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Local Luminaries

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lights up on Newburgh Illuminated

Posted By on Sun, Jun 15, 2014 at 9:00 AM

click image newburgh-illuminated-banner-bg.jpg

In the late 1800s, Thomas Edison brought his most famous invention, the electric light bulb, to Newburgh. Edison's company built the city's first power plant in 1884, making Newburgh one of the first cities in the world to be electrified. It's from this moment in history that the Newburgh Illuminated Festival (June 20-22) draws its inspiration. More than 50 giant lightbulbs will adorn the city streets, each individually decorated by local artists, as a symbol of the city's illuminated history.

Even before that, Newburgh was a bustling mini-metropolis, a hub of transportation, industry, and manufacturing, producing everything from boxes to bricks. In 1939, RCA test-marketed their new invention, the television set, in Newburgh, a good decade before Milton Berle and Lucille Ball turned the device into a must have for the rest of America. Now as the city has begun to see some signs of economic growth the organizers of the festival aim to highlight the city's storied history while also emphasizing the renewal and potential of the present day.

Under the theme “Made in Newburgh,” the festival will feature an exhibit by the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands that aims to tell the story of the manufacturing history of Newburgh. Other events include a punk concert Friday evening, special children's activities Saturday, and an art show Sunday afternoon. The festival runs from June 20-22, for more information check out their website. The exhibit will be on display between June 22 and August 30 at the Captain David Crawford House, see the historical society's website for more information.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Brangelina Buy Hudson Valley Home, Exclusive Photos!

Posted By on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 5:01 PM

11/26 9:30am update: Despite the vigorous rumors swirling yesterday around the sale of Petra island to Brangelina yesterday, credible reports indicate that Brad and Angelina will not, in fact, be our neighbors. —The Ed.
Brad Pitt at his Petra Island home.
  • Brad Pitt at his Petra Island home.

Chronogram profiled this secluded Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired structure back in May 2011, when it was owned by sheet-metal mogul Joe Massaro. When we learned that Angelina Jolie bought it for Brad Pitt as a 50th birthday present, we sent around a photographer. Here are some pics we snapped of the happy couple on their 50-acre heart-shaped island on Lake Mahopac.

Brad Pitt standing in front of the plans for his new Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home.
  • Brad Pitt standing in front of the plans for his new Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home.
Brangenlina in the dining room.
  • Brangenlina in the dining room.
Brangelina outside the authentic Frank Lloyd Wright cottage.
  • Brangelina outside the authentic Frank Lloyd Wright cottage.
Brangelina in their funky fresh bathroom.
  • Brangelina in their funky fresh bathroom.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Simi Stone sings new songs at Colony Cafe

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 12:09 AM

Simi Stone at the Colony Cafe

It’s no secret, that I’m a huge Simi Stone fan! I try to see her whenever she performs in Woodstock so I had to go see her perform at The Colony Cafe last Sunday during the Woodstock Film Festival. If you missed Sunday's show, she will be live at The Falcon on October 10th, and at the O+ Postive Festival in Kingston on Friday, October 11th at 9pm. After the concert, I spoke with David Baron, her producing/songwriter partner. He informed that they are working on the last bit of recording, and plan to get a new record out by January 2014. I really like the new songs she performed last night.

Here is one of them, which is called “A little bit” which she sang at the end of the show. Of course, the audience demanded an encore too! You can see more videos on the Hudson Valley Good Stuff YouTube. For Simi Stone’s concert schedule, follow the Simi Stone Facebook page.

Check out Vanessa Ahern's Hudson Valley Good Stuff for more good stuff, and follow the Hudson Valley Good Stuff Facebook Page.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Meet Readers, Writers, and Philippe Petit at the 2013 Woodstock Writers Festival

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Philippe Petit and Martha Frankel at The Golden Notebook bookstore in Woodstock

Philippe Petit examines the Why Knot? window display

The 4th Annual Woodstock Writers Festival will take place from April 18 through the 21, and Martha Frankel, its executive director, is breathless, busy, and glowing. When I ask her what is the greatest challenge with the Woodstock Writers Festival, she shrugs and smiles at me. "I don't know. I'm in such a good mood today!" Since I moved to Woodstock in 2003, I have known about celebrity writer and author Martha Frankel, and have seen her around town at Bread Alone and other restaurants, and followed her feed on Twitter, but it feels satisfying to finally sit down and meet her in person at Joshua's Cafe in Woodstock on a Sunday afternoon to talk about the WWF.

