JANUARY 19, 2021
A Photo and Interview Series by Barry Goldstein
In America, the inauguration of a Commander In Chief is traditionally a time of celebration. Politicians, special guests, and everyday Americans converge on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Capitol building to mark the swearing in of the next President of the United States. Full of pomp and circumstance, inaugurations are an important democratic ritual and a symbol of the peaceful transfer of power.
May 14, 2021
The Mass Poetry Festival is being held this weekend, and in honor of that we bring you the work of acclaimed local poet, Martín Espada, who is taking part in the festival. Drawing upon both a personal encounter he had with a cab
The Mass Poetry Festival is being held this weekend, and in honor of that we bring you the work of acclaimed local poet, Martín Espada, who is taking part in the festival.
Drawing upon both a personal encounter he had with a cab driver in Boston, and the story of a notorious murder case of Chuck Stuart, a Bostonian who murdered his wife, blamed it on a made-up black car-jacker and almost got away with it, Espada tackles issues of race by, in his own words, “framing the present through the lens of the past.”
Martín reads this poem, entitled Jumping Off the Mystic Tobin Bridge, for us.
Read Jumping Off the Mystic Tobin Bridge by Martín Espada
I close my eyes and see him windmilling his arms as he plummets from
the Mystic Tobin Bridge, to prove me wrong, to show me he was good,
to atone for sins like seeds in the lopsided apple of his heart, but mostly
to escape from me in the back of his cab, a Puerto Rican lawyer in a suit and tie.
I hated the 111 bus, sweltering in my suit and tie with the crowd in the aisle,
waiting to hit a bump on the Mystic Tobin Bridge so my head would finally
burst through the ceiling like a giraffe on a circus train. I hated the 111 bus
after eviction day in Chelsea District Court, translating the landlords and judges
into Spanish so the tenants knew they had to stuff their clothing into garbage
bags and steal away again, away from the 40-watt squint that followed them
everywhere, that followed me because I stood beside them in court. I would
daydream in the humidity of the bus, a basketball hero, flipping the balled-up
pages of the law into the wastebasket at the office as the legal aid lawyers
chanted my name. I hated the 111 bus. I had to take a taxicab that day.
What the hell you doing here? said the driver of the cab to me in my suit
and tie. You gotta be careful in this neighborhood. There’s a lotta Josés
around here. The driver’s great-grandfather staggered off a boat so his
great-grandson could one day drive me across the Mystic Tobin Bridge,
but there was no room in the taxi for chalk and a blackboard. He could
hear the sawing of my breath as I leaned into his ear, past the bulletproof
barricade somehow missing, and said: I’m a José. I could see the 40-watt
squint in his rearview mirror. I’m Puerto Rican, I said. It was exactly
5 pm, and we were stuck in traffic in a taxi on the Mystic Tobin Bridge.
The driver stammered his own West Side Story without the ballet,
how a Puerto Rican gang stole his cousin’s wallet years ago. You think
I’m gonna rob you? I said, in my suit and tie, close enough now to tickle
his ear with the mouth of a revolver. I could hear the sawing of his breath.
He still wanted to know what I was doing there. I’m a lawyer. I go to court
with all the Josés, I said. Stalled traffic steamed around us, the breath
of cattle in the winter air. Where you going for the holidays? the driver said.
I thought about Christmas Eve in court, eviction orders flying from the judge’s
bench when tenants without legal aid lawyers, or children old enough to translate
the English of the summons, did not answer to their names. Every year, the legal
aid lawyers told the joke about the Christmas Defense: Your honor, it’s Christmas!
I said to the driver: I will be spending Christmas right here with my fellow Josés.
The driver shouted: What do you want me to do? Get out of this cab and jump off
the bridge? We both knew what he meant. We both knew about Chuck Stuart,
the last man to jump off the Mystic Tobin Bridge. Everybody knew how Chuck
drove his wife to Mission Hill after birthing classes, the ash and pop in the dark
when he shot her in the head and himself in the belly. Everybody knew how
he conjured a Black carjacker on the crackling call to 911 the way the Mercury
Theatre on the Air conjured Martians in New Jersey on the radio half a century
before. Everybody knew how a hundred cops pounded on door after door
in the projects of Mission Hill, locking a Black man in a cage for the world to see
like the last of his tribe on exhibit at the World’s Fair. Everybody knew how
Chuck would have escaped, cashing the insurance check to drive away with
a new Nissan, but for his brother’s confession, the accomplice throwing
the Gucci bag with makeup, the wedding rings, and the gun off the Dizzy Bridge
in Revere. Everybody knew how Chuck parked his new car on the lower deck,
left a note and launched himself deep into the black water, how the cops
hauled his body from the river by lunchtime, when I walked into the office
to tell the secretary: Chuck Stuart just jumped off the Mystic Tobin Bridge.
