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When there is Marriage...
Hope For Holyoke 23 Year Old Gay Mayor Alex Morse Makes Us Proud
Keeping The Faith A Veteran and Her Service Dog Film
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An interview with John waters | film Director BY Mark Adams
Divorce | WhEn There Is Marriage... By Elizabeth Gromley
Keeping The Faith | A Veteran and her dog By Faith Harris
Hope For Holyoke | Gay Mayor Alex Morse By Flavia Francesquini
Boston Provincetown Northampton Providence Massachusetts Connecticut Maine Vermont New Hampshire Rhode Island 8 savoirflairmagazine
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JohnW a t e r s + MarkA d a m s
John Waters grew up obsessed with violence and gore and humor. All of his movies were set in his home town of Baltimore. He once said, “I pride myself on the fact that my work has no socially redeeming value.” Among his many works are “Pink Flamingos,” a movie he said “made trash respectable,” “Female Trouble,” “Multiple Maniacs,” and, of course, “Hairspray.” His most recent project is a book of his cross country hitch hiking experience called “Carsick.” This legendary film director has been spending his summers in Provincetown for many years now, and is a fixture in a town filled with the...well, “the unusual.” We spoke at his Commercial Street residence a while ago.
M: I saw your last show in PTown. Do you enjoy “live” appear-
I used was Liz Renay. Then Tab Hunter...he made that film (“Poly-
ester” 1981) the success that it was. God bless him for having the
J: I always hate doing shows where I live, but it was time. I have
nerve to make that movie. For him it was big nerve, I think, to
no privacy anyway, so why not do it. It seems like I’ve been on
be a Hollywood star who hadn’t made a movie in a long time,
every radio show in the world. Well, most of them. Fox Network
to do one with me, and make out with Divine, and this is long
never has me on. Howard Stern will never have me on. I’d love to
before we had found any respectability. He was a good sport
do his show. Ellen hasn’t had me on. They’re just afraid I’ll
about it, he re-invented himself. Tab and Divine together was very
talk about Bobby Garcia and Marine blow jobs. Oprah’s audi-
commercial. As much as I loved Elizabeth Taylor, if I said I wanted
ence isn’t ready for me to talk about gay porn.
to use her today and she said she wanted to, they wouldn’t let
M: Aside from the usual after-show comments, the one I heard
you. They (the studios) want somebody who was in a movie that
most was, “How does he manage to do a 90-or-so-minute show
made $200 million with young people a year ago. If Katherine
all ad-lib?” And it does appear that it’s all off-the-cuff.
Hepburn came back from the grave, she couldn’t get a job, the
J: It’s not ad-lib. Every word is written. Not one word is different
way the business is today. I always hated Katherine Hepburn,
between shows. I hope it SOUNDS like I”m just telling these stories.
by the way. I know it’s cinematically incorrect to say, but I never
The only part that isn’t written is the Q & A at the end. All comedy
could stand her. She was no fun.
has to be planned.
M: Do you hire people who are “fun?”
M: How long have you been spending your summers in Ptown?
J: Oh, they have to be, or they’ll never get through it. Are they
J: This is my 46th summer.
going to be a “team player.” I’ve always been able to tell that
M: What originally brought you to Ptown?
from meeting them.
J: Because someone told me it was a weird place, so I hitchhiked
M: What did you think of the musical version of “Hairspray?
here. I stayed two weeks the first summer, and later I stayed at
J: They changed it and it worked. The movies of “The Producers”
Prescott Townsend’s, one of the first gay radicals from Boston. I
and “Rent” didn’t. They made it a big, broad Hollywood musical
lived in a tree fort behind the Mews that he lived in. It was free.
with John Travolta, who played it differently than either Divine or
M: Has Provincetown changed a lot in 46 years?
Harvey Fierstein. Tracy Turnblatt is a star-making role. Finally, the
J: No it hasn’t. I don’t think so. It’s still like it always was. It was
leading lady was a fat girl.
Bohemian. It was kids, gay people, eccentrics who didn’t fit in
M: You like to hang out at the Old Colony Tap. Is that your favorite
anywhere else. It was always remote, always expensive. I think I
place in Ptown?
dropped a piece of gum down here in 1968, and it’s still there.
J: Well, I tried to go to the VFW. They weren’t very nice.
M: Because there are so many unique characters in Ptown, have
M: Why the VFW?
you ever used any of them as a basis for characters in your mov-
J: Because I like to go to places no one wants to go to. I like
minorities, so I go to the straight bars here.
J: No, not really, tho Mortville in “Desperate Living” is a little town
M: About your book, “Role Models.” Out of all the people you
that doesn’t participate in the rest of the world...there are little
know and have known, how did you select who
“kings” that run it, as in all little towns. I’m influenced by that. I
think that “Desperate Living” probably had the most to do with
J: I had to pick role models that I could tell my life through them.
Provincetown, and I don’t mean that negatively. “Desperate
Once I started thinking about it, it wasn’t hard to come up with a
Living” was where eccentrics had to go to escape the law...but I
list. It took me 2 1/2 years to write.
know people here who have escaped the law, along as they live
M: Any other of your older movies headed to Broadway?
here. There are certain rules for people who live here all the time.
J: No, I think that when “Cry Baby” didn’t work, my Broadway ca-
There should be.
reer ended. If “Cry Baby” had worked, then maybe “Serial Mom,”
M: When you’re not here, where are you?
but since it didn’t, I think it’s over. They were the two most suited
J: I live a lot of places. I live in Baltimore, I have apartments in NY
for the Broadway stage. Look for John Waters riding his bicycle on
and San Francisco. I’m on the road all the time...I live in airports.
