Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Docu-Comedy Explores Diversity in “The Muslims Are Coming!

By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Sept. 24, 2013
(This story appeared Sept. 27, 2013, in the Somerville Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

SOMERVILLE, MA—They traveled all over the country hosting stand up comedy routines and waving their “Hug a Muslim” posters proudly. Now, comedians and filmmakers, Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah, are coming to the Boston area to screen their new film, The Muslims are Coming.

The film uses comedy to combat prejudices and stereotypes placed on Muslim-Americans. Organizers of National Welcoming Week in Massachusetts—which is part of a national movement called Welcoming America that highlights the contributions of immigrants—knew the film was a good fit with their theme this year, “Uniting Neighbors, Celebrating Diversity.” They decided to partner with the filmmakers to sponsor the screening, along with other events, during its Welcome Week.

The Muslims are Coming opens Friday, September 27 at the Somerville Theatre, with a question and answer time with Farsad and Obeidallah to follow. The documentary’s world release was last October at the Austin Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award, and was re-released this year in Chicago on September 12. It has screened already this month in New York and Los Angeles, and runs in Somerville through October 3.

“What we’re trying to do is create a different cultural concept for Muslim Americans,” Farsad said during a phone interview. “We have these associations that Muslims are dusty people walking down the street with AK-47’s (and) just constantly violent. When in reality, Muslims can look like me. They can be stand up comedians, or really bad at bowling, who knows?”

Friday, September 20, 2013

Skateboard Ban Up in the Air with Salem Committee

William Watson, 7, at
Bamboozle Skate Shop

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
Sept. 20, 2013
(This story appeared Sept. 21, 2013, in the Salem news online section of the Boston Globe.)

SALEM–Many Salem skateboarders may be surprised to hear that they are breaking the law when they take to the streets. 

In the mid 1980s, city officials passed a law to ban skateboarding after a young man was killed in a skateboarding accident on the street.

Mayor Kimberley Driscoll is hoping to lift the Section 24-7 ordinance, which states that, “it shall be unlawful for any person to play at skateboarding in any street or sidewalk within the city limits.”

Despite the law, Driscoll said there has been an increase in people of all ages, not just teenagers or adolescents, who are using skateboards around town.

“They’re out on the roads now, even with the ban in place,” said Driscoll. “So it becomes a tough issue from the police department’s perspective. Frankly, we don’t have the resources or the desire to chase down every skateboarder.”

The amended ordinance, which is currently being reviewed by a City Council Committee, would make skateboarding legal in Salem except on sidewalks and the Essex Street Mall between New Liberty and Washington Streets and Highland Avenue. If passed, it would become effective this fall.

Driscoll believes that if skateboarding is regulated so that it can be done safely, like bicycling, then there is no need for it to be banned entirely.

Lt. Conrad Prosniewski of the Salem Police Department agrees.

“This skateboard ordinance was put there for a purpose and perhaps it has already served its purpose,” he said. “Hopefully people understand now that with a skateboard, bike, or anything other vehicle, you have to be careful.”

Community Unites to Leave Cinema Reeling

By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
Sept. 19, 2013
(This story appeared Sept. 23, 2013, in the Gloucester Times.)

GLOUCESTER—Ever since they donated 200 DVDs to the Cape Ann Community Cinema’s lending library, Marty and Michele Del Vecchio have stood behind the Cinema’s cause. So supporting the independent theater this summer when it launched its first major online fundraiser seemed like a no-brainer.

Apparently, the Del Vecchio’s weren’t the only ones who thought so.

“We received an average of $130 per donor,” says the Cinema’s founder and owner Robert Newton, 44. “I’m still reeling. I just never dreamed it would be this successful.”

The fundraiser—which began May 23 and ended July 22—is helping pay for current upgrades for the screening equipment, upgrades that are necessary, according to CinemaSalem’s Paul Van Ness, 62, and part of a national trend for independent theaters.

