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CONTENTS NEWS AND POLITICS 26 WHOSE LIE IS IT, ANYWAY?
The Bush administration purged US attorneys for failing to prosecute crimes that didn’t occur. Joel Bleifuss investigates the great voter fraud hoax.
30 BEINHART’S BODY POLITIC Larry Beinhart documents the decline of the Bush administration’s agenda of corporatism, neo-conservative foreign policy, anti-government government, and right-wing religion.
COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK 32 STEPHANIE SAYS Sarah Coleman profiles Hilary Brougher, whose film Stephanie Daley, shot locally and starring Amber Tamblyn and Tilda Swinton, will be screened this month at Upstate Films.
37 ART OF BUSINESS Ann Braybrooks gets a peak behind the curtain at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie, where Chris Silva makes show business his business.
HOME AND GARDEN SUPPLEMENT 79 TAKE IT OUTSIDE Laurie Capps explains how to extend your living space with an outdoor room.
85 HOUSEHOLD HARMONY Architect and feng shui expert Janus Welton tells Laurie Capps how to invite luck inside.
WHOLE LIVING GUIDE 96 YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND Debbie Shapiro explores the relationships among physical, psychological, and emotional health. What are your symptoms and illnesses telling you about yourself?
100 INNER VISION: DON’T GET MAD, GET WISE Author and development coach Mike George explains the journey from anger to peace.
BUSINESS SERVICES 66 TASTINGS A directory of what’s cooking and where to get it. 89 BUSINESS DIRECTORY
A compendium of advertiser services.
102 WHOLE LIVING DIRECTORY
For the positive lifestyle.
Rio, a photograph by Cannon Hersey Portfolio
ARTS & CULTURE 44 PORTFOLIO The photographs of Cannon Hersey at Gallery 384 in Catskill.
46 LUCID DREAMING Beth E. Wilson previews the Jeff Solfrian and Richard Wade exhibition at the Living Room in Kingston, and the photos of Jeri Eisenberg at Carrie Haddad in Hudson.
49 GALLERY DIRECTORY What's hanging in galleries and museums throughout the region.
52 MUSIC Peter Aaron profiles Warwick’s sci-fi death-rock quartet, The Casket Architects. Plus local scenester DJ Wavy Davy’s Nightlife Highlights and reviews of CDs by Neil Alexander & NAIL Tugging at the Infinite. Reviewed by DJ Wavy Davy. All the Tired Horses A Coastline and a Forest. Reviewed by Sharon Nichols. Holland, Thompson & Tooch Holland, Thompson & Tooch. Reviewed by Mike Jurkovic.
56 BOOKS Pauline Uchmanowicz reads into the rise of the graphic novel and talks to local authors Jim Starlin and Ron Marz.
58 BOOK REVIEWS Bri Johnson reviews The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo by Peter Orner. Caitlin McDonnell reviews A Worldly Country by John Ashbery. Anne Pyburn reviews Bloodthirsty by Marshall Karp.
62 POETRY Poems by Daniel Blaustein-Rejto, Alan Catlin, Brent Fisk, Jeff Garrett, Nancy Graham, MaryJo Martin, Stephanie Minerley, Eric Mingus, Will Nixon, Cheryl A. Rice, and John Wosinski. JENNIFER MAY
64 FOOD & DRINK Sukey Pett examines the taste, science, and health of the raw-food diet and lifestyle.
152 PARTING SHOT Hat, a gouache on paper work by April Warren.
THE FORECAST 121 DAILY CALENDAR Comprehensive listings of local events. (Daily updates of calendar listings are posted at Chronogram.com.) PREVIEWS 119 Holly George-Warren reads from her Gene Autry biography Public Cowboy No. 1 at Joshua’s in Woodstock. Jay Blotcher previews. 120 The second annual Berkshire International Film Festival screens over 50 films in Great Barrington May 17-20. 129 Robert Burke Warren chats with ur-grrl folk-rocker Michelle Shocked prior to her May 12 concert at SUNY New Paltz. 130 Sharon Nichols sifts out the blarney about the Celebration of Celts at the Meadowgreens Golf Course in Ghent May 5-6. 133 Jeremy Schwartz previews WDST’s Mountain Jam, featuring performances by Gov’t Mule and Michael Franti and Spearhead, June 1-3. 136 Songwriter and pianist Dave Frishberg talks to Sparrow about his upcoming gig at the Chamber Arts Festival of Marbletown on June 2. 139 Fresh from the set of Racing Daylight, Jay Blotcher previews a May 5 screening, part of the Woodstock Film Festival’s summer series. 143 Jay Blotcher interviews legendary folk singer Odetta, who will play SUNY New Paltz’s McKenna Theater on June 2.
PLANET WAVES 146 FROM BLACKSBURG TO NEW PALTZ Eric Francis Coppolino connects the dots between the massacre at Virgina Tech and a lingering environmental problem at SUNY New Paltz. Plus horoscopes.
Concert attendees awaiting the start of the Itzhak Perlman recital at the Bardavon on April 21. Art of Business
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LEADING LIGHTS OF THE HUDSON VALLEY COMMUNITY
Jeff Cohen is a writer, lecturer, and media critic who founded the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting in 1986. A former co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire” (1996) and a pundit on Fox News Channel (1997-2002), Cohen was an on-air commentator (and “Donahue” senior producer) at MSNBC in 2002-03 before the show was cancelled in the run-up to the Iraq War. A Woodstock resident, Cohen is currently on tour behind his latest book, Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. His columns have been published in dozens of dailies, including USA Today, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and Newsday. Cohen is currently consulting for a variety of progressive groups and writing columns for the websites CommonDreams, Truthout, and Alternet. In 2003, he was the communications director of the “Kucinich for President” campaign. www.jeffcohen.org. —Brian K. Mahoney Why do you choose to live in the Hudson Valley? Gorgeous surroundings. Great place to raise kids. Progressive, literate, artistic culture, with institutions like Golden Notebook bookstore, Upstate Films, WDST, Chronogram, Woodstock Times, Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Mayor Jason West—to name just a few. (It’s a shame we lost Alternative Video.) Our community has more writers per capita than anywhere I know. And the winters aren’t too cold anymore—unfortunately, thanks to global warming. What’s the strangest thing in your fridge? Pasta from Venezuela that I purchased last year from one of the thousands of government-subsidized food stores set up by the administration of President Hugo Chavez. Can’t beat the price—or the political slogans on the package. Who are you in awe of? Steve Colbert, perhaps the most brilliant satirist in America today. Never leaving character as a flagwaving, conservative TV blowhard (I met many in my TV career), he can do more in a 22-minute “Colbert Report” to expose the contradictions of right-wing demagoguery than a dozen books can. And he’d be happy with me for putting down the utility of books! Also, the late Molly Ivins. A force of nature, now making the angels laugh. St. Molly, patron saint of column writers.
What was the worst job you ever had? Selling toilet bowl cleaners door-to-door in New Orleans at age 19. Or the next year when I was a stock clerk at my dad’s clothing store in Detroit… until he fired me over my union activities. One of my
best jobs, ironically, was the five years I spent as a TV pundit on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel; it’s hard to beat a job where you get to denounce Darth Murdoch while getting paid by Darth Murdoch. What do you sing along to in the car? Elvis Costello. Van Morrison. Jackson Browne. When my daughters complain about my singing, I tell them, without any evidence at all, that Springsteen’s kids complain to him about his singing. What was the last thing that made you laugh uncontrollably? It happened at a recent reunion of national leaders of the 2004 “Kucinich for President” campaign. Back in 2003, I nearly cried when Letterman did his Top Ten list of “Worst Summer Jobs” and announced: “Number 4: Dennis Kucinich for President campaign manager.” Now I laugh my ass off. What takes your breath away? Being near ground zero in Lower Manhattan. Sunsets over the Ashokan Reservoir. Rickie Lee Jones singing “Company.” What must happen to give you the feeling that a day has been well lived? Output. As much as I hate to admit my internal colonization by the Puritans and their work ethic, there’s no better feeling than getting an article finished. Except for getting two finished. What ordinary thing is very hard for you to do? Cooking. Whistling. So I’m doubly challenged when I try to whistle in the kitchen.
CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07 The new Chronogram.com is brimming with exclusive content you won’t find in the print version—or anywhere else. Video features. Music clips. Short films by area filmmakers. Blogs. Trailers of locally screening films. Slides hows. And, of course, our continually updated events calendar. It’s all there at Chronogram.com.
Blogs on myriad topics by informed and valued members of the Chronogram community. Reasonable Doubts Libertarian and political pundit Jeffrey Shapiro takes on both sides of the aisle.
VIDEO Watch Breaking Up, a short film by Jeff Burns about unrequited love and bad cell phone reception.
10 CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
>Starlight Casts No Shadow Neil Alexander & NAIL >Distortion is a Sunbeam The Casket Architects >Television Light All the Tired Horses >Keep on Chippin’ Holland, Thompson & Tooch
Larry’s World Larry Beinhart’s ongoing expose of the fraud and secrecy in American politics. Chow Town The latest news on resturant openings and mini-reviews, gourmet shop finds, and farmers markets. Plus blogs on news and politics, music, family, sustainability, lifestyles, food, and more.
