Northampton Resident Challenges Mayor to Race Over Plastic Bag Ban
Jan17

Northampton Resident Challenges Mayor to Race Over Plastic Bag Ban

Northampton’s two-year-old plastic bag ban has an outspoken opponent in McDonald House resident John Gibney, who gets around using a cane. Gibney, who wrote the Advocate an email this week with the subject “paper bags suck,” challenged Mayor David Narkewicz and members of the City Council to a race from State Street Fruit Store to City Hall. He would use plastic bags and the officials could use paper. “I will provide the canes,” he...

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Connecting with Red State America: Reflections from a Meeting Between Western Mass and Eastern Kentucky
Jan16

Connecting with Red State America: Reflections from a Meeting Between Western Mass and Eastern Kentucky

It Begins in October 2017 All 18 of us in Leverett are excited and maybe a little nervous. We live in a small town — Leverett: population, less than 2000 — in western Massachusetts. The Kentuckians are coming to us — 15 of them, men and women, young and not-so-young, from Letcher County in Eastern Kentucky: coal country. They’re coming in two vans to meet us, to be hosted by members of the Bridging Group of the Leverett Alliance....

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OroborO’s Laughing Death is an Impact Crater of Hardcore Punk and Math Rock
Jan16

OroborO’s Laughing Death is an Impact Crater of Hardcore Punk and Math Rock

Amherst-based OroborO’s debut album, Laughing Death, is a furiously upbeat apocalyptic vision of doom metal, hardcore punk, math rock, and jazzy psychedelia with a wry dark sense of humor that’s like going for a quaint and pleasant stroll while sirens wail and mushroom cloud explosions dot the horizon. OroborO consists of Nate Kellogg (guitars and synth), Jordan Frick (drums), Emily Carter (vocals), and Spencer Gusha (bass), and plays...

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Basemental: Songs about Surveillance
Jan16

Basemental: Songs about Surveillance

The fight to prevent additional police operated surveillance cameras in downtown Northampton has dragged on since September — over four months, two calendar years, and even through a municipal election. The Northampton City Council has voted 7-2 passing first a resolution and then an ordinance strongly limiting downtown cameras. But still, camera advocates insist that we must “compromise” in the spirit of “civility” and start this...

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Panhandlers Find Loophole in Holyoke Law
Jan08

Panhandlers Find Loophole in Holyoke Law

Matt LeBlanc stood near the Interstate 391 exit near High Street in Holyoke, holding a sign that read, “Homeless vet — hungry and cold” while heavy snowfall rained down in the frigid afternoon of Jan. 4. LeBlanc started panhandling at around 10:30 a.m. and by 1 p.m. had only made $1. On Nov. 21,  Holyoke City Council voted unanimously, 12-0, to adopt a state ordinance that would fine panhandlers up to $50. According to Chapter 85,...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy
Jan08

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy

It’s New Year’s Day. With no idea what to watch, I thought I’d go through one of my leaning towers of DVDs and see what I might come up with. Down at the musty bottom of one of the stacks, I found a trove of movies I’d never watched. My candidate for viewing: The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy, a 1958 gem from Mexico which you might be familiar with under its alternate titles, “The Aztec Mummy Against the Humanoid Robot” or “The Aztec...

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O Cannabis: Time to Get Growing
Jan08

O Cannabis: Time to Get Growing

Bay Staters are still waiting for finalized regulations for the commercial recreational marijuana industry in Massachusetts, but the regulations around adult recreational use for individuals were established in December 2016. After voters passed Question 4 on the 2016 ballot, lawmakers passed the “Regulation of the Use and Distribution of Marijuana not Medically Prescribed” law that legalized personal use and possession of up to one...

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Bizarro Briefs: Do My Clams Look Small?
Jan08

Bizarro Briefs: Do My Clams Look Small?

There was a seafood emergency at Crabby’s Seafood Shack in Stuart, Florida, in the southeastern region of the state. A 51-year-old Stuart resident, did what anybody would do when they have a gripe with their undersized and minute meal of clams — he called 911. The man is now due in court on Jan. 11 for misuse of an emergency system. He told the TCPalm, a newspaper that serves the region, that the restaurant wanted to charge him $12...