Commercial Street, or buying his morning paper at the East End
M: When you first started, you used mostly your friends as per-
Marketplace, but don’t tell him I told you.
formers. Were you using them because they were your friends, or because you thought they could really do the job, or because
Mark Adams has been an established
they were the only ones who would agree to do your films?
contributor to Boston’s LGBT Media, writ-
J: Actually, it was all three. All kids interested in film making do
ing extensively on film and video of inter-
their first ones with their friends. And the
est to the community.
ones I used at the beginning are still in my movies. The first outsider
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Divorce By Elizabeth Gromley with Flavia Francesquini The last thing a loving couple wants to think about while planning their wedding is whether or not a divorce could end up costing more than the flowers they just chose for the chapel. Nothing like the promise of a new life together to make us embark on a romance-filled train that seems to lead to happily-ever-after. For many of us in the LGBTQ community, the legalities of marriage are also fantasy-filled. We fought against discrimination by creating our own ceremonies, where we gathered loved ones and proclaimed our love like any other couple would except, of course, that there were no legal bindings to our unions. Unjust? Absolutely! But now that we have taken steps towards marriage
must also deal with its reality, that it may not be equal after all. May 17, 2004, was a great day to be gay/lesbian in the state of
When there’s Marriage... Massachusetts, for it was on this day that same-sex couples began tying the knot that had the same legal binding heterosexuals had been using for quite some time in the history of human civilization. “Marriage equality” meant equality, from the beginning, middle, and (gulp) end—if our same-sex-happily-ever-afters turned out to be not so happy—right? Because before a person is hetero or homo, or both, he or she is human, causing some proverbial erring. In relationships, we make mistakes. We grow apart. We decide “the one” isn’t the one anymore. Why? The possibilities, amicable or contentious, of who gets the dog or who keeps the house, are boundless. Unfortunately, marriage equality in Massachusetts and in the other states that have issued licenses to same-sex couples, is an illusion. Marriage equality doesn’t exist yet. We’ve come a long way, tore a lot of red tape and
continues on next page
Divorce | WhEn There Is Marriage... continued from previous page
key victories, but to call the current state of affairs regarding marriage “equal” is misleading, inaccurate, and just plain untrue. Yes, you can have a beach wedding in Provincetown, a country club gala in Northampton, or something rustic in the Berkshires. But if you ever split up, prepare yourself for the very real possibility of being treated like a second-class citizen, particularly in the event that you own property, have children, retirement accounts, or have moved to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. Joyce Kauffman is a Cambridge-based attorney who specializes in family law. She was handed her first samesex divorce case about six months after May 17, 2004. “Gay couples end their relationships for the same reasons straight couples end their re-
lationships,” she said. “The only thing I would say is that for many lesbian and gay people who are married, they are really unfamiliar with divorce, or never even thought about the legal process of what it would mean. So there’s some, for lack of a better word, sticker shock, when they realize what the divorce laws are.” Shock indeed, especially when many couples that want out of marriage have contacted Kauffman, only to learn they can’t divorce. “For a lot of couples who married in Massachusetts or any of the other jurisdictions where marriage is now legal, who don’t live in those jurisdictions anymore, divorce can be literally impossible.” Another point Kauffman makes relates to couples with children, “People really need to understand that even if they’re married and have children
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who are born into their marriage, they still have to do co-parent adoptions. Because of DOMA, and many state DOMAs, the non-biological parent’s relationship to the child may not be recognized. If they are now in a non-recognition state, that relationship may come into question. Even though they’re both on the birth certificate in Massachusetts, they still need to protect the non-biological parent’s relationship to the child by doing a co-parent adoption.” When France Desmarattes separated from her partner of thirteen years their child was six years old. Her union had not been legalized and there were no documents protecting her rights to see her son. There were also no papers that allowed her partner to seek child support. Luckily for this family, the adults were amicable enough to work an arrangement that satisfied
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Divorce | WhEn There Is Marriage... both parties, with Desmarattes contributing financially to her child’s well being and also being allowed regular visits. Although this is a problem that concerns many unmarried couples, there is no easier solution for gay couples who have gotten married under the assumption that they would have equal rights to straight families. DOMA is the Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Clinton back in 1996, defining marriage on a federal level as a union of one man and one woman. It has created headaches and monumental complications for divorcing couples and their attorneys, not to mention multiplying the expenses of splitting up. In short, we pay out a helluva lot more to divorce. Gabriel Cheong is another attorney who handles family law, divorce, and estate planning. His first same-
sex divorce case came in 2007. “In a regular, straight divorce, you would divide property,” he said. “Let’s say you divided half and half. You have a retirement account, I have a retirement account, and we divide that. Gay couples can’t do that because retirement accounts are controlled by federal law. So, we can’t divide retirement accounts in gay marriages because it’s not federally recognized. Gay couples have to divide other things, but what if all they have are retirement accounts? Is that fair?” When it come to alimony Cheong explains, “Usually, alimony is taxdeductible and it’s taxable income for the recipient. But it’s not tax-deductible for federal tax purposes. [Samesex couples] lose out on that. You have to take into account how the federal government treats people. With same-sex couples, there’s a whole
other level of complexity. In Massachusetts, we recognize same-sex marriage, and you get the deductions. But you don’t get the deductions federally. Your tax returns are different. It makes it all the more complicated.” Cheong is proactive in the fight for true marriage equality, “Divorce is determined by the state where you live, not where you got your marriage license. Some couples end up having to stay together because they cannot get a divorce anywhere. Personally, I’ve been seeing if it is possible for Massachusetts to pass some sort of law to allow people to get divorced here if they don’t qualify anywhere else.” Cheong pointed out that marriage for hetero couples is like a driver’s license, a certified Massachusetts driver may drive legally in all fifty states. As continues on page 70
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# Edited Document
keeping the faith
A Veteran and her Service Dog By Faith Harris I think of a little boy with a smile as bright as the sun, always laughing and asking me for a Pepsi whenever he came around. He seemed to always find me when I was on duty, he wanted me to help him with his English, he wanted company and I did too so we always managed to have a few laughs together. Some days when I close my eyes this is what I see, his broad smile, his little hands holding a soda pop. But most of the time I am haunted by other images of that same little boy. He is in my arms crying out for his mother. Heâ€™s asking 22 savoirflairmagazine