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5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM 11
EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Brian K. Mahoney firstname.lastname@example.org ART DIRECTOR David Perry email@example.com SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR Lorna Tychostup firstname.lastname@example.org MUSIC EDITOR Peter Aaron email@example.com BOOKS EDITOR Nina Shengold firstname.lastname@example.org WHOLE LIVING EDITOR Lorrie Klosterman email@example.com POETRY EDITOR Phillip Levine firstname.lastname@example.org PROOFREADERS Christopher Hewitt, Laura McLaughlin CONTRIBUTORS Roberta Allen, Emil Alzamora, Larry Beinhart, Daniel Blaustein-Rejto, Jay Blotcher, Ann Braybrooks, Laurie Capps, Alan Catlin, Jason Cring, Sarah Coleman, Eric Francis Coppolino, DJ Wavy Davy, Brent Fisk, Jeff Garrett, Nancy Graham, Hillary Harvey, Thomas Hilton, Annie Internicola, Bri Johnson, Mike Jurkovic, MaryJo Martin, Jennifer May, Caitlin McDonnell, Stephanie Minerley, Eric Mingus, Sharon Nichols, Will Nixon, Sukey Pett, Anne Pyburn, Fionn Reilly, Cheryl A. Rice, Jeremy Schwartz, Debbie Shapiro, Andy Singer, Nina Shengold, Sparrow, Tom Tomorrow, Robert Burke Warren, Beth E. Wilson, John Wosinski
SUBMISSIONS CALENDAR To submit calendar listings, log in at www.chronogram.com, click on the "Events Producers" link, and fill out the form. E-mail: email@example.com / Fax: (845) 334-8610 Mail: 314 Wall Street, Kingston, NY 12401 Deadline: May 15
POETRY Submissions of up to three poems at a time can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or our street address. See above.
FICTION/NONFICTION Fiction: Submissions can be sent to email@example.com. Nonfiction: Succinct queries about stories of regional interest can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT US Phone: (845) 334-8600 Mail: 314 Wall Street, Kingston, NY 12401 E-mail: email@example.com.
12 CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
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PUBLISHING FOUNDERS Jason Stern & Amara Projansky PUBLISHER Jason Stern firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING SALES Tania Amrod email@example.com, x121 Jamaine Bell firstname.lastname@example.org, x112 Patrick Downes email@example.com Craig Wander (Capital Region) firstname.lastname@example.org (518) 376-9462 ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE MANAGER Tracey Glover email@example.com, x113 BUSINESS OFFICER Matthew Watzka firstname.lastname@example.org, x120 PRODUCTION PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Teal Hutton email@example.com, x108 PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Kiersten Miench firstname.lastname@example.org, x116 PRODUCTION DESIGNERS Jason Cring Thomas Hilton BUSINESS CONSULTANT Ajax Greene BUSINESS DEVELOPMENTCONSULTANT Mark Joseph Kelly SUBSCRIBE $36 for 12 issues www.chronogram.com/subscribe MISSION Chronogram is a regional magazine dedicated to stimulating and supporting the creative and cultural life of the Hudson Valley. CONTACT US Phone: (845) 334-8600 Fax: (845) 334-8610 Mail: 314 Wall Street, Kingston, NY 12401 E-mail: email@example.com
All contents ÂŠ Luminary Publishing 2007
14 CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM 15
Caitlin McDonnell splits her time between Rosendale and Brooklyn and teaches writing and literature at SUNY New Paltz. She has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Yaddo, Blue Mountain Center, and the New York Times Foundation. Her poems have appeared in numerous online and text journals. A chapbook of her poems, Dreaming the Tree, was published by Belladonna Books in 2004. Her middle name is Grace. Her review of John Ashbery’s A Worldly Country appears on page 60. Sarah Coleman was born in London in the swinging sixties, and wrote her first novel at the age of nine. After studying English Literature at Cambridge University, she crossed the Atlantic to attend Columbia University, where she got an MFA in Writing. Over a 10-year career in journalism she has written about subjects as diverse as war in Sudan and orthodox Jewish computer programmers, but mostly she writes about art, books, and film for Salon, Photo District News, Newsday, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Sarah lives in Woodstock and New York with her husband and two children. Her profile of filmmaker Hilary Brougher appears on page 32. Roberta Allen is the author of eight books, including the novel The Dreaming Girl; the story collections Certain People and The Traveling Woman; the novella-in-stories The Daughter; the travel memoir Amazon Dream; and three writing guides. Her stories have been translated into German and Japanese. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as the New York Times’ Sophisticated Traveler. She was also a Tennessee Williams Fellow in Fiction. She teaches at the New School and in private workshops and has taught in the writing program at Columbia University. A visual artist as well, she has exhibited worldwide, and has work in major collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; Yale University Art Collection; Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich; and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. Roberta’s micro-short story, “Memory,” appears on page 20. Recently relocated to the area, Laurie Capps is a freelance writer, graduate student, and Pilates teacher. She is currently earning her MFA in creative writing through the low-residency program at Warren Wilson College. Her poetry has appeared in Tar River Poetry and The Pedestal Magazine, and her freelance work has been featured in the Monterey County Coast Weekly. She recently began a writing job in the city, and is discovering the joys of waking at 4 am. When not writing, teaching, or commuting, she spends her time running up and down hills, discovering wine bars, and staring at the Catskill Mountains. Laurie’s exploration of feng shui and outdoor rooms in Home & Garden begins on page 79.
16 CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
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ALBERTO GUGLIELMI| COLOR PHOTOGRAPH| 2006
Photographer Alberto Guglielmi splits his time between his home and studio in the Ulster County hamlet of Accord, the island of Sardinia, and his native Rome. A professional windsurfer and snowboarder prior to taking a degree in economics, Guglielmi worked as a management consultant and rose to vice president of a Manhattan-based design firm. After seven years in the corporate world, Guglielmi decided he was â€œfinally ready to leave the tie in the closet and go back to my roots.â€? Passionate about photography since childhood, Guglielmi found the transition to professional photography an easy transition. Guglielmi now travels the world on assignment. Specializing in lifestyle and portraits, Guglielmi is also known for his extreme sports photography. He has shot covers for publications such as Surf, Windsurf, Surfers, and Wind. In 2006 one of his extreme-sport photos was chosen in the top 50 in a â€œBest of 2006â€? worldwide contest. The photo is currently traveling the world as part of an exhibition sponsored by Red Bull. This monthâ€™s cover image, The Human, is an underwater portrait of Italian surfer Nicolo Violati diving through a wave in the Maldives, an island chain off the coast of India, last fall. The photo is part of a recent series by the artist created around, inside, and over the element of water, trying to explore it from different angles and capturing the sculptural forms it takes when frozen in time. Guglielmiâ€™s work will be part of a three-person show, â€œAqua & Terra,â€? with ceramicist Kaete Brittin-Shaw and nature photographer Hardie Truesdale. Brittin-Shaw and Truesdale have collaborated for the past several years on photo/ceramic mashups. Their process: Truesdale takes a few of BrittinShawâ€™s small-scale porcelain sculptures and integrates them into a landscape portrait. Truesdale then prints, on canvas, an enlargement of the section of the photograph focused on the sculpture. The detail on canvas is then exhibited with the actual sculpture and the original photo. â€œAqua Terraâ€? will be exhibited at Pearl Arts Gallery, 3572 Main Street, Stone Ridge, May 19 through June 23. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, May 19. Alberto Guglielmi Portfolio: www.pearlartsgallery.com www.mazma.com; â€”Brian K. Mahoney 18 CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
CHRONOGRAM SEEN PHOTOS: THOMAS HILTON
The events we sponsor, the people who make a difference, the Chronogram community. Here's some of what we saw in April: CAFE CHRONOGRAM AT MUDDY CUP IN BEACON FEATURING PAMELA PENTONY, DA CHEN, AND GREG MARTIN.
Clockwise from top left: At the April 14 Cafe Chronogram event at the Muddy Cup coffeehouse in Beacon, Pamela Pentony scats her way through a jazz standard. Backing Pentony were bassist Daniel Bieber and guitarist Steve Raleigh. Storyteller, author, and classical Chinese bamboo flutist Da Chen performs. The view form the rear of the Muddy Cup. A reader holding a copy of Da Chenâ€™s novel Brothers, with exquisite, on-the-spot calligraphy added by the author. Da Chen talking with Chronogram publisher Jason Stern.
CHRONOGRAM SPONSORS IN MAY: CAFE CHRONOGRAM (5/19) WITH QUITZOW, ROBERTA ALLEN, AND FIONN REILLY; SUSTAINABLE SALON (5/11) WITH JANUS WELTON, AND THE COMMON FIRE FOUNDATION; CABARET MODERNE (5/19) WITH LES SANS CULOTTES, HALF NAKED, AND THE LIPSTICK LOVELIES.
