Monte Belmonte Wines: Bonjour, Monsieur Touton
Aug14

Monte Belmonte Wines: Bonjour, Monsieur Touton

I ain’t gonna lie. I got into this wine writing racket for three reasons: 1) as an attempt to write off all of my alcoholic beverage purchases, which I will list as “considerable,” 2) to see my name in print, and 3) in the hopes that I would receive free wine on a regular basis. I know basically every wine purveyor in the 413 area code. Many of them have been on my radio show. I assumed if I put out the word that I would like to do a...

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The V-Spot: Help My Partner Help Me
Aug14

The V-Spot: Help My Partner Help Me

Dear Yana, I’m a queer woman in my late 20s living in the U.S., and my girlfriend lives overseas. In the 2.5 years we’ve been together, about half that time has been long distance, and about half together. We’re absolutely crazy about each other and we want to get married and have babies. The problem: we fight. A lot. The germ of our fights is almost always: I have issues with anxiety and depression and am an empath...

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Cinemadope: Art and the business of art
Aug14

Cinemadope: Art and the business of art

Like musicians and record labels, the worlds of artists and art dealers have never been quite in the same business. Despite all the often necessary crossover and interaction, there is often a nagging feeling (if our films are to be believed) that while one half of the relationship is interested in a full palette of colors, the other just wants to see green. It’s probably an unfair depiction, but one that was exacerbated by the ghastly...

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Valley Show Girl: Reliving childhood punk nostalgia with Blondie at MassMoCA
Aug09

Valley Show Girl: Reliving childhood punk nostalgia with Blondie at MassMoCA

I’d just devoured a bowlful of multi-colored Chicklet gum, then jumped up and down on the couch with my blonde pigtails smacking up against my cheeks. Blondie’s “Rapture” blared from the 80’s radio/boombox in the kitchen while my mother was either cooking or cleaning. I sang along to the lyrics, through my gum-infused sugar high. That is one of the first happy memories I can remember. Blondie has always been one of those bands...

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Bizarro Briefs
Aug02

Bizarro Briefs

The Early Snail Gets the Lettuce What probably seemed like the slowest race ever recently took place in Congham, England. More than 150 snails took part in the annual Snail Racing Championship with the grand prize being a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce. The snails were placed on a damp cloth marked with three concentric circles and the gastropods raced 13 inches to the outer ring. Apparently, English snail trainers take this sort...

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Out of the Box in the Hill Towns: Inspiration strikes in out-of-the-way places
Aug01

Out of the Box in the Hill Towns: Inspiration strikes in out-of-the-way places

Western Massachusetts is well known as fertile ground for farming, but also for ideas. Sometimes these ideas come from the many classrooms and laboratories of our institutions of higher learning, but if you look carefully, you can find them in some pretty unexpected places, too. This issue, we scoured the Hill Towns to find some out-of-the-box thinkers and now present to you our findings: an eccentric inventor in Ashfield, a visionary...

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Editorial: Vote for Chelsea Kline for State Senate on Sept. 4
Jul29

Editorial: Vote for Chelsea Kline for State Senate on Sept. 4

So often with candidates running for public office, one must rest the decision to vote for them primarily on their words. In her short political career as a candidate for state Senate, however, Chelsea Kline has amassed some impressive actions. Kline is running in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary to replace former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, who resigned following censure by an independent ethics investigation. Kline will be the...

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V-Spot: Are We Screwed if We Stop Screwing?
Jul29

V-Spot: Are We Screwed if We Stop Screwing?

Hi Yana! My partner and I have been dating since October and from the beginning have had really intense sexual energy for each other (like every day, sometimes multiple times). But in the last week or two it’s sort of died out for a number of reasons. I can’t help but feel unattractive to my partner when I’m ready to go and he’s not. But, at the same time, I never ever want to guilt or manipulate him into having sex. Further, as a...

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Cinemadope: ‘The Judge’ stirs the stagnant waters of the Middle Eastern judiciary
Jul29

Cinemadope: ‘The Judge’ stirs the stagnant waters of the Middle Eastern judiciary

Back in my art school days, I was always fascinated by my art history classes. Seeing our changing world reflected back at me through the lens of artistic evolution made the lives lived in the distant past seem much more like my own — less a mannered bit of historical style, and more about finding creative ways to process the issues of the time. One of the artworks that has stayed with me from those days is Judith Slaying Holofernes,...