me why as his bloody body goes limp and quiet. I wake up from this nightmare every night, in a cold sweat, trying to forget this image and many others that run through my head like a song stuck on repeat. I knew that war could change a person but I never really understood what that meant until I was deployed and came back a whole different woman. I was a military police officer and I loved every minute of it. I was always so proud to put my uniform on each and every day, knowing that I mattered to my country. When I left for war I knew that there was a chance I would not come home but I had somehow made peace with that. What I had not prepared myself for was the harsh reality of those who experience the worse of war and live to remember it all. War has changed me. Above female soldier on Patrol in the Middle East
When I came back things seemed so different to me that it became hard to get close to people. I was angry all of the time. At night the nightmares were so intense that I found myself trying to stay awake just so I would not have to relive all the horrible moments over and over again. I found myself disconnected from everything and everyone. In time I wasnâ€™t able to do the job I had once loved and the military made the decision to medically retire me due to severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. continues on following page savoirflairmagazine 23
Keeping ThE Faith
into the military. Eight years later I saw myself back in Boston and looked her up in hopes to say hi. What was supposed to be just dinner turned into a relationship. Now, four years later we are happily married. My wife changed my life not just with her love, but with her determination to help me overcome PTSD. She encouraged me to learn more about Stiggyâ€™s Dogs. This is a nonprofit organization that rescues shelter dogs and trains them to become service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI. I was hesitant at first but the more we learned, the more my wife became convinced that a dog would be the best medicine for me. I contacted the director, Mrs. Jennifer Petre and within a few months I was Faith and Family
on a plane to Michigan to meet and
continued from previous page I had heard of PTSD but I did not understand what it was like to live
train with my service dog, Honor.
with it and know that it will never go away. I had to take a lot of pills
Honor is an adorable 4-year-old hus-
everyday just to be able to walk outside or even talk with someone.
ky/lab mix with big brown eyes. From
I felt lost in my own body, I had never felt this way before.
the moment I saw her we instantly bonded and everyone knew we were
I left Texas, where I had been stationed, and relocated back to Massachusetts. Things were really hard for me then, I had been a soldier for so long that I did not know how to be anything else. I tried to hold down a job, but PTSD made everything difficult until it became impossible to work. Through it all, my son was the beam of light and joy of my life. He put a smile on my face and made me feel grounded. Luckily, I was able to find other sources of happiness when I reconnected with my first true love. We had dated in college but had lost touch once I went
Honor On An Outing
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together at Stiggy’s Dogs headquarters, in Michigan, for 12 days and we learned how to work as a team. While I was there I met all of the amazing people from Stiggy’s Dogs as well as the incredible veterans they help. Once our training was over we headed back to Boston where my family got to meet Honor and fall in love with her. She was immediately part of our family and my wife noted that it was the first time in a very long while that she could see a smile on my face
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hopeforholyoke 23 year old Mayor Alex Morse
by Flavia Francesquini PHOTO: John Suchocki | The Republican
Do you remember what you were doing when you were 23 years old? I donâ€™t believe Iâ€™m alone when I say that my early twenties were a rather colorful blur. I remember knowing a lot of people, having a lot of parties to attend and dragging myself to work with a headache every Monday morning. I eventually learned how to balance my checkbook but the truth is that to this day I have never been in charge of a budget of $124.4 million and a mission to improve the lives of nearly 40.000 people. As daunting as the task may seem, that is exactly what Alex Morse has been entrusted with, barely six months after graduating from Brown University just last year. Not one to wait for opportunity to knock, Morse has been paving his own roads for as long as anyone who knows him can remember. While many of his classmates were still hoping to get a job in their chosen field, Morse was sworn in as the Mayor of his hometown, Holyoke, MA. continues on next page
Photo: Rob Deza/www.robdezaphoto.com/
continued from previous page
Alex with the staff of Holyoke Pizza
If you can think back to what senior year was like, you may recall being either swamped with finals and papers or in absolute party mode, but few of us thought that launching a campaign for mayor was even feasible. If his age does not impress you rest assured that it’s not a big deal to him either. He also makes very little waves about being gay. Running a campaign based on total honesty has been one of his priorities and it has paid off in many ways. I would love to live in a world where age, gender, and sexual orientation have no weight in how voters perceive one’s ability to perform a job but that is not always the case. For a young gay man to earn the trust of constituents he needs to show some serious determination and a genuine understanding of the needs and strengths of the city he intends to manage. Morse prefers to simply focus on what he considers more important issues, “Every now and then my age or my sexual orientation came up during campaign but these are facts I’ve never tried to hide, and I don’t make a big deal about it because, well… they are not! As far as negative or homophobic comments I really don’t pay attention but I don’t believe there has been a lot of focus on it either. When you claim something with pride it becomes hard for others to pick on you about it.” While it may amaze many of us to see such resolve, those who have known Morse were not one bit surprised by his accomplishments. From an early age Morse has shown signs of leadership. This tenacity was nurtured at home. His parents encouraged him to move towards his dreams and have supported him along the way. During his teens years he came out to his parents, a step many young men walking the delicate line between childhood and adulthood hesitate to take. Morse was right to trust his family’s ability to embrace him exactly as he is. In fact, he credits the unconditional love he received from his family as an incredible source of inspiration to continue to be the best that he could be and to help others who lacked support. Morse took another giant step during high school when he chose to come out to his school-
mates and faculty during an open assembly and, true to form, went on to
start a Gay-Straight Alliance for other students at Holyoke High School. He was also responsible for founding the city’s first LGBTQ non-profit organization, Holyoke for All – Holyoke Para Todos, (formerly called the Holyoke
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Alex Campaigning in 2011
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munity and allies. Despite his efforts to enrich the LGBTQ resources, Morse had a vision that went beyond one slice of the population, he thought of Holyoke as his home and every one of its habitants as his neighbors. Morse is clear about his priorities, “Being gay may influence how I see certain issues but it is not a driving force on how I manage the city.” Morse served as President of the Holyoke Youth Commission, and worked to make the National Kids Vote a reality in his hometown. He partnered up with the Holyoke Parks and Recreation continues on page 64
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Savoir Flair is fortunate to be invited to tour the fabulous Hamilton home of Andy Giller, the owner of a glass company and Michael Tavares, Mohs Surgical Lab Supervisor and owner of a resale/consignment store on the North Shore. Originally built by a realtor in 1976 as an “empty nest” house, this dramatic nine room contemporary home was purchased by the current owners in December 2009 with renovations completed in August of 2010. The new owners, only the third ones, kept the original layout intact but added new cabinets, flooring and tiles as well as new furnishings. Andy and Michael describe the decor as “retro mid-seventies” or “rockin seventies”.