For more information, visit www.chronogram.com. 4/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM 19
FIRST IMPRESSION Memory The traveler has come to the top of the cliff to see the precarious mud-brick villages of the Dogon people clinging to the sheer rock walls dropping hundreds of feet to the plain below, but while she tries to take in this unusual sight, barefoot children with protruding bellies and snot-smeared faces, their shorts and shirts in shreds, tug at her clothes, crying and screaming for gifts, reminding her of the children many years ago who, with legs deformed by rickets, followed her and her former husband through the poorest parts of Marrakesh. She remembers being torn by the same feelings of guilt, pity, and rage, and how she swore sheâ€™d never go to Africa again, and how he, in exasperation, turned his pockets inside out, letting the loose change scatter on the street, and how the children threw themselves on top of one another, punching, hitting, hurting each other for coins worth less than a penny. Would he empty his pockets here? she wonders, as the shrill and urgent voices of the children threaten to drown her thoughts, and she takes from her backpack 20 or 30 Bic pens. â€”Roberta Allen
20 CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
Esteemed Reader Esteemed Reader of Our Magazine: I have always had an â€œI-will-do-it-myselfâ€? streak. It must be congenital, for as a child, I was usually alone, attempting some feat of derring-do. Indeed it appears that the gene has been passed onâ€”my two-year-old, Asher, frequently yells, â€œDonâ€™t help me!â€? Natural or nurtured, it doesnâ€™t really matter. But recently I have been struck by the power of working together with others as a team, or simply gathering and inviting the appearance of meaning. Three recent experiences have brought this lesson home: 1) The April Cafe Chronogram, at the Muddy Cup Coffeehouse in Beacon. The line-up was Greg Martin, the photographer responsible for the cover art for the March issue of Chronogram; Pamela Pentony, an amazing jazz singer and teacher; and Da Chen, the inimitable writer/flutist/ performance artist. When Da Chen stood up, he joked about how his publisher at first demanded that for marketing purposes he must do something other than write. He acknowledged then, and to those assembled for the Cafe, that he plays the flute. Producing a simple bamboo flute he began to play, and at that moment the place became still. Yes, the notes that emitted from his instrument were clear and precise, and the traditional Chinese melodies were beautiful. But there was something else that caught my attention about Chenâ€™s performance: Despite his otherwise playful and light manner, he played (and perhaps that is the key word) his flute with great intensity. Eyes closed, but relaxed in concentration, shoulders hunched around his instrument, Chenâ€™s presence created a sense that his entire body was involved in the playing. â€œThis is Kokopelli,â€? I said to myself. (Kokopelli is the humpbacked, flute-playing, Hopi god of fertility. His playing chases away the winter and brings about spring.) After his performance Chen signed his books with brush and ink, rhythmically rendering Chinese characters and hand-stamping his signatureâ€”different characters like prescriptions for the person who sat before him. I mentioned that his flute playing resembled the characters he drew on the pages. Like the characters, he became a conduit for something that could arguably be called an archetypal quality to be channeled into the room, and into the world. Of course for a quality to be brought in requires more than the conduit himself. It requires that there be some people present (and not just physically, but with their attention) to match the activity of the performer with an equal receptivity. The small group assembled at this event was ready to be brought into such a state of receptivity, and the effect was that for a few moments the event became an Event in the true sense of the word. I am reminded of an introduction to a Sufi parable by Idries Shah. He writes: When a number of people come together, and if these people are harmonized in a certain way, excluding some who make for disharmonyâ€”we have what we call an event. This is by no means what is generally understood in contemporary cultures as an event. For them, something which takes place and which impresses people by means of subjective impactsâ€”is called an event. This is what some term a â€œlesser event,â€? because it takes place in the lesser world, that of human relationships easily produced, synthesized, commemorated. The real event, of which the lesser event is a useful similitude (not more and no less) is that which belongs to the higher realm. We cannot accurately render a higher event in stilted terrestrial representations and retain accuracy. Something of surpassing importance in a higher realm could not entirely be put in terms of literature, science, or drama, without loss of essential value. But certain tales, providing that they contain elements from the high-event area which may seem absurd, unlikely, improbable, or even defective, can (together with the presence of certain people) communicate to the necessary area of the mind the higher event. 2) The evening before the Cafe Chronogram I had the privilege of hearing Al Gore speak at Omega Instituteâ€™s Being Fearless Conference in Manhattan. If only he had been so candid when he was running for president, the votes in his favor would have been so numerous as to prevent the election from being swindled. Goreâ€™s message was clear: The problems of environmental distress and global human conflict are a direct result and reflection of the state of consciousness of humanity. We are afraidâ€”afraid to give up the comforts we know, afraid to look at the results of our actions beyond the immediate personal gains we might enjoy, afraid to stop lying to and about ourselves. The talk was a brilliant tapestry of interwoven themes, all pointing back to the central theme of the conference: How to overcome fear and acknowledge the inherent unity of humanity and indeed all life. When Gore stepped down the group of several thousand stood and clapped, continuing long after he had left the stage. There was a palpable sense that something real had been touched in each and all. 3) â€œWhatâ€™s that noise?â€? Asher asked, as I pushed him on his swing in the back yard. â€œYes, what is it, Asher?â€? I asked in return, for I knew he knew. â€œA bird is talking to me!â€? â€œWhat kind?â€? â€œA woodpecker.â€? I stopped his swing and we looked in the direction of the sound. There, silhouetted against the darkening evening sky, was the outline of the long-beaked bird on a high tree branch. The birdâ€™s knock-knock-knock resounded in the calm of dusk. â€”Jason Stern
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Editor’s Note Some facts about health, cars, and cycling: • 80 percent of Americans do not get the recommended 30 minutes of moderate daily activity. • The average number of barrels of oil consumed daily in the US is 19 million. Driving is responsible for 43 percent of them. • Motorized vehicles are responsible for 70 percent of the carbon monoxide, 45 percent of the nitrogen dioxide, and 34 percent of the hydrocarbons we produce. • Nearly a third of the gas used in the US goes for trips of three miles or less, usually to transport a single passenger. • One hundred bicycles can be produced for the same energy and resources it takes to build one medium-sized automobile. • Owning a car for one year can cost more than $7,000. Operating a bicycle for one year can cost almost nothing, but maintenance will probably run you about $150. May is National Bike Month It’s time again for my annual sermonizing on the benefits of the bicycle as a salubrious form of alternative transit. Now I know that some people don’t like cycling in any form, be it road biking, mountain biking, tandem riding, unicycling, or Spinning class. To them, I wish to send a note of support and understanding—I, for one, don’t like skiing or snowboarding, despite my best efforts to enjoy them, and just because bicycle enthusiasts think we can save the world and have fun at the same time, that doesn’t mean we want to come off as bike fascists. However, I hope the non-bikers out there are strategizing another way to get to work while leaving the world-killer parked in the driveway. Walking, if feasible, is a good place to start. If not, round up some coworkers and try carpooling. Bike-to-Work Week is May 14–18, and Bike-to-Work Day is Friday, May 18. While we cannot all ride our bicycles to work (although sometime in the not-so-distant future we may all have to), if you live closer than 10 miles to your office, I urge you to oil up your chain, don your helmet, and pedal to work on that day. (Did you know that 54 percent of all commuters live within 10 miles of their worksite, and their commute time by bike or car just about the same?) Studies show that once people start bicycle commuting, they often stay bicycle commuters. Get your coworkers to join you! There are some great bike events in the coming months, too, including the Five-Borough Bike Tour in New York City on May 6, featuring 42 traffic-free miles of urban cycling. (Visit www.bikenewyork.org for details.) The High Meadow School in Stone Ridge is sponsoring a “Ride the Ridge” challenge on June 3 to benefit its new performing arts center and the Marbletown First Aid Unit. There will be three routes to choose from—5, 25, and 50 miles long—all touring through the rural Ulster County countryside. (Visit www.ridetheridge.com.) The park-advocacy group Parks and Trails New York also runs two multiday rides during the summer months: an eight-day, 400-mile ride from Buffalo to Albany along the Erie Canal, July 8–15; and the Great Hudson Valley Pedal, a six-day, 200-mile tour from Albany to New York City, August 14–19. (For more information, visit www.ptny.org.) The League of American Bicyclists has put a list of 50 fun suggestions on their website (www.bikeleague.org) to promote cycling this month, one of which I’d like to mention. Plan a cycling vacation. Ten years ago, I took one of the best holidays of my life, riding with my friend Karl from Amsterdam to Copenhagen. We didn’t know the lay of the land, we didn’t ship our fancy bikes over with us—we just bought a couple of second-hand Schwinn 10speeds at a bike shop in Amsterdam and rolled out of the city with our packs on our backs and our pockets stuffed with maps. We suffered difficulties along the way—flat tires, poor map-reading skills, near-constant rain, our inability to communicate in either Dutch or Danish—but the vacation was unlike any I’ve experienced. We set our own pace, some days riding 40 miles, some days riding 75. We stopped wherever we wanted, engaged the locals whenever possible, and actually existed in a place instead of blasting through it, driving from one pocket of tourism to another with the landscape blurring by. When we got to Copenhagen, I left Karl to explore the anarchist’s quarter (where he subsequently had a mind-altering experience with a surfeit of “Space Cakes”), and I rode out to the airport to catch my plane back home. At the terminal, I parked my $50 bike at the bike rack (!), taped a “Free!” sign on it, changed my shirt, and boarded my plane home.