I said nothing to the driver. I almost nodded yes in the rearview mirror. I confess,
for a flash, I wanted him to jump. The driver, the cops, the landlords, the judges
all wanted us to jump off the Mystic Tobin Bridge, all wanted us to sprout gills
like movie monsters so we could paddle underwater back to the islands, down
into the weeds and mud at the bottom, past the fish-plucked ribcages of the dead,
the rusty revolvers of a thousand crimes unsolved, the wedding rings of marriages
gone bad, till we washed up onshore in a tangle of seaweed, gasping for air.
Last night, still more landed here, clothing stuffed in garbage bags, to flee the god
of hurricanes flinging their houses into the sky or the god of hunger slipping
his knife between the ribs, not a dark tide like the tide of the Mystic River, but
builders of bridges. You can walk across the bridges they build. Or you can jump.
May 7, 2021
Universally, grandmothers are held in high regard and play important roles in the lives of many families. Through a grant awarded by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Holyoke Media is exploring the unique stories
Universally, grandmothers are held in high regard and play important roles in the lives of many families. Through a grant awarded by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Holyoke Media is exploring the unique stories of our grandmothers in a multimedia and multicultural exhibit titled Our Grandmothers.
With stories and photos submitted by adult grandchildren, Our Grandmothers celebrates the influence these grandmothers have both on their family’s lives and in their communities.
Zydalis Bauer spoke with Waleska Santiago-Centeno, the Exhibit Curator, to learn more about this project and why it is so important to capture the stories of our matriarchs.
Submit a reflection about your grandmother.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Universally, grandmothers tend to be held in high regard and play important roles in the lives of many families.
Through a grant awarded by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Holyoke Media will present the fourth iteration of a multimedia and multicultural exhibit titled Our Grandmothers. With stories and photos being submitted to the exhibit by adult grandchildren, it celebrates the influence these grandmothers have had on their families' lives and in their communities.
I spoke with Waleska Santiago-Centeno, the exhibit curator, to learn more about this exhibit and why it's so important to capture these stories.
Waleska Santiago-Centeno, Exhibit Curator: This is an amazing project. I've been doing it since 2007. Every time is different. Every time we have different experiences.
Sometimes we don't know if we are celebrating, mourning, crying, or laughing with all those experiences and all those beautiful, wonderful stories.
This one is special because we encourage people from different backgrounds, different ethnicity, to participate. So, you don't have to be Latino or you don't have to be a woman. It's open to everyone.
Zydalis Bauer: It seems that across all cultures, this connection between grandmothers and grandchildren is very deep. And this recent iteration of this exhibit is really going to show that.
What do you think it is about grandmothers that just make them so special?
Waleska Santiago-Centeno: You know, this is make me think about my own grandmother. So, this is a reflection. I think grandmothers hold a special place in our society -- in many societies. I think that legacy we carry with us, sometimes we acknowledge that. Sometimes we don't. So, that's part of this project that you go through that and reflect on your grandparents and see how much you see them in yourself. So, this is really important.
And also, I want to highlight something here about grandparents. Today, in the twenty first century, we have a lot of grandparents that are parents as well. So, I want to just highlight that. That is very important.
But in the exhibition, I want all different kind of experiences from the grandmother that could cook or bake a wonderful cake, from a grandmother that probably you don't know. Probably you have something that you remember about that grandma.
I have a little story about a friend. I was talking to her and encourage her to participate. And she never met the grandma, but she has a plant that comes back to that grandma. So, she's going to write something that has to do with that plant and and the flowers and that make her think about her grandmother.
Zydalis Bauer: One story that was particularly touching for me was that of the grandmother who has Alzheimer's and doesn't really recognize her granddaughter anymore. But when she receives a kiss from her granddaughter, it puts a smile on her face, and it brings back that connection.
What story has left a significant impact on you?
