Newport Naked - Summer 2012

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Homemade Root Beer December 4th is known as Root Beer Day. Why would there be a day dedicated to root beer? It could be because making it is an age-old tradition, or maybe because it’s just so great. Either way, it’s fun to make and very tasty. It’s been a fun summer tradition in our family for generations, and I hope I can encourage you to give it a try. My very first time making root beer was exciting, but unfortunately my Papa insisted we use less sugar than the recipe called for. Big mistake! It didn’t turn out the way I thought, or hoped it would, but we drank it in root beer floats, and the ice cream helped make it taste better. My second attempt was a success. Delicious! It tasted just like the soda you buy at the store, maybe even better! So when you’re making yours, be sure to follow the recipe! Making root beer doesn’t take very long, if you want to have some for party, or by certain date, allow 7-10 days start to finish. After all, what’s better to serve your friends and family than a cold, creamy glass of homemade root beer? So where did this fantastic beverage come from? In 1265, inhabitants of the British Isles drank a dandelion and burdock root drink- a naturally fizzy beverage still consumed today. Shakespeare himself was known to drink “small beers”. This European brew was made from herbs, berries and barks, and was considered a light, social drink. There are even historical documents that show 18th century farm owners brewing the alcoholic version for get-togethers or social events. Over the years, many recipes were written and used to brew root beers. Because of all the different methods, there has never been one true formula, so if you look online or in a book the recipes may differ. For the most part, this just means that there may be a variation in flavour. Sassafras, which grows in abundance in Rhode Island, was once considered an essential ingredient of root beer. Then in 1960, the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) deemed the oil of

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When making root beer you will need; -Fifty 12-oz bottles (returnable bottles use heavier glass and are the most desirable) -Five gallons lukewarm water -White sugar (three to four pounds according to taste) -One bottle of root beer extracts (117ml) -One package beer yeast (five grams) Instructions: • Wash out the 12-oz ounce bottles in hot soapy water and rinse them well. Then stack them upside-down to drain and dry

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the root a carcinogen. Happily, manufacturers have devised a method to safely remove the harmful oil. The history of root beer is fascinating, and it is still a great beverage today! So when you make your delectable brew, remember that you will be maintaining a tradition that has been going on for centuries.

• Pour sugar into a five or six gallon clean, food grade, plastic bucket

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• Pour the root beer extract over the sugar. Swish a little water around in the empty extract bottle and then add to the bucket to ensure maximum flavour

• Place them somewhere warm but not hot. The yeast will become activated and will carbonate (make it fizzy) the brew • Allow to stand at room temperature for 5-7 days. Test one bottle for carbonation and flavour • If you want more carbonation, let it stand longer and taste again • Add the water gradually to dissolve sugar and stir slowly until no sugar is left on the bottom of the bucket

• Refrigerate before serving over ice

• Make sure the liquid is lukewarm (between 90°F and 105°F, or 34°C and 37°C), and sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid

WARNING: Do not keep your root beer anywhere too hot or the bottles could explode due to the fact that the yeast will do its job too fast. Also, do not leave the root beer somewhere too cool or the yeast will go dormant and will taste “flat”. If possible, store the bottles in a large plastic container (tote) to ensure that if a bottle happens to burst, any mess will be contained.

• Mix thoroughly for 2-3 minutes (until all yeast is dissolved) and siphon or funnel into clean, glass bottles. Cap securely

Enjoy your delicious homemade root beer! • summer 2012 9



200 BROADWAY • NEWPORT, RI 02840 • 401.848.9081 10 summer 2012 •


5:00 PM - 12:00 AM


The Fifth Element In classical thought, there were four elements upon which all matter was based: earth, air, water, and fire. At the Fifth Element, located on 111 Broadway, these essentials are found in abundance. Flames dance in the wood fired pizza oven. Water flows down large mirrors in a steady cascade. Earth is evident in the fresh flowers and reclaimed wood. And air is circulated by all the B.S., a cyclone that constantly blows through the bar.

dition produced a couple of interesting trinkets, including the iron pump-wheels suspended between bar and dining room, and a classic two-pronged ice pick that, for obvious reasons, is kept hidden. But the real score was the wood they obtained and fashioned into the bar.

The fifth element is a little more complicated. Aristotle called it the aether. He figured that the first four were earthly, and therefore subject to change and corruption. But the heavens were different. The stars never seemed to change, and thus must consist of something exceptional. At the Fifth Element this aether is personified by the customers – both in the unique qualities they bring, and in the distinctive charms of an establishment that inspires their loyalty. But as this article is about the bar itself, the key element is earth. The Fifth was originally located on Lower Thames Street. But during the move, owners Brad Cherevaty and Frank Doyle were given a unique opportunity. One of their faithful customers had purchased the old Eastern Ice building on Brown and Howard wharf, and invited them to see if there was anything they could salvage. This expe-




Christopher Plamondon • summer 2012 11

The floor of the ice factory, above where the product was actually made, consisted of old growth southern yellow pine. This wood derives from several species that flourish below the Mason Dixon line and east of the great plains. Its strength, stiffness, high density, and natural beauty have made it a staple of construction projects since colonial times, and it has been used liberally for home building and even roller coasters. But the key to this icehouse wood is the term ‘old growth’. Old growth lumber comes from forests that have reach a great age without any major disturbances. It is prized as construction material for the very features listed above. But today it is exceedingly rare. Most of these forests were extensively logged over the last several centuries, and the wood harvested today is younger and of lesser quality. This explains the different feel of houses erected during the last fifty years and those constructed in an earlier era. They literally do not build them like they used to. When Frank and Brad realized what they had on their hands, they were eager to remove the timbers and build a bar that would stand the test of time (and countless metric tons of leaning customer). With the help of finish carpenter Dennis Sullivan, of DSUL Designs and Custom Interiors, construction began, and after much cutting, varnishing, epoxying, and assembly, they created the perfect spot to enjoying anything from a filthy vodka martini to an honorable Guinness Stout. In a lounge where the décor can be described as eclectic industrial chic, there are other features that strike the eye. Suspended from the ceiling is an old railroad tie that was scavenged from a beach in Little Compton. It now serves as a rustic display for some of the world’s finest scotch. A section of the original bar, a combination of mahogany and pine, also hangs from the ceiling as a floating cocktail table. Other items that survived relocation are a classic terracotta wine rack, and an imposing, ten gallon brandy snifter. Because the place was completely gutted and refitted before opening, several layers of drop ceiling were removed, and the space was left open, exposing new vents, sprinklers, pipes, and beams. This provides the industrial look that is so striking when compared to the classic but sometimes stodgy feel that typifies Newport’s older establishments. So take the Fifth. Become a part of the indefinable aether. Have a drink, eat dinner, and enjoy the young, lively ambience surrounding a bar that is newly built and stylish, yet also very old. 12 summer 2012 •

BENJAMIN’S “There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking.” – Benjamin Franklin James Franklin owned a printing press in Newport, just a stone’s throw from the house that is now Benjamin’s restaurant, on 254 Thames Street. When Benjamin Franklin visited his older brother, he stayed at this very house, which was home to the Hammett family. The Hammett’s had come to America on the Mayflower, and built the structure in the late 17th century. Now, over three hundred years later, it is a staple of the local scene, a thriving downtown restaurant only a hundred yards from the harbor. One of the amazing facts about this dwelling is that it has served very few owners. The Hammett’s eventually deeded the building to Newport Hospital, which used it as a rental property to raise funds for indigent patients. It was not until the 1950’s that the place was bought and turned into a bar, becoming the Midtown Café, a saloon that was, for two decades, one of the roughest spots in town. This was back before the Navy left Newport, and the story goes that the front windows were smashed so often they were eventually just boarded over with plywood, as if there was always a category five Hurricane barreling up the coast. But I guess this should be no surprise since, back then, the locals referred to a nearby wharf as ‘blood alley’. Fortunately, Newport’s harbor front has become a much more inviting place for natives and tourists alike. After the Navy left in the early 70’s, the area experienced a renaissance, becoming a social and economic gem. The Midtown morphed into the Thames Street Café, a greasy spoon located on the first floor, and The Parrot Pub upstairs. It was not until the 80’s that Richard Kelley turned the place into Benjamin’s and Poor Richard’s, and since 2006 it has been owned and operated by the team of Paul Boardman III and John and Karen DeWitt, and known simply as Benjamin’s. Those with a discerning eye for architecture might quibble with the idea that this house is so old. After all, the façade, they would say, is clearly Italian renaissance, not colonial. This is true, but only because there was once a library next door, and while burning to the ground, it took the face of the old Hammett house with it. Since the ensuing repairs, the building has displayed this new exterior that is so unique to the downtown area. While this might be an interesting tidbit of information, it is only worth mentioning to introduce the many items inside Benjamin’s three bars that have been imported, items with wildly diverse origins and histories. It is only fitting that in a land inhabited by immigrants, including Mr. Franklin’s own father, the restaurant that bears his name has a few displaced travelers of its own.