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Free Will Astrology: You’re wrestling the wrong foe, Pisces
Jul29

Free Will Astrology: You’re wrestling the wrong foe, Pisces

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I predict that August will be a Golden Age for you. That’s mostly very good. Golden opportunities will arise, and you’ll come into possession of lead that can be transmuted into gold. But it’s also important to be prudent about your dealings with gold. Consider the fable of the golden goose. The bird’s owner grew impatient because it laid only one gold egg per day; he foolishly slaughtered his prize animal...

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O Cannabis: Swapping bongs to benefit the Holyoke Creative Arts Center
Jul26

O Cannabis: Swapping bongs to benefit the Holyoke Creative Arts Center

The Great New England Marijuana Accessories Swap Meet will be “like an Antique’s Roadshow for bongs.” According to Jeff Bianchine, director of the Holyoke Creative Arts Center, which will benefit from the fundraiser event, potentially hundreds of people swapping, selling, or purchasing marijuana accessories and two appraisers of marijuana accessories available to buyers or sellers. The bong swap is slated for Aug. 26...

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Valley Show Girl: A show/album review for Body/Head
Jul26

Valley Show Girl: A show/album review for Body/Head

I have been to a handful of noise shows at The Root Cellar in downtown Greenfield and I just love the vibe. So, I gave up my usual lazy Sunday night and made my way over to check out the happenings. I sat at the bar and finally had the pleasure of ordering a Coconut Ginger Libation (so good, and I’m NOT a coconut fan). My sparkly leggings illuminated a blue tint under the neon lights at the bar. I moved over to a table set up...

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Basemental: Body/Head’s album could be a soundtrack for the end of the world … or capitalism
Jul26

Basemental: Body/Head’s album could be a soundtrack for the end of the world … or capitalism

The experimental guitar duo Body / Head — Kim Gordon and Bill Nace — released their second studio album, The Switch, earlier this month on Matador. The band’s 2013 debut, Coming Apart, skewed closer to traditional songs, at least in the abstract sense. Gordon, who, of course, played in Sonic Youth, honed her monotone-like singing over her and Nace’s guitars on that record. But, on The Switch, vocals take a back seat to more of a...

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Stagestruck Abroad: Two plays in London show theater’s unique power
Jul25

Stagestruck Abroad: Two plays in London show theater’s unique power

When I was recently in London, I saw two plays with connections to my favorite (make that favourite) British venue, the National Theatre. One was an African-American riff on a 19th-century melodrama, the other a dramatic immersion in a migrant camp on the English Channel. Though quite different in style and content, both wrestle ingeniously with wrenching issues and engage their audiences in unorthodox ways. An Octoroon has just...

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Staff Picks: Greenfield Psych Fest, Elliot Street Block Party, and The Machine Shop
Jul25

Staff Picks: Greenfield Psych Fest, Elliot Street Block Party, and The Machine Shop

Greenfield Psych Fest at Hawks & Reed // SUNDAY, July 29 It’s going to be two floors of psychedelic rock music from noon until 9 p.m. at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Sunday, July 29. On the lineup are surf meets Latin-influenced psych rock band Money Chicha (Austin, Tex.), local avant-garde progressive psych band Bunnies (pictured), Ralph White of Bad Livers (Austin, Tex.), Greenfield-based polyrhythmic...

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State organization calls for 100 percent renewable energy in Massachusetts by 2035
Jul24

State organization calls for 100 percent renewable energy in Massachusetts by 2035

For Ben Hellerstein, state director of advocacy organization Environment Massachusetts, the state is moving in a good direction with regard to renewable energy, but it needs to do more. “Even being number one is not enough,” he said, adding that Massachusetts is ranked seventh in the nation for new solar projects and first for energy efficiency. Hellerstein was among the speakers at the Hitchcock Center in Amherst on Tuesday, July 24,...

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The V-Spot: How Do I Amp Up Masturbation?
Jul24

The V-Spot: How Do I Amp Up Masturbation?

Hi Yana, I’ve been single for two years now and haven’t engaged in any partnered sexual activity throughout that time. I was wondering if you have any recommendations for adding excitement for one’s masturbation practice? I recently got a new vibrator which is great and a lesbian erotica anthology that I like. Any porn collectives you are a fan of? Thanks! “Dancing” with Myself   Dear “Dancing,” A fresh, charged...