theme is expressed in color (brown, orange), materials (Rosewood, chrome, glass) and shape (low and long). The talented men also proudly point out that the decor is affordable and accessible. They did all the interior design themselves, purchasing goods from a variety of sources open to the public ranging from consignment stores to IKEA and West Elm to Mitchell Gold and Ralph Lauren.
continues on next page
< Andy and Michael followed the footprint of the original kitchen but put in new zebrawood cabinets with gray accents, Cambria countertops and stainless steel appliances.
< The focal point of the office is a spectacular black, brown, caramel and creme Missoni rug. The desk and credenza are vintage early seventies rosewood and chrome, and the chaise is Ralph Lauren.
The Mitchell Gold rust, gold and brown upholstered furniture in the living room is new. Andy designed the bronze glass topped coffee table. > continues on next page
The airy office and living room. The office side of the room divider is all bookshelves.
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<The owners Andy Giller and Michael Tavares in the kitchen.
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Demolish or Remodel By Matthew K. Teague, president of Reef, Cape Cod’s Home Builder A high percentage of existing homes are functionally obsolete and long past their practical life expectancy. A cottage or older home built in the 1950s through the 1970s tends to have low ceilings, small rooms, limited storage and closet space, out-dated kitchens and baths.They often lack in style and aesthetics. Add these features to compromised structures, block foundations or partial basements, the new lead- paint and energy code rules and you start to see why it might be better to raze and replace a home rather than remodel it. Of course, there are intangible, emotional aspects associated with such a decision. As a builder and remodeler, I often hear comments like, “Our children grew in this house.” “I just love the pine paneling in the living room.” “I am just so familiar with the way things are.” When you originally purchased your home 30 or more years ago, the rule of thumb was that the block of land and building had the same value. Now, especially when land is so scarce—the property’s value likely far exceeds the original structure’s worth. To guide your decision, talk with a trusted local real estate professional. Find out recent prices of the best properties in your neighborhood to help you design a realistic budget. It’s important not to overcapitalize—whether you remodel or knock down.
Demolish or Remodel The adage that it’s better to have the worst house on the best street than the reverse still holds true. Then, armed with a smart budget, begin to assess your property as unemotionally as possible. Here are some key questions to begin the process: • How old is the existing home? • Is the home’s infrastructure in good condition? • Does my vision for the completed project include a second story, higher ceilings or vaulted or cathedral ceilings? • Are there views from the lot? • Do I want to add a garage or enlarge one? • If I renovate, can I find materials to match the existing home? • Is there something about the existing home I would like to preserve? • Can I live without my home for six months or more? • How can I finance this? What do I do
about my current mortgage? It’s usually more expensive per square foot to extend or renovate than to knock down and build a new home. But, when you get more specific, it’s really about ratios. The more work that needs to be done, the more likely it will be that you’ll save money on a knockdown and rebuild. Many building components in existing homes—such as water pipes, electrical cables, insulation and structure— are hidden in areas which are not accessible. When it comes to remodeling, it is not always possible to clearly determine the amount of work necessary to achieve compliance or a satisfactory end product before the project begins. That consideration alone might influence you toward a knockdown strategy. In contrast, a knock down has clearer, cleaner costs. Still, there are unique expenses associated with a knock down - from demolition of your existing
home to connections and reconnections of services to temporary accommodations. And especially in New England, even a cost-effective knockdown plan may run afoul of today’s many building codes and environmental regulations – many of which probably were not in effect when your original home was built. Words of warning: Never take a structure down without having all the necessary permits to rebuild Matt Teague is president of REEF Cape Cod’s Home Builder, West Dennis. Matt is a Graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY with a degree in civil engineering. Outside of work, he is dedicated to the community, serving as a member and Chairman of the Barnstable Planning Board.
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Above: Federal Style House Very formal style with Greek columns and raised foundation.
YOU WANT TO RESTORE A HOUSE ! photos and text by Alan Collachicco In 1972 I sold the house in which I was born and had spent the early part of my life. In Boston I found a very spacious apartment in what was an elegant mid-19th century
other things, it had two working fire places, off-street parking, and fabulous views up and down the Charles River. After a shaker of cold martinis a friend suggested, “Why not put all your talent into restoring a nice old house.” This was followed by: “If you can afford this amount of rent you certainly could afford a mortgage.” Thus began the search, not for just a ‘nice old house’ but an 18th century structure of the late Georgian or Federal Period. I was told the affordable variety of these creatures was kept in Charlestown. continues on next page savoirflairmagazine 47
RESTORE A HOUSE ! where by the shade of gray on their woodwork. This so-called ‘prize’ was also surrounded by asphalt, stained chocolate brown, trimmed in glossy turquoise, and stood very close to the old Tobin Bridge off-ramp into City Square. Did I see any of that? I only saw a prefect Federal Period house with original mouldings, a delicate handrail extending all the way to the third floor, king’s pine wainscoting, six working fireplaces, a view of The USS Constitution and a BRA loan for restoration. I boldly signed, in the manner of Hancock, on every dotted line presented. All of this architectural richness came with a standing-room-only bath tub, a stove that oozed grease when the oven was at 350 degrees for more than 15 minutes, a toilet where the water ran freely 24/7, and a BRA contractor from Hell.