On the first floor, the bar is the same one that served whiskey shots to combative louts in the Midtown days, and doubled as a counter where customers could devour western omelets and eggs benedict at the Thames St. Cafe. But the oak back-bar is a refugee, having been purchased on Ebay from a place called Rory’s in Fairfield, Connecticut. And it is not the only émigré to be found. The tables once supported portly beef eaters at a Bonanza Steak House, and the glass and brass sneeze guard over the raw bar was plucked from a Pub Dennis in Attleboro, Mass. Another feature that distinguishes this space is the endless collection of Grand Marnier bottles that occupy a ceiling shelf around the bar. These bottles are not, heaven forbid, empty. They represent the Grand Marnier Club, a group that encompasses over two hundred members. These folks have been invited to purchase there own bottles, so there will always be something on hand to enjoy as a proper finish to a nice dinner or a nightcap after an evening of revelry. To reach the second bar, you must step outside for some fresh air before climbing the exposed stairs. While doing so, you might notice that, in a centuries old dwelling, this stairway seems about five months old. That’s because it was redone this winter as part of the renovations in which the current ownership is constantly involved, work that has modernized all three floors. Yet when you reach the second floor, you will not find a spanking new bar, but another refurbished import. This mahogany topped beauty, and the Greek columns that back it, originally resided in a legendary local hotspot. Harpo’s was a crazy club in the 70’s and early 80’s that had live music every night and once even (allegedly) served as a brothel. To get a mental image of this now very respectable bar’s past, all you need to know was that, before being cut to fit their new environment, the Greek Columns were six feet tall and lime green –a vision that speaks of disco balls and fake smoke billowing around undulating cage dancers. A second, smaller flight of stairs brings you to the third bar, known affectionately, and appropriately, as the crow’s nest. This open air beauty has been designed to resemble the wheelhouse of a boat. • summer 2012 13

Varnished mahogany, cedar, teak, and oak is everywhere. There are port and starboard light fixtures, a masthead, and a nice view off starboard that encompasses the bustling foot traffic on Thames, the wharves, and the harbor itself, where sailboats bob on mild swells that eventually lap against the beach at King’s Park. And, of course, there is another immigrant, a small bar that was once outside at Castle Hill, a veteran of the famous Sunday afternoon cocktail sessions that sadly came to an end over the last decade.

So make like Benjamin, and visit the old Hammett house for the good drinking that is synonymous with good living. It is an impressive old structure characterized by immigrants, a place that personifies the City of Newport like Mr. Franklin personified America.

An evening drink in the crow’s nest is like taking a nighttime cruise above the city itself, a relaxing pleasure cruise for the body and soul.

Canfield House Bar These days, virtual tours are all the rage. It seems that, on the Internet, you can find moving and still pictures of almost any establishment. But since the Canfield House was built a century before our government even began to research packet-switching, an effort that eventually begat the World Wide Web, an excerpt of a written/verbal tour is perhaps more appropriate: “Well folks, we have now viewed most of the old house. We started in the classic dining room with its soaring, barrel-vault ceiling of cherry and mahogany — once an elegant casino when Richard Canfield played host to Gilded Age gamblers. Then we traveled upstairs to the banquet room and B&B facilities, downstairs to the cozy basement pub, and outside to the porch with its bar and dining area. Our final stop is the inside lounge. “For almost ninety years, this space served as a charming parlor and sitting room, even as the building changed from private residence to casino to the town’s first American Legion Hall. It was not until the 1950’s that the edifice became a restaurant, and this refined old room was turned into a warm and inviting watering hole. Please follow me. “The first thing I would like you to notice is the ceiling. 22 feet high, 12 wide, and 36 long, it is a perfect example of 19th century, hand-carved plaster. Moving along to the area directly above the bar itself, we see six back-lit, stained-glass panels. One interesting thing about these windows is that a second plaster carving is hidden behind them, a one-eight scale model of the original ceiling. Another interesting fact is they once resided the dining room. They were roof units connected to pull chains that could be opened for ventilation. Also, their angle was often adjusted, depending on the time of day, to follow the sun across the sky and capture the maximum amount of light.





“Coming down further, to the wall above the back bar, the eye is drawn to a large painting that exemplifies the history and essence of the house. The piece was executed decades ago by Mark Popper, a noted New York portrait artist. Featured is a large group of finely-dressed revelers — all staff and favored customers, including then owner Diane Whitehead — frolicking about a Faro table, a telling tableau of money, wine, and merriment. “Below this, at eye level, is wall to wall mirror that disappears, at its base, behind a stunning array of liquor, from fine scotches to an endless collection of vodkas, gins, and rums. Lower still we

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circa. 1930

come to massive glass cases that display the wine selection. Notable among these is the case on the right, fine woodwork and curved, sliding doors filled with delicate, beveled-glass panels. “The bar itself is a curvaceous beauty, as you can see. Made of mahogany and now over sixty years old, it has entertained generations of locals and tourists, from beatniks and hippies to disco queens and GenXers. Bob Dylan once had a drink here, a stark contrast to the days when establishment men like Vanderbilt and Astor spun the money wheel and pulled the one armed bandit. But we’ll get to those items in a moment. “To the left of the bar, above this cozy table for two nestled near the fire place, are some pictures I think might be of some interest. This one here was taken in the early forties, just years before the lounge was installed. It is a shot of this very room, taken from the view point of the dance floor beside the dining area. As you can see, it is quite a difference, revealing a bright and refined sitting room. Morning light streams through the ten foot windows, lending an ethereal quality that seams to suggest the Belle Epoch during which the place was built. “There are two photographs of the house’s exterior, both taken from the perspective of Memorial Boulevard. The first is estimated to be late fifties, and you can see the fence fronting the avenue, a viewpoint that no longer exists since the addition of the street-side coffee shop. The second photo is later, 1970, to be exact, and shows the entrance to the bar before the outdoor patio was built in the late ‘90s. “But the most interesting item on this wall is the old menu. The year is not known, but you can see from the prices that it could not have been very recent. When was the last time you could purchase a 7$ Lobster Newburg, and wash it down with a Manhattan for a dollar twenty-five? If you can recall such prices, you might not want to date yourself by admitting it. Just be glad you can remember anything at all.”