Remembering Amanda Last month I included a remembrance of Amanda Bader in this space, written by Wally Nichols. Amanda died tragically in February after an injury sustained competing in a horse-jumping event. In last month’s column, I noted the exemplary work Amanda had done for the magazine, writing a wide range of feature-length stories with depth and insight. One such article was a recounting of Tamela and Peri Rainbow-Sloan’s journey to adopt their daughter Cecilia. A lesbian couple, Tamela and Peri had to jump through numerous bureaucratic hurdles heterosexual couples do not face in the adoption process. After the April issue came out, I received the following remarkable letter from Peri andTamela, proving that Amanda’s work continues to inform, educate, and be a voice for social justice. Dear Brian, Thank you so much for bringing Amanda Bader into our lives. When Amanda arrived at our home that early fall evening in 2004, she immediately sensed our apprehension about an article that, while drawing much needed attention to the hardship families like ours endure, could also leave us vulnerable to further discrimination and hatred. With her journalist’s keen eye for detail and the passion of someone who cares deeply, Amanda strove to understand who we were and how hard we had to work to create our family. She was careful not to focus on that which might have been considered “sexy,” or “eye-catching,” instead documenting the truth about the obvious and ongoing violation of our civil rights, and about the love we share which has helped us to overcome many of the obstacles we faced in marrying each other and adopting our daughter. Amanda interviewed all who would comply and gained a good understanding of our complicated journey. Her article, “The Right to a Family” [Chronogram, 12/04], coupled with the beautiful photos taken by Roy Gumpel, produced a piece that continues to educate so many.This article is assigned reading in Gender Studies and Social Work courses at the university level. Many people are amazed at the legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people that still exists today. In fact, our legal marriage (Niagara Falls, Canada, 2005) is not recognized by the state of New York or by our federal government. Finally, Amanda’s piece helped many of our friends and family members to truly know us and understand why we keep fighting this good fight. Our family is indebted to Amanda Bader and to Chronogram for giving her voice a place to be heard. We will miss that voice. Sincerely, Tamela and Peri Rainbow-Sloan Capital Region Edition As many of you may already know, Chronogram is launching another edition in the Capital Region this summer. We’re bringing our unique blend of arts and cultural previews and profiles, political and environmental reportage, and wellness and spirituality coverage with our premier July issue. If you’re an arts venue, cultural organization, not-for-profit center, spiritual sanctuary, or other source of creativity and growth, please put us on your media map. Send us your press releases and your media alerts. We also invite you to put what’s on your schedule into our calendar. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to make sure your listings appear in our inaugural July issue. —Brian K. Mahoney 5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM EDITOR’S NOTE 23
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WHILE YOU WERE
SLEEPING The gist of what you may have missed.
At a White House press conference on April 16 following the Virginia Tech shooting rampage, the deadliest in US history, spokesperson Dana Perino expressed horror and sadness. When asked whether the incident might cause the president to rethink his views on gun control, Perino said: “As far as policy, the president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed. And certainly, bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting numbers—I don’t want to say numbers, because I know that they’re still trying to figure out how many people were wounded and possibly killed. But obviously, that would be against the law and something that someone should be held accountable for.” Source: Salon.com During a speech at the Daviess County, Indiana annual Lincoln Day Dinner on April 12, the state’s Republican Secretary of State Todd Rokita used an unusual reference to describe black voting trends. Rokita stated 90 percent of blacks vote Democrat and questioned why. “How can that be?” Rokita was quoted as saying by the Washington Times-Herald. “Ninety to ten. Who’s the master and who’s the slave in that relationship? How can that be healthy?” Rokita’s remarks, made on the same day that Don Imus was fired by CBS for referring to black college female basketball players as “nappy-headed hos,” were criticized by black lawmakers. Rokita, who apologized for his comments, explained that his intention was to encourage the Republican Party to continue its efforts to diversify its constituency. Source: Washington Times-Herald Rising shipping, transportation, and logistical costs have been cutting into the effectiveness of the $2 billion in food aid the US gives every year to developing countries, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on March 21. The US provides more than half of the world’s food aid, but in recent years, there’s been a 43-percent decline in the amount of food delivered. As a result, the US is feeding about 70 million people a year, instead of the more than 90 million it fed five years ago. The GAO reports noted that ocean shipping was eating up a larger share of the food-aid budget, as shipping costs had soared. The price of moving a metric ton of food had risen from $23 to $171 between 2002 and 2006. In contrast, the UN World Food Program, which is not subject to the same restrictions that the US law places on aid shipments, pays only $100 to ship a metric ton. The US aid restrictions include one that requires three-fourths of all aid to be shipped on US-flag vessels that employ American crews. These ships charge higher rates than foreign-flag ships. In addition, Canada, Australia, and Europe are moving away from shipping homegrown food to Africa and Asia, purchasing food from developing countries that are as near as possible to possible areas hit by hunger crises, thereby eliminating ocean-shipping charges. US law requires that all food given as aid be grown in America. In recent years, the US has bought more than half the food for its aid programs from just four agribusinesses and their subsidiaries: Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Bunge, and Cal Western Packaging. For the third year in a row, the Bush administration has asked Congress to amend the law, allowing up to a quarter of the food aid budget to be used to buy food in developing countries, thereby increasing the effectiveness of US food aid. On April 18 in Kansas City, US Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns told the International Food Aid Conference that he was “guardedly optimistic” that Congress would agree to the local or regional purchase and distribution proposal. Congress has killed the proposal in each of the past two years, and many legislators see it as aiding America’s foodgrowing competitors overseas. “If you want to see a safe, affordable, and abundant food supply in the United States, somebody’s got to stand up for the growers,” said Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AK). Source: International Herald Tribune On April 12, 2006, an Iraqi Associated Press photographer, Bilal Hussein, was taken prisoner in the city of Ramadi by US forces. Over a year later, Hussein is still being held at a prison camp in Iraq by US military officials, who have neither formally charged him with a crime nor made public any evidence of wrongdoing. The US military claims it is justified in Hussein’s continued detention because it considers him a security threat. Dozens of journalists—mostly Iraqis—have been detained by US troops or Iraqi security forces during the war, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Most were released without trial after a short period. Paul Gardephe, a lawyer representing the jailed AP photographer, disputes assertions by US officials that Hussein aided insurgents. “The absence of evidence leads to the conclusion that Bilal is being held because of the photographs he took for AP—which were published around the world—and which were part of AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning
submission,” Gardephe said. “He hasn’t been interrogated since May 2006, so he clearly is not being held for intelligence value. He’s just held to be held.” Source: Editor & Publisher On April 4, British Home Secretary John Reid announced that the government had provided nearly $1 million to pay for new closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to help fight crime. The new cameras are to be fitted with loudspeakers, allowing security staff to remotely berate people dropping litter, vandalizing property, or fighting. “Talking CCTV is another tool in creating safer communities,” Reid said. “It uses modern technology to allow camera operators to speak directly to people on the streets to stop or prevent them from acting antisocially.” Britain is the most watched country in the world, with an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras, or one for every 14 people. Source: Reuters In the United States, as well as in many European countries, when people renew their drivers licenses, they also decide whether they want to be organ donors. As a 2003 study in the journal Science found, more than 90 percent of Europeans are organ donors, while only about 25 percent of Americans are—even though most Americans approve of organ donation. In the US, to be an organ donor you have to sign a form. The reverse is true in Europe, where you are an organ donor unless you specifically indicate that you do not want to donate your organs. Source: New York Times On the eve of Passover in late March, Israel’s pro-marijuana Green Leaf Party told its followers that marijuana is not kosher and those who observe the holiday’s dietary rules should not smoke it or ingest it during the holiday. The Green Leaf Party said products of the cannabis plant, including hemp seeds, had been grouped by rabbis with foods like beans, which are off limits. The party assured its faithful that marijuana was kosher the rest of the year. Source: Reuters The Woodstock Town Board passed a resolution on March 13 committing the town to reduce the town’s net carbon emissions to zero in 10 years. According to the resolution, the town will create a task force to inventory its energy use and make recommendations for improvements by 2017. The resolution also seeks to promote the development of renewable energy sources, encourage homeowners to use solar power, converting town vehicles to biodiesel, and increase recycling. Included in the resolution are concrete suggestions for reaching the zero carbon goal, including green building, bike paths, and tree planting. Woodstock has already installed solar panels on top of its Town Hall, creating enough energy to meet all of the building’s heating needs and sell energy back into the grid. Source: CNN, Woodstock Times
On Monday, April 16, Fox News aired a short obituary of writer Kurt Vonnegut by correspondent John Rosen. A novelist whose work combined elements of satire, science fiction, and black comedy and sold in the millions, crossing over from postmodernism to pulp and back again, Vonnegut was variously described in Rosen’s obit as an “irrelevant” writer of “left-wing screeds” known for “his unique brand of despondent leftism.” Rosen ended his report on Vonnegut with this summary of the writer’s life: “Vonnegut, who failed at suicide 23 years ago, said 34 years ago, that he hoped his children wouldn’t say of him when he was gone, ‘He made wonderful jokes, but he was such an unhappy man.’ So I’ll say it for them.” Source: Fox News
5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM 25
World, Nation, & Region
KARL ROVE: REUTERS/LARRY DOWNING; ALBERTO GONZALES: REUTERS/JASON REED; GEORGE BUSH: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE
NEWS & POLITICS
WHOSE LIE IS IT, ANYWAY? The Fraudulence of Voter Fraud By Joel Bleifuss
On April 6, 2006, inWashington, DC, Karl Rove gave a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association and issued this dire warning: “We are, in some parts of the country, I’m afraid to say, beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored sunglasses. I mean, it’s a real problem, and I appreciate all that you’re doing in those hot spots around the country to ensure that the ballot—the integrity of the ballot—is protected, because it’s important to our democracy.” When Rove talks about protecting “ballot integrity,” that is shorthand for disenfranchising Democratic Party voters. Over the last several years, the Justice Department, with the help of White House operatives, has sought to boost GOP electoral fortunes by orchestrating a national campaign against voter fraud. But the administration overreached on December 7, when eight US attorneys were fired, a political scandal that some say could become this president’s Watergate. When Republicans talk about voter fraud they are referring to illegal voting by individuals, as opposed to vote fraud—systematic attempts to steal an election by an organized group of partisans. This emphasis on voter fraud has convinced eight states to pass laws requiring voters to present official photo identification in order to cast a ballot—laws that studies have shown suppress Democratic turnout among voters who are poor, black, Latino, Asian-American, or disabled. Understanding that one way to win closely contested elections is to keep Democratic voters away from the polls, the Republican Party has tried to stoke public fears of voter fraud. On Feb. 15, 2005, the US Senate Republican Policy Committee issued a report, Putting an End toVoter Fraud, which said, “Voter fraud continues to plague our nation’s federal elections, diluting and canceling out the lawful votes of the vast majority of Americans.” To remedy the situation, the Senate Republicans advised Congress to “require that voters at the polls show photo identification.” 26 NEWS & POLITICS CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
But voting experts maintain that voter fraud is not a national problem. In March, Lorraine C. Minnite, a professor of political science at Columbia University, released The Politics ofVoter Fraud, a report she prepared for Project Vote, an advocacy group based in Arkansas. She writes: “The claim that voter fraud threatens the integrity of American elections is itself a fraud. It is being used to persuade the public that deceitful and criminal voters are manipulating the electoral system.The exaggerated fear of voter fraud has a long history of scuttling efforts to make voting easier and more inclusive, especially for marginalized groups in American society.With renewed partisan vigor, fantasies of fraud are being spun again to undo some of the progress America has made lowering barriers to vote.” This is borne out by a study from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, which found that in the 2004 election, voters in states that required documentation of identity were 2.7 percent less likely to vote than voters in states where documentation was not required. Specifically, the study, commissioned by the US Election Assistance Commission, found that Latinos were 10 percent less likely to vote, Asian-Americans 8.5 percent less likely to vote, and blacks 5.7 percent less likely to vote. What’s more, despite GOP claims to the contrary, voter fraud is a very rare occurrence. In 2002 the Justice Department established the Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative to ferret out fraudulent voters. On October 4, 2005, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, with great fanfare, proclaimed, “We’ve made enforcement of election fraud and corrupting offenses a top priority.” Yet according to an April 12 NewYork Times article, only 120 people have been charged with the crime over the past five years, leading to 86 convictions. Furthermore, the Times noted, federal attorneys say that most of the transgressions have been mistakes by immigrants and felons who simply misunderstood eligibility requirements. The extent of voter fraud is further complicated by the fact that earlier this year the Election Assistance Commission changed the conclusions of a report it
ABOVE: VOTERS AT THE THE GREAT FALLS, MONTANA CIVIC CENTER ON THE EVENING OF NOVEMBER 7, 2006. OPPOSITE: THE VOTE FRAUD HOAX TRIO: KARL ROVE, ALBERTO GONZALES, AND GEORGE BUSH.
