Between the Lines: Is Boston Super Racist?
Mar27

Between the Lines: Is Boston Super Racist?

Is Boston a racist city?    If you’ve been watching         Saturday Night Live lately, you probably caught “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che give Boston that dubious title.Prior to the Super Bowl clash between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, Che dropped this line: “I just want to relax, turn my brain off, and watch the blackest city in America beat the most racist city I’ve ever been to.”Che’s comment roiled...

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O, Cannabis! How to Taste the Nuances of Marijuana Like a Pro
Mar27

O, Cannabis! How to Taste the Nuances of Marijuana Like a Pro

Now that marijuana is legal, the perception of the drug is changing. We’re on the road of cannabis no longer being thought of as some seedy contraband in a sandwich bag tossed through a car window to potheads, but a varied, quality — and dare I say, refined — hobby.With the ability to purchase and grow identified strains with known THC and other compound levels, weed smokers can zero-in on the buds they like and sample the best of...

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News of the Weird: Location, Location, Location
Mar27

News of the Weird: Location, Location, Location

A highlight of the recent upmarket surge in Brooklyn, New York, as a residential and retail favorite, was the asking price for an ordinary parking space in the garage at 845 Union St. in the Park Slope neighborhood: $300,000 — also carrying a $240-a-month condominium fee and $50 monthly taxes. That’s similar to the price of an actual one-bedroom apartment in less ritzy Brooklyn neighborhoods like Gravesend — a few miles away....

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The V-Spot: Our Sex Is All About Him
Mar27

The V-Spot: Our Sex Is All About Him

My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and we’re best friends. Mutual respect exists in almost every way between us. Sometimes, however, the sex feels, well, sexist. First, he enjoys watching porn together, but I really don’t. However, he always tries to initiate porn watching even though I’ve told him I don’t enjoy it. Secondly, I perform far more oral sex than he does. He rarely performs oral or hand sex on me, and when...

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Back Talk: Call out Anti-Semitism and Avoiding Fire Disasters
Mar27

Back Talk: Call out Anti-Semitism and Avoiding Fire Disasters

Tell it Like it IsEditor’s Note: This comment is in response to “Cinemadope: In Plain Site: Stories from overlooked worlds,” March 9-15, 2017, and the author’s statement, “Over the last few months, it has become impossible to ignore the rising tides of xenophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry and hatred that have suddenly made America a much scarier place …” In the future could you include the word “anti-Semitism”? It...

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President of the NAACP in Amherst
Mar20

President of the NAACP in Amherst

President of the NAACP in Amherst President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Cornell William Brooks will be giving a talk at Amherst College Friday night. The event is free and open to the public. What exactly Brooks will discuss is unclear right now, but NAACP members advocate for civil rights, fight against police brutality, and conduct voter mobilization campaigns in their communities —...

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Between the Lines: No Man is an Island; It Takes a Village to Raise a Hero
Mar20

Between the Lines: No Man is an Island; It Takes a Village to Raise a Hero

Pamela Murphy, an Agawam firefighter, was vacationing on the Cape when she jumped into the water to save a six-year-old boy from being smashed against some rocks by the ocean waves.James Chartier, a former Army staff sergeant, completed a 90-mile walk from Western Mass to Boston to raise awareness for homeless military veterans and those struggling with PTSD. Along the way he wore full military gear, hoisted a backpack, slept in a...

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News of the Weird: Entrepreneurial Spirit
Mar20

News of the Weird: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Perhaps there are parents who, according to the Cinepolis movie chain, long to watch movies in theaters while their children, aged 3 and up, frolic in front in a jungle-gym playground inside the same auditorium. If so, the company’s two “junior” movie houses — opening this very week in San Diego and Los Angeles — may bring a new dimension to family entertainment. Another view, though, is that the noise — often screaming — plus the...

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Nerding Out: Building a Passion, 120 hours drawing an historic court house
Mar20

Nerding Out: Building a Passion, 120 hours drawing an historic court house

Andrew Quient is celebrated for his geometrical-style pottery. Quient, 66, of Florence, even has some of his pieces in the national White House archives. But if you run into him working in Northampton, it’s unlikely he’ll be at a potter’s wheel. You’re probably going to find him at Forbes Library painstakingly drawing exact architectural pencil sketches of buildings he finds interesting and beautiful. Because not every building is...

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MISSED CONNECTIONS: Longing, lust, and WTF?
Mar20

MISSED CONNECTIONS: Longing, lust, and WTF?