I'm also excited because I'm going to meet Philippe Petit, the French tight-rope walker, who famously went for a high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. (In the documentary Man on Wire, Petit recounts his impossible coup. I have wanted to meet him since finding out that he lives in the area, and then seeing Man on Wire). The movie will inspire and amaze you. I highly recommend it. Petit is going to be discussing his soon-to-be released book Why Knot? at the WWF, teaching festival go-ers how to tie knots.

"I’m thrilled about Philippe!" says Frankel. When she found out that her friend Philippe Petit was coming out with a book (Why Knot?) on April 17, she asked him if he would like to be the opening keynote speaker for the festival. He said yes, but insisted that Martha Frankel be his conversation moderator. "He doesn't need me. He is so charismatic! His new book is about knots, but it is about knots like Moby Dick is about fishing, you know. It is more than that. He is going to be teaching people how to tie knots, and our joke is that I wear sneakers with no laces, and boots that have zippers on them. Philippe swears that by the end of the night, I will be able to tie my shoelaces," says Frankel.

For the first time, the Woodstock Writers Festival will be available via webcasting this year, so you can attend virtually from anywhere in the world. The roster of speakers has shrunk from the 52 writers of last year, and this pleases Frankel. "One of the things we are learning is how many people we can actually have. This year we have 36. That is a nice number," says Frankel, who directs the coordination of guest lodging and dining.

I ask her "What don't people know about the WWF?"

"That it is for readers. It is not for writers. If I had to do it all over, I would rename it the Woodstock Readers Festival. People say to me sometimes, 'I’m not coming, I’m not a writer.' If you’re a reader, and almost everybody is, you'll get to meet an author that wrote a book that changed your life at a lecture. We are also having these cocktail parties (at Photosensualis Art Gallery) on Friday and Saturday that you can buy tickets to," says Frankel.

What else should readers (and writers) check out? There will be writing workshops which will tend to sell out quickly that are taking place at beautiful homes in the Woodstock area thanks to residents graciously offering their homes for this occasion. There will be exciting new panels including a comedy panel, ("Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Woodstock") with staff writers from "Letterman", "The Colbert Show", "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart", and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" discussing comedy writing from 2-3:30pm on Saturday, April 20. "The best comedy happening right now is happening at 11:30pm,"says Frankel.

There is a spirituality panel with Elizabeth Lesser, Lodro Rinzler, and Meggan Watterson discussing spiritual writing and consciousness. The Memoir-a-Go-Go panel, which I always look forward to, will have Andre Dubus III, Christa Parravani, and James Lasdun. Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir Wild, which was Oprah's 2.0 pick, and Tiny Beautiful Things, will be talking with WAMC's Joe Donahue on April 20 at 7:30pm. Priscilla Gilman, author of The Anti-Romantic Child and former poetry professor at Yale and Vassar will be moderating the Poetry Panel with Eamon Grennan and Maureen N. McLane at 4pm on April 20.

After I finished my interview at Joshua's Cafe in Woodstock, Frankel and I left to meet Philippe Petit at The Golden Notebookbookstore at 3:30pm. (Petit is very punctual, and has an extraordinary attention to detail as you can imagine!) He was at The Golden Notebook at 3:30pm sharp. I was a bit starstruck when I met him. As Frankel says about being his friend, "Just thinking that he is the man who did THAT!" It just blows my mind. I had to get over my jitters for the photo opportunity. Petit wanted to make sure I had the optimal lighting for my photos, and studied me carefully as I fumbled with my iPhone and camera. (I hope he is satisfied with the photos.)

I can't wait to see him give the keynote presentation at the Woodstock Writers Festival on Friday, April 19 at Kleinert/James Center for the Arts. Tickets are still available at this time. Visit WoodstockWriters.com to see the entire schedule of events, buy tickets, and purchase your webcasting picks. Happy reading, writing, and revelry as the Woodstock Writers Festival slogan goes!

Find out about more Hudson Valley Good Stuff at Vanessa Ahern's blog, HVGoodStuff.com.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cold Spring Family Comes Together for New 1960s TV Series

Posted By on Sun, Apr 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Maia Guest, Charlie Plummer, and John Plummer, a family from Cold Spring, all contribute to the new series Granite Flats.
  • Maia Guest, Charlie Plummer, and John Plummer, a family from Cold Spring, all contribute to the new television series "Granite Flats".