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The Beerhunter: Craft Beer Goals for 2018
Jan08

The Beerhunter: Craft Beer Goals for 2018

Local brewers share their predictions and plans Cheers, America! According to the Brewers Association’s 2017 year-end report, there are now more than 6,000 breweries nationwide — an increase of 500 breweries from just six months ago. And here’s some even better news: 98 percent of those breweries are small and independent, and 83 percent of citizens over the age of 21 now live within ten miles of a brewery. Here’s an early glimpse of...

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Valley Show Girl: Guitars and Coffee
Jan08

Valley Show Girl: Guitars and Coffee

The smell of strong coffee warms me from the cold as I open the door to Iconica Social Club for the first time. From the outside, it looks like an odd brick building in the middle of a parking lot behind Haymarket in Northampton. But upon entering, you’re engulfed within an interior designer’s dream. There were a handful of people crowded near the coffee bar, ordering some yummy-smelling concoctions that were served in science lab...

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Puerto Rico Professionals in Limbo: Massachusetts Laws Create Roadblocks to Employment
Jan05

Puerto Rico Professionals in Limbo: Massachusetts Laws Create Roadblocks to Employment

When Hurricane Maria devastated her area of Isabela, Puerto Rico, 52-year-old Brenda Trujillo traveled to Holyoke in search of a more stable life and employment. Trujillo has been a nurse for nearly 30 years, but since arriving on November 3 she has not been able to find a job in her profession. One of the reasons is that despite her vast experience, she does not have a license to practice nursing in the state of Massachusetts. “I...

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Iron Horse Entertainment Group Marketing Director Jim Neill Leaves For DSP Shows
Jan03

Iron Horse Entertainment Group Marketing Director Jim Neill Leaves For DSP Shows

For more than a decade, Jim Neill has worked as the marketing director of the Iron Horse Entertainment Group (IHEG),  promoting shows featuring local and national acts, acting as a spokesperson for the venue group, a media liaison, and one of the most prominent faces of IHEG. Neill recently left IHEG to become director of marketing for Ithaca, N.Y.,-based DSP Shows’ Northampton office. He didn’t apply for the job, but was asked to...

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Getting on the Ballot: What we’ll be Voting on in 2018
Jan02

Getting on the Ballot: What we’ll be Voting on in 2018

From September to the end of November,  Mickey Prout, 22, a student at Westfield State University, and other volunteers would set up tables in the dining commons to talk to other students about two statewide ballot initiatives: raising the minimum wage and establishing paid medical and family leave. Stopping people during busy lunch hours to talk about politics wasn’t always easy, but Prout said that he liked the challenge and that...

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Editorial: Taking Up Running to Slow Down
Jan02

Editorial: Taking Up Running to Slow Down

I’m in my mid-30s, and “getting fit” is something I think about more now. It took me a long time to come around on the idea of exercise for exercise sake — but it has become something that I actually enjoy (even if I don’t do it as often as I should). In middle school, if memory serves, I was literally the last person to finish our required “mile run” in gym class. I don’t remember my time, but I remember walking for most of the...

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Staff Picks: Stay inside with comic books, fusion jazz, democratic candidates for Governor, and yoga
Jan02

Staff Picks: Stay inside with comic books, fusion jazz, democratic candidates for Governor, and yoga

Comic Book Craft Night with Beer // SUNDAY Oh my goodness, comic book crafting and beer?? Wake up your inner nerd from freezing cold weather-induced hibernation and get your craft on! Comics N’ More will provide all the materials needed to make some collages, ornaments, garlands, and other holiday-style gifts or just something for yourself. Old, well-read, and ready to be retired comics will be used, as well as glue and glitter. $20...

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Changing Lives While Living With Chronic Illness
Jan02

Changing Lives While Living With Chronic Illness

Erica Verrillo of Whatley has written more than half a dozen books and launched a non-profit national organization, all while being partially bedridden for the past three decades. Verillo has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.), a chronic and fluctuating neurological disease characterized by extreme exhaustion, muscle weakness, sensitivity to pain, confusion, forgetfulness, a weak immune system, and a lack of concentration. In 1998,...

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Review: Decades of Philip B. Price of Winterpills
Jan02

Review: Decades of Philip B. Price of Winterpills

This past year Winterpills member and Northampton-based singer-songwriter Phillip B. Price remastered a dozen of his past solo albums recorded from 1988 to 2004, which had never seen the light of day. With a back catalogue of more than a hundred songs to choose from, Price released his own hand picked greatest hits collection called, Without Your Love I’d Be Nowhere At All: 1988- 2004. This is a 39-song double record that’s staggering...