Uneasy laughter. “Panning around the room, we come to the last two items on our tour, two very unique objects. This first is a classic one-armed bandit. It was built by the Mills Novelty Company, out of Chicago Illinois, once a leading manufacturer of vending machines, jukeboxes, and these rustic beauties that speak of old saloons, fistfights, and perhaps even gunplay. The heyday of the company was between 1905 and 1930, when they were also producing celebrated machines that automatically played a violin or piano. But this piece might be even older, because Mortimer Mills was granted a U.S. patent for a “coin-actuated vending machine” as early as 1891, and they produced their first upright slot machine only six years later. Feel free to go ahead and pull the lever. The bandit will still click through its cycle, and you can wait with baited breath to see if you get three of a kind. But if you do produce triple limes or bells, be prepared for disappointment. That baby has not paid out since before Bill Taft became the only President to become Chief Justice of the United States. Crickets. “The second casino piece is this beautiful blue and silver money wheel. Once again it is difficult to determine an age, though one can assume it is a contemporary of the bandit, if not even older. Like the slot machine, it is in fine working condition, and you are more than welcome to give a vigorous spin. Yet you must beware. Rumor has it that if you hit your number, you win a free cocktail. But if you miss, you get a monthly mortgage payment, which is much higher then the dollar twenty-five customers once paid for a perfect Manhattan.” More polite laughter. “Well anyway folks, that concludes our tour. Now please feel free to step to the bar, requisition one of the very comfortable stools, and order yourself a cocktail.” • summer 2012 15

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401.846.0123 WWW.BOUCHARDNEWPORT.COM • summer 2012 23

and shipping tycoon Cornelius. He was raised in various mansions, including Marble House on Bellevue Avenue, and thus enjoyed the ultimate home field advantage, which he parleyed into a dominating 4 – 0 win. In 1934 Vanderbilt was back, facing a stiff challenge from the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Endeavour. Lipton, after five unsuccessful challenges, had died, and the new opponent was Sir Thomas Sopwith (yes that Sopwith, who’s Camel was the fighter plane of Snoopy’s wildest dreams). Sopwith used the advanced aviation technology of his company to build a faster ship than Vanderbilt’s Rainbow, and the challenger jumped out to a 2 – 0 lead. But the greater experience and superior tactics of the American team eventually held sway, with Rainbow winning the next four races. The 1937 event was a rematch. Sopwith returned with high hopes for Endeavour II. But the U.S. answered with Ranger, perhaps the best J-class yacht ever to race in the Cup. With Vanderbilt again at the helm, the competition was never in doubt, and the American team pitched a shutout. But even as the Ranger crew celebrated, the clouds of war were gathering in Europe. It would be twenty-one years before the next race. The 1958 Cup is not remembered most for the sailors or countries involved, but for the boats. Due to economic hardships in the post-war era, it was determined that the J-class yachts were too expensive. A change was made to smaller craft, marking the beginning of the twelve meter era. This new standard ensured that there would be relative equality among boats. The name of the class does not denote length, and in fact most of these vessels are over 20 meters long. The ‘12’ referred to a blueprint that takes into account sail area, girth, and length at the waterline. All of these measurements are

plugged into a formula, and the result must be 12 meters or less. This method created a standard while still giving designers room to maneuver, to tinker with all three factors and build boats with unique strengths and weaknesses. The ‘twelve’ era would last for three decades, covering all of the subsequent races in Newport. On the water, despite the new boats, the result was the same. The American team, owned by a syndicate featuring Henry Sears and Vincent Astor, sailed Columbia to a crushing 4 – 0 victory over Sceptre, which was yet another in a long line of British entrants. But in ‘62, the challenger changed. The Australians threw their hat in the ring for the first time. The inexperience of the new team led to over-confidence by the Americans, as Gretel held her own against the defender, Weatherly. But history repeated itself, with the Americans emerging as 4 – 1 victors. Still, the capable challenge from the men down under was a harbinger of things to come. In ‘64 the British returned without a vengeance. They should have stayed home. They were so outclassed that in one race the Constellation beat Sovereign by over twenty minutes, the largest margin of victory since 1886. As a result, the British era ended, and the Australian’s took up the cause of the empire, representing the opposition for the next six Cups. Three years later, the Americans refused to take these Aussies lightly. The ship Intrepid had been built with several new and bold design features. The Australians answered with an innovation of their own, as Dame Pattie was the first entrant to utilize computer navigation. This was not enough to end the streak, however, as Intrepid swept the series with ease. Still, this willingness to embrace experimentation would characterize future Australian teams, molding them into dangerous

photo credit:© ACEA/Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

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adversaries. races, by margins well under two minutes. Australia II claimed Prior to the next race, there was another change that the next victory, but Liberty answered with her third triumph, spelled trouble for American dominance. For the first time this time by a mere 43 seconds. The Aussies persevered with a narrow win of their own, meaning, for the first time, a sixth ever, a challenger series would select the best opponent. These races allowed Cup hopefuls to test their boats and race would be necessary. Again the Australians prevailed, setcrews under the intense pressure of competition, an opportuting up an unprecedented, gripping, do or die seventh race. nity that, in previous years, had only been available to the It was a classic. The lead changed hands three times, and defenders. The Australians emerged victorious from shifting winds tested the mettle of all involved. On the last downwind Australia II executed a daring pass. Then, on the final these trials, and gained valuable experience in the leg, the boats tacked endlessly against the wind as process. Also, it was generally agreed that Gretel II was the faster boat in that years finals. But the Liberty made a desperate charge. But it was not visitors were plagued by their own incompetence. enough. The Americans were beaten by a mere They made numerous mistakes, including having a forty one seconds, and the Cup finally changed hands, man go overboard, choosing their sails unwisely, and and hemispheres, going to the Royal Perth Yacht Club. committing a violation that disqualified them from a The devastating loss only galvanized the Americans. race they had won. America sailed to a 3 – 2 victory, Four years later Connor would sail Stars and Stripes 87 to victory and bring the trophy back home. He received a as Intrepid became a rare two-time winner. boisterous welcome and a ticker tape parade in But she would not be the last. Courageous was the Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes, an honor previously next defender, and she produced back to back victobestowed on the likes of General Pershing, ries of her own. The second, in ’77, was helmed by Charles Lindbergh, Jesse Owens, Howard Ted Turner. The bombastic southerner was given Hughes, Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and the pejorative nickname ‘Captain Outrageous’ by Kennedy, Winston Churchill, U.S. Olympic the northeastern blue-bloods, but when he teams, Pope John Paul II, the Iran Hostages, the excelled in the defender series, he was granted Apollo 11 crew, and even the Statue of Liberty (an the honor of representing his country. It proved a wise impromptu affair at her 1886 commemoration). He decision, as he piloted Courageous to a sweep over also got his second Sports Illustrated cover, this time Australia. becoming the only man to appear alongside a U.S. In 1980, Dennis Conner led the American team president – Reagan. aboard Freedom. Their opponent was Australia, back in But despite all the hoopla, things were not the same. Newport waters for a second attempt at making history. The spell had been broken. The age of dominance had The competition was exhilarating, one of the closest in ended. And Newport was no longer a host. Over the the history of the Cup. Still, despite two races decided last twenty five years the Cup has been held alterby under a minute, the American’s kept their incredinately by the Americans, New Zealanders, and ble streak alive. Swiss. But things were about to change. But today it is once again on our soil. In 2010, a In 1983, everything came together for the team representing the Golden Gate Yacht Club Australians. They arrived in Newport with a new wrested the hallowed trophy from the Swiss. As boat, Australia II, that featured a revolutionary a result, San Francisco will host the next race, winged keel. It was an extension of the bold experto be held in 2013. imentation that made the Aussies so formidable, But there will still be Cup racing in Newport. and was the focus of endless speculation. The This summer, the AC World Series will condesign was so secretive that a skirt was hung clude just off Fort Adams. The Series is a circuit from the craft whenever she was pulled from the of regattas held at venues around the world, a water. Also, there was controversy. The New chance to expose a wide audience to the York Yacht Club alleged that the keel did not sport. Previous events were held in Cascais, adhere to the twelve meter formula, and that Portugal, Plymouth, England, Venice, Naples, it was a Dutch design, not Australian. Both photo credit:© ACEA/Photo Gilles Martin-Raget and San Diego. claims would have meant disqualification, but The boat used in the series features radical new technoloin the end the challenger was deemed legal. On the upside, the gy, making it seem alien when compared to the ‘twelves’ that controversy had drawn international attention to the event. Connor was drawing his own attention. The U.S. media gave once vied for the trophy. Called the AC45, it is a 45 foot catamaran featuring a wing sail that is 21 meters high with an him extensive coverage that summer, and he even graced the area of 915 feet. Despite the ability to reach high speeds, it is cover of Sports Illustrated, an uncommon feat for a sailor. But in very nimble, allowing it to navigate tight, demanding courses. order to justify this fame, he would have to overcome the The craft is also designed to perform well in both light and stiffest challenge in Cup history. heavy winds, thus avoiding the lulls that can plague world class Australia II was the faster vessel. Also, with the challenger sail racing when the conditions do not cooperate. series having grown more and more intense, both boat and But as impressive as the 45 is, it is essentially being used crew were weathered and ready for action. for practice by the AC crews, getting them ready for the AC72, Still, Connor and Liberty managed close wins in the first two the behemoth they will sail in the finals. However, seeing those • summer 2012 27

