Should Not Get Their Own Holidays” May 26-June 1, 2016). As a child growing up in the ’60s and ’70s I learned from my family and my public education that Christopher Columbus discovered America. As an Italian American that was something I was proud of and held my American flag high at the Columbus Day...

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From Our Readers: Assault on assault weapons; Fossil fuels run UMass
May16

From Our Readers: Assault on assault weapons; Fossil fuels run UMass

Assault on Assault WeaponsEditor’s Note: Earlier this month, residents of Longmeadow voted on three proposed measures to ban all assault weapons from the town, keep a more detailed catalog of guns kept in town, and to ban any firearm from public buildings and recreation areas. All of the proposed measures were voted down. Below is reader reaction to a column written prior to the vote.The Between the Lines [“Can Longmeadow Ban Assault...

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From Our Readers: Random acts of kind driving! Pot is not harmless May 12-18, 2016
May09

From Our Readers: Random acts of kind driving! Pot is not harmless May 12-18, 2016

Pot is not harmless In March, I was invited by community members to speak to students at Mount Holyoke College about the current science of marijuana, an issue I have devoted much of my career to understanding. I was surprised and saddened that a letter writer from Amherst characterized my lecture as “biased and propaganda-based” (Letter: “Time for truth in cannabis science,” April 21-27, 2016). As a neuroscientist, I do my absolute...

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Letters to the Editor: Divestment victory at UMass? (April 28-May 4, 2016)
Apr25

Letters to the Editor: Divestment victory at UMass? (April 28-May 4, 2016)

So, that’s what victory looks likeDivest UMass supporters are close to victory. [“Scene Here: #DivestTheRest,” April 21-27, 2016.] What kind of victory? Well, as you explained in last week’s issue, a $5 million divestment from “dirty-energy companies”. Meanwhile, Berkshire Gas has a pipeline running to the UMass central heating plant, which operates annually on $94 million according to its line item in the UMass FY16...

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Letters to the Editor: Get real about pot, local suicide prevention – April 21-27, 2016
Apr18

Letters to the Editor: Get real about pot, local suicide prevention – April 21-27, 2016

Time for truth in cannabis scienceThe other night, I attended a lecture at Mount Holyoke College by Dr. Jodi Gilman, neuroscientist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Her talk was advertised as a broad overview of the science of marijuana, focusing on the evidence of risks associated with cannabis use, as well as the changing legal status of marijuana in the U.S. I am an educator/counselor who has been working with...

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From Our Readers: Praying for Bernie, GMO veggies or hunted deer meat?
Mar14

From Our Readers: Praying for Bernie, GMO veggies or hunted deer meat?

Praying for Bernie I am praying for a Bernie Sanders presidency. If we want our compassionate world to come truly, in our heart of hearts, then we say to each other we are ready to take the steps and say the words to invite that world. Bernie is the only candidate who is saying he will walk with us to that world of our creation. Every other choice is a variation on despair, bringing us a world in which we despair. I praise this...

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Guest Column: Two Years, Two Lockdowns – Guns and campus life
Feb29

Guest Column: Two Years, Two Lockdowns – Guns and campus life

By Tess Halpern, Daily Collegian I have only once cried in school that I can remember, and it wasn’t because I was hurt, heartbroken, or had just failed a test; it was because I was scared. Sept. 24, 2014, in the beginning of my senior year in high school, my principal’s voice came on the loudspeaker announcing that we were going into lockdown. For the first time in my life, those generally un-alarming words were followed by, “this is...

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From Our Readers: Slavery study would be divisive, Corrections
Feb24

From Our Readers: Slavery study would be divisive, Corrections

Slavery study would be divisive Your expectation that HR 40 has no chance is valid (Between the Lines: Congress Keeps Killing Conversation on Race” Feb. 18-24, 2016). The concern is that after the conclusion of the investigation there will be a louder call and greater expectation than what already exists for “reparations,” such as these I am hearing lately: Open admission to a free college education, housing subsidies so that...

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From Our Readers: What’s up with WMUA? Readers weigh in on pit bulls
Feb08

From Our Readers: What’s up with WMUA? Readers weigh in on pit bulls

WTF WMUA? UMass Amherst radio station WMUA’s draconian reduction of community programming warrants focusing the spotlight of public scrutiny on this newly minted, institutionalized contempt for the community. In one instance, the student leadership of WMUA, acting with impunity, eviscerated the weekend broadcasts of polka music. Empowered by well-paid university bureaucrats, those students unilaterally slashed the number of hours...