“Most major film distributors are now only distributing their movies in a digital format,” says Van Ness, who this past year conducted a similar campaign to upgrade CinemaSalem’s projectors. “Independent theaters that are not equipped to screen to the industry’s standard must upgrade or they lose the capacity to play the movies that most people want to see.”

But these upgrades aren’t cheap. In the case of the Cape Ann Community Cinema, the majority of the fundraiser’s $30,000 goal went directly to the new equipment. The Cinema raised $54,000, however, and the money continued to flow in by mail.

More than $24,000 over their goal, none of the funds will be wasted, Newton said. The Cinema is also installing a new sound system, a tiered platform to increase seating capacity, and is covering the budget of the Cinema’s first feature film, “Over Cape Ann,” a new version of a television movie that has been playing since 1988.

Recycled Boat Sails, Flowers and Bathmats Strut Wearable Art Runway

Artist Beth Williams prepares work for the Show.

By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Sept. 20, 2013 
(This story appeared Sept. 21, 2013, in the Gloucester online site of the Boston Globe.)

GLOUCESTER, MA—A wedding dress created from recycled boat sails and two dresses made of flowers are just a few of over 30 wearable art looks on the runway for the Celebrate Wearable Art Show on September 29. Hosted by the Society for Encouragement of the Arts (seARTS) at the Cruiseport Gloucester, attendees can indulge in high tea, enjoy a serenade from the Beverly High School Jazz Quintet, and see original, wearable art from local Cape Ann Artisans. The event brings Boston Fashion Week to the North Shore for the day.

“We have everything from Manchester High School students—making bath mat dresses with teacher, Marion Powers—to the sculpture class at Montserrat, to a professor at Endicott, to a couture designer from New York with her full collection,” said Jacqueline Michelle Ganim-DeFalco, chair of the board for seARTS. “It’s the kind of event that will engage the community creatively on many different levels.”

WOW—New Zealand’s annual World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards Show—inspired seARTS to begin its own seven year ago. Cape Ann’s 13-year-old arts-based organization hosted its first Celebrate Wearable Art show in 2011 at the Bass Rocks Golf Club, where they sold out. The show is the only fundraiser hosted by seARTS, and all proceeds go to the organization. This year, the runway is back with more ticket sales—over 300—priced at $100, a larger location and more designers to showcase their work.

“This event is a great opportunity for young artists or even for people like me. You know, you have a dream, and then you can do it; it’s just possible,” said Frieda Grotjahn, 52, who has owned her East Gloucester store Again & Again for the past eight years. “Otherwise you try to go to Boston for something like this, but it’s right here.”

This year, Grotjahn is bringing something new to the runway: her Grace Kelly-inspired wedding dress made out of recycled spinnaker boat sails.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ipswich Harvest Fest: Vintage Baseball Meets Beer on Tapmobiles

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
September 10, 2013
(This story appeared Sept. 10, 2013, in the Boston Globe, online Your Town site.)

NEWBURY --What’s a harvest fest without a game of baseball and a truckload of ale?

This Saturday from 12-6 pm at Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm in Newbury, Ipswich Ale Brewery will kick off North Shore Beer Week with its annual Harvest Fest, complete with a bouncy house, vintage baseball games, and four “tapmobiles,” rentable vehicles into which the taps are built, filled with ale.

Since the Brewery opened in 1991, some variation of the festival has been held, and has grown each year, with an estimated 1,600-2,000 attendees expected this year, according to Mary Gormley, 25, of Methuen and the sales and events coordinator of Ipswich Ale Brewery

“This is just one of the events where we get to showcase everything we’ve got,” said Gormley. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

Gormley says the Brewery’s taps and tapmobiles will have a variety of beers available, including a cask ale that is a variation of the brewery’s fall seasonal Harvest Ale.

The tap mobiles might seem a thing of the future as they drive by some of the Fest’s vintage baseball games playing by 1864 rules. Sponsored by the Essex Baseball Organization, four teams have been playing at Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm for eight years now, with Ipswich Ale Brewery a regular sponsor.