continued from previous page My knowledge of this foreign land was purely textbook. I needed a guide to lead the way and having found one, I was told that anything of interest was sold ‘word of mouth.’ In an effort to infiltrate this network, I bought a mid19th century, fully restored, row house and joined the Preservation Society. It took two years but the call finally came in the form of an invitation to lunch from a good friend / real estate agent. The prize was a free-standing mid-18th century house built in 1745, expanded in 1788, and I was to be the third owner in 1975. It was totally intact under layers of linoleum, wallpaper, and gray ‘lunch kettle’ paint from the Charlestown Navy Yard. The paint was taken from the navy yard in thermos bottles. Everyone knew who worked 48 savoirflairmagazine
Fast forward: it was restored down to the finest detail, endless layers of gray paint removed from six rooms, original paint colours matched, period papers hung, new plumbing, wiring, and a new roof. I warmly refer to it today as my “Tribute to The Bicentennial.” Most of the asphalt was removed in favor of a city garden. The shingle siding was stripped, a new front entrance to match the foot print found under the shingle siding was built and the original 1788 clapboards were painted. To accomplish this, I lived in one room with a toaster and Corning Ware coffee pot and all else that was of serious value, having
RESTORE A HOUSE !
Exterior of Colonial First Period House Before 1999 Exterior After 2010
sold most of the furniture from the first house because this one had to be ‘period’. I dressed in the front hall to avoid being covered with plaster dust, and cooked in a kitchen where the end wall was a heavy clear plastic tarp facing the express way. I kept my toothbrush and razor over the kitchen sink while the short tub and everrunning toilet sat alone and exposed on the second floor landing. However, the restoration of this house that survived the British burning of Charlestown, the changes in taste and the BRA’s (Boston Redevelopment Authority) bulldozers was my contribution to The Bicentennial celebration. I still acknowledge it through the trees as I cross the Tobin Bridge.
We removed 1966’s trim and 1950’s plaster ceiling. We repaired wainscoting, sanded pine floors, and repaired original wall surfaces among other interior features. Exterior work included an extension of a lean to, windows work, shingle stripping, and roof repair. The remainder of the interior spaces bordered on the desolate. Two of the three bedrooms on the second floor had potential. The bedroom in the ell had good height, a working fireplace, nice morning light, and continues on page 60 Below: End of the house with garden viewed from the road
Since then we have just completed our sixth house restoration ! I say “we” as one cannot go through life sharing coffee breaks with contractors or balancing a 4 by 8 sheet of blue board alone. One needs company to discuss the pros and cons of returning the dining room wall to its original location or to steady the ladder while one is still balancing the sheet of blue board. This task is easily achieved once one has met someone who will listen to what one enjoys doing in your spare time. Invite him by for a drink; if he agrees with your vision for the dining room, is adept at maneuvering the piles of plaster heaped at every turn, and is not shattered by all the dust in the cuffs of his Brooks Brothers trousers, you have a keeper ! The house we are in now, a 1655 First Period Colonial House with additions and or renovations taking place in 1785-88, 1954, and 1966 was a real restoration project, needing both interior and exterior work. We researched two First Period Colonial Homes owned by Historic New England organization, to begin our restoration. savoirflairmagazine 49
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A Vermont Wedding Written by Michele Mottola Wedding Planning - Michele Mottola Special Event Consulting Photography by David Murray Weddings On a beautiful February evening, after a fresh blanket of snow fall, current residents of Boston Marc and John were married at an intimate outdoor ceremony at Vermontâ€™s Riverside Farm, a private 300 acre country estate in Pittsfield, Vermont, less than 10 miles from Killington. The couple chose this particular venue for their weekend celebration for a variety of reasons. They wanted to be wed far from urban life plus Vermont had just legalized same-sex marriage. They also love winter and snow. This decision brought its own weather related challenges-for example, would there be enough snow for some of the weddingâ€™s special features? All worked out perfectly. Marc, a well-known Boston floral designer and John, an Associate Professor in Pharmacy at a local university met years ago at the Harbor to the Bay (H2B) 125 mile bike ride from Boston to Provincetown. It was on this ride that they fell in love. So it was no surprise that this athletic couple requested an outdoor ceremony. The ceremony location was nestled under a walkway that led to the dining barn. Fire pits and tall glass hurricane vessels il52 savoirflairmagazine
luminated the area. The 74 guests were taken to the ceremony by horse-drawn sleds with blankets. The couple gave much thought to their own arrival at the ceremony. They wanted to arrive by themselves as a couple, but as equals as men. Their solution: riding independently next to each other on horseback. The details of the reception were customized according to the couple’s wishes. The unveiling of the dining room was treated as an opening to a performance. Intentionally, the couple did not give the guests ample room to gather after the ceremony. They were handed a beverage and then a meaningful song, ‘Born Never Asked’ by Laurie Anderson, that the couple loved, was played. As the song goes,‘It was a large room, full of a diverse group of people. And they all arrived at the same building at more or less the same time. And they were all asking themselves the same question: What is behind that curtain? You were born. And so you’re free.” Once the last word was sung, the lights went to dark; the drapes that were concealing the dining tables were pulled back revealing the table-scape. An intimate, masculine, exquisite table-scape was unveiled. Colors that were used were grays, deep browns, soft blacks, and accents of white and steel, leather, suede, distressed wood, iron and other natural rustic masculine elements filled the room. The room was anchored by iron chandeliers following the length of two tables hovering above the guests continues on next page
Place settings with menus
Mother with groom savoirflairmagazine 53
Dramatic firepits illuminate the entrance
A Vermont Wedding
sight line. Each chandelier was hand strung with glass vessels and floral blooms. There were thick pewter gray textiles under a custom wood “cap” that covered the tables. The china, glass and silver for the first four courses and wine pairings were preset giving the table an added sparkle. Guests had a personalized menu showing them where to sit. Marc’s aunt had painted the winter scape that was used for the art on the menu card. There were no traditional introductions. The couple kissed and hugged their guests as they took their seats. After four courses were served, everyone was invited to toast the couple on the dance floor with warm local sapling liquor. Since the couple did not want dancing to over shadow the evening, because the dining experience and relaxed dinnertime talk was more important to them, the dance floor was deliberately set as a backdrop to the guests’ tables. This was separated by a translucent black voile with mirror pedestals supporting glass candelabras. The first dance of the evening (and the only announced dance) was Marc and John with their Mothers. The guests joined in for a few following songs while the wait staff prepared for the last two courses. The couple opted against the traditional cake. The meal ended continues on page 56
Marc and John enjoy a private moment before the ceremony
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John and Marc with a new friend
Horse drawn carriages transported the guests
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56 savoirflairmagazine savoirflairmagazine
A Vermont Wedding
with espresso and a party bus that escorted the guests over the snow covered hills to the dancing portion of the evening. The evening continued in the main barn on the property where dancing and additional sweets were served all night long. Those that retired early felt that they had already experienced a culinary delight of a life time and did not feel deprived. If you chose to dance into the wee hours of the morning, you had more to talk about during brunch the next day!