Waleska Santiago-Centeno: Oh, we have one story. We have many stories. But one of them touched my soul was, we have a story from my immigrant that she cannot tell us her name due to immigration laws. And then she wrote Anonymous and we call it Our Sister of Guatmela, and the grandmother was about to be one hundred years old, indigenous, and then she would not have the opportunity to go back, if the the grandma passed away, to see her. And that gave me goosebumps. That was one of the most powerful ones that I ever received.
But I have to tell you, all of them are powerful. I had to tell you when I have to edit all these stories, I have a box of tissues because sometimes I cannot continue. I had to take a deep breath and then go back because all of them are experiences, in many different ways, that talks about the universal theme that connects all of us. And all of them are really, really important. All of my stories are really important.
Zydalis Bauer: One thing that I didn't really necessarily realize, was that the stories of our grandmothers are telling the story in the history of our country. And it was just really amazing to me, because you're not thinking about that.
What other revelations have come to light through these stories?
Waleska Santiago-Centeno: Oh, when we're thinking about that, listen, this is go back to oral history, culture studies. This go back to community history. And this is something that when we're thinking about history of stories, we only think of other powerful people.
Well, we're not thinking about that we have powerful people in our own family, in our own communities. And this is part of it. I think we have to recognize that legacy in many different ways. And this is a way to recognize this, because otherwise, these stories are going to be lost.
And that's the project, too. The project, is to recuperate and preserve those stories that connect all of us.
Zydalis Bauer: And that's exactly what I was going to ask you next, because when I think about my own grandmother, and the connection that I have with her, and the stories and the sacrifices and the struggles, I don't want any of that to be lost in vain.
So, beyond this exhibit, how can we make sure that we capture these stories so that they're not forgotten?
Waleska Santiago-Centeno: So, it's many ways that you can represent and tell the story. It's not one way. I'm not looking for an essay. I'm not looking for a perfect essay, either. I'm not looking for a perfect grandma, either. So, you don't have to worry about that. I'm looking for the story. What impact, what legacy, what you remember, what is important to you, and to your family through that through the eyes of this grandchild that sees grandma.
Zydalis Bauer: Now, this is the fourth iteration coming up for this exhibit. Why do you feel the need to keep continuing this exhibit and bringing it back to things?
Waleska Santiago-Centeno: Well, two things. One, people ask me all the time, when are you going to do another one, we need to! Because every time we do it, people feel the need to tell the story. So, I think grandmother has a powerful, powerful role in our culture. And I think in any, in many cultures, right?
And that's why I think this is powerful, because we all have grandmothers. I mean, we cannot be here if we don't have grandmas and grandpas, right?
So, I mean, I think that if we go back to that, it's very important to to have those those stories and those memories alive. You know, that's that's part of this project.
May 7, 2021
𝗟𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘀𝗰𝗮𝗽𝗲 𝗣𝗵𝗼𝘁𝗼𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗝𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝗹𝗰𝗼𝗺-𝗕𝗿𝗼𝘄𝗻“𝘗𝘳𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘭𝘺, 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦. 𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘴. 𝘐 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘥𝘳𝘢𝘮𝘢 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺’𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘱.”Local photographer Jamie Mal
𝗟𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘀𝗰𝗮𝗽𝗲 𝗣𝗵𝗼𝘁𝗼𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗝𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝗹𝗰𝗼𝗺-𝗕𝗿𝗼𝘄𝗻
“𝘗𝘳𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘭𝘺, 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦. 𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘴. 𝘐 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘥𝘳𝘢𝘮𝘢 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺’𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘱.”
Local photographer Jamie Malcom-Brown is known as one of the best landscape photographers in the region. Join him early one morning as he captures a stunning New England sunrise.
𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻 𝗠𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁...
Last year, 𝗝𝗮𝗰𝗼𝗯’𝘀 𝗣𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄 was forced to close to due the pandemic and lost a historic theater in a fire. Visit the Berkshire mecca of dance, where Executive Director Pamela Tatge shares what’s in store for the Pillow’s 2021 season.
Then, exhibit curator Waleska Santiago-Centeno discusses Holyoke Media’s 𝙊𝙪𝙧 𝙂𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙢𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙨. The multimedia, multicultural exhibit explores the unique stories and role of grandmothers in family life and the community.
Finally, explore the history of the iconic 𝗠𝗜𝗙𝗔 𝗩𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗿𝗲 in Holyoke and learn about the ongoing renovations to revamp the Paper City’s historic landmark.