On the same day that the delightfully sinful 1960s period piece, "Mad Men", premieres its sixth and penultimate season, a new series presenting a different side of the turbulent decade will premiere its first episode. Don't expect to find many mid-day martinis with olives or inter-office affairs with secretaries aspiring to be models. "Granite Flats", produced by BYUtv (Brigham Young University's broadcasting network), will present the family-friendly version of the '60s.

BYU's Broadcasting mission statement isn't one you normally associate with the goals of 21st-century television and media. The organization, it says, "inspires people to see, do, and be the good in the world by providing uplifting content, magnifying the university, engaging like-minded communities, and elevating ideals into action." So, while the show's raison d'être isn't necessarily to promulgate the spiritual leanings of Brigham Young University (the largest religious university in the country), it is operating on a certain worldview—that is, with an eye toward wholesomeness and family-friendly content in an increasingly graphic television age.

Watching the trailer for "Granite Flats," though, makes it clear that this isn't a program designed specifically for children. Set in a rural Colorado military-base town during the early 1960s, in the midst of the weeks of the Cuban missile crisis, the show presents sophisticated historical, social, and political issues. The turmoil seething beneath the surface of a Truman Show-esque utopic neighborhood comes to a climactic point in the form of an explosion at an army base, and fears of a Soviet attack or government conspiracy infect the town. The friendly neighborhood suddenly swarms with G-men and covert activity, and the intense secrecy provokes local citizens and police to get involved.

This is the state that recently widowed Beth Milligan and her son Arthur confront upon moving to Granite Flats, and as a nurse and student, they take us deeper into the suspect institutions of the hospital and the classroom. The role of family in "Granite Flats" extends beyond the show's fictions, though. Maia Guest, the actress who plays Dr. Susan Andrews, is married to the show's writer, John Plummer; and their son, Charlie Plummer ("Boardwalk Empire") also plays a prominent role as Timmy Sanders, a boy who befriends Arthur Milligan (Jonathan Morgan Heit). The Plummer family, hailing from Cold Spring, didn't intend to work on the show together. After John Plummer wrote the pilot, they had trouble casting one of the four adolescent kids who star in the show. Charlie Plummer, already an established actor, did a blind reading for the part so that no one would know he was John's son, and they loved him. While filming on set in Utah, Charlie was accompanied by his mother, Guest. When they needed to cast an additional role for the part of a nuclear physicist, Guest, an actress and daughter of a nuclear physicist, was able to bring an authentic background to the role.

Though they all came into the show in their own qualified ways, the Plummer family of Cold Spring injects some real familial bonds into a program whose scope and reach are centered on such values. "Granite Flats" premieres today, April 7, on BYUtv. All episodes will also stream on BYUtv.org.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Mentalist Lucas Handwerker Wows Woodstock

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Mentalist Lucas Handwerker of Woodstock, NY
  • Star Nigro
  • Mentalist Lucas Handwerker of Woodstock, NY

There was an impatient buzz swirling through the sold-out crowd at Byrdcliffe Kleinert/ James Center for the Arts in Woodstock last Friday night (Feb. 22) for The Process: Lucas Handwerker. I overhead one woman whisper, "He has been doing this since he was eight!" I was among the curious. The crowd applauded when 19-year-old Lucas Handwerker appeared on the small stage. He asked all those who believe that certain people carry psychic powers to raise their hands. He then reassured those people that was not his purpose. Instead of predicting our futures, he is going to lead us through a journey of the mind, so he invited us to go along. My mind was open to wherever this boyish oracle was going to lead it.

He asked us to write down our dream job on an index card, and summoned four volunteers to go on stage so he could figure out which dream job went with which person. He guessed correctly, giving us insight into what their body language revealed. (Tip: when you stop getting body language cues, look at the person's feet!)

Then audience members were asked to write down a "Will I Ever" type question on an index card, and he came close to pinpointing the man sitting a few seats away from me who was dreaming of a beach house. Then, we were asked to write down our biggest fear, and Handwerker led the audience through a mental exercise to help us shed our greatest fear.