If you’ve never checked out Craigslist’s Missed Connection forum, you really should. The site is filled with longing, lust, and miscellaneous statements of the heart. The following is a sample from the Western Mass forum. Post dates have been added. Miss P. — m4w a (Southern Berk) P, you were always so fun. I loved you’re exotic roses.. Love to see you again in 2 weeks… I loved what I learned from you ! March 12, 2017Bad timing...

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Back Talk: Music venues, a hero, and weed
Mar20

Back Talk: Music venues, a hero, and weed

Our Hero! Thanks for the Facebook comments left in response to “Don’t Be Afraid to Get Arrested: Longtime Activist Paki Wieland Says Today’s Protesters Aren’t Disturbing Enough People” Jim Sorter: Now we have a new hero who will inspire our lives. Thank you for letting us meet her! Kathleen Daly: ’Bout time someone put this to the page!Ana Thompson: Loved reading about this woman! Pro-Marijuana Groups are Blowing It Many people...

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Wednesday and Thursday: A Visit From Community Activist Iris Morales
Mar13

Wednesday and Thursday: A Visit From Community Activist Iris Morales

Street SmartsHampshire College, Holyoke Community College, and Smith College host visits this week from community activist Iris Morales, who rose to prominence in the Vietnam era. As a teenage activist in New York City, Morales joined the paramilitary Young Lords Party, a multiethnic, primarily Puerto Rican organization. The party, which disbanded in 1976, addressed the many socioeconomic needs of the working-class Puerto Rican...

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Don’t Be Afraid to Get Arrested: Longtime Activist Paki Wieland Says Today’s Protesters Aren’t Disturbing Enough People
Mar13

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Arrested: Longtime Activist Paki Wieland Says Today’s Protesters Aren’t Disturbing Enough People

“Right now you must be            thinking ‘Jesus, is she             on drugs?’” says the sly, weathered-yet-energetic voice on the other end of the phone. “I’m not. I have a caffeinated beverage.” That voice belongs to Patricia “Paki” Wieland, the (in)famous Northampton political activist and “Raging Granny” who added another mark to her long tally of politically-connected arrests two weeks ago. Wieland had traveled to Washington,...

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Back Talk: West Mess, readers respond to ‘West Mass’ tourism video
Mar13

Back Talk: West Mess, readers respond to ‘West Mass’ tourism video

‘West Mass’ Responses on Facebook… We had some questions about the ‘West Mass’ video, an effort by the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts to re-brand the area and attract tourists — and you had some thoughts about this dud, too. Here are some comments left on the Advocate’s website and Facebook page in response to “We Have Questions About That ‘West...

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How to Get Arrested at a Protest Without Getting a Face Full of Pepper Spray
Mar13

How to Get Arrested at a Protest Without Getting a Face Full of Pepper Spray

So, you’ve decided you want to get arrested at a protest. You want your arrest to make a political statement, but would also like to face as little physical harm as possible during the course of your arrest. Bill Newman, director of the Western Regional Office of the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told The Advocate anyone involved in a protest should first undergo non-violent direct action training, which would...

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News of the Weird: Exploiting Villains
Mar13

News of the Weird: Exploiting Villains

In February, two teams of South Korean researchers announced cancer-fighting breakthroughs by taking lessons from how two of medicine’s most vexing, destructive organisms — diarrhea-causing salmonella bacteria and the rabies virus — can access often-unconquerable cancer cells. In journal articles, biologist Jung-joon Min of Chonnam National University described how his team “weaponized” a cancer-fighting invader cell with salmonella...

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Cold Fingers at the Iron Horse: Vanessa Carlton Calls for Boycott of Northampton Venue
Mar13

Cold Fingers at the Iron Horse: Vanessa Carlton Calls for Boycott of Northampton Venue

Vanessa Carlton may be best known for playing piano on the back of a truck while singing her hit song “A Thousand Miles,” but that doesn’t mean she’ll play just anywhere. The artist has standards — and they’re apparently higher than at least what one Northampton venue offered.Carlton was quick to voice what those standards were during her performance last week at the Iron Horse in Northampton, tweeting out her grievances with the...