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The Top 9 Ways to Get Fit in Western Mass this Winter
Jan02

The Top 9 Ways to Get Fit in Western Mass this Winter

The warmer fall was nice and December was capped off by a white Christmas. But now that we’re in the heart of winter, it might be a bit harder to get outside for your usual walks or bike rides. And meanwhile, one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get fit. So how to go about it? Here are a few ideas from your friends at the Advocate. 1) Join a Gym The Valley has plenty of places to train to get and stay fit. The 2017...

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Cinemadope: Guiding Light
Jan02

Cinemadope: Guiding Light

It’s tough to start a new year on a sad note, but it was only after the last Cinemadope’s deadline that I got the news that Duane Robinson had passed away. The driving force behind the revival of the Academy of Music in Northampton, and its enthusiastic and dedicated director for three and a half vital decades, Duane did more for the city’s cultural scene than many will ever know. We’ve just finished another season of The Nutcracker...

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Cannabis Consultant Ezra Parzybok Talks Marijuana as Medicine in New Book
Jan02

Cannabis Consultant Ezra Parzybok Talks Marijuana as Medicine in New Book

As its medical uses evolve and marijuana becomes legally available for recreation in Massachusetts, an area cannabis consultant is working to fill an information hole he thinks is undermining its use. “In our culture, marijuana is known for all the bad reasons because of its psychoactive abilities,” said Ezra Parzybok of Northampton, author of Cannabis Consulting: Helping Patients, Parents, and Practitioners Understand Medical...

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Halos & Horns: A look back at the good, the bad, and the dead of 2017
Dec26

Halos & Horns: A look back at the good, the bad, and the dead of 2017

It’s Halos and Horns with a side of hashtags this year. While President Donald Trump was busy tweeting from the White House throughout 2017 (we gave him his own whole article), the rest of the world had their own Twitter responses, many of which inspired the Advocate’s yearly doling out of halos to the good and horns to the bad. So we took that # symbol and made glowing, yellow-ringed hashtag halos and stretched red hashtag horns....

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Editorial: We’re Talking Horns upon Horns, Horns within Horns …
Dec26

Editorial: We’re Talking Horns upon Horns, Horns within Horns …

As we continue the Valley Advocate tradition of awarding halos to the good and horns to the bad in 2017, I reflect on the year’s ups and downs. It didn’t take long to realize that a lot of the “downs” had something in common – they originated with President (for now) Donald Trump. As the hands-down biggest horns-earner of 2017, Trump is getting his own special section for an extended airing of grievances. We don’t have the space to...

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V-Spot: How Do We Weather the Storm?
Dec26

V-Spot: How Do We Weather the Storm?

Hi Yana, My boyfriend of three years and I are both going through a really tough time. My parents are divorcing, he’s applying to schools, and plus our relationship has been long distance for the past two years. We’re both depressed, and I’ve been asking him to go to therapy lately. What advice would you give to a couple who’s going through a tough time, and how to weather the storm together? I’ve been terribly hurt in the past, so my...

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Behold! True Genre-Benders
Dec26

Behold! True Genre-Benders

Holyoke-based Behold! True Believers combines genres that you wouldn’t initially think would pair well together — pop punk, alternative rock, psychedelic pop, doo-wop, and experimental rock. This synthesis of influences works surprising well on the sextet’s recent 11-track album, Broken Bow, released on Nov. 21. The band is composed of Aaron Borucki (songwriting, guitars, synths, programming, percussion, vocals), Mike Benoit (drums,...

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Stagestruck: Gender Parity Still Elusive in Theater
Dec26

Stagestruck: Gender Parity Still Elusive in Theater

In this time of long-overdue comeuppance for sexual harassment and assault, I approached my annual reckoning of gender equity in theater with fresh eyes. Nationwide, women continue to be devalued and underrepresented in almost all areas of theatrical creation, on and off stage. Surveys have found, for instance, that over three-quarters of professionally produced plays are written by men and focus primarily on male characters — despite...

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A Cannabis Cafe Could be Coming to Easthampton with New State Regulations
Dec26

A Cannabis Cafe Could be Coming to Easthampton with New State Regulations

Last week I sat down with Karima Rizk for a cup of coffee in her kitchen in Easthampton to discuss her new business, Cafe Vert. The coffee was like many other homebrewed cups of coffee: it was rich, balanced, and welcoming on the brisk December morning. But unlike most cups of coffee, the coffee beans that Rizk used were roasted with CBD (a cannabinoid found in hemp and cannabis). “What is new, and what we have a gold opportunity to...