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From Our Readers: Clinton stonewalls on status  quo, co-op revolution
Jan25

From Our Readers: Clinton stonewalls on status quo, co-op revolution

Healthcare: More Bern for Your Buck As a surgeon, I have participated in our healthcare system since 1979. I have witnessed the attempts of medically naive politicians seeking to reform our compromised healthcare system. Bankrolled by health industry lobbyists, these “representatives” fear-monger and manipulate a confused public. They label a potential single payer system as “socialism.” They cite imperfections in the postal service...

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From Our Readers: My trip to Westfield was awesome; More ways to volunteer
Jan18

From Our Readers: My trip to Westfield was awesome; More ways to volunteer

Many ways to volunteer I read your article about volunteering, “Giving Back” (Dec. 24-30, 2015), and I was a little irritated. Why is it that when someone says “volunteer,” the focus immediately goes to homeless/food banks/shelters. There are other organizations that need your help. The better approach to finding a meaningful volunteer experience is to first determine what interests you and where your talents lie. For example, as a...

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From Our Readers: Halos and Horns, you’re doing it wrong
Jan11

From Our Readers: Halos and Horns, you’re doing it wrong

Halos and Horns: You’re doing it wrong Editor’s note: One Dec. 31, 2015, the Advocate came out with its annual Halos and Horns, an edition dedicated to skewering and praising the people, places, things, and events of 2015. Here’s some reader reaction: Responding to horns for Candidate Sarno: The harsh reality is that [Springfield Mayor Domenic] Sarno was reelected on his record, news coverage, and advertising. Everyone else pandered...

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From Our Readers: Social media mobs bully those who make mistakes
Jan04

From Our Readers: Social media mobs bully those who make mistakes

Social media mobs bully those who make mistakes In place of the N-bomb, I would like to offer the P-word – p-r-o-p-o-r-t-i-o-n-a-l-i-t-y. Nowadays, a person makes an error, uses a nasty word, commits some politically incorrect faux pas and the hunt is on! Go after the person’s job. Try to find their home address. Publish their photo. Not long ago Tracey Carver, a woman with no crowd-control training, attempted to break up a...

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From Our Readers: Voting on holiday, Democrats will do more harm to drug laws
Dec28

From Our Readers: Voting on holiday, Democrats will do more harm to drug laws

Voting on holiday Your recent column (“U.S. to blame: Government at fault for low voter turnout,” Nov. 26, 2015) about the lack of voter turnout missed, I think, an answer. Make Nov. 4 a federal holiday. Democracy, anyone? Michael D. Joyce Wendell Democrats will do more damage to drug laws In her letter to the editor, (“‘Treat and street’ is no way to treat addicts” Dec. 17-23, 2015) Charlotte Burns seems to be blaming the Libertarian...

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From Our Readers: Puerto Rico nationhood, women in film?
Dec21

From Our Readers: Puerto Rico nationhood, women in film?

What about women in film? As an area film teacher and filmmaker, I was thrilled to see your “Film or Die” Dec. 17, 2015. Tobin, Skolnick, Baldassaro, Levigne and Hott have wonderful stories, and I’m happy to know that other filmmakers are enjoying the Valley. However, I was thrown off that the article claims to cover four filmmakers, when in fact, it includes five. The one woman in the group, KT Baldassaro, was merely mentioned...

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Rev. Swan: Blacks Are ‘Junkies,’ Whites Have a ‘Disease’
Dec14

Rev. Swan: Blacks Are ‘Junkies,’ Whites Have a ‘Disease’

It is glaringly obvious that policymakers are going easier on today’s heroin users, because many are white and often affluent, than in previous years when the addicts were identified as largely black, disenfranchised, and economically bereft. Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed bill that will expand the state’s involuntary commitment law to allow doctors to hospitalize drug addicts involuntarily for 72 hours if they pose a danger to...

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From Our Readers: ‘treat and street’ is beat, Brownies is badge of honor, and more Chicopee love
Dec14

From Our Readers: ‘treat and street’ is beat, Brownies is badge of honor, and more Chicopee love

‘Treat and street’ is no way to help addicts There’s much talk lately about the serious drug problems in Massachusetts. Having witnessed the struggles of friends with the system I have some strong opinions on the subject. Firstly, I could never fathom why drug addiction was ever treated as a crime. What good is jailing people for what looks to me like a mental illness? Dr. Gabor Mate, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, attributes it to...