John and Marc enjoy the beautiful winter landscape
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RESTORE A HOUSE ! continued from page 49 a full bath. It was left as is for the moment. The bedroom in the 1780 addition had a very low ceiling and unless addressed it would remain a guest room for very short people. As there was no access to the attic space we chose to boldly pull the ceiling down. Fortune shone upon us. Once the dust settled and the debris was cleared away, we discovered a nicely pegged frame with good hand-hewn beams. The tierods were moved up, and a traystyle ceiling installed. The space to one side of the chimney breast was framed to create a very good closet for a house of this period. The walls and ceiling were finished with a skim-coat of lightly troweled plaster which was then ‘washed’ to affect old lime plaster. It was then glazed to add patina. Also there was the main bathroom which was small. The wash basin had been lowered to knee-cap height, the commode was tightly wedged into a corner with a wide low radiator next to it, and the tub-shower setup was the definition of claustrophobia. Realizing little could be accomplished in this small cubicle, we opted to take half of the adjoining bedroom to widen the exisiting bath. This move allowed the space to be doubled with tub and shower at one end, commode turned so that one had ‘knee space’ and the pedestal wash basin placed where the tub once stood. The option of using vintage fixtures was seriously explored. The fixtures gleaned from various sources all had wonderful patina. However, the fittings needed extensive work. We, therefore, chose to install new fixtures with a 60 savoirflairmagazine
left: Study with Early 17th Century Elizabethan portrait and 18th Century European furniture
RESTORE A HOUSE ! feeling of age. The low ceiling was removed to create a shed-like space. Heated towel bars and a wall heater were added for comfort. The finished space now appears natural. The remaining bedroom space was turned into a dressing room. One wall of closets was designed to resemble a 19th century wardrobe. There is space for a narrow sleigh bed and chest of drawers. We were fortunate with the electrical and most of the plumbing. The new kitchen could be tied into existing drains and the electrical brought-up to code. We did have to replace the fuse box with a new panel and up-graded the service. The furnace had ‘issues’ and after a very wet spring was replaced. It was now time to ‘play.’ We became serious friends with every salvage yard or related individual within a forty mile radius. As any semblance of period hardware was long vanished, we spent many a Sunday afternoon in Exeter and Kingston, New Hampshire picking our way through endless bins and boxes of antique fixtures. Multidealer antiques shows and up-scale flea markets were a good source for additional hardware. Finally the front of the house was addressed. Siding and trim were replaced and a beautiful 18th Century door complete with a 17th Century box lock and key was hung. Furnishing were selected to enhance the illusion of space. In each house we followed an idea about the builder/occupant through both research and our imagination. These were immigrants from the old world arriving here with very few possessions, many memories. They
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www.hiscc.net savoirflairmagazine 61
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RESTORE A HOUSE ! continued from previous page worked with locals to raise a dwelling and furnished it with what they brought. Kitchens were furnished based on a style of cooking; fabrics and embellishments were based on background. Keeping this as a guide, we added Dutch brass, Delftware, 17th century English oak, Italian wrought iron, and period portraits. This is what many of our ancestors had when they stepped off the boat. When it became necessary to add to their household inventories they bought from the English or European merchants who financially backed their coming. It was, as we all know, the next generation who relegated the old ‘stuff ’ to the back rooms and ordered matching sets of chairs, dressers, and beds from local cabinet shops. The treasuring of heirlooms was to come much later. Located in Byfield, Massachusetts this home is a tribute to one early founding family, to their perseverance, and to local history. The plaque over the front door prouding commemorates Oliver Goodrich, George Washington’s body guard during the American Revolution, who once lived here. This grand old dame can proudly reach out and welcomes owner and guest alike to
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continued from page 31 Department and the YMCA to start a basketball league for out of school youth. He did not stop there, Morse then worked with community residents to organize the annual “Stop the Violence” Basketball and Volleyball tournament which aims to promote peace and nonviolence in Holyoke. It would take several pages to list his accomplishments, a list that people twice his age cannot begin to formu-
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late. His focus has always been to promote a positive environment in which youth can learn, feel safe and aim to become productive members of the community. As the mayor, he has broadened his scope to include everyone’s concerns and issues. He has been quoted saying that he is everybody’s mayor, and he was not exaggerating it. With nearly 50 percent of
Free Estimates 64 savoirflairmagazine
the population speaking Spanish, being
hopeforholyoke able to communicate with all residents can be a challenge, but not for Morse. Being fluent in Spanish has been an asset during his campaign and it continues to be very helpful now. In fact, Morse recently announced that Holyoke Community College is offering free conversational Spanish classes for municipal employees. In his statement he added “This is an important step in my administration’s goal to serve all residents of the City of Holyoke and to make City Hall more welcoming and accessible to all constituents,
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no matter their language. In the Fall, we plan to offer a second course for free – Conversational Spanish for Law Enforcement Professionals, for our city’s Police and Fire Departments.” Holyoke has a rich history, developed in the 19th century as our first planned industrial community it prospered with its mills and was once the greatest known producer of paper, earning the title of “Paper City of the World”. Strategically built around its many water sources, it continues to use its “water power” by successfully generating twothirds of its electricity from renewable, hydroelectric resources. Morse plans on using the city’s unique assets to bring in more businesses to the area, but true to his personal style, he wants to integrate new concepts as well, “I