photo credit:© ACEA/Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

monsters in person will require traveling to San Francisco and scouting out a good vantage point along the bay. It will be much easier, and cheaper, to pack a lunch and come to Newport. The event will take place between June 23rd and July 1st, on an oval course between Fort Adams State Park and Fort Wetherill, in Jamestown. But plan ahead, because the crowds may be enormous. An economic impact estimate predicted the regatta will bring 72 million dollars to the state, most of it flowing from the over 100,000 tourists who will flock to our shores. When they arrive they will see some of the world’s greatest sailors, on some of the world’s most extreme boats, doing battle on Narragansett Bay.

Newport to Bermuda Rhumbline - a curve on the surface of a sphere that cuts all meridians at the same angle. It is the path taken by ships or airplanes that maintain a steady compass bearing.

55 years after the America’s Cup received its name, another legendary competition was born. Conceived as the first ocean race amongst amateur sailors, the initial run to Bermuda was viewed as either an extreme sport or utter madness. Back then, only three crews had the balls to even try, and

Matt Cohen Photography

when it was over, two of them had succeeded, including a 28footer that is still the smallest craft ever to complete the journey. The experience had been so difficult, harrowing, and exhilarating, they decided to repeat it the following year. From this daring yet humble beginning, the event has gradually morphed into a contest that, in its centennial edition of 2006, saw over 250 boats set sail for the Onion Patch. That first, intrepid race had started off Brooklyn, and in ensuing years it would begin in places like New London, Marblehead, and Montauk. But since 1936 it has been launched just off Castle Hill Light in the City by the Sea. The initial goal of the endeavor was to inspire amateur crews on small sailing vessels to test their mettle on the open seas, and to this day that spirit personifies the event. Generally, around ninety percent of the entrants are amateurs, including many family teams, and they make the run in all types of vessels. Because of these variations in crew and craft, the race has been separated into five divisions, giving the diverse entrants a fair chance at earning an impressive array of trophies. Examples of these divisions are the Gibbs Hill, which features professionals sailing modern craft, the Double-handed, where two man crews are the rule, and the Cruising division, which is filled by boats that are not designed for racing. Additional awards are bestowed in categories like best finish for a boat over fifteen years old, top family crew, and best navigator. Newport-Bermuda is a 635 mile jaunt. It takes three to six days to complete, and most of the sailing occurs on the open ocean, with land far over the horizon. The track would appear simple, a dead southeast shot on a rhumbline heading of 149 degrees True, but difficult conditions make frequent course adjustments inevitable. The first half of this voyage is dominated by the gulf stream, which, in conjunction with related ocean currents, can either move boats swiftly along or stymie every effort to advance. Violent squalls, heavy seas, and impenetrable fogs are common. The second portion is generally less eventful. Light winds and calmer currents prevail, testing the ingenuity and creativity of helmsman as they search for ways to propel their vessels forward. Eventually, about twenty to twenty five miles out, Bermuda’s low silhouette appears, and this is when the excitement builds. In the final leg, boats following different lines of approach will appear, converging in a funnel while avoiding the coral reefs that abound just north of the island paradise. The finish line is St. David’s Lighthouse, and after that there is nothing left but one Dark n’ Stormy after another, and the stories people tell.

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As this article is being written, news has broken of two separate boating disasters. One is the sinking of a ferry in India that claimed over a hundred souls, and another the loss of the sailing yacht Aegean off the coast of California, leaving three dead and one missing. Both instances highlight the dangers that exist on the water, but the second tragedy is particularly germane to this article, as the Aegean was taking part in the 125 mile Newport Beach to Ensenada boat race. It would seem that such water-bound catastrophes are common, from the Titanic to the Costa Concordia cruise ship this January. So given this reality, the safety record of the Bermuda race is quite impressive. Over 106 years, encompassing 47 races, only two boats have been lost. The most recent was back in ’56, when the yacht Elda encountered a reef just off Bermuda. And the first was in 1932, when the schooner Adriana caught fire. A competitor, the Jolie Brise, managed to rescue ten people, but one man was lost at sea, the only casualty in the event’s long history. Countless other problems have been encountered, as they always are when man meets nature. There have been broken headstays, electronic malfunctions, and seaweed dangling from a briefly submerged mast. Sailors have dealt with hurricanes and big calms, high-pressure cells and microbursts, happy valleys and death zones, gulf stream eddies and meanders, and even a case of acute appendicitis. But through it all, almost 5,000 boats, carrying over 50,000 sailors, have braved the elements and returned safely. Today the Newport to Bermuda race is a hallowed tradition that takes place every two years. It has drawn competitors from the world over, and honored winners from England all the way to the Great Lakes region. Since 1958, more than a hundred boats have taken part in each race, and the thrill has proven addicting, with many sailors having competed in 10, 15, or 20 races, including the late Jim Mertz, who made the run an astounding 30 times. Victories have been claimed by boats as large as 93 feet and as small as 37, and by America’s Cup winners Ted Hood and Harold Vanderbilt. The event has been so successful that it has even spawned imitators, most notably the Fastnet Race in England and the Sydney-Hobart in Australia. On June 15th, this year’s entrants will assemble in Narragansett Bay and begin the Thrash to the Onion Patch. The race is book-ended by the Onion Patch Series, a group of regattas that take place here in Newport beforehand, and then down in Bermuda afterwards. For those who would like to follow the action, visit the Newport Bermuda website. All boats are fitted with satellite transponders, and their positions are updated frequently. P.S. – English settlers introduced onions to Bermuda in the early 1600’s. By the 19th century they had become a major export commodity. Eventually, stateside growers started competing, going so far as to call their product Bermuda Onions, even though they were grown in places like Texas. Because of better access to transportation hubs, these land-locked farmers easily won the battle, and the vegetable is no longer a major part of the island’s economy. But to this day, Bermudian’s are still referred to as Onions, and the island itself as the Onion Patch, just in case you were wondering . . . • summer 2012 29



Matt Cohen Photography

As the Newport to Bermuda race became an export, copied overseas by sailors who admired its spirit, the Tall Ships became an import. In 1972, Barclay Warburton III, of Newport, participated in a Tall Ships race from England to Sweden. By the time he had guided his brigantine, The Black Pearl, into Malmo, he was inspired to bring similar experiences to American shores. A year later he founded the American Sail Training Association. At the time, the organization had just a few boats that operated in local waters, but today it enjoys international reach, and boasts a fleet of over 250 vessels. One purpose of the ASTA is to introduce young people to sailing, to help them build character and leadership qualities while operating some of the most magnificent boats ever constructed. Because of this mission, the majority of crew members are under the age of twenty-five, some in their early teens. These students – from collegians on semester long cruises to kids on field trips – are exposed to the maritime environment aboard a variety of ships, including ones that carried immigrants across the Atlantic, and others that replicate the combatants in America’s earliest wars. In these programs, new generations of sailors learn everything from the importance of safety at sea to the crucial task of protecting our natural resources. But since its inception, the most prominent aspect of the ASTA is the races it promotes. Since 2001, these contests have found expression in The Tall Ships Challenge, an annual event that alternates between Atlantic, Pacific, and Great Lakes venues. The Challenge combines these port-to-port races with cruises, rallies, and festivals in each host city. Such celebrations allow visitors to view the vessels that once ruled the oceans, and even climb aboard to meet the crews and perform closer inspections. In the 2010 Great Lakes edition, the ships raced through all five fingers, from Ontario to Huron to Superior. Billed as the ‘race to save the lakes’, the initiative that year was to preach the importance of conservation to those living along the world’s greatest body of fresh water. The tour kicked-off in Toronto, then made stops in Cleveland, Bay City, Green Bay, Chicago, and Duluth. This year the Atlantic coast is on the itinerary. The series will be commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812, and make stops in Savannah, Georgia, Greenport, NY, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and, of course, Newport. On July 5th the ships will arrive, and the festival will run its course over the following three days. During that time tourists and locals alike will get to see an endless array of schooners, brigantines, brigs, barques, and barquentines, not to mention a profusion of square rigs, gaff rigs, top masts, top sails, spinnakers, bowsprits, sloops, ketches, and yawls. On all three days,

