Valley Show Girl: Adam Kozak and Music To Die To
Mar19

Valley Show Girl: Adam Kozak and Music To Die To

Adam Michael Kozak grew up in the ‘80s listening to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and Aerosmith. When he was a child, his mother played the digital organ they had set up in their living room, which she mainly played Barbara Streisand and Andrew Lloyd Weber show tunes on. Adam had begged for piano lessons, simply to learn to play Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” After only two months of lessons, he grew bored and didn’t touch an...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: No snobbism, stupid questions, or incorrect adjectives at Shelburne Falls Cork
Mar19

Monte Belmonte Wines: No snobbism, stupid questions, or incorrect adjectives at Shelburne Falls Cork

“I think we’ve kind of created, like, a black barbershop type of community.” A black barbershop may not be one’s first impression when walking into the new wine shop, Shelburne Falls Cork, but that’s how renowned local chef and newly pinned sommelier, Michaelangelo Wescott, who is black, describes this live active culture with a focus on fermenting that is fomenting right down the street from his restaurant, Gypsy Apple. Seeing as I...

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Stagestruck: Degrees of Separation — Putting the opioid crisis center stage
Mar19

Stagestruck: Degrees of Separation — Putting the opioid crisis center stage

Eight people are seated in a semi-circle at a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous. They are actually actors in a play, but though they’re not the recovering addicts they portray, each of them has a real-life connection to the nation’s — and the Valley’s — opioid crisis. I’m visiting a rehearsal of (In)Dependent: The Heroin Project at the Academy of Music Theatre, where the play will be performed this weekend, March 22-23. The director,...

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The V-Spot: How Do We Get Our Sex Life Back After Abortion?
Mar18

The V-Spot: How Do We Get Our Sex Life Back After Abortion?

Hey Yana, A couple weeks ago my boyfriend and I decided we weren’t ready to have a baby just yet in our life, and we got an abortion. After previously going through one in an abusive relationship years ago, this time was much easier on me and he was very supportive (the abortion was a mutual decision). A couple days after the surgery my boyfriend started getting very distant, explaining he felt guilty and shameful for putting me...

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Cinemadope: The cinema scene of Franklin County
Mar18

Cinemadope: The cinema scene of Franklin County

Despite its proximity to the more famous haunts of Northampton, Franklin County has always had its own lively arts scene. The Green River Festival, celebrating 33 years in 2019, is perhaps the most recognizable name, but other area venues like the Montague Bookmill, the Rendezvous and Shea Theater (both in Turners Falls), and, more recently, Greenfield’s Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center have provided residents like this writer...

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Stagestruck: Infinite Chances for Love
Mar17

Stagestruck: Infinite Chances for Love

Nick Payne’s time- and mind-bending play Constellations receives its local premiere this month at Gateway City Arts, a production of Ghost Light Theater, the Valley’s five-year-old purveyor of contemporary plays that speak to universal themes. The piece has made its way here from its 2012 London debut via a Broadway run and a couple of previous outings in this region. This one, directed by Sue Dziura, stars Jen Campbell and Ghost...

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The Beerhunter: The Art of the Basement Brewpub
Mar12

The Beerhunter: The Art of the Basement Brewpub

The motto for the town of Dalton is “heaven in the heart of the Berkshires.” And much like heaven, a lot of people never make it there. With fewer than 7,000 residents, Dalton is a sort of transitional space in rural Massachusetts, cushioning quiet little towns like Windsor and Peru from the busier Route 7 corridor, which runs from Great Barrington through Pittsfield and up to Williamstown.   Many of those traveling west from the...

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Stagestruck: Happier Valley Comedy – Joy in the unexpected
Mar11

Stagestruck: Happier Valley Comedy – Joy in the unexpected

Scott Braidman is giving me a tour of his workplace, the Hadley headquarters of Happier Valley Comedy, of which he’s the artistic director. It’s a bright, welcoming space in the Mill Valley Commons, a mixed-purpose building fronted by Route 9 and backed by cornfields. HVC is flanked on one side by an Irish dance studio and on the other by a tavern, businesses that sometimes provide unsolicited musical accompaniment through the common...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Love God?
Mar12

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: The Love God?