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Valley Show Girl: Party Time! Excellent!
Dec26

Valley Show Girl: Party Time! Excellent!

I don’t know about any of you, but 2017 kicked my ass. But, as always, one of the things that keeps me sane, is music. So let’s bid a farewell to this year with some kick ass shows that are sprinkled throughout the Valley. There is literally something for everyone, and this list isn’t even all of it!     Bring the Kids! Perfect for the family day, just dress the kids warm. Since 1985, First Night Northampton has been filling...

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Cinemadope: Changing Focus
Dec26

Cinemadope: Changing Focus

With the new year scratching at the door, it’s natural to take a reckoning of the one gone by. People tend to focus on the big changes — smoking, the gym, a reading list — but mixing up the smaller things can make a big difference too. Try getting your coffee at a different spot every morning. Start wearing a tie on Thursdays. Jot down poems — short poems are still poems — about the person in front of you while waiting in line. Do it...

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The Valley Advocate’s Apocalypse Survival Guide
Dec18

The Valley Advocate’s Apocalypse Survival Guide

Let’s face it: We live in uncertain times. Seas are rising. The climate is changing. Nuclear-armed countries are escalating their rhetoric, with our own president making threats of nuclear strikes. Increased dependence on automation is making us ever more vulnerable to a robot uprising. Scientists tinkering with “superbugs” and years of antibacterial soap use could lead to a disease outbreak. And on top of all that is the ever-present...

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‘There’s Only Two Kinds of Music: Good Music and Bad’
Dec18

‘There’s Only Two Kinds of Music: Good Music and Bad’

Joe Louis Walker has a voice out of classic soul and blues guitar chops that were inspired by some of the greats — B.B. King, Muddy Waters, the list goes on. Walker, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee, grew up in San Francisco playing blues before entering into the psychedelic rock scene of the 1960s, rooming with blues guitarist Mike Bloomfield of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and hanging out with the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. He...

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Back Talk: Men, Stop Harassing Women
Dec18

Back Talk: Men, Stop Harassing Women

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our letters to the editor page. Here you’ll find reader comments on Advocate articles and other news. We collect readers’ opinions from emails, letters, Facebook comments, and comments to valleyadvocate.com. Want to get in on this? Email deisen@valleyadvocate.com and put “BackTalk” or “letter to the editor” in the subject. Men: Stop harassing women! To all males living in this country I issue a collective...

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Editorial: The Nuclear Option is Not an Option
Dec18

Editorial: The Nuclear Option is Not an Option

North Korea’s steps toward accelerating its nuclear program and testing its missiles has been truly horrifying. So has President Donald Trump’s response, with threats to release “fire and fury” upon North Korea. Nuclear devastation is one of the gravest threats we face as a species, as has long been pointed out by the likes of linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky. Albert Einstein, one of the incredibly irresponsible scientists who...

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V-Spot: How Do I Tell Dates I’m Heartless?
Dec18

V-Spot: How Do I Tell Dates I’m Heartless?

Dear Yana, I have a cold, dead heart. Well, not really but pretty much, yeah. I was married to my ex-wife for nearly a decade and the end of our relationship was really complicated. I feel almost certain that I don’t have the capacity to be in love or be in a relationship ever again. That being said, I still want to get laid, of course. But my issue is this: I feel as though I’m being pretty up front with my dates about my emotional...

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Basemental: All I Want For Christmas is Lowered Expectations
Dec18

Basemental: All I Want For Christmas is Lowered Expectations

I am the Grinch. People who know me know this — my mom better than anyone. I scoff at Christmas songs and “holiday cheer,” wanting nothing to do with a holiday that is closely aligned with capitalism, patriarchy, and bad parties. But nothing warms my Grinch heart like a sarcastic and funny Christmas song. Specifically, the 2013 track “All I Want for Christmas is Lowered Expectations” by local awk-pop-slops-rock band Bunny’s A...

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Cinemadope: Life Goes On
Dec18

Cinemadope: Life Goes On

Speak of nuclear winter, and my thoughts go not to bleak, windswept plains. There are no undead hordes clawing at my clapboards, no marauding gangs out collecting rainwater. In my (admittedly hopeful) imagined ruins, we can all rely on the safety of one thing: the climate-controlled vaults of the National Film Registry. As I write, the Registry is home to some 700 films that the Board has deemed “culturally, historically, or...

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