30 summer 2012 •

SUP Tips for Beginners Safety-First be honest with yourself about your swimming ability. Outside of surf zones the Coast Guard is requiring life jackets on all paddlers. * Never leave your board, if you lose the paddle you can paddle it with your hands easier than swimming; also the wind can blow it away faster than you can swim. Always paddle upwind first, it is way more difficult than down wind. Do not get caught a long distance down wind, you may not make it back. * Stay attached to your board with an ankle leash if you are on a lake, or ocean. DO NOT use a leash on a river as it may snag and hold you down. * Your paddle is your friend – keep it in the water as much as possible. You can push the blade forward or back to keep from falling, and even lean on it or pull up on it momentarily to keep from falling. Never let go of your paddle.

* Foot position – Stand in the middle of the board, too far forward will sink the nose, too far back will drag the tail and be slow. You generally want to stand centered with both feet about shoulder width apart, and facing forwards for long distance paddling on flat water; but when the surface is choppy or you’re in waves you’ll want to adopt surfer’s stance with your dominant foot forward just as in normal surfing. * Use a coiled SUP Leash so that it stays on top of your SUP board, reducing the chance you’ll snag anything under the water. Attach your surf safety leash to your rear foot. * Paddling – reach forward with your paddle and put the blade in almost vertically, close to the board. Stroke back, visualizing pulling the board forward in the water. Don’t try to extend the stroke too far past your legs, that angles the blade too much and pulls the board edge downwards. Your blade is angled forwards for two reasons–to make the blade more stable in the water, (as you’ll see if you try to stroke with the blade backwards) and to improve the release of the blade as you pull it up. Stroking

36 summer 2012 •

too far backwards defeats that smooth release. * Happy feet – You need to learn that your feet are not bolted to the board. As your balance improves you can move around the board more. In flat water paddle boarding you need to imitate this learning by forcing yourself to move your feet around. Shift from centered to fore and aft stance. Move your back foot more towards the tail then back centered again. In chop your learning will be automatic–when you master sideways chop you’re bound to be moving about on the board. * Turning and Spinning–Initially you’ll be turning the board slowly by stroking away from the board, but this is the slow way around. Fine for flatwater, but too slow to surf. The faster way is to put weight on the back of the board and stroke with the paddle to pivot the board. Once you are in a fore and aft position you can start practicing this by putting weight on your back leg. This works even better if you take a step backwards. You need to lean on the paddle a bit to optimize these moves. Once you can spin the board 360 you’re ready to surf.

kayaking • surfing • paddleboarding • kite surfing • skate boarding • mountain biking • golfing • hiking • indoor climbing • sky diving

SPORTS DIRECTORY 2012 kayaking • surfing • paddleboarding • kite surfing • skate boarding • mountain biking • golfing • hiking • indoor climbing • sky diving


Cliff Walk They carry the largest selection of skate shoes, decks, skate apparel and accessories on Aquidneck Island. 2nd floor Surf Outlet. 89 Aquidneck Ave., Middletown, RI 02842 401.846.2280

3.5 mile picturesque walk along coastal RI looking over the Atlantic Ocean, and beautiful mansions. Starts at beginning of Memorial Boulevard, next to The Chanler. Parking: First Beach or Memorial Blvd. No Bikes, Dogs on leash only. GPS: 117 Memorial Boulevard Newport, RI 02840

Island Sports

Norman Bird Sanctuary

Surf Boards, Paddleboards, Bicycles, Clothes, Accessories, Rentals, etc... 86 Aquidneck Ave., Middletown, RI 02842 401.841.5160

325-acre wildlife refuge with over 7 miles of hiking trails, and a variety of programs for all age groups. 583 Third Beach Rd., Middletown, RI 02842 • 401.846.2577


Sachuest Point

Elemental Surf & Skate

Matt Cohen Photography

86 Memorial Blvd., Newport, RI 02840

Bowling Old Mountain Lanes

242-acres of various habitats. Grasslands, beaches, dunes, freshwater and salt water marshes. Sachuest Point Dr., Middletown, RI 02842 401.364.9124


Great rates & only $21.95 per hour. 756 Kingstown Rd., Wakefield, RI 02879 • 401.783.5511

Hiking Arcadia Management Area 13,817 acres, largest of the state’s management areas. Hunting, camping, mountain biking, fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, hiking & horseback riding. 5 am - sunset year-round 260 Arcadia Rd., Hope Valley, RI 02823 Forest Environment Headquarters 401.539.2356 Division of Fish & Wildlife Headquarters 401.789.3094

Newport National Golf Club

Exeter Country Club

Course spans almost 200 acres of former shrub and tree nurseries with views of the Atlantic Ocean and Sakonnet Passage. Par 72 championship golf course. Public Course. 324 Mitchell’s Lane Middletown, RI 02842 401.848.9690

Golf Course consists of rolling lush fairways, scenic views, manicured greens and a country setting. Par 72, 18 holes. Public Course. 320 Ten Rod Road (Rt 102) Exeter, RI 02822 Golf Shop/Tee Times 401.295.8212

Green Valley Country Club

Jamestown Country Club

15 minutes from downtown Newport. Par 71, 18 holes. Public Course. 371 Union St., Portsmouth, RI 02871 401.849.2162

40 summer 2012 •

10 minutes from downtown Newport. Par 36, 9 holes. Public Course. 245 Conanicus Ave. Jamestown, RI 401.423.9930

Whey Confusing By Melissa Kirdzik, MS, RD, LDN

Shopping for a protein powder can seem just as involved as buying a new car. With so many factors to consider, the average consumer can become easily confused. I’ve broken it down below to help ease the decision making process. Once you understand what you DO want, and what you do NOT need, it’s an easy process of elimination. Supplementing your diet with protein can help decrease body fat stores, improve athletic performance, gain muscle mass, stabilize blood sugar and control appetite. The body is able to digest and absorb this form of protein quickly and efficiently, making it one of the most effective post-workout foods. Simply add necessary fats or carbs and voila...easy meal replacement. Maybe it seems odd that protein can make you smaller or larger. Depending on the product, and how it is used can make a big difference. Reasons to incorporate this little powerhouse: Weight loss: Use protein shakes as a snack daily to increase your protein intake, while avoiding excess carbs. They work great post-workout along with a carb source for refueling. Consider that the carb amount will vary depending on intensity of workout and your personal goals. Athletic performance: Protein requirements for

athletes are much higher than the average Joe. Postworkout refueling is an important part of growth & repair. Whey protein isolates used at this time are excellent for providing necessary amino acids. Since overall protein needs increase, protein powder can be used throughout the day as well, not limited to after activities. Muscle growth: Getting at least 1g protein per pound of bodyweight can be tricky with solid food, eg. 1 scoop of protein powder is the equivalent to about 3-4oz of chicken. Adding it in addition to your meals is great if you’re looking to plump up your biceps. Before bed shakes (preferably casein protein) helps prevent muscle loss while snoozing. Stabilizing Blood sugar: Protein eaten at the same time as carbohydrates will allow for a slower release of those carbs into the blood stream. Eating every few hours for a more stable nutrient digestion is recommended, shakes can be used as snacks for this purpose. Appetite control: Taking protein between meals will help decrease hunger, making portion control and decision making much easier. Drinking a shake an hour before going out to eat can calm down that urge to eat the whole menu. Grams per serving: Here is a great way to ingest