The evening was fast paced, and I wanted to take notes, but I didn't want to draw attention to myself. (The last thing I wanted was to be targeted to get on stage with "Public Speaking" scrawled on my index card as my biggest fear). At times Handwerker paced a bit, and played chess. Besides the climactic ending, which I won't give away, the most memorable part was when volunteers from the audience were blind-folded while they practiced "free writing" and "free drawing" in front of the audience. My only involvement was that I was one of the eight who were asked to pick a six-digit number.

The Process definitely made me think, "How does he do that?" Before going to sleep that night I was trying to figure out his secrets. How did he know that woman's name? Does he just have a knack for knowing which women are named Donna? Well, Donna is a common enough name and all the Donna's I know are super nice, strong friendly women, but how could he know for sure? Okay, I guess he is plugged into our brainwaves somehow.

All I know is that Lucas Handwerker did captivate the audience in Woodstock. He has a very unassuming stage presence. His confidence comes across, but he is self-deprecating, and funny at times. What will Handwerker be up to 10 years from now? I predict he will be performing in front of bigger crowds. He just launched a Kick Starter campaign to raise money for a feature length film on his work (Discover The Hidden Power of Your Mind to be presented at the Woodstock Film Festival). Have you seen Lucas Handwerker perform? What did you think?

Read Chronogram's profile of Lucas Handwerker here.

For more event reviews and to sign up for Hudson Valley Good's newsletter, visit writer Vanessa Ahern's blog, HudsonValleyGoodStuff.com.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Teacher to Run from CA to NY for Youth Travel

Posted By on Sat, Dec 15, 2012 at 10:00 AM


On a high school trip to Europe, Rosalynn Frederick was amazed by the educational value of traveling. She went on to join the Peace Corps and volunteered in Niger for two years. But she feels that not everyone is afforded these educational opportunities.

The Great Barrington resident and Taconic Hills High School Spanish teacher is raising money by running the 3,000 plus miles from California to New York to help low-income students in the Berkshire and Columbia County region to go on service and curriculum-based trips locally, nationally, and internationally.

"In a world of increasing globalization, the broader a young person’s perspective can be, the better," she says.

Using the "crowd-funding" site Indiegogo, she aims to raise $17,200. Currently, she has raised $1,130. The money will be used to help fund her run and to make a low budget documentary about it to help raise awareness for the non-profit she's developing, the Travel Youth Fund. If she doesn't reach her goal, she'll look for other ways to find money.

Her itinerary plans for running 30 miles a day for 4 months. Frederick's trip will run through many Hudson Valley towns including: Port Jervis, Middletown, New Paltz, Kingston, Red Hook, and Pine Plains.

The Spanish teacher was born in Pennsylvania, but went on to live the first 5 years of her life in Belize. She moved back to the States and settled in the Bronx. Six years later, her brother was born and her family relocated to Columbia County. She graduated from Taconic Hills, the school she currently teaches in.

Learn more at www.facebook.com/usarunforyouthtravel.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Three Local Artists Win USA Fellowship Grants

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Jack DeJohnette
United States Artists, an artist advocacy organization, announced three local winners of their USA Fellowship grants. Jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette, Bard professor and filmmaker Jacqueline Goss, and SUNY New Paltz Art Department Chair and metalsmith Myra Mimlitsch-Gray each won an unrestricted $50,000 grant.

In its 7th year, USA gave 50 grants, amounting to $17.5 million, directly into the hands of artists. Winners were chosen from eight different disciplines, from visual to performance to literary arts.

DeJohnette was a jazz pioneer and played with John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Sun Ra, and Miles Davis. Goss's latest film The Observers chronicled the lives of climatologists at the Mt. Washington Weather Observatory. Mimlitsch-Gray, who works in tableware and pottery, forms dishes to reflect social issues, such as monoculture farming.

See Peter Aaron's profile on DeJohnette for Chronogram here.

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Hudson Valley Events

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The Art of Simply Being Human @ Arts Society of Kingston (ASK)

The Art of Simply Being Human

Sat., Feb. 22, 2-3:30 p.m. — A hands-on, interactive workshop. Join member Terry Murray in a session devoted...
Kids Art Lab: Art exploration beyond the classroom @ YMCA, Kingston

Kids Art Lab: Art exploration beyond the classroom

Saturdays, 12:30-2 p.m. Continues through Feb. 29 — 1st-4th graders Kids have fun exploring painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture with...

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