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here in the city.” To lead by example Morse has bought an apartment on continues on next page
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hopeforholyoke continued from previous page Open Square, a former mill in downtown Holyoke and has even invited the press to have a tour of his living space. While Morse values Holyoke’s history,
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to continue to think of it as a paper city may be obsolete since the name no longer represents the city’s profile, perhaps it’s time to start thinking of it a progressive center of the digital era. By focusing on arts and technology, Morse hopes that downtown will become the place we all want to visit,
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have dinner, enjoy local artists, take a walk around the canals, and have a drink before heading home. He is also hoping “home” will be just around the corner from our favorite Holyoke restaurant. But, of course, that is not all. Morse is also bringing attention to technology in order to attract businesses and generate jobs. With a high performance computing center at the top of his priority list, he must ensure that the $168 million investment from Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, UMASS, and other local forces will be well utilized. Morse’s enthusiasm for his hometown is contagious, twenty minutes into our conversation and I want to browse Holyoke, perhaps see if the Mayor is free for dinner and movie. One of the characteristics that make this young man so personable is that, unlike so many politicians, he is genuinely invested in helping his hometown grow and prosper. He underplays the fact that he is young and reminds me that being
gay is just part of who he is, like being
and violence, it matters that someone
straight is part of someone else’s life. I
they can relate to has reached for, and
agree. Our sexuality does not define us
attained, his own stars. It matters in
completely, it does not give us special
the formation of a generation of voters
cations, Flavia is a certi-
powers, better understanding of any
that it is everyone’s right and duty to
fied wellness counselor,
task, or the ability to live a better life.
elect those who will contribute to a bet-
life coach and parent
What it does is bring us a different level
ter world. And it matters to the LGBTQ
coach. Originally from Brazil, she is a Smith
of awareness when it comes to things
community to know that our members
that others may take for granted. Civil
are visible, respected, contributing and
rights, for instance.
essential part of the world.
gathered at a local high school to talk
with her teenage son.
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ing out had not hindered their ability to
who they are in their entirety. At the
writer for various publi-
about their jobs and the fact that be-
after their goals without leaving behind
In addition to being a
I recently attended an event in which LGBTQ members of the community
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This is exactly why I endorse those who have the power to become good example to the LGBTQ community. No matter how old we are or what goals we have, we don’t have to be defined by society’s stereotypes and misguided views on what we should and should not pursue. Mayor Morse has never thought of himself as too young to do the right thing, he has never used his sexual orientation as a way of getting what he wanted, and neither has he used it to promote a cause he didn’t believe would benefit society as a whole. To the youth in our community, struggling with ignorance savoirflairmagazine 67
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continued from page 25 efit to raise money for the organization. Charlestown, the amazing town where I live, turned what would’ve been a small event into a big benefit with an amazing turn out. In November of 2011 we held our very first Stiggy’s Dogs Benefit. We raised money to keep the organization going but we also educated people on the challenges veterans experience and the benefits of having a service dog. During the event we met a great deal of wonderful people and I realized that my story could help others. Things went so well that Jennifer Petre honored me with the position of assistant director. Honor and I continue to make appearances on radio, television and schools, where we attend career days to talk about service dogs and how they help veterans. We also take part in many fairs and benefits in hopes of educating others about Stiggy’s Dogs, and to get donations to keep it going. With all of the hard work and dedication of our staff I know that Stiggy’s Dogs will be around for years to come. As I write this I think about how many people have told me that what I do for this organization is amazing but the truth is that what these dogs do for us is the real gift. I know that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for Honor. My family is com-
Keeping ThE Faith
plete and I have a sense of purpose that brings me so much joy. I am a changed woman and my mom confirmed that when she said, “I finally have my daughter back.”
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Divorce | WhEn There Is Marriage...
continued from page 19
of this writing, same-sex marriage is recognized in only 16% of the United States. It’s impossible for you to divorce in 84% of the states in the country in which you live, the country in which you married. No one at the Registry of Motor Vehicles says, “I see that you have a drivers’ license but we don’t allow gays to drive in our State.” This isn’t to say divorce is always a nightmare for same-sex couples. “Kevin” married his husband on the beach in Provincetown. The marriage dissolved after three years, and Kevin said the process was like ordering fast food. “I ended up being my own legal counsel, and my partner did as well. It’s actually set up to be self-service so you don’t need anyone else’s help. If you want to get a divorce in Massachusetts, the no-fault system is set up so you can march in and out of the courtroom before lunch and be divorced. Awesome. I love it. I’ve had slower service at McDonald’s.” The court fee to file and the cost to have a constable serve his partner the papers, Kevin estimates, ran him under $300. However, his divorce did not involve children, property, and other estate or retirement accounts. He and his partner married and divorced in a same-sex recognition state. “No-fault” divorce means that couples are not required to prove a marriage breach by either party in order to end the union.