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a high amount of lean, easily digestible protein, without added carbs and fats. Look for at least 20g protein per serving, with minimal fats & carbs. I like to keep the fat around 1-2g, and carbs under 5g. Look for a product with 100-130 calories per serving. Meal replacements for mass gain will typically have a higher amount of protein, carbs & fats – resulting in a product with at least double the calories. Keep in mind that eggs have about 5g of protein, while meats like fish and chicken have approximately 7grams per ounce of meat. Some products, such as Kellogg’s, promote “Protein” drinks, but contain only 10g protein (big whoop), and as much sugar as half a soda. In addition there are close to 30 ingredients, including sucralose - aka Splenda- Yikes! Not sure this going to shrink your butt to fast. Learn to look at nutrition labels and ingredient lists first, as opposed to the label design and pictures. Type of protein: Each type of protein has a different bioavailability, meaning the percentage that can be digested and utilized by the body. Not all proteins are created equal, the higher the number, the more absorbable the protein. Whey protein happens to be the highest, whereas a rice protein will be much lower. Whey 100+ Egg 100 Egg white 88 Casein 77 Soy 74 Rice 59

higher percentage of fats and carbs, and a little less protein. Less processing allows for concentrates to cost a bit less. There are also blends available, it’s common to see whey protein isolate and concentrates together in a product. Both Isolates and concentrates are effective for muscle building. Those with lactose issues will typically do better with an Isolate protein. Sweetener: Sweeteners are by far one of the most important factors to consider. Most protein products on the market will be aspartame or sucralose based. These artificial sweeteners are highly toxic to the system (neurotoxins), and have a negative effect on satiety, hunger and craving signals. They have been linked to insulin resistance, and increased body fat stores. Look for products that are sweetened with stevia for best results. Make sure to check labels, even within companies. For example Optimum Nutrition has a “Gold Standard” – artificial sweetener based, and “Natural” – sweetened with stevia. Shop smart. Optimum Nutrition Natural Whey (1scoop) 130 cal, 1g fat, 5g carb, 3g sugar, 24g protein

Kellogg’s Special K Protein Shake (1 bottle) 190 cal, 5g fat, 29g carb, 18g sugar, 10g protein

Bolthouse Protein Plus (8oz) 190 cal, 3g fat, 28g carb, 26g sugar, 16g protein

Whey vs Casein: Whey protein is digested much quicker than casein protein, and would be used closer to workouts for refueling. Use at times when rapid absorption is optimal. Casein is referred to as the “time-release” protein, beneficial for example before bed to prevent muscle loss while snoozing. Isolate vs Concentrate: Isolates are the purest form available, processed more to remove lactose and fat. They will be a bit more costly, due to this purification process. Isolates are easier to digest, and therefore can get into the bloodstream at a faster rate. Perfect as a post-workout recovery, allowing amino acids to shuttle into muscle fibers without delay. Concentrates are less filtered, containing a

Slimfast High Protein Shake Mix (1scoop) 200cal, 4g fat, 25g carb, 18g sugar, 15g protein

To stay updated on my health tips and information, visit my website or follow me on facebook at Eat to Live. Melissa Kirdzik, MS, RD, LDN 1-401-486-7089 195 Broadway, Newport, R.I. 02840 • summer 2012 43

44 summer 2012 •

Photo by Steve Heath

Honk, traffic, snail slow; detour, congestion, stop and go; too many tourists, where’d this guy learn how to drive?!? Bottleneck, rubberneck, friggin fricative word; there is a clog, almost hit a dog, that jerk just flipped me the bird! Motor troubles, potholes, the price of gas; pollution, inconsiderate intrusions, impatient creeps using the slow lane to pass! Fender bender, stop sign, speed bump, pump the brakes; oh the NERVE! Hey watch it! Red light—Oh for chrissakes!!! If my driving is nine times out of ten just a rolling stop, how come it costs me so much to park? Whether travelling near or far in this pleasant little city we locals like to call Newport, vehicular travel takes about fifteen minutes—be it the volume of vacationers, “monstrosity” of miles, calamity with construction, predicaments with parking, or simply that garbage truck stopped in the middle of our many signature one-way sized two-way streets. Don’t get it wrong, Newporters aren’t a part of the national statistic that spends more time sitting in traffic than it does dressing, bathing, and feeding a child. Compared to big cities, this joint’s got it pretty good— Vanderbilt style, we got it luxury— but then again, when the homeostasis of our homeland is delayed, (be it slow or peak season) we certainly do notice. Think: in our magnificent microcosm, we are frequently delayed due to driving. Realize: our most cherished of modern conveniences is actually an inconvenience. Act: Be part of the solution, take the high road, and get on your bike. Now, this isn’t a desperate call to action demanding Newporters change their lightsaber color from blue to red, roll all their cars off of the Van Zandt Pier, start sacrificing their firstborns in order to keep the load weight at the grocery store down, or a call to revoke your freedom of religion in exchange for the church of Lance Armstrong — C’mon, we’re not by any means Boulder, Colorado (top bicycle commuting community in the nation). If commuting to Providence or buying 40lbs of bacon at the store, you must, then by all means take your car! But munch on this food for thought: Newport, Rhode Island is only 7.9 sq miles. Due to the ease of taking side streets, the ability to get around stopped traffic, and ease of finding parking, the average bike travel time can be LESS than 15 minutes. Gas is $4.00/gal. Parking is $15/day. Biking is free. Cycling in Newport lives up to the city’s advertised allure and is also known for luxury. We’ve got the renowned Ocean Drive— take it for a leisure spin! We are blessed with Sachuest— ride in the sea breeze to blow off stress. We are small enough not to require a vast network of complicated multi-lane expressways complete with exit ramps, flyover interchanges, flow regulation signals, headaches, and swear words— so capitalize on it. With everything being in proximity to everything else, ample riding shoulders, low speed limits, and the awesome beauty that your very own local backyard provides, participate in time/money saving, earth friendly, and heart healthy means of getting around during the good weather… The drama with driving— leave that to the tourists… • summer 2012 45

holistic medicine acupuncture natural skin care yoga teacher training

Elizabeth Lindh, DAc 174 Bellevue Ave., Newport, RI 02840


46 summer 2012 •

The Dancers Brooke DiFrancesco from Island Moving Co. wears a Vintage Corset and Tulle Skirt from Karma.

Shane Farrell from Island Moving Co. wears a Collard Greens Bowtie and Castaway Pin Striped Shorts from Island Outfitters. Location Ledge Road • summer 2012 49

50 summer 2012 •

the Life of the Party

Wynn • Colby • Caitrin • Maradyth The girls are all wearing Vintage Clothing from Closet Revival Make up Faith Bailey & Candace Brisson Hair Bethanie Sullivan, Candace Brisson, Remington Reese-Sweeney & Meagan Wheeler Location Sambar • summer 2012 51

The Sailing Sisters Harmony, Sara & Cedar on the Wallace Foss tugboat. Dresses from Wish Jewelry from Wish & Alloy Gallery Make up Jessica D’Amore Hair Maureen Gomes

52 summer 2012 •

the Hair Stylist Lily Jeovanna House of Hair

Jeovanna’s t-shirt is from Water Bros. Models Jose Burrion & Arturo Cante Cowboy hats from Closet Revival Location Perro Salado • summer 2012 53

54 summer 2012 • • summer 2012 55

Memorial Day weekend signals the unofficial start of

summer, and The Humane Society of the United States reminds people to start thinking about how the warm weather will impact pets. Whether taking a walk, a drive or just hanging out in the backyard, there are extra precautions that people can take to keep their four-legged family members happy and safe:

Beat the Heat • Never leave a pet unattended in the car on a warm or sunny day. Cars quickly heat up to a dangerous temperature, even with the window slightly open. • When taking a dog for a walk on a hot day, plan for shorter walks midday, when temperatures peak, and longer walks in the morning and evening when it’s cooler. Hot sidewalks can burn the pads on a dog’s paws, so walk on the grass when possible. • Keep your dog safe and cool this summer with a K-9 body wrap, vest, mat, pool or even an outdoor cabana bed.