had commissioned.The original report by outside election experts concluded, “There is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling-place fraud.” The commission deleted that sentence and replaced it with, “There is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud.” Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the commission, is disturbed by this apparently politically motivated substitution. “This possibly could be another Watergate,” he argued. “We have to ask the questions: ‘Why was this report doctored?’ and ‘How does this play into the larger picture of voter suppression and intimidation?’ By directing public attention to voter fraud, you divert attention from the fact that Americans in certain communities are not able to cast their votes properly and that their votes are not being counted. Is this something that this small, new agency thought of by themselves or did they get marching orders from somewhere else, perhaps as far up as the White House?” FIRING PROSECUTORS It appears that under Rove’s direction the White House has been planning to use US attorneys to fan national fears of voter fraud. In his speech to the GOP lawyers, Rove listed 11 states that would play a pivotal role in the 2008 elections. Since 2005, Bush has appointed new US attorneys in nine of those states: Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Arkansas, and New Mexico.
What’s more, the firings of US attorneys in New Mexico, Arkansas, and Washington appear directly related to this Republican plan to exploit the issue of voter fraud and suppress Democratic turnout. In Arkansas, Bush fired a sitting US attorney in order to appoint Rove protege Tim Griffin. In Washington, fired US Attorney John McKay had refused to prosecute alleged voter fraud in the 2004 Washington governor’s race, in which Democrat Chris Gregoire beat Republican Dino Rossi by 129 votes. On March 6, McKay testified before the Senate that after the election Republicans pressured him to open an investigation. He said his office had examined the allegations of voter fraud and decided there was not enough evidence to pursue a case. “Had anyone at the Justice Department or the White House ordered me to pursue any matter criminally in the 2004 governor’s election, I would have resigned,” McKay told the Seattle Times. “There was no evidence, and I am not going to drag innocent people in front of a grand jury.” In New Mexico, David C. Iglesias was equally suspect in the eyes of the GOP. Recall that in 2000, Gore beat Bush by 377 votes in New Mexico. Consequently, in 2004, Democrat-affiliated groups initiated voter registration campaigns in the state. As a result, two boys, age 13 and 15, received voter cards in the mail. Iglesias responded by setting up a bipartisan task force to investigate.This didn’t satisfy attorney Mickey D. Barnett, who represented the 2004 Bush-Cheney 5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM NEWS & POLITICS 27
campaign in New Mexico. He told Iglesias he should bring federal charges against a canvasser who forged their signatures, which he refused to do. In a NewYork Times op-ed, Iglesias wrote: “What the critics, who don’t have any experience as prosecutors, have asserted is reprehensible—namely that I should have proceeded without having proof beyond a reasonable doubt.The public has a right to believe that prosecution decisions are made on legal, not political grounds.”
Rounding out the GOP operatives is Pat Rogers, who sits on the board of the ACVR. An attorney for the Republican Party in New Mexico, he has been a vocal critic of fired US Attorney Iglesias. According to the Albuquerque Tribune, Rogers is on the short list to replace Iglesias.
ROVE’S ROLE Minnite, who did the study on voter fraud, has read through the reports prepared by the ACVR and presented by Hearne at various official hearings. She noticed that the claims follow a predictable script. “It all starts to look the same,” she MANUFACTURING VOTER FRAUD The issue of fraudulent voters undermining American democracy did not spon- says. “There is a pattern in the way the documents that claim to show voter taneously erupt.To promote national concern about voter fraud, in March 2005 fraud are put together. It is usually a compilation of news reports on allegations. GOP operatives with ties to the White House established a 501(c)4 organiza- There is no follow-up, no research done, no analysis.” “As I delved into it, I was faced with the question called the American Center for Voting Rights tion, ‘Why do people think there is a lot of fraud (ACVR) Legislative Fund. The group went public On October 4, 2005, Attorney when there isn’t any real evidence?’. I think people by establishing a website, ac4vr.com. (The site has since been taken down for unknown reasons.) General Alberto Gonzales are being manipulated by politics, which takes the form of these reports that are dumped on the According to its 990 tax forms, ACVR is based in Midlothian,Virginia, and its executive director proclaimed, “We’ve made public. It is though as if you get a big enough pile, maybe you will convince people that the volume is Robin DeJarnette, who is also the founder and enforcement of election fraud of fraud is quite large and that we have a serious executive director of the Virginia Conservative problem.” Action political action committee. However, acand corrupting offenses a top Wisconsin provides a case in point. At a March cording to the registration form for its Internet 13 press conference, White House Counsel Dan domain name, the group’s address is a mailbox at priority.” Yet only 120 people Bartlett identified Wisconsin as one of the states a UPS Store in Dallas. The chairman of ACVR is Brian Lunde, a former Democratic National Comhave been charged with the crime from which the White House had “received complaints about US attorneys.” mittee official from Texas, who in 2004 was head over the past five years, leading In 2005, US Attorney Steve Biskup, who was of Democrats for Bush. appointed by Bush, investigated these allegations of ACVR specializes in issuing studies that purto 86 convictions. Most of these voter fraud and reported that he found no evidence port to document a host of voter fraud cases, like the one headlined “Democrat operatives far more transgressions were by immigrants on which to press charges. It turns out that early in 2005, Republican involved in voter intimidation and suppression in 2004 than Republicans.” and felons who misunderstood officials in Wisconsin prepared a report titled Fraud in Wisconsin 2004: A Timeline/Summary. The On March 21, 2005, four days after ACVR eligibility requirements. document, which was found in White House and went public, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), then chair Justice Department records released by the House of the Committee on House Administration, Judiciary Committee, was written by Chris Lato, opened hearings on 2004 election irregularities. One person who testified was ACVR National Counsel Mark “Thor” Hearne II, the former communications director for the state Republican Party, on orders who described himself as “a longtime advocate of voter rights and an attorney from Rick Wiley, the party’s executive director. The 30-page report, which experienced in election law.” In the aftermath of the 2000 presidential cam- covers August 31, 2004 to April 1, 2005, contains 65 entries detailing voter paign, Hearne was dispatched to Florida as a Republican observer in Broward fraud.The final example is titled: “RPW [Republican Party of Wisconsin] News County’s manual recount, and in 2004 he worked as the national general counsel Release: Evidence of Election Fraud Piles Up.” The information contained in this Wisconsin compilation, made its way into for Bush/Cheney ’04 Inc. In his testimony, Hearne described ACVR as “committed to defending the a 78-page report released on July 21, 2005 by the ACVR and titled Vote Fraud, rights of voters and working to increase public confidence in the fairness of the Intimidation & Suppression in the 2004 Presidential Election. In the introduction, outcome of elections.” And he submitted to the committee a copy of the ACVR’s the ACVR’s Hearne and Lunde write that the report “documents hundreds of Ohio Election Report, of which he was the lead author. That report read in part: incidents and allegations from around the country.Thousands of Americans were “This [Democratic] voter registration effort was not limited to registration disenfranchised by illegal votes cast on Election Day 2004. Paid Democrat operaof legal voters but, criminal investigations and news reports suggest, that this tives were far more involved in voter intimidation and suppression activities than voter registration effort also involved the registration of thousands of fictional were their Republican counterparts, requiring government-issued photo ID at voters such as the now infamous Jive F.Turkey, Sr., DickTracy, and Mary Poppins. the polls will help assure that no American is disenfranchised by illegal votes.” And who was behind this trail of misinformation? On April 7, Daniel Bice, Those individuals registering these fictional voters were reportedly paid not just money but were, in at least one instance, paid in crack cocaine. And in testimony a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reported that a source familiar on December 7, 2006, the same day the prosecutors were fired, Hearne told with the document told him, “The report was prepared for Karl Rove. Rick the Election Assistance Commission, “Recent