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Expressing a love for humanity through cutting hair in Amherst
Jul24

Expressing a love for humanity through cutting hair in Amherst

You can pretty much get any hair cut or styling that you could think of from around the world at Global Cuts International World of Barber Styling in Amherst, whether that’s highly stylized facial or hair cuts or something out of the ordinary. Khayyam Mahdi, owner of Global Cuts, said he’s seen everything under the sun when it comes to his professional experience as a barber and hair stylist. Everything old becomes new again in terms...

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Monte Belmonte Wines: The Rosé List at The Ashfield Lake House
Jul24

Monte Belmonte Wines: The Rosé List at The Ashfield Lake House

As an aspiring wine snob, ordering a glass of wine at a restaurant can be a risky business. Your abysmal choices may range from overly-oaked Chardonnays to mega-purple, mass produced, fruit bombs to the dreaded Pinot Grigio poured from bottles that have been open two days too long. That’s why it was a pleasant surprise when The Belmontes piled into a booth at The Ashfield Lake House and I took a look at their rosé list. The Lake House...

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Fighting back against the fitness summer slide
Jul24

Fighting back against the fitness summer slide

Summer vacation is a much needed break for both kids and parents and often serves as a respite from rigorous schedules that might include music lessons, team sports, and other extracurriculars. But while many parents concern themselves with summer learning loss, or summer slide, fewer focus on the potential decline in their child’s physical fitness. Just as summer brings an end to academics, for many it also closes the door on...

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Podcast: Local author Kathy Harrison discusses being prepared for your own personal apocalypse
Jul23

Podcast: Local author Kathy Harrison discusses being prepared for your own personal apocalypse

Kathy Harrison doesn’t believe the zombies are coming to get us. But she does believe in being prepared for the worst. Harrison, of Cummington, just wrote her fifth book, called Prepping 101: 40 steps you can take to be prepared. Stocking up on necessities might seem obvious, but another thing Harrison takes pride in is stocking up on the good will of her neighbors. “I’m not food secure unless my neighbors are food...

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Free Will Astrology: Libra, your new nickname is Delicadeza
Jul23

Free Will Astrology: Libra, your new nickname is Delicadeza

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Be extra polite and deferential. Cultivate an exaggerated respect for the status quo. Spend an inordinate amount of time watching dumb TV shows while eating junk food. Make sure you’re exposed to as little natural light and fresh air as possible. JUST KIDDING! I lied! Ignore everything I just said! Here’s my real advice: Dare yourself to feel strong positive emotions. Tell secrets to animals and...

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Cinemadope: Christopher Robin explores what stays with us from childhood
Jul23

Cinemadope: Christopher Robin explores what stays with us from childhood

Close your eyes, and think back to the stories of your youth. It’s remarkable, how strongly they stay with us. The recent release of Morgan Neville’s Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? put a spell on me, casting me back to my own childhood — Fred Rogers and his neighborhood friends were a big part of those years — and reminding me of just how much I took from the man and his manner. Even today, I love a good zip-up...

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Parents bring their small children to rally at Greenfield jail and ICE facility opposing family separation practices
Jul20

Parents bring their small children to rally at Greenfield jail and ICE facility opposing family separation practices

Two days after the state Legislature removed a set of provisions in its budget that would have protected immigrants in Massachusetts, a group of activists met in front of an immigrant detainment center in Greenfield to sing songs and demand an end to cruel treatment of immigrant families. More than 50 people participated in the action, which took place at 11 a.m. Friday, July 20, at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and jail...

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Infrared saunas: Sweating it out — in a dry heat
Jul20

Infrared saunas: Sweating it out — in a dry heat

It’s warm — very warm. I’m sitting on a wooden bench leaning against an ergonomic backrest. The small room within a room is lined on three sides by cedar paneling with a glass door looking out into a small dim entryway where towels had been provided to wrap myself in. There is a chromotherapy light on the ceiling designed to provide different colored lighting to ease various ailments: blue light to fight inflammation, orange for...

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Western Mass millenials find fitness in the extreme
Jul20

Western Mass millenials find fitness in the extreme

Think of a gym. Muscle-bound men do tricep curls while women in spandex pedal endless miles on exercise bikes. Now forget all that. Those things may still happen, but you’re more likely to see it with people over 50. Those in their 20s and 30s, known as millennials, have something different in mind. Nicole Harvey, the manager and a certified personal trainer at Asylum Fitness in Palmer, said their clients range in age from 12-92,...