Gather around kids, it’s Don Knotts time! Hands up if you remember everyone’s favorite nerd, starring in such classics as The Incredible Mr. Limpet and The Shakiest Gun in the West. I knew someone who counted The Ghost and Mr. Chicken among her favorite movies. But then there is The Love God? Mr. Knotts’ films were squeaky-clean family fun. However, some mastermind had the notion to put Don in a sex comedy and rate it PG-13.What could...

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The V-Spot: What’s Wrong With My Sex Drive?
Mar11

The V-Spot: What’s Wrong With My Sex Drive?

Content note: This column talks about non-consensual sex and traumatic reactions. Hi Yana, I’m a 24-year-old woman and I’ve had no sexual desire since my teens. When I was 18, I went out with a boy from my high school and when we went to his house, he pushed sex at a faster and further pace than I was comfortable with even after I told him I wanted to stop. I’m now in a committed three-year relationship with my live-in boyfriend and I...

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Cinemadope: Russian Icons
Mar11

Cinemadope: Russian Icons

For many modern filmmakers, the shadow of Ingmar Bergman looms large. The great Swede, whose name has become a kind of shorthand here for foreign art-house film, was a revelatory experience for young filmmakers coming of age in a pre-digital era; seeing what he could achieve onscreen changed the game. And while Bergman may seem sui generis, one wonders: who were the filmmakers that interested the director when he wasn’t behind the...

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Valley Show Girl: A queer punk drag show double rainbow
Mar07

Valley Show Girl: A queer punk drag show double rainbow

I’ve been hibernating the past couple of months. I just bought a house and have been focused mainly on that. The closest I’ve been to live music is listening to my vinyl — live — in my living room. I broke out of my hibernation recently, however, and attended my first show of the year. I tell ya, it was quite the experience to pop my 2019 show cherry with, too. This column is about a show organized by Tanya Pearson. (I know you know...

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V-Spot: Is Hormone Replacement Therapy the Key?
Mar04

V-Spot: Is Hormone Replacement Therapy the Key?

Hi Yana, I’m a transgender male, no bottom surgery yet (there’s a good chance it’s not even in the cards for me, anyway) and I’ll be starting HRT (hormone replacement therapy) soon. I’ve always been very frank with partners that I’m not comfortable with being touched, and they’ve respected that. But, the few times I’ve allowed a girlfriend to go down on me, I didn’t orgasm. I can’t orgasm by myself, either. I’ve never even had one....

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Cinemadope: CatVideoFest at Amherst Cinema
Mar04

Cinemadope: CatVideoFest at Amherst Cinema

If you’ve been around the interwebs for a bit, you’ve almost certainly run across Henri. Henri — or, to use his full title, Henri, le Chat Noir — is an ennui-soaked cat whose subtitled French musings call to mind old arthouse imports. “If my tail wags, it is a reflex action,” intones Henri over a soundtrack of Satie. “Nothing more.” In other installments, all shot in the same scratchy black and white, Henri visits the vet or bemoans...

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Basemental: Jesus Vio brings his ‘Dutch Science’ to the Pioneer Valley
Mar01

Basemental: Jesus Vio brings his ‘Dutch Science’ to the Pioneer Valley

Free Pizza was a punk band founded in 2009 and based in Boston. If the name isn’t too much of a giveaway, the ethos of the band was playful and goofy. The heavy-hitting upbeat rowdiness was accessible, earnest, and always a good time. In 2016, Free Pizza threw in the towel and frontman Jesus Vio split off to try something different. He moved to Nashville and formed a band using his own name. There he recorded his first solo record,...

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Stagestruck: Motor City Soul
Mar01

Stagestruck: Motor City Soul

There’s a party going on in the basement of Chelle and Lank’s house – an unlicensed after-hours drink-and-dance dive in inner-city Detroit. That is, until a police raid on a similar establishment explodes into violence and the neighborhood goes up in flames. Detroit ’67 is the first, and weakest, of Dominique Morisseau’s trilogy of plays known as the Detroit Project. The current production, through March 10 at Hartford Stage Company,...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: Wine with The Brothers Narkewicz
Feb28

Monte Belmonte Wines: Wine with The Brothers Narkewicz

MNARK: I’m so proud of him. I actually have his bumper sticker on my car in San Francisco, which was interesting because we just had an election for mayor. DNARK: Did I get any votes? Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz may have made headlines when he was the first person to purchase pot for recreational purposes on the East Coast, but it is the Mayor’s oldest sibling I’ve been jonesing to talk to for this column. Shortly after my wine...