press reports suggest that voter [Wiley] wanted it so he could give it to Karl Rove.” On April 6, 2006, in Washington, at the aforementioned speech to Repubregistration fraud remains a significant issue in the recent mid-term elections.” The press contact for the ACVR is Jim Dyke, who was the communications lican Party attorneys, Rove began with a joke: “ I ran into [the AVCR’s] Thor director of the Republican National Committee during the 2004 election. Hearne as I was coming in. He was leaving; he was smart, and he was leaving In the fall of 2005 he was working in the White House trying to get Harriet to go out and enjoy the day.” Rove then told the assembled party lawyers, “We Miers on the Supreme Court, before moving on to work in Vice President Dick have, as you know, an enormous and growing problem with elections in certain Cheney’s office. Brad Friedman of BradBlog.com reported that, according to parts of America today.” Rove should know. He helped grow the problem. Internet records, Dyke registered the ACVR domain name, www.ac4vr.com, in December 2004. Those records have since disappeared from public view. (The source of the ACVR’s funding is also mysterious. According to the Pitts- Joel Bleifuss is the editor of In These Times, for which he has worked as an investigative burgh Tribune-Review, “When asked to name any contributors to his nonprofit, reporter, a columnist, and an editor since 1986.This article originally appeared in the Hearne claimed he did not know but said Lunde did. When Lunde was asked, April 18, 2007 issue of In These Times. Syndicated by Featurewell.com. he claimed he did not know but said Hearne did.”) Dyke is a good friend of his fellow Arkansan Tim Griffin, the new US attorney in Arkansas. In 2004, both worked at the Republican National Committee THERE’S MORE MUCKRAKING JOURNALISM ON OUR REDESIGNED WEBSITE. helping Bush get re-elected. Dyke has been a vocal defender of Griffin’s apVIEW PAST NEWS & POLITICS ARTICLES pointment as a US Attorney. “He has a real passion for the law,” Dyke told the AT WWW.CHRONOGRAM.COM. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 28 NEWS & POLITICS CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
PEOPLE, GET READY WARREN
BENNINGTON, VT SARATOGA
RENSSELAER ALBANY BERKSHIRE, MA
Chronogram, the Hudson Valley’s premiere arts and culture monthly, is set to launch its unique blend of reviews, previews, profiles, portfolios, politics, and mind/body/spirit awareness in our new Capital Region Edition,
and we want you to take part. From Albany, Schenectady, and Troy to Williamstown, Pittsfield, and Stockbridge, from Saratoga to Hudson, Cooperstown to Bennington, Great Bennington to Glens Falls, if you’re an arts venue, cultural organization, not-for-profit center, spiritual sanctuary, or other source of creativity and growth,
you’re invited to put what’s on your schedule into our calendar. Our listings will be the region’s best one-stop site for readers in three states to plan a month’s worth of cultural activities—and we won’t get thrown away or used to wrap fish.
Our inaugural July issue is fast approaching, so e-mail your listings before June 5 to email@example.com. Chronogram Arts. Culture. Spirit.
5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM NEWS & POLITICS 29
Commentary BY LARRY BEINHART
THE RISE AND FALL OF AMERICA’S POLITICAL RIGHT There is no real name for the movement that took over America six years ago and continues run it. That’s part of the reason for its success. Its very vagueness makes it hard to attack. In actuality, it is not a single entity. It is made up of three main parts. Corporatism, which is based on the belief that whatever makes money is good—and should not be restrained. Neo-con megalomania, which is the belief that American power is absolute, irresistible, and always good, and should therefore be used—without restraint. And right-wing religion, which is the certainty that this movement’s form of Christianity is God-commanded; therefore it should rule America and, through America, the world—and any restraint against it is opposition to God. To add to the confusion, this movement did not stand out on its own. Its proponents entered into the existing Republican Party and the old Goldwater-Reagan conservative movement. They brought those people along with them (roughly half the voting population) and ran for office under the guise of being Republicans and conservatives. Most of what they said they stood for was in the mainstream. Capitalism is good. Being strong is good. Education, financial security, and trade are good. America is a good, idealistic country. It’s good that America defeated its enemies in the past, like the Nazis and the Soviets, and it’s a good idea that we remain capable of doing it in the future. Faith and belief in a higher power is good. We should be careful about foreign military adventures, though once we are attacked we have to be vigorous in our response and fight them over there before we have to fight them over here. All that sounds reasonable, appealing, and familiar. What distinguishes Bushism from old-line Republicanism and reasonable conservatism is not the names on their beliefs, it’s the quality of their beliefs. The beliefs of Bushism are theological. Theological thinking creates powerful and convincing rhetoric. There are two reasons for this. People with theological beliefs don’t mind lying. It’s for the greater good. This has been combined with the corporate attitude toward truth: “Coke adds life!” It doesn’t matter if it’s true or false, or absolutely meaningless. If it moves the product, that’s what you say. The result is spinning, which is more effective than straight-out lying. For years, Bush was a master of spin. If you analyze his speeches, it is exceedingly rare to find an outright lie that you can nail to the table.Yet he was able to lead his listeners to conclusions that were absolutely false. The classic example is in his 2003 State of the Union address, in which he said, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”The substance was absolutely false. He had been told as much by the CIA. The consequences of creating a false impression were vast, tragic, and intensely stupid. Yet, by putting the opening clause on it, citing the British government—whose intelligence service did, at one time, think there was reason to believe it—it is not, technically, a lie. 30 NEWS & POLITICS CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
PHOTO: DION OGUST
Beinhart’s Body Politic
People with theological beliefs routinely lie to themselves. In their theological minds, the theory is always true. Only reality is flawed. When the CIA stated that there was no substantive link between al-Qaeda and Iraq, Cheney disputed their claim and in effect said, “It must be true! Find intelligence that does agree, or if you’re too incompetent, I’ll find it myself.” Bush believes that cutting taxes always increases revenues and creates jobs.Yet year after year, when the numbers came back and it didn’t happen, the response was to insist on more tax cuts, because the theology says it has to happen. Listening to Bush—and Cheney and their supporters—is exactly like listening to a Marxist explaining away Stalin. And Mao, and the gulags, and the East German secret police, and the madness of Ceausescu. They were a new force. They believed completely in their cause and that they should have power. They arrived cloaked in old and familiar and reassuring rhetoric, so they encountered little resistance, and conquered rapidly and thoroughly. What is astonishing is how rapidly their ideas are being revealed as bankrupt. The war in Iraq has demolished the myth of America’s unlimited power. Iraq was the neo-cons’ great experiment in democracy and free-market capitalism.The true believers really believed that simply by having people vote for a democratic-style government and sweeping away all restrictions on free markets, a little America would instantly emerge—stable, friendly, prosperous, the envy of its neighbors. Instead, it created a hell on Earth. Anti-government government was exposed as bankrupt by Katrina. Prosecutor-gate is revealing, quite rapidly, how the quest for power, fueled by theological righteousness, tossed out all other virtues—like justice, fairness, and honesty. Economists and pundits are behind the curve, but ordinary Americans get that Bush economics do not work for them. And that what’s good for giant corporations is not necessarily what’s good for the USA. Religion has been a sacred cow. But the excesses of Christian power and the violent madness of Islamic fundamentalism have changed that. Now atheist books are on the best-seller list. Because it is necessary, it has become respectable to genuinely question why and how and what people believe. Theological thinking, itself, has been revealed as bankrupt. It is almost impossible to overstate how disastrous the eight years of Bush are going to turn out to be for the Republican Party and for the right. It is not entirely visible yet, but this tumble downhill is going to turn out to be a fall off a cliff. The Democrats, and the left, have a great opportunity here. I hope they make something out of it, because those other people are dangerous idiots. If they are going to, they can’t simply fall back on their old rhetoric. The world has changed. It always changes. It will keep changing. They have to come up with something new. Something that combines realism and good, hard-headed American pragmatism with ideals. Then make it sound exciting.