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We Have Questions About That ’West Mass’ Video
Mar06

We Have Questions About That ’West Mass’ Video

Early last month, the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts announced a new brand identity: West Mass. The groups spent $80,000 on the campaign, hiring Oklahoma-based agency Cubic Creative to lead the re-branding of a region formerly known as the Pioneer Valley.The reaction was swift and unforgiving. Springfield resident Dylan Pilon, whose online petition calling...

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News of the Weird: Suspicions Confirmed
Mar06

News of the Weird: Suspicions Confirmed

Despite California’s 2015 law aimed at improving the fairness of its red-light cameras, the city of Fremont — population 214,000 — reported earning an additional $190,000 more each month last year by shortening the yellow light by two-thirds of a second at just two intersections. Tickets went up 445 percent at one and 883 percent at the other. In November 2016, for “undisclosed reasons,” the city raised the speed limit on the street...

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No Land? No Problem: Gardening Everywhere With Containers
Mar06

No Land? No Problem: Gardening Everywhere With Containers

Container gardening, for the uninitiated, is exactly what it sounds like: planting vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruits in containers as opposed to soil in the ground. It’s also exactly as easy as it sounds.It’s also something anyone can do anywhere. No land? No time? No problem; plant whatever you want in a pot and store it anywhere there is ample light: on a windowsill, on a patio, doorways, in a car (I saw this while walking...

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Back Talk: Diversity in Metal? Circus Without Cliche
Mar06

Back Talk: Diversity in Metal? Circus Without Cliche

Diversity in Metal?Comments on WMass Metal: The Valley’s Diverse Scene Rises Again at valleyadvocate.com. Jenna Weingarten: How are you going to write a headline that says “diverse” in it and feature a bunch of white people and men? As someone in a Western Mass punk scene, I can confess WMass isn’t admittedly the most diverse place to be a punk, but there’s more diverse scenes than this crap. Honestly, in this day and age this is...

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Lasagna Gardening: The Easy Way to Start a Garden Right Now
Mar06

Lasagna Gardening: The Easy Way to Start a Garden Right Now

One of the first hurdles to planting a garden is the land: often hard, rocky, compact, dusty, weedy, and dry.Tilling the soil — churning up the ground to mix the dirt and soil layers and soften up the plot for easier digging and root growth — is hard work even if you have an electric tiller. Unless you’ve got the upper body strength for it, tilling isn’t going to happen.For those who can’t, or don’t feel like, tilling, there is...

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Between the Lines: Thought We Already Legalized It, What’s the hold up with weed?
Mar06

Between the Lines: Thought We Already Legalized It, What’s the hold up with weed?

This time, when I went to Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing last Friday, I didn’t have to wait in a line to get in. I also didn’t get any weed when I left.For nearly two months, Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing operated like a weed club. Located in a strip mall on Page Boulevard in Springfield, patrons paid a “cover charge” of $20-$50 and left with either one or three grams of marijuana as a “gift.” I checked the club out last month for...

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Between the Lines: Low-Income Families at Higher Risk for Fire Injury
Feb27

Between the Lines: Low-Income Families at Higher Risk for Fire Injury

Is it an acceptable level of risk for a child to live in an 80-year-old apartment building that hasn’t been renovated in as many years with a heating system from the ’60s, electrical wiring for the ’70s, and battery-powered smoke detectors that have been in place since the ’90s? Would it be an acceptable risk for a child who was born into a middle- or upper-class family?Research in Philadelphia and Detroit found that neighborhoods...

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News of the Weird: U-S-A! U-S-A!
Feb27

News of the Weird: U-S-A! U-S-A!

Although discouraging the marriage of children in developing nations has been U.S. foreign policy for years, a data-collecting watchdog group in America disclosed in February that 27 U.S. states have no minimum marriage ages and estimates that an average of almost 25,000 children age 15 and under are permitted to marry every year — “estimates” because some states do not keep records by age. Compelling Explanations 1.) Glenn...

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Wellness: Tapping Away the Stress
Feb27

Wellness: Tapping Away the Stress

Emotional Freedom Technique and what it’s all aboutIf anxiety made a baby with a hive of buzzing bees, you’d get me.Hi, I’m an extremely nervous person. My tendency to worry works out great when reporting and I just can’t let a question go, but it’s a burden when it’s midnight and I’m checking the doors — again — to make sure they’re all locked. So, when I heard there is a simple ritual that I can perform myself that may shed my...