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Cinemadope: Off the Wall
Feb25

Cinemadope: Off the Wall

Art lovers in the Valley are never far from a good gallery. Between the extensive collections of local colleges, dedicated museums, and the smaller neighborhood salons that pepper our local downtowns, we are lucky to live in an area with such a vibrant artistic community. This week, a few area cinemas play host to galleries from farther afield, giving locals a world tour without giving up the comfort of their favorite seat at the...

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Stagestruck: Center Stage for Seniors
Feb24

Stagestruck: Center Stage for Seniors

Two elder ensembles are this week’s headliners.  The Berkshire-based WAM Theatre has just announced its plans for a troupe of women over 65, and the latest offering from the British stage in the popular National Theatre Live series features a cast of old folks. Allelujah! is a biting satire on the healthcare industry and rapacious politics in the form of a quirky celebration of old age. The live-capture performance screens at...

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The V-Spot: My Love No Longer Dominates
Feb20

The V-Spot: My Love No Longer Dominates

Hello from Vienna, Austria, Yana! Over the years I’ve realized that I like being dominated in sex. I want strong men who play with my brain, mainly verbally. A year ago I met a guy on a kinky hookup app. We went out on a date and hit it off immediately. In the beginning, he showed me so much about bondage and I had my fair share of bruises from skilled hands. We became a couple really fast, moved in together, and our partnership is...

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The Beerhunter: Shake Your Cabin Fever with a Taproom Day Trip 
Feb19

The Beerhunter: Shake Your Cabin Fever with a Taproom Day Trip 

It is right about now, during the shortest month of the year, that I have sat through some of the longest evenings of my life. Cabin fever is no joke, even if your cabin comes equipped with a fire, good books, and a stockpile of craft beer (plus some loved ones, I guess). February is cold, wet, and boring enough to make you pine for a quick spring thaw. It will come. Until then, remember that most breweries are open, and those valiant...

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Cinemadope: Natural Causes: The strange beauties of Rosamond Purcell
Feb19

Cinemadope: Natural Causes: The strange beauties of Rosamond Purcell

The photography of Rosamond Purcell is work that often feels plucked from another period. Her artistic impulse — what filmmaker Errol Morris described as “the contemplation of things that other people would normally just ignore” — harkens back to a time when many artists were also de facto naturalists, dealing with cadavers, carcasses, and the process of decay in the service of creating a new way of seeing the world around us. But...

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V-Spot: How Do I Stop Faking My Orgasms?
Feb18

V-Spot: How Do I Stop Faking My Orgasms?

Dear Yana, I’m in my early 30s and have been faking orgasms for about a decade of a colorful, explorative — if not straight up hyphy — sex life. I had my first orgasm about 13 years ago with a partner, who helped me discover simultaneous clitoral stimulation during penetrative sex. In the decade since, I’ve gotten down with all kinds of exciting and talented lovers, some of whom I’ve also definitely loved — none of whom got the job...

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Stagestruck: Big Apple Bites
Feb15

Stagestruck: Big Apple Bites

At first glance, you’d think the two plays I saw in New York City last week have little in common. One is an international import from London to Broadway, the other an Off-Broadway transfer from a small regional theater in Vermont. One is twice as long as the other and fields a cast four times as large (and costs more than twice as much to see). One is set in Northern Ireland in 1981, the other in eastern Massachusetts in the present...

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Valley Show Girl: And The Kids’ Whimsical Indie Rock
Feb14

Valley Show Girl: And The Kids’ Whimsical Indie Rock

Signature Sounds recording artists And The Kids from Northampton have made a name for themselves throughout their active musician years in the Valley. They’ve been locally and nationally covered and very recently had a live set at Paste Magazine that was streamed through social media. They are about to release their latest masterpiece on Feb. 22. Guitarist and vocalist Hannah Mohan and drummer Rebecca Lasaponaro first met in junior...

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Cinemadope: Movies for winter vacation
Feb14

Cinemadope: Movies for winter vacation

Listen, I love my kids. I do. But it’s been a long winter around here. The holiday season was a terrible round-robin of stomach bugs, the heat went on the fritz in their bedroom, and a cold snap kept us cooped up in the house on days when their energy level could have powered the whole of the Eastern Seaboard for a holiday weekend. Things were just getting back to normal (though let’s be honest, fellow parents: this has all in fact...