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5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM NEWS & POLITICS 31
Filmmaker Hilary Brougher’s Stephanie Daley by Sarah Coleman Photograph by Hillary Harvey
cold, cold day in New York City. Sheets of icy wind whip around each street corner, and the puddles in the gutters have frozen solid. Reaching the amply heated East Village apartment of director and Catskills native Hilary Brougher is a huge relief. A warm smile lights up her face. “You made it!” she announces, ushering me into a cramped, cozy living room with yellow and purple walls. Finger paintings by Brougher’s five-year-old twins, Violet and Guthrie, decorate the doorways, and on the bookshelves, Dr. Seuss shares space with Sylvia Plath. “What can I get you? A cup of tea? Honey with that, or sugar?” Brougher’s manner is so nurturing, and the environment so snug, that it’s tempting to ask for hot chocolate with marshmallows and a bedtime story. Motherhood is a big part of Brougher’s identity; it’s also at the core of her new film, Stephanie Daley, which screens this month at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck. But there’s nothing cozy or calm about the movie, which examines the fear and ambivalence that can haunt even the most wanted pregnancy. Filmed in the Hudson Valley, Stephanie Daley traces the relationship between Stephanie (Amber Tamblyn), a teenage girl who has concealed a pregnancy and stands accused of murdering her baby, and Lydie (Tilda Swinton), a forensic psychologist who’s hired to interview Stephanie for her competency hearing. Their interviews are complicated by the fact that Lydie is expecting a baby herself, and suffered a stillbirth the previous year. Lydie’s unresolved grief about the stillbirth is creating difficulties in her marriage to Paul (Timothy Hutton). With its ripped-from-the-headlines premise (“Teen Mom Accused of Baby’s Murder!”), Stephanie Daley could have been a one-note melodrama. Instead, it’s a subtle, delicate film that explores issues of guilt and responsibility, and the two lead actresses turn in powerful performances. Set partially in the Hudson Valley—with locations ranging from Hunter Mountain ski resort to Onteora Park—the movie captures a strong and distinct sense of place, particularly in the 32 COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
bleak winter landscapes captured by cinematographer David Morrison, which infuse the film with an air of gentle melancholy. Exorcism I propose to Brougher that it’s unusual to see such a deep, insightful exploration of pregnancy on the big screen, where gravid women are usually either the but=t of jokes (Look Who’s Talking) or vessels for horror-movie monsters (Rosemary’s Baby). “Actually, one person told me that Stephanie Daley has the scariest childbirth scene since Alien,” she says, and laughs—a warm, throaty chuckle that makes her bobbed red hair dip up and down. Setting a steaming mug of peppermint tea in front of me, Brougher settles into place on a futon-sofa with a patchwork cover, wrapping her legs beneath her, yoga style. She’s dressed in jeans and a gray T-shirt, with a purple hooded sweatshirt on top—soccer mom meets East Village writer. She apologizes for the toys left strewn around by the twins, who are currently at the neighborhood preschool. Shiny tambourines, plastic animals, and boxes of rainbow-colored markers are strewn across the floor. “I really learned to stick to the point when those two kids came into my life,” she says, rolling her eyes in self-deprecation. “I’d be nursing them and typing with one finger. And it was like, whatever I typed with that one finger mattered a lot.” When she wrote Stephanie Daley, though, Brougher had never been pregnant. Her points of reference came from thirty-something friends who’d shifted gears from high-powered careers to pregnancy. “Their whole identity was going through a massive transformation,” she says. “It was fascinating to watch women who I consider, and who consider themselves, in control, go up against that which you can’t control and can’t know.” Working on the screenplay allowed her to explore her response to those friends, along with her own questions about
ABOVE: TILDA SWINTON AND TIMOTHY HUTTON IN A SCENE FROM STEPHANIE DALEY. OPPOSITE: FILMMAKER HILARY BROUGHER WITH HER CHILDREN AT HER FATHER’S HOUSE IN ESOPUS, WHERE SCENES FROM STEPHANIE DALEY WERE FILMED.
motherhood. Years later, when she became pregnant, she “was able to let go of my anxieties quite quickly. Because I’d already worked through them—all of that stuff had been exorcised.” An Education at Upstate Films Brougher has a soft, musical voice that’s almost girlish—on first blush, she doesn’t seem like someone who’d write tough, surprisingly unorthodox screenplays. But as her films effectively point out, people are infinitely more complicated than they first appear. In her own case, there are obvious layers of complexity: She’s a shy girl turned confident filmmaker, a happy mother who can get into the head of a woman driven to commit infanticide. Tamblyn, the gifted 24-year-old actress who plays the title role, thinks that Brougher has a striking talent for delving into ambiguity. “I think the hardest thing to do in the world is write the gray areas, the areas of our lives where God lies, within the things we can’t explain,” she says. “Hilary attacks all of it with simplicity, truth, and danger.” Brougher started making films in adolescence, when shyness prevented her from relating well to her peers. In her parents’ house, just outside Woodstock, there was a large basement where she could construct cardboard sets for her Super-8 films. MTV was just taking off, and Brougher made her own surreal pop videos, conscripting other arty adolescents to be her actors. “Working with other awkward, arty kids was a big part of my meager self-development,” she says. Directing movies gave her a place in the social hierarchy; it was also fun. “We used a lot of hairspray and eye shadow,” she recalls. She also found refuge on weekends at Upstate Films, where her parents would take her to see almost every film on the calendar, “unless it was obviously, wildly inappropriate.” She loved the opening of Nosferatu, with its chilling images of
bones in a crypt. “I learned that powerful visual images, on their own, could speak volumes,” she says. The influence has played out in her own films—for example, in the opening moments of Stephanie Daley, where we see a girl stumbling across a snowy hillside, a trail of bloody footprints left in her wake. “It’s important to create connection and emotion using images,” Brougher says. Over the years, Brougher has tried her hand at writing science fiction, horror, and historical drama. “I love genre movies,” she says. “It’s difficult to get anything made, so you have to try a bit of everything.” This polyglot tendency developed after she graduated in filmmaking from the School of Visual Arts, where she met her husband, cinematographer Ethan Mass. The school emphasized production skills over screenwriting, so after graduating Brougher spent years teaching herself to write screenplays by trial and error, paying the rent by working occasional production jobs as a script supervisor and story editor. Eventually, the production company Good Machine picked up her screenplay The Sticky Fingers of Time, a time-travel fantasy involving a blocked writer, a lesbian love affair, and the H-bomb. Filmed in both black-and-white and color, Sticky is a provocative mixture of period drama, sci-fi speculation, and feminism. Brougher describes it as “a playful movie that’s trying to get people to use their imaginations.” Sticky achieved a cult following and was praised for its inventiveness, but Brougher felt she could do a better job of writing complex characters. “Sticky was more about plot twists,” she says. “After that, I wanted to do something more naturalistic, to challenge myself. I thought that I really needed to learn how to work with actors and to tell human stories in the moment.” With Stephanie Daley, she says, “I wanted to do a story about a person who was living one life on the outside, and another life on the inside. A concealed pregnancy seemed to me to be the ultimate secret—especially for an adolescent.” 5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK 33
34 COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
JIM GAFFIGAN AND MELISSA LEO PLAY THE PARENTS OF A TEENAGER (AMBER TAMBLYN) ACCUSED OF INFANTICIDE IN STEPHANIE DALEY.
Safe Haven As Brougher began to do research, she found many cases of teens who’d concealed pregnancies and been accused of killing or abandoning their babies. One of the most tragic is New Jersey’s Melissa Drexler, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1998 for disposing of her baby in a bathroom at her high school prom. More recently, teenage girls in Colorado and Maryland have been tried for murdering babies after concealed pregnancies. “These cases continue to happen, and a lot of them don’t make the headlines,” Brougher says. “You can’t put it down to race or economics, because it crosses all those lines.” Although recent changes in legislation have tried to address the problem— since 1999, many states have enacted “safe haven” laws, allowing parents to abandon a baby at a hospital, police station, or firehouse without any legal consequences—Brougher says they might not be getting to the root causes. New York passed a safe-haven law in 2001, but, despite this apparent advance, babies continue to be killed after concealed pregnancies. “In a lot of cases I read about, girls would go into these states of shock and dissociation,” says Brougher. “They can’t even admit to themselves that they’re pregnant. A heater doesn’t do a freezing person any good unless they can admit they’re cold and turn it on.” In the movie, Stephanie is a shy, church-going, middle-class teen. How much she’s aware of what’s happening in her body, and when, is left open to question. “These girls are sort of in dialogue with the universe,” says Brougher. “They’re in flux as to whether they think they’re pregnant or not. And I got really interested in [asking]: How do we talk ourselves into something? Or out of something? There’s a lot of superstitious thinking around it.” Tamblyn, who had her own anxieties during filming (between takes, she was on the phone, navigating a bitter breakup), says she understood Stephanie’s struggle. “Lots of personal tribulations happened for me while I was preparing for the role,” she recalls. “Plus, [there was] the lonely, very isolated environment where we shot the film, paired with an immense need to birth someone like Stephanie into the world.” Beeper Babies The film traverses some dark territory, but it isn’t all gloom and doom. Brougher has lightened the mood with humorous touches, like the sex education class where Stephanie and her classmates are given “beeper babies” and “beeper eggs” designed to teach them the responsibilities of parenting. The babies and eggs go off at inopportune times, creating absurd moments of tension. “Okay,