Safety First • Be sure to keep pets up-to-date on their vaccinations and preventative medications. Fleas and ticks stay busy in warm weather and summer is also the prime time for heartworms. Check with a veterinarian about the best way to keep pets healthy. • Keep cats indoors to keep them safe. Cars, other pets and wild animals can all pose risks to cats’ safety. By providing playtime, cat trees and other enrichment, a cat will be happy and content to stay indoors. • Beware of cocoa mulch and other gardening products. Cocoa mulch can be deadly if ingested and has an appetizing scent to some animals. Pesticides, fertilizers and other harsh chemicals can also be quickly fatal if ingested. • When driving with pets, be sure to keep them properly restrained and inside the vehicle. Special seatbelts and secured carriers can protect pets during accidents and prevent them from distracting the driver. The back of a pick-up truck is never a safe place for a pet to ride.

Don t forget about the Little Guys • Pet rabbits should be kept indoors because they don’t tolerate heat well. Keeping a rabbit indoors will also provide protection from predators who might try to attack a rabbit in an outdoor hutch. • Be mindful of pets around our wild neighbors. When going for walks or playing in a fenced yard, don’t allow pets to harass birds, rabbits, squirrels or other wild animals.

56 summer 2012 •

Dog Days of Summer • The summer months are the peak season for dog bites because so many kids and dogs are playing outside. Training, socialization and dog spaying or neutering a dog can reduce the risk of dog bites. Kids can learn to stay safe through good manners around pets and humane education. • Never leave a dog outdoors unattended on a chain or tether. Long-term chaining during the hot summer months can result in countless insect bites, dehydration and heat stroke. Even short-term unattended tethering can pose risks such as theft or attacks by people or animals. Taylor enjoys the sun at Bannisters Wharf.

Tips to Keep Pets Safe This Summer

Courtesy of The Humane Society of the United States • summer 2012 57

House Plants that are Hard to Kill & Easy to Love

By Susan Comeau

Do you constantly forget to water your houseplants? Well never fear, more plants perish from over watering than from under watering! Excessively wet soil crowds out the oxygen needed by the roots, and the roots cannot support the leaves if they don’t have oxygen. The following houseplants can survive neglect, and need very little natural light. You won’t need to put these directly in front of your windows, practically every indoor environment receives some small amount of natural light, and that’s all they’ll require. If you use clay pots, line inside of the pot with plastic. This will keep the clay from drawing out all the moisture from the plant. You will water less and more efficiently. Do not block drain holes, and put a saucer under your plants.


your shower once a year to dust off the leaves. Palms grow best in a deep pot or tub, basic soil mix, with good drainage. Water once or twice a week. If you forget, they are very forgiving. The tips of the leaves will start to turn brown to let you know if you’re not watering them enough (Do not mistake this for old leaves dying off). If the tips are brown from forgetting to water, just snip the ends off with scissors and give them a good drink. Your plant will bounce back. If your palm is looking tired even though you’ve been watering, feed it with some slow release houseplant food. If you want faster growth, fertilize every three or four months, and when your plant has reached the height you want, fertilize with a slow release houseplant food just once a year in spring. I find fertilizing is not necessary as long as you water once or twice a week and re-pot with a general all-purpose potting soil when it gets root bound. See Picture A.

(Chamaedorea elegans) This is a slow growing plant from Southern Mexico. It has the ability to tolerate lack of light, drafts of cold, hot or dry air, and general neglect. Most palms follow this general ability for neglect. Since they are slow growers, you can enjoy them for years to come. Parlor Palms will provide you with a lush tropical atmosphere, or a great decorative accent. They develop their new growth in winter. The stems are mostly ringed or jointed like reeds. In the summer they can be placed outside on a shady deck, or any shady spot. If you keep them inside all year, you can put them in 58 summer 2012 •

Picture A

e ntertainment

Last year, despite having two free tickets, I slept through most of the Newport Folk Fest. The night before, the band Deertick and some strange hangers-on had holed up in my basement bar and we partied until the sun came up. When I awoke, around 1 p.m. singer John McCauley was in his underwear on my couch. There were no signs of him waking up anytime soon, so I snuck out of the house and left him there. I went to go sleep some more, somewhere else, and gave away my tickets. I figured he should probably show up to the fest soon, but he’d figure it out. John made it to the show, apparently, for I saw him drinking again later that night. From all reports, this year will be no different. While there are still some old time folk heroes playing The Folk Fest, such as Arlo Guthrie and Jackson Brown, the fest belongs to a new generation. This is only the second time since its start in 1959 that the fest has sold out ahead of time, the last being in 2011, when the last of the 20,000 tickets sold three weeks before the festival. No one expected a sell out three months ahead of time this year. Younger, hipper acts are drawing big crowds with fun and energetic shows that aren’t just for folkies anymore. If I remember correctly, Arlo will spend more time on the main stage telling stories than playing music, while the electric sounds from the two smaller stages will drift through the salt air and overtake his yarns. This, to me, signals a changing of the guards. While I can’t imagine recent guitar hero Gary Clark Jr. doing an acoustic version of the songs on his ‘Bright Lights’ EP, there are still plenty of sweet acoustic sounds to go around. The last time

I saw Iron & Wine at the fest, singer Sam Beam cooed solo with an acoustic guitar, while his wife stood on the side of the stage gently weeping at the beauty of it all. If its Dylan-esque deep lyrics you’re looking for, Conor Oberst is constantly compared to the aging poet. First Aid Kit has made a big splash this year, with their tribute song to Emmy Lou, and are making big waves on the national stage, which is ironic to me, as I remember checking out their Myspace page when they were just two 15 year old kids, and people still used Myspace. Jim James and his band My Morning Jacket will surely draw huge applause as well. You didn’t hear this from me, but if I know what I think I know, Dawes, Johnny Corndawg, Deertick, and others will be making post fest club appearances in town. The fest always makes sure to include a few local acts too. Although The Skinny Millionaires invitation was apparently lost in the mail, I’ll still be routing for my pals Brown Bird and The Wrong Reasons, who can frequently be seen in providence building their audience. The cool thing about The Newport Folk Fest is that it’s not too locked down and corporate…yet. But if tickets keep selling like this, that may not last. You can still find a way to meet your favorite performer and take a picture with him or her. It’s still one of those festivals where if you want to get in bad enough, you can find a way. If you’re local, someone you know working the fest might slip you a wrist band, or put you on the golf cart with your backpack of beer. Good luck trying this at Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo. See you at the Folk Fest if I wake up this year! Mike O’Donnell lives in Newport where he still has his finger on the pulse. • summer 2012 65