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Stagestruck: Mashups in Makeup
Feb11

Stagestruck: Mashups in Makeup

How’s this for genre mashups: Brontë gothic in which two of the characters are animals. Wildean romcom in which all the actors are women. Golden Age Spain in which a woman lives as a man. Multidisciplinary invention in which diversity seeks community. Renaissance tragedy in which the title character uncannily resembles a certain megalomaniac of today. Such are the parameters of upcoming productions on Five College stages this month...

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Basemental: Mibble Q&A – Hadley’s Mike Parham’s solo project, Mibble
Feb08

Basemental: Mibble Q&A – Hadley’s Mike Parham’s solo project, Mibble

Hadley’s Mike Parham, whose solo moniker is Mibble, recently released a new album, “Welcome the Earth Dog.” Parham’s superb home recordings sound like miniature musical collages, complete with sound effects, samples, and a lackadaisical posture towards the constructs of time, money, and fame. Evoking Neil Young and the sonic idea of clouds, Earth Dog builds nicely on Parham’s previous releases — 2016’s Wide Awake Western...

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The V-Spot: Anxious, Preoccupied, and Non-Monogamous?
Feb08

The V-Spot: Anxious, Preoccupied, and Non-Monogamous?

Hi Yana, I’m currently in a long-term monogamous relationship with my partner, and I am really interested in transitioning our relationship from monogamy to non-monogamy. At my request this past summer, we tried non-monogamy after identifying and agreeing to clear boundaries with each other. In this process, we discovered his attachment style is anxious preoccupied. He was really upset about me seeing other people, and that due to his...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: #winehero
Feb04

Monte Belmonte Wines: #winehero

In my last column, I gave you a brief how-to in regards to opening a bottle of wine. It’s a seemingly easy enterprise that is terrifying for far too many people. For some reason, wine and all that surrounds wine is just like that. Complicated. Confusing. Unapproachable. Maybe it’s the centuries of history behind the vine that intimidates people. Maybe it’s the snobs who look down their noses, pinky extended, and make you second-guess...

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Stagestruck: Hi, Honey, I’m Home!
Feb04

Stagestruck: Hi, Honey, I’m Home!

When Nora Helmer famously slammed the door on her empty marriage at the end of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, she changed the course of theatrical history, and social history as well. But shutting the door on one story implicitly opened another, and thus left a question hanging. What became of Nora after she claimed her freedom, leaving her husband and children to plunge into a world where women were largely defined by their marital...

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Cinemadope: Fish Out of Water – Two animated classics from Japan
Feb01

Cinemadope: Fish Out of Water – Two animated classics from Japan

Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has always kept a close tether to the world around him. In wonderfully thoughtful films like My Neighbor Totoro and Pom Poko, beloved by young and old (and crowds and critics) alike, he has eagerly yet tenderly explored our human connection and disconnect with our wider natural habitat. The often hidden worlds around us may be too often overlooked, but in Miyazaki’s worlds, as in our own, they can...

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Stagestruck: Conversations and Conflicts
Jan27

Stagestruck: Conversations and Conflicts

Theater, Sheryl Stoodley firmly believes, “can be the starting point for conversations – much-needed at this point in our United States and in the world.” To that end, Serious Play, the theater Stoodley leads, “works toward reshaping society’s conversation on prominent social issues through the art of ensemble theater.” Her new initiative, under the umbrella title Conversations For Our Times Through Theatre, aims to involve...

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Stagestruck: Found and Lost
Jan22

Stagestruck: Found and Lost

In a program note for The Engagement Party, Samuel Baum says his play is “an exploration of secrets and lies.” Which puts it right in his wheelhouse, as his credits include the TV psycho-crime drama Lie to Me and the movie Wizard of Lies. He says he’s also interested in the notion of “how in relationships it takes years to build trust but only seconds to destroy it.” Those seconds quickly count down in this brief, absorbing play,...

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The V-Spot: Sex Drives Are Slacking & I Feel Lacking
Jan21

The V-Spot: Sex Drives Are Slacking & I Feel Lacking

Hi Yana, I’m a junior in college and I’ve been dating my boyfriend since our freshman year. Initially the relationship was steamy and passionate. I was his first sexual partner so we did a lot of experimenting and discovering together. As is perhaps inevitable, that steamy passion gradually decreased. Sophomore year his sex drive experienced a sharp decline and mine remained constant. In the first year of our relationship, things felt...

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