Sunday, November 8, 2009

Taste Pioneer Valley Vineyard

On a recent fall weekend I had the opportunity to taste some incredible fruit wines at Hatfield's Pioneer Valley Vineyard.

This small, family-owned winery tucked away off the beaten path in Hatfield is open weekends till December for tastings, and naturally your gift-shopping needs.

While their grape wines are decent, I recommend the fruit wines, such as apple, cranberry and raspberry. Pair your wine selections with chocolate, pistachio or fruit for the ultimate taste experience.

While the growing season is over, Casey Burt is busy racking and bottling this summer's grape and fruit harvest. Due to the wettest summer we've had in New England in a long time, this fall's grape harvest was not so hot.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Northampton voters return Higgins (suicide is an option)

So Northampton, you voted for more of Clare. Might I remind you voters what you inherit (again) from more of the same: disappearing vistas (Village Hill anyone?), closed-door policy ("we're sorry the Mayor is not "hearing" you, would you like to speak to her dog?"), downtown economic downturn (finally Main Street shoppers will get to choose from any number of "Dollar Stores"), and of course; the cult of Clare (whiny pseudo-libs who's only agenda is a personal one).
Then there's this puff-piece from the Gazette that makes me chuckle:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bardsley and Higgins: Not so different--both are squares

I listened to some of the debate between Mary Claire Higgins and Mike Bardsley. Most of it was incredibly tedious, both candidates aren't firecrackers. Both were non-specific in their replies to the panelist' questions, both parsed their words (as only politicians can do) and both really didn't generate any enthusiasm from the audience. I'm not really torn in this race. I just want Higgins gone.

So it 'tis... abandoned blog

I saw a dude running down the street with a "Blogspot" hoodie and a link to my abandoned blog. I figured I better get back into action, maybe give Technorati a reason to exist.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why Easthampton Matters

Lately I've had some downtime (and it is true that "idle hands are the devil's workshop") and have been spending it in Easthampton. More than a decade ago, this town of roughly 16,000 was in dire straits. Sandwiched between upscale Northampton and whitebread Southampton at the base of Mount Tom, downtown Easthampton wasn't a destination. With the reformation of town government in 1996, Easthampton's first mayor, Mike Tautznik was the catalyst in revitalizing the crumbling downtown. Under his leadership, industry and the arts have flourished in Easthampton.

Here are a few of my favorite things about Easthampton:

1. "Buns-on-Wheels" Street food is important to any downtown economy. This one at the rotary (across from Pulaski Park) is one of my favorite gastro-intestinal stressors. Run by the "Portuguese Lady of Chicopee," cheap dogs and burgers are the order of the day. Occasionally some ethnic flavors are on the menu--and that's a plus in my book.

2. "The Brass Cat" There aren't any shortages of places to drink in this town. What sets this bar apart from the others is the jukebox--loaded with home-made playlists of local artists, hipster indie-pop and classic slacker rock. Chances are you'll find a semi-famous singer-songwriter nursing a whisky in the corner, or your drunk ex-girlfriend hustling at the pool table.

3. "BearFest" Everyone's an artist in this town (some are just edgier), and the bears that line the streets of downtown are a testament to that. Designed to boost the visibility of downtown, the bears have become news themselves.

4. "Flywheel" This arts collective is gearing up to re-launch after a nearly three year hiatus. Famous for booking some of the craftiest music shows in the New England area, the Flywheel outgrew its original spot and now will be located at Easthampton's old Town Hall.

5. "Lloyd Cole" Leader of the 80's Brit-pop band, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, this resident of Easthampton keeps a low profile. On tour in far-flung countries most of the time, Cole likes to hang out at the Brass Cat.

6. "Eastworks" This old Stanley Home products factory houses some of Easthampton's most exciting arts and industries. Folks who lease space include Sonic Youth's "Ecstatic Peace"label, Luke Cavagnac's "Invisible Fountain"gallery and the wonderful Apollo Grill.

7. "Mayor Mike Tautznik" While it's an election cycle this year, and one candidates' platform is "Change?," this hardworking LEADER is in no danger of being ousted.

8. "La Casita Azteca" Please God, don't let this Mexican eatery go out of business--please?!

9. "Nashawannuck Pond" The visual centerpiece of downtown is about to be dredged by the Army Corp of Engineers, restoring the pond's aqautic life back to what it once was.

10. "Big E's" A local grocery store fighting for its life, this throwback to the super stores is a great place to get some kapusta or my favorite beers.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

22 News: All New Format--"Man-on-the Street" Reports

WWLP, the Chicopee-based NBC-affiliate affectionately known as "22 Snews," has abandoned all pretensions of being a credible news outlet. For the past few years, 22 News has filled most of their newscasts with filler in the form of "man-on-the-street" reactions to news items posed by their amateurish reporters. That layer of pretension was stripped away recently when they shelved their reporters in favor of full-time "man-on-the-street" reports, ostensibly to shore up their ratings against YouTube competition. 22 News is working for you, or rather you're working for free for it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Three Hots and a Roof Over His Head

Finally, somebody using their noggin. 59-year-old Bill Fabrocini of the Florence section of Northampton was facing some heavy obstacles in his life. Loss of job, mental illness and newly homeless, he came upon a scheme so sweet and clever--incarceration. Why didn't I think of it? Perhaps because it's so brilliant, but limiting. Last week he tossed a brick through the window of Bruegger's and waited to be arrested. The Gazette reports "Fabrocini could bail himself out for $50. Instead, he's opted to stay behind bars at least until his next court date July 6. A self-described "loner," Fabrocini said he doesn't have anywhere else to go." Explaining what motivated him, Bill says "I'm not going to stand on the sidewalk and bum quarters and sleep in alleyways." According to the Gazette, "After smashing the window and a neon sign behind it, Fabrocini faces charges of malicious and wanton destruction of property over $250. He's due back in court July 6. If the court imposes a fine, Fabrocini said, he'll ask to work it off by serving more time behind bars."