For Terry, who married his partner of 24 years and remained married another six years, divorce is still a word looming in the shadows. They do have assets that must be divided and Terry is hoping to resolve it through mediation. The financial burden Terry associates with divorce comes from more than attorney fees, but also the difficulties in taking two lives that had been weaved together in so many levels and turning that into two individual, functioning adults. At this point neither can afford to buy each other out of the house they own together and that’s just part of the problems they hope to resolve in the near future. Terry says that aside from the legal aspect, there is also the heart wrenching reality that, as the song pointed out long ago, breaking up is hard to do! In his experience, property can be easier to divide than common friends, “I think it’s very important to reach out for support during this time and I have been surprised at who reaches
back. Some of our friends have been very supportive, some have felt like they needed to take sides and a lot of them just don’t know what to do so they stay out of it.” Peter Zupcofska is a partner at the Boston firm Burns & Levinson, LLP. A pioneer in the area of gay and lesbian family law, he has been handling same-sex marriage issues for nearly a decade. “Before it was even allowed,” he explained, “I worked with GLAD. We were gearing up for what we would need to have as information for pushing the marriage issue. When the actual Goodridge suit was filed, I was co-chair of the Boston Bar Association family law section. This has been a cause for me for some time.” He continued, “Frankly, I was counseling people [back then] to wait for marriage so they could get a divorce. If that sounds cold-blooded, it really isn’t because in order to get a fair division when you break up a relationship, continues on next page
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HOW’S YOUR MARRIAGE? If your answer is, “not good,” do yourself a favor and arm yourself with knowledge. I will make sure that you have the information you need to start moving in a positive direction. Don’t worry about unreturned calls or being passed off to a less experienced attorney - I respect my clients and treat them with courtesy. Please call the office to schedule a consultation or visit my website for more information.
Law Office of Annette Baker Doolin 978.922.2888 • 900 Cummings Center, Suite 219T, Beverly, MA 01915
www.annettebakerlaw.com 70 savoirflairmagazine
Divorce | WhEn There Is Marriage... there are certain statutory protections that go to people who are married in the divorce statute. It means that you can get alimony and division of assets based upon certain statutory factors.” With such a long history working with gay and lesbian family law, Zupkofska has dealt with divorcing couples who felt guilty about disappointing their community and those who had fought for their right to marry, “Marriage for gays and lesbians is a radical thing to do. It’s ironic because you see straight people now, and very prominent ones to boot, basically having babies, not being married… When I was a kid, getting a divorce was something radical. The odd part about this is the old-fashioned institute of marriage is radical for gays and lesbians. When the Goodridges divorced, that was such a tough thing for them because they were the name. Lo and behold, they’re divorced.” Zupkofska also sites two reasons that contribute to the pressures some couples in our community
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may experience, “One, because we fought so hard to get it, there’s a kind of let down. Two, we don’t want those people who are anti-gay and lesbian marriage to say, ‘See, we told you their relationships are no good.’” Another example of how DOMA negates marriage equality, even in recognition states, is the fact that property and assets are taxed when transferred from one spouse to another in a dissolving same-sex marriage. A Boston condo handed from a husband to a wife is protected from capital gains tax payouts by federal law. That same condo, transferred from one husband to another, may cost him upwards of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars because their union was never acknowledged by the United States. It’s as though they were never married. The same is true of the transfer of assets if your spouse passes away. Same-sex widows and widowers pay more in accepting the deceased’s estate. continues on next page
Miguel Law Offices Attorney At Law - Somerset, MA
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www.miguellawoffices.com savoirflairmagazine 71
Divorce | WhEn There Is Marriage...
continued from previous page
The good news is that recent developments show waning support for DOMA and it is being legally challenged in many states. In Boston, the 1st United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in a threejudge panel that DOMA denies samesex couples of the same rights and freedoms that heterosexual couples are granted. This case may be headed to the Supreme Court. While progress sometimes seems to move at a glacial pace, there is no doubt progress is happening. Do our three attorneys believe DOMA will still be around in five years? “I sure as hell hope not,” said Kauffman. “I think that the case that was just decided by the 1st Circuit, which is challenging Section 3, which has to do with the federal benefits to samesex couples, I am cautiously optimistic that we may win that. When that will happen, it’s hard to say. That will make a big difference for divorcing couples because the federal benefits better available to heterosexual cou-
ples would then be available to gay couples who are divorcing.” Cheong said DOMA will soon be gone. “I think four or five federal courts around the country have already ruled it unconstitutional. There hasn’t been a single federal court that has upheld it. Most people think it’s going up to the Supreme Court… [DOMA] is clear discrimination. You cannot institute a law like that,” he said. Zupcofska agreed, citing the recent victories that should move it to the top of the judicial system. “Interestingly enough,” he said, “some of the very conservative justices have opined that, [although] they might not be in favor of gay marriage because of their religion or whatever, in terms of application of the Constitution, they would have to believe [DOMA] is unconstitutional.” When marriage equality becomes reality sometime in the future, our rights will not be null when we cross state lines. Our tax returns will look the same and we won’t have to pay more
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www.attorneyomalley.com 72 savoirflairmagazine
for the same services. The two people on a child’s birth certificate will be his legal parents, regardless of their genders, and they won’t have to add extra staples and glue to this avowed documentation of parenthood. Federal recognition means that when we split up, for all the reasons that make us humans, we are treated with dignity and precisely the same way as every other person in the United States. Many people argue that same-sex marriage ought to be left up to the states to decide, but clearly this system is flawed. For those who say marriage equality—marriage recognition on a federal level—is a threat to a society, ask yourselves whether a bigger threat may be the ringing discrimination of an enormous segment of that society’s population. Elizabeth Gromley is a writer and bartender living in Boston.
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www.linkpink.com www.ministoragebigmovers.com savoirflairmagazine 77
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Lifestyle Magazine for New Englands Gay and Lesbian (LGVT community