whoever has a baby or an egg, do what you need to do, but just make them be quiet,” says an exasperated English teacher in one scene. In fact, Brougher says, the set was surprisingly lighthearted and fun. “Tilda and Amber are extremely positive people,” she explains. “They’re also very funny, and I think that serves material that can go a little dark, because it doesn’t get so dark that the characters just start melting into dysfunctionality.” For Brougher, it was a particularly happy consequence that the script took years to hone and produce. In the process, she gave birth to her twins, who she credits with making the movie happen. “I link this script to my twins,” she says. “I feel as though their birth helped me get the movie made; they made me the person who was ready to direct it. To direct it from a place where I’d had my own happy ending, with these two great kids, was a blessing.” With Stephanie Daley, Brougher has proved that she has the chops to direct a delicate psychological drama. But, typically, she’s ready for another, completely different challenge. “One of my current projects is a script I’m writing that’s a contemporary retelling of Robin Hood,” she says. “It’s a sort of coming-of-age story that also involves Arthurian gymnastics.” She pauses for a moment, then deadpans, “It’s very different.” Next up, though, she’ll be directing a screenplay adapted by her friend Keith Reamer (Stephanie Daley’s editor) from a novel by Scots writer Margot Livesey. Set around World War I, Eva Moves the Furniture is “a story about a young girl who’s raised knowing two ghosts who are constantly in her life. It’s very beautiful; it really talks about our connection to our ancestors.” Perhaps, I suggest, the common thread in her movies is that there’s always some sort of barrier to connection between characters, whether it’s death, time travel, or pathological denial. “Well, yes, that’s basically me—struggling to connect across barriers,” Brougher says with a sigh. Then again, I point out, her vision is essentially optimistic: Barriers that seem insurmountable at the outset of her movies are broken down, slowly but surely. She tilts her head, considering this. “It’s true,” she says. “The films I love are the ones that provide a safe place to feel the dark stuff, and then help us let it go. So that we can focus on life, and growth.” She pauses a moment, and adds, “Filmmaking and mothering—they seem like similar animals to me.” Stephanie Daley will be screened at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck May 11 to 18. Hilary Brougher will appear for a question-and-answer session following the May 11 screening. www.upstatefilms.org. 5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK 35
36 COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
THE ART OF BUSINESS
CHRIS SILVA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BARDAVON, OUTSIDE THE HISTORIC THEATER
SHOW BUSINESS The Bardavon 1869 Opera House
n 1869, in downtown Poughkeepsie, during the Collingwood Opera House’s inaugural season, Mark Twain delivered a lecture titled “Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands.” In March 2006, almost 140 years later, Bob Dylan—a songwriter also known for his social commentary and linguistic shenanigans—stepped into the same theater (renamed the Bardavon 1869 Opera House), not to perform, but to work on material for the recording which became the Grammy-winning Modern Times. The same artist returned in March of this year to rehearse behind closed doors for a European tour. “Mark Twain, Bob Dylan—there’s a relationship there,” says Chris Silva, executive director of the Bardavon, a nonprofit entity that brings performing arts (primarily theater, music, and dance) to residents of the Hudson Valley. Bardavon venues include the historic theater on Poughkeepsie’s Market Street, the restored Broadway Theater of the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston, and parks, schools, and community spaces throughout the Mid-Hudson area. Besides Twain and Dylan, whom Silva calls “two of the great poets of America,” artists who have performed on the original Bardavon stage include Will Rogers, Sarah Bernhardt, Al Pacino, John Philip Sousa, Patti Smith, Isadora Duncan, and Martha Graham. During the theater’s history, other individuals have used the venue to address, enlighten, and influence audiences, among them, Julia Ward Howe, William Jennings Bryan, William McKinley, Jr., William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the late 1860s, coal and lumber magnate James Collingwood built the theater as a “palace of amusement” for the citizens of Poughkeepsie, on the former site of a coal yard he owned. When the facility opened in 1869, it seated 2,000 people, a quarter of them on benches on the third level, the “peanut gal-
by Ann Braybrooks photo by Jennifer May
lery,” where peanuts were the snack of choice. In its current configuration, the Bardavon seats 944. In 1923, the theater was transformed into a combination performance and movie house (reflecting the popularity of talking pictures); and in 1975, the building was rescued from demolition by a committee of local citizens. The group bought the building, and, due to its efforts, in 1978 the theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1979, the Bardavon has been operated as a performance venue by the nonprofit corporation Bardavon 1869 Opera House, Inc. “We’re very proud of what we do here,” says Silva. “It’s hard, though. Ninety percent [of it] boils down to fundraising. We do all of these shows, and all of these programs, but it’s always a hustle. Resources change. Politics change. Governors come, and governors go. Corporations take over other corporations. It all affects us, because we always have to ask, ‘Where are we going to get the funds for our programs?’” In addition to ticket sales, which contribute only a small percentage of the Bardavon’s income, funding comes from county, city, and state agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts, corporations, foundations, and individual members of the community. The Bardavon has 20 full-time employees and relies on 150 volunteers to help maintain operations. In 1994, Silva was hired as the Bardavon’s executive director, after having worked as a director and producer for more than 20 years in New York and California. While working in Manhattan, he was the associate director of Joseph Papp’s Public Theater during the US premiere of Sam Shepard’s “Curse of the Starving Class” and supervising director for Shepard’s “Fool for Love,” starring Ed Harris, Kathy Baker, and a pre-“Moonlighting” Bruce Willis. When Silva was the supervising director for Shepard’s “A Lie of the Mind,” the play received the 5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK 37
38 COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK CHRONOGRAM.COM 5/07
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AL PACINO AND MARISA TOMEI IN A PRE-BROADWAY RUN OF â€œSALOMEâ€? AT THE BARDAVON IN 2003.
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New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best play of the year for the 1985-86 season. Four years later, and after serving as program director for New Dramatists, an organization for playwrights, Silva produced and directed â€œThree Ways Home,â€? a play written by his wife, Casey Kurtti. When Columbia Pictures purchased the movie rights in 1989, Silva and Kurtti used the funds to move with their family to Ulster Countyâ€™s Stone Ridge, where they worked as freelancers in theater and film. After Sony bought Columbia Pictures, The â€œThree Ways Homeâ€? project went into limbo and has never been produced. Silva and Kurtti continued to freelance, though, and when Silva heard about the Bardavon position, he went for it. In 1994, soon after Silva accepted the job, a shooting occurred near the theater. The horrified reaction by the press, and the theaterâ€™s subsequent drop in attendance, dismayed the former New Yorker. He says, â€œI had lived in [New York] City, and I was used to everything. That wasnâ€™t the case here. Things got magnified.â€? To counteract the negative press and dismal sales, Silva seized upon the time of year to turn things around. â€œIt was approaching the winter solstice, so I asked people, â€˜What does the city do during the holidays?â€™ They answered: â€˜Nothing.â€™ I said, â€˜You donâ€™t put up lights or anything?â€™ They said, â€˜No.â€™â€? Silva went to the city authorities and offered to organize an event for Poughkeepsieâ€™s downtown. He went door-to-door, over a total of 14 blocks, he says, asking shopkeepers, business owners, and residents to purchase lights from him. â€œI told them that Iâ€™d get a cheap price for the lights,â€? he recalls. â€œI told them, â€˜Iâ€™ll get them for you. You pay. You put them up. But Iâ€™ll deliver them.â€™ I organized a parade, the whole thing. People thought I was nuts. But it worked out beautifully.â€? Since then, the Celebration of Lights in downtown Poughkeepsie has become an annual event, taking place on the first Friday of December. Another free community event organized by the Bardavon is the Hudson Valley Arts Festival, which occurs every autumn in Waryas Park, along the Poughkeepsie waterfront. According to Silva, â€œtens of thousands of people come downâ€? to hear music and take boat trips on the Hudson. Past performers include Jimmy Cliff, Peter Seeger, and the Wailers. â€œMy whole thrust back then, in â€™94, when I started all of this outreach,â€? he says, â€œwas, â€˜This is a great city. You donâ€™t realize what a great city this is. Letâ€™s give you excuses to go out and go down to the waterfront.â€™ Itâ€™s a gorgeous waterfront down there. And now itâ€™s finally being developed.â€? The festivals have increased awareness of the Bardavonâ€™s presence, as have the other community-oriented projects that take place inside and beyond the theaterâ€™s walls. Every year, the organization provides educational daytime performances and school residencies, as well as the Young Playwrightâ€™s Festival, which Silva calls â€œone of the most beautiful things we do.â€? For 20 weeks each year, Kurtti and actress Maggie Lowe work with 75 Poughkeepsie sixth-graders to develop the childrenâ€™s writing abilities. After each student completes a short piece, actors from New York City come up for a week and work with the children. Elaborate stage readings, with professional lighting, bits of costumes, and a few props, are developed and then performed for peers during the day and for families and the general public at night. Silva intends to duplicate this program, along with other programs for children and seniors, at UPAC in Kingston. In May 2006, the Bardavon began managing and operating the 1500-seat theater on Broadway, and by the end of this year, Silva expects that the two historic venues will have merged and be operating as a single nonprofit entity. 5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK 39
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LOU REED PERFORMING AT THE BARDAVON, SEPTEMBER 2006.
Another ambitious project undertaken by the Bardavon was the rescue from bankruptcy in 1999 of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. By mustering funds from the state, various organizations, and the Dyson Foundation, the Bardavon took over and began running the philharmonic like a “real business, which is unusual for an orchestra,” says Silva. Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell have performed with the orchestra; Yo-Yo Ma is slated to appear in March 2008. Other endeavors include consulting on Bethel Woods, the performance complex situated on the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival; building a bandshell and organizing performances in Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls (a collaboration between the Bardavon, Dutchess County Government, and Cumulus Media); and acting as programming and marketing consultants for yet another historic theater, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. All of this is going on while the hub in Poughkeepsie, the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, presents a full season of drama, dance, music, and film, with its minimal staff of mostly volunteers. Artists appearing soon include Joan Armatrading (June 3), the Roy Hargrove Big Band (June 8), and Jonny Lang (July 21). “Everything is possible,” says Silva. “It’s a very sixties notion, the way we operate. We think, ‘Hey, that would be fun. Let’s do it.’ Except that we also think about it in a business sense, saying, ‘All right, how much is it going to cost? What are we going to get paid?’ Given that each project is a huge effort, we have to have a return on that effort. That is what has allowed us to grow so dramatically. We’ve gone from an $800,000 operating budget to almost $4 million since 1994, because we look at things in a very businesslike way. But the motivation is almost always the art, the ‘This will be fun, let’s do this, it will be a blast.’ We want it to be fun, but we have to take care of ourselves, too.” 5/07 CHRONOGRAM.COM COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK 41
May 5th - June 4th:
Grace Knowlton Stephen Spaccarelli John Allen
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ArtistsĂ• Opening Reception: May 5th, 6pm-9pm
Grace Knowlton, 32" x 45" Archival Photographic Iris Print with Chalk 2007
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w w w . v a n b r u n t g a l l e r y. c o m 460 main street
gallery hours: thurs-monday 11-6, or by appointment