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WMass Metal: The Valley’s Diverse Scene Rises AGAIN
Feb20

WMass Metal: The Valley’s Diverse Scene Rises AGAIN

Wesley Jillson has been a part of the local metal music scene since the ’80s. He saw Western Mass area metal rise to national prominence in the ’90s, then fade away by 2010.At the fifth annual Promoterhead show at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence in early February, Jillson was standing at the highboy tables, talking with friends he’s met at metal shows and drinking a cocktail while Disguise the Curse was on stage. The scene has...

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Between the Lines: Losing Our Rights, So Write
Feb20

Between the Lines: Losing Our Rights, So Write

Online ads for an upcoming Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book The Handmaid’s Tale got me thinking: it’s really about time I read this classic dystopian novel.The story takes place in a near-future New England. A militia of religious conservatives take over the Northeastern states and push outward to claim more of the U.S. for its own. The people living under militia rule are put into strict class and gender roles. The new...

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O, Cannabis! Get Weed Now — No Medical Card Required, if you know where to go
Feb20

O, Cannabis! Get Weed Now — No Medical Card Required, if you know where to go

Standing outside a strip mall in Springfield, I pull on the handle of the double-deadbolted door of a storefront with dark windows and a paper green arrow that says “Herbs” hanging under the company sign, but it doesn’t budge.I can hear men inside talking and laughing, so I give a knock and stare straight into the camera above the door, hoping there’s something in my face that will let the bouncer know I’m cool. Nothing. Do I need to...

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News of the Weird: The Man With the Golden Mop
Feb20

News of the Weird: The Man With the Golden Mop

San Francisco’s best-paid janitor earned more than a quarter-million dollars cleaning stations for Bay Area Rapid Transit in 2015, according to a recent investigation by Oakland’s KTVU. Liang Zhao Zhang cleared almost $58,000 in base pay and $162,000 in overtime, and other benefits ran his total income to $271,243. He worked at San Francisco’s Powell Street station, a hangout for the homeless, who notoriously sullied the station 24/7...

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Back Talk: Love Trumps Hate
Feb20

Back Talk: Love Trumps Hate

Facebook Love Response to “Love Trumps Hate: Transgender women find romance in an insane world,” Feb. 9-15, 2017.Melissa Robinson Ferris: I’ve known Bri since our sons were in grade school together 10 years ago! It’s wonderful to see her looking so well and sounding so happyCaroline Wills: What a great love story for Valentine’s day! Brianna and Amy thank you for sharing your story! The world needs more love stories! Leslie Gray:...

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Between the Lines: Love in the Time of Climate Change
Feb13

Between the Lines: Love in the Time of Climate Change

At the bottom of the stairwell behind my apartment building, a baby stroller sat for weeks. Every time I carried a laundry basket down the back steps, I had an opportunity to read the cardboard sign strapped to the side of the stroller. In rigid capital letters scrawled with Sharpie, it read: “The World Doesn’t Have Four More Years.”The first blizzard since Inauguration Day prompted someone to toss the protest sign and bring that...

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News of the Weird: EWWWWW!
Feb13

News of the Weird: EWWWWW!

On Jan. 31, doctors at Stanley Medical College and Hospital in Chennai, India, removed a live, full-grown cockroach from the nasal cavity of a 42-year-old woman whose nose had been “itchy” earlier in the day. Two hospitals were unable to help her, but at Stanley, Dr. M N Shankar, chief of ear-nose-throat, used an endoscope, forceps, and, for 45 minutes, a suction device — because, he said, the roach “didn’t seem to want to come out.”...

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‘It’s my own country’ In Springfield, an undocumented immigrant talks about fear and why he’s here
Feb13

‘It’s my own country’ In Springfield, an undocumented immigrant talks about fear and why he’s here

Juan is a 40-year-old Springfield resident who is married with two children under age seven. He works construction jobs when he finds them across the state and had just arrived back in the city after working a job in Marlborough when he spoke with the Valley Advocate. Juan, whose name has been changed for this article due to his undocumented resident status, said he lives in fear of deportation back to Mexico and being separated from...

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Permanently Homeless or Permanently Housed in Amherst
Feb13

Permanently Homeless or Permanently Housed in Amherst

Not many people would characterize the town of Amherst as poor. The downtown is interspersed with homey coffee shops, ethnic cuisine, fine dining, boutiques, and independent cinema. But behind the hip shops and $4 coffees is a growing homeless population. Though firm figures are difficult to come by, Craig’s Place, the only shelter in Amherst, reports serving 186 unique individuals in 2015, the most recent information available. In...

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