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Make your own dog food? Some local pet owners swear by it
Jul19

Make your own dog food? Some local pet owners swear by it

A big yellow lab named Jack laid down on the couch while his black litter-mate, Sophie, slept stretched out on the floor. At 11 years old, both dogs are old for their breed but aside for some arthritis in Jack’s hips and a diagnosis of Lyme disease for Sophie, they are in remarkably good health. Their owner, Amy Ingalls, 45, of Ware, attributes this to their diet, a homemade mixture of pig and cow hearts and livers from the butcher,...

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V-Spot: So I Looked At My BF’s Google History…
Jul18

V-Spot: So I Looked At My BF’s Google History…

Hi Yana, This is a really hard thing to write. I recently went through my partner’s phone. (Yikes I know. I wanted to know what he got for my birthday). While scrolling in the web history I found he’s been watching gay porn and Googling personal ads on Craigslist. He’s in his fifties and I’m about two decades younger than him so I’m a little bit more open about my sexuality. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the porn he’s...

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Staff Picks: Jazz in July, Poetic Recovery, and Shakespeare Under the Stars
Jul18

Staff Picks: Jazz in July, Poetic Recovery, and Shakespeare Under the Stars

Jazz in July Week 2 All Star Faculty Concert // THURSDAY, July 19 It’s not truly July until UMass launches the Jazz in July program in Amherst. And The Jazz in July faculty concerts are always showstoppers. Greg Caputo, Steve Davis, Bob Ferrier, Catherine Jensen-Hole, Jeff Holmes, Steve Johns, Genevieve Rose, Felipe Salles, Christian Sands and Shigefumi “Fumi” Tomita are scheduled to take the stage at Bezanson Recital...

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Out of the spotlight: Sexual assault lurks in the Pioneer Valley local music scene
Jul17

Out of the spotlight: Sexual assault lurks in the Pioneer Valley local music scene

Author’s note: This article discusses sexual assault and trauma and includes personal stories from victims of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. The Pioneer Valley is unique for its thriving and diverse music scene with dozens of venues and hundreds of local musicians. Groups like the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., and Staind all got their start in the area in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2015 online music magazine Pitchfork declared that...

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Massachusetts high court provides cover for those who want to stop you from voting
Jul17

Massachusetts high court provides cover for those who want to stop you from voting

Sometimes living in deep blue Massachusetts can feel comforting when observing the daily horror show that now passes for our federal government. A case in point: as the U.S. Senate edges toward nominating President Donald Trump’s second arch-conservative Supreme Court pick, who could seriously endanger the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, the Massachusetts House is working to pass a bill to protect abortion rights in...

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Valley Show Girl: Family Fun Day at Green River Festival
Jul17

Valley Show Girl: Family Fun Day at Green River Festival

For the past 32 years, the Green River Festival has taken over a weekend in July, spreading out over the fields at Greenfield Community College — three days filled to the brim with music, food, drinks, art, crafts, vendors, hot air balloons, and community. This year, I brought my 7-year-old son on Saturday for his first festival. In the six hours that we were there, it was a nonstop colorful ride. We parked down the street and were...

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Podcast: Ashfield Resident Tom Leue Invents Heating System that Runs on Vegetable Oil
Jul16

Podcast: Ashfield Resident Tom Leue Invents Heating System that Runs on Vegetable Oil

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Ashfield inventor Tom Leue. When making his own brand of biodiesel, an alternative fuel made from plant matter, he accidentally set fire to his workshop and burned it to the ground (hear about the fireball that ensued at minute 15). Still, his commitment to selling biodiesel (made by other people) has lasted 19 years. Now Leue has come up with an invention that will allow users to heat their...

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Cinemadope: The Theme Song’s the Thing in Mission: Impossible
Jul16

Cinemadope: The Theme Song’s the Thing in Mission: Impossible

Film and television may be the land of the moving image, but it has sure given us a lot of great music over the years. Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, quietly breathing out Moon River. Shirley Bassey’s brassy, wagging Goldfinger. The many themes and soundtracks that have become cultural touchstones: The Pink Panther. Jaws. Psycho. But while some of those melodies dig deep into our psyches — the ominous see-saw of the Jaws riff kept...

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Free Will Astrology: Advice from Kafka, Kahlo, and bodybuilder Kai Greene
Jul16

Free Will Astrology: Advice from Kafka, Kahlo, and bodybuilder Kai Greene

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.” Whenever that quote appears on the Internet, it’s falsely attributed to painter Frida Kahlo. In fact, it was originally composed by poet Marty McConnell. In any case, I’ll recommend that you heed it in the coming weeks. You really do need to focus on associating with allies who see the mysterious and lyrical best in you. I will also suggest that you...

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