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From Our Readers: Missed connections, disenfranchised republicans and anti-poor
Dec07

From Our Readers: Missed connections, disenfranchised republicans and anti-poor

Missed connection in Paris Before the horrendous Paris attacks happened, before we were shocked once again by the brutality and scale of modern day terrorism, there was another story that came out. CNN as well as ABC News reported that a U.S. drone strike had possibly killed Jihadi John. Since the initial report U.S. officials have confirmed he is indeed dead. For those who don’t know the recently deceased by name, you may know him by...

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From Our Readers: Is Agawam HS’ team name offensive?
Nov30

From Our Readers: Is Agawam HS’ team name offensive?

Facebook: Is Agawam HS’ team name offensive? Editor’s note: The below comments were left on the Advocate’s Facebook page in response to a guest column, “These Brownies Have Got to Go” Nov. 19-25, 2015. George Green: Where did these two writers get their information, Brownies always referred by the uniforms, Marching Mohawks I think honors the Native Americans. Nick Weiss: I’m not positive, but I believe the name comes from a...

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From Our Readers: Getting away with rape, Springfield is a transportation desert
Nov23

From Our Readers: Getting away with rape, Springfield is a transportation desert

Getting away with rape Editor’s note: This letter is in response to “Owen Labrie, rapist or simply a jerk?” Nov. 19, 2015, an editorial in which editors Kristin Palpini and Jeffrey Good wrote about their interpretations of the sexual assault verdict. Good says Labrie was an oaf, while Palpini calls him a rapist. Boys, and men, will be boys — read predators — as long as we allow them. And girls and women may be intimidated and...

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From Our Readers: ‘Sorry, but what about the police?’ ‘Old fogies in yoga pants?’
Nov16

From Our Readers: ‘Sorry, but what about the police?’ ‘Old fogies in yoga pants?’

Sorry, but what about the police? I am very sorry for the families and friends whose loved ones have died due to police action and/or while in police custody in 2015 in the U.S. (“Doesn’t Count: Deaths by police are not tracked in the U.S.” Nov. 12-19, 2015). I am curious, do you think the Advocate could publish the names of those whose lives have been saved by police action in the U.S. in 2015? Also, how many police officers have...

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Put Down the (Mega)phone: A Northampton chef’s review of Yelp reviews
Nov16

Put Down the (Mega)phone: A Northampton chef’s review of Yelp reviews

She smiles at you from across the table as she delicately moves the hair from her face. The lights are dim and the murmured conversations reverberate off the warm decor as the waiter pours the carefully selected wine. We ask for a moment to discuss the menu and take a breath to center ourselves for the night out. Like a lighting flash on a dark night, and a crack of thunder that follows interrupting the silence, the unceremonious...

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From Our Readers: “Drowning in craft beer,” “Lube doesn’t solve all”
Nov09

From Our Readers: “Drowning in craft beer,” “Lube doesn’t solve all”

Drowning in craft beer Dear well-intentioned, creatively-spirited, entrepreneurial-minded, mechanically-gifted, young white men, Please refrain from moving forward with your impending craft brewery project, as we here in the Valley have gone well beyond the number of wonderfully local micro-brews that we’d be able to try and enjoy within our average lifetimes. We beg you to redirect your incredibly passionate energy and expertise to...

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From Our Readers: More to love about Greenfield; Sedaris, for mature audiences only
Nov03

From Our Readers: More to love about Greenfield; Sedaris, for mature audiences only

Sedaris, for mature audiences only I was hoping to see a review or a letter or two in the Oct. 22-28 issue of the Valley Advocate regarding David Sedaris’ performance on Oct. 13 at The Academy of Music. I had seen him twice before, but this program was different in its over-the-top, raunchy language and subject matter. I figured he was pushing the boundaries of good taste because of his skewed perception of Northampton’s reputation as...

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From Our Readers
Oct26

From Our Readers

Stop animal cruelty in Massachusetts Animals in factory farms often spend their entire lives cruelly confined in spaces so small that they cannot extend their limbs or stand up. This is not only inhumane but it is also unsanitary and unhealthy for people who consume the meat and eggs. Massachusetts voters have an opportunity to get a measure on the 2016 ballot that would end these confinement practices. I have been collecting...

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Poem: Bus-Ride in a Bottle
Nov03

Poem: Bus-Ride in a Bottle

On the bus to Northampton from Amherst, I was sitting across from an old man with the wrecked blue eyes of a sunken mariner. Eyes so wet and blue and seen-through as any screen-door of the Deep South ever was, that to be caught looking into them was to be trapped in history itself. He caught me looking into them all right, and I was stunned and stuck for a good 10 minutes, rolling down Route 116; his grizzled and gaunt gaze of gauzy...

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