As I sit with my tape recorder interviewing Scott Rancourt and Rocco Michaluk at Giant Robot Records HQ, I can hear the sounds of the band Castle practicing in an adjacent room. An actress just left moments ago as we met about a music video, and some old guy musician stopped by to pick up some recordings he made right here. It’s this kind of all-inclusive in-house package that sets Giant Robot apart by far from any other record label in the region, and, I predict, the country, and world. Giant Robot was just recently made the jump from dream to reality for Scott, who owns the recording studio Summing Point here in Newport. Scott has been recording bands here for over 20 years, and has built a state of the art studio. In the process he’s worked with just about everyone in the area, and plenty of national acts as well, gaining him a Grammy nomination, which he remains almost too humble about, and doesn’t even want me to mention (sorry buddy). Scott just does what he loves and has made a hell of a lot of friends and good records in the process. I made my first record here over ten years ago, and finished my most recent one less than 24 hours ago. I’ve had no reason to work with anyone but Scott the whole time. He is soft spoken, kind, and more patient than anyone I’ve seen. Scott frequently does after-school programs for kids, where they can come in and learn about the studio and record something. He doesn’t ask for anything for this, he just gets satisfaction from helping people. This is certainly rare, especially in the cut throat music business, where desperation and back-stabbing seem to be a way of life for some people. Rocco Michaluk owns Video and Vision, and offers award winning HD video production and editing services that are seen in movie theaters, national television, film festivals, corporate events, trade shows, streaming via the World Wide Web and numerous media outlets for the past 15 years or so. His office at Giant Robot barely has any wall or shelf space to spare, since the many awards he’s received may soon need their own warehouse. Rocco is so precise and knowledgeable about video, that listening to him speak is sometimes like trying to figure out Chinese Algebra. Luckily for the people he works with, he has a great way of breaking it down in laymen terms and explaining things, making it easy on the actor or whomever he is with at the time. Rocco also does a ton of volunteer and community work, donating his time and resources to help people who need it. So Scott and Rocco, two media powerhouses, have formed like Voltron under the same roof to create Giant Robot. When I asked them what the mission statement for their new label was, they explained to me that they wanted to help independent artists; not only from the community they’re based in, but people they believe in, to afford them the opportunity to have professionals work on their project. One of the huge things that will set them apart from any other label, is the fact that they have professional video services as well, all in-house, under one roof. In a time when any kid with a computer and internet connection, can more or less do what artists used to beg labels to do, Giant Robot can do what those DIY labels can never do – record bands with a million dollars’ worth of recording equipment, provide professional engineers, and create a profes-

sional music videos, soundtracks, and pretty much any other media need they may have. Rocco is also an expert at song placement in video games, movies, and TV, part of the mission is to create a connection between those people who make the art, and those who need the art. When I tell these guys “ok, this sounds almost too good to be true. What’s in it for you?” Scott replies simply “Oh I don’t know yet. That remains to be seen. Lots of great music, that’s for sure, right now, it’s getting the bands out there and helping them do what’s necessary. Obviously cash would be nice at some point, but that’s not why we’re doing this. If I can get something great to happen for a band, and be connected with it, that not only helps me, but it’s rewarding.” As we continue chatting, Craig Cameron, who is also helping at the label, with the working job title right now “ label hustler number one”, walks in and adds his take on things. “There’s a ton of creative energy around Newport, and now we have an outlet for it,” he says. “If you’re a musician these days, it’s not enough to just make songs. You have to look at it from a multi-media stand point, whether it be a music video, a website, soundtrack work, whatever.” Rocco adds, “as well as all the above stated services for bands, we are also going to offer management services, which Craig will play a large part of. So we’ll have the cd’s, release parties, videos, the ability to contact clubs, and things like that as a collective.” “By no means do we want to compete with or take anything away from labels that are already doing it, we just feel we have a different and unique way to go about it. Sometimes people feel like they don’t really fit with the current format or outlet, and we’d like to be the alternative they’re looking for. Maybe there’s some kid who has absolutely zero connections, doesn’t know anyone, but has the drive and talent, maybe we can be the bridge that puts him in touch with someone that can get him where he needs to be. Maybe if you don’t fit in anywhere else, you’ll fit in here.” “We’re like The Island of Misfit Toys…er…Robots,” Craig adds. Indeed. Right now the guys have The Skinny Millionaires’ new release “Easy Tiger” coming out, with a video to follow, as well as releases by Castle and others. The guys don’t want to let out too much info yet, but they’re talking with several major acts who want in on the action. Go to for more info. Mike O’Donnell currently resides in Newport where he still looks good in tight pants.

Chelley Chelley Knight, like most of us, has gone through many makeovers as a person, but through constant progression, she has only just begun to find herself as a singer and a songwriter. Born in Newport, Rhode Island, Chelley got into music via her mom Roz, who was a well-known local singer during Chelley’s childhood. Roz would tote Chelley to her gigs at places like The Shamrock, Three’s, and The Blue Pelican. She remembers people complimenting her mom on what a gifted vocalist she was. Sometimes, when the gig wasn’t kid friendly, Chelley would hole up in the basement of their family home, close her eyes, and transport to another world by means of the resonances materializing from the record player. The sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Grace Jones wandered through Chelleys veins, infecting her, like a vampire building an army of tweens. And so she could become someone else – someone bigger and stronger, even if it was for a fleeting moment. This feeling struck a chord that never quite escaped her. Like many artists, she has become the creature of the night. Like the musical vampire that spread its disease to her as a girl, her eyes gaze upon the globe a little different than yours or mine. And so it goes. Chelley made it a point to always have music in her life. She sang

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in the chorus at Carey and Thompson schools, but was told by her teachers that she wasn’t capable enough to sing solos. Now she had something to prove. When Chelley’s step dad Jim Green bought Traders Cove Music Store, he taught guitar, sold equipment, and rehearsed with his reggae band Irie which included Roz. Again, this gave Chelley a way to hang around musicians, to become a musical sponge, soaking up knowledge. During one particular practice, Chelley’s aunt, who was a background singer for the band, couldn’t make it. So the band asked Chelley and her sister Kim if they wanted to sing. She was anxious, nervous, and excited. She recalled the teachers who told her she couldn’t make it as a singer. “HIT it!” She said, with her middle digit pointed directly across the street where Thompson Middle School happened to be. Soon, Chelley was singing with her parents at gigs all around town. She took advantage of the fact that she was only 18, and not only got to hang out in bars, but to perform. One of Chelley’s favorite bands around town was The Ravers. She watched them often and knew all the words to all of their songs. One night at a Ravers gig at The Ocean Mist, a life-changing event took place. The lead singer’s girlfriend Shelby (now his wife) noticed Chelley’s enthusiasm, and the fact that she knew all ‘dem words, she encouraged her to get right up on that there stage and give ‘em what for. Before the end of the night, she was asked to be a singer in The Ravers. ‘Nuff said. With the Ravers, Chelley got her chance to live the dream - singing solo, playing for larger audiences, and touring. The Ravers helped Chelley grow as an artist, and a person for many years, but never one to be labeled or put in a box, she eventually decided it was time to throw a few curve balls. She formed The Magnificent 7, a Clash

cover band, with a bunch of Newport all stars, but this wasn’t enough. She was hungry for even more music on her plate, like a fatty who needs a fix, like a stoned pimp on the prowl, like a side street stalker eyeing a target, Chelley kept her eyes open for opportunities at all times. Soon she teamed up with local heroes Dylan Roy and Bill Cote, all of whom brought different styles to the proverbial rock n’ roll round table. Picture for a second, if you will, Dr. Claw from the Inspector Gadget cartoon, his metal hand casually caressing his evil cat, speaking in more of a Mr. Burns from The Simpsons voice, or perhaps Stewie from Family Guy, proclaiming “Exxxcellent. Yesss, this will do quite nicely!” And so the Frankenstein monster of bands was born – Chelley, Bill, and Dyl. All unique, accomplished, and ambitious musicians on their own, they formed to combine a wide array of styles, and can be found playing festivals and clubs throughout the area. With Chelley’s voice front and center where it belongs, she plans on infecting you next. Believe me, if Chelley Knight’s voice is a virus, than hide your babies and nail a cross to the door, for this is a plague like no other, and its coming for you. And you will invite it in and give it shelter, and you will be infected. In the best possible way! Says Chelley, “I’m proud to be from Newport and even happier to make a lot of great friends who cover a range of musical genres. I hope the next chapter of my career includes lots of original music. Nonetheless, I am continuing to grow as an artist and a songstress.” And so it goes. To book Chelley contact her at Mike O’Donnell lives in Newport where he can still do the best Michael Jackson dance in town. • summer 2012 67

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