May 7, 2021
Since 1933, national and international dance companies have gathered at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket for performances, talks, and tours. Like many cultural institutions in the Berkshires, the Pillow was forced to cancel its summer se
Since 1933, national and international dance companies have gathered at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket for performances, talks, and tours.
Like many cultural institutions in the Berkshires, the Pillow was forced to cancel its summer season last year – and to make matters worse, the Pillow lost one of their theaters to a fire in November 2020.
But, what’s in store this year for the Berkshire cultural institution? Producer Dave Fraser talked with Jacobs Pillow’s Executive Director Pamela Tatge to learn more about the 2021 season and get her thoughts on last year.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Since 1933, national and international dance companies have gathered at world-renowned Jacob's Pillow in Becket for performances, talks, and tours.
Like many cultural institutions in the Berkshires, the Pillow was forced to cancel its summer season last year. And to make matters worse, this past November, they lost one of their theaters to a fire.
What's in store for this year? Producer Dave Fraser talks with Jacobs Pillow's executive director to learn more and reflect back on last year.
Pamela Tatge, Jacob’s Pillow Executive Director: Our values, who we are, was tested this year. And it's through times of crisis that you learn about the people that you work with.
Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: Even by the standards of 2020, Jacob's Pillow had a tough year. Not only was the dance center in Becket forced to cancel its annual summer festival for the first time in its history, but last November it lost one of its indoor theaters, The Doris Duke, to a fire.
Pamela Tatge: It was a tragedy. It was -- it was so final. There was no going back. We had firefighters from six different towns who converged here, to slow the fire. Not a single ember, you know, drifted. We could have lost so much more.
Dave Fraser: For over 80 years, people have descended on this 200-plus acre wooded campus tucked away off Route 20 in the hills of Becket. They come to see the best the dance world has to offer.
National and international companies perform here nightly during the summer months. The Pillow stands high on a tall list in the Berkshires.
Pamela Tatge: We were founded in 1933 by Ted Shawn, who had this idea that he was pioneering new ideas in dance, wanting to sort of think more broadly about what dance could be in our world. And he wanted a retreat, a place where in particular men dancers could realize themselves.
We are a place where the country and the world comes to think about dance, to see dance, to meet, and have had a really important place in dance history.
Dave Fraser: Part of that history was the Doris Duke Theater, one of three primary spaces at the Pillow. Plans are already underway to rebuild the lost theater.
Pamela Tatge: We have the opportunity to now think about a structure, a theater for the 21st century. What does that theater need? How can we make it be a theater that is accessible, that is a place where people want to go, that might actually help us attract new audiences?
Dave Fraser: The Pillow's other indoor theater, the Ted Shawn, is currently in the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation. The history of those who performed at the Shawn is literally written on the walls of the dressing room.
But theatrical technology has transformed over the years, and audiences expect more comfort than a theater built 78 years ago can provide.
Pamela Tatge: The Ted Shawn Theater is the flagship American dance theater. It was the first structure built specifically for dance. And it is is tired.
So, we've taken advantage of this to to take the Shawn off line between now and the summer of'22, which is next year, our 90th anniversary. And we're doing a complete renovation of the stage area. It will be deeper, wider, higher, reinforced, and most importantly, we will have air conditioning and ventilation.
Dave Fraser: The cancellation of last year's festival also meant cutbacks and layoffs. But the Pillow, in support of its mission to enhance and deepen people's appreciation and support of dance, pivoted to its digital platform in ways it had never done before, offering workshops, dance performances, and talks with dance scholars.
Pamela Tatge: Thirty eight events in eight weeks, and we were able to reach thousands of audiences. And I think everyone is saying this is the silver lining about this time, that we are giving access to these incredible institutions that everyone's heard of but maybe never been able to get to before.
Dave Fraser: So, needless to say, 2021 is off to a brighter start at Jacob's Pillow, as plans for this year's festival were announced last month. They include in-person events on the Pillow's outdoor stage, as well as site-specific works that will unfold throughout the campus.
Pamela Tatge: It's a very generative place. I use that word a lot. We feel a sense of retreat.
People have called it a refuge, a sanctuary. And I think it's because all of the spirits of everyone who's been here before, join you when you when you arrive and you have the feeling of the history that's taken place here.