Sunday, November 30, 2014

Logbooks, Slavery, Racism, Middletown & Loss of Memory

Anne Farrow, author of "The Logbooks: Connecticut's Slave Ships and Human Memory" (Wesleyan University Press), will speak this Thursday evening (12/040 at 7 p.m. in the small sanctuary of Congregation Adath Israel, 8 Broad Street in Middletown. The author conducted research at the Middlesex County Historical Society and the Society is sponsoring this event.

This from the press release: "In 1757, a sailing ship owned by Gurdon Salstonstall, an affluent Connecticut merchant, and captained by John Easton of Middletown, sailed from New London to the tiny island of Bence in Sierra Leone, West Africa, to take on fresh water and slaves. On board was the owner’s son, Dudley Salstonstall, on a training voyage to learn the trade. "The Logbooks" explores that voyage and two others documented by young Salstonstall. When writer Anne Farrow discovered the significance of the logbooks for the Africa and two other ships in 2004, her mother had been recently diagnosed with dementia. As Farrow bore witness to the impact of memory loss on her mother’s sense of self, she also began a journey into the world of the logbooks and the Atlantic slave trade, eventually retracing part of the Africa’s long-ago voyage to Sierra Leone. As the narrative unfolds in The Logbooks, Farrow explores the idea that if our history is incomplete, then collectively we have forgotten who we are—a loss that is in some ways similar to what her mother experienced. Her meditations are well rounded with references to the work of writers, historians, and psychologists."

Having read the book on my recent trip to Chicago, which happened to coincide with the grand jury decision in Ferguson, MO, Ms. Farrow touches on a number of issues that the United States is still coming to terms with, particularly how this country has treated and continues to treat African Americans in the years since slavery was banned.  Also, the book was researched and written during the time that the author's mother was slipping into dementia, totally losing her memory save for jumbled recollections from her childhood. In the book, the loss of personal memory is compared to the loss of "national memory", the ability or, perhaps, the desire to forget or ignore traumatic events or worse, trivialize them.  

The talk is free and open to the public - a good will donation is always welcome.  Parking is on the street and in the north side of the parking lot behind Adath Israel that is directly behind the former First United Methodist Church.  

For more information, call the Historical Society at 860-346-0746. To learn more about Ms. Farrow's book, go to

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ BIANCA!! ~ Adopt her today!!

Cat Tales

Cat of the Week!


Name:  Bianca
Gender: Female
Breed: Domestic Short Hair
Color: Black
Age: 2 years old

I am such a sweet girl! I'm very affectionate and loving. I don't mind being held and I'm very playful. 
I'd love to lay in your lap or in bed with you! I've had kittens, and now I am looking for my forever home. 
I'm an easy going girl who can't wait to get all of your love and attention.  

Please adopt me!

Please call Cat Tales at (860) 344-9043 or Email: to inquire about Bianca.

Cat Tales ~ Cats of the Week ~ BLUE & BOOTS! ADOPT TODAY!

Cat Tales
Cats of the Week!


Names: Blue & Boots (bonded pair)
Gender: Males
Breed: Russian Blue & Domestic Short Hair
Color: Gray & B&W
Age: 12 years old

BLUE and BOOTS are a bonded pair who’s owner went into hospice so it is URGENT we find them homes. Blue is loving and cuddly. Boots is nervous at first, but slowly comes around for petting. Both need a home and family that will love them for the reminder of their lives. They are indoor-only and LOVE their BIG scratching post. These kitties eat, sleep, and play together morning, noon and night.
(No Dogs, No Children). 

Friday, November 28, 2014

MIDDLETOWN ARTS... at First Church?

"The Sanctuary" at First Church of Christ, Congregational on
Court Street has a legal capacity of 895 persons. (click photos to enlarge)

Could the Sanctuary at one of Middletown's historic churches soon be hosting major arts and music events on a regular basis? 

That's the idea proposed by Trevor Davis, a member of the board of trustees of First Church of Christ, Congregational, at 190 Court Street. (Across from Klekolo coffee shop, next to Young's Printing.) Davis is also a local dealer in commercial real estate and long time musician.

Trevor Davis and Rev. Julia Burkey
On November 18th, he and church minister Rev. Julia Burkey presented the idea for "The MIDDLETOWN ARTS CENTER at First Church" to invited members of the city's arts community. 

Davis has taken the first steps to create a non-profit to organize and promote events in the historic space, with three stated goals: to bring more people and income to the church, to bring more people to downtown Middletown, and to assist local arts organizations by helping to coordinate events and then promoting them to the "downtown dining customers and arts audiences of Connecticut."

It wouldn't be the first time the church's main space, called the sanctuary, has been used as an arts venue. Davis produced a sold-out show by the famed Paul Winter Consort there in the 1980's. More recently, singer-songwriter (and '89 Wesleyan grad) Dar Williams, and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams performed there during the Middnight On Main celebrations. 

Davis told the audience that "too things many seemed perfect" once he conceived the idea. Built in 1872, the church sits just off Main Street, directly across from the city's largest parking garage. The seating capacity is listed at 895. (Hartford's new Infinity Hall seats 500.)

Guitarist Stephen Nystrup of New Haven showed off the hall's famed acoustics with a performance. Davis then opened up the floor to questions and comments. 

There were many. Most of the attendees were supportive, agreeing that such a venue would create a downtown attraction beyond Main Street's well-known restaurants, and one that could be symbiotic with them. 

Questions abounded: Should the organization and location try to develop a niche, maybe folk music? Would there be alcohol at performances? Sold or BYOB? Could an updated PA system be installed? How 'edgy' could performances be? Would there be pushback from the church about the content of the art? "Maybe not 'Oh! Calcutta!'" said Carolyn Kirsch of the Vintage Players troupe. "But what if we wanted to produce 'Agnes of God'?  Davis said he saw little chance of any conflict. "We're UCC - pretty much the most liberal denomination around." Rev. Burkey said "The fullness of being Human is welcome in this space."

How soon before the group could host its first event remains an open question. Davis said a small preliminary board has been created. "This will be a long range project to build a sustainable, vibrant organization to enhance the Middletown arts community, and contribute to the economic development of our great small city on the Connecticut River."

"Creative Stages" to Premiere on CPTV on Fri. Nov. 28 at 8pm

Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) premieres the original documentary Creative Stages, hosted by Ed Wierzbicki, on Friday, November 28, 2014 at 8pm. This half-hour special is devoted to the arts, as Mr. Wierzbicki takes viewers “inside the creative process” while interviewing Connecticut artists and exploring local arts organizations, including Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts.

Hear from Pamela Tatge, Director of the Center for the Arts, as well as from visiting artists including Margaret Jenkins (Artistic Director of San Francisco's Margaret Jenkins Dance Company), Anna Snow, Kerry Andrew, and Sarah Dacey of London's Juice Vocal Ensemble, and Juliana Romano '04 (featured in the exhibition The Alumni Show II in the Ezra and Cecila Zilkha Gallery), about the importance of this creative space to Wesleyan University and its students, as well as to the art world at large. The segment also includes footage of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange's Ferocious Beauty: Genome, the Wesleyan Theater Department production of The Seagull, and a co-taught course by Professor of History and East Asian Studies William Johnston and Visiting Artist in Dance and the College of East Asian Studies Eiko Otake.

The program will also feature Javier Colon, the Yale University Art Gallery and artist Red Grooms, Waterbury's Palace Theater and the Waterbury Arts Magnet School, and the Haven String Quartet at New Haven's Lyric Hall.

A Musical Offering in Celebration and Gratitude for Our New Piano

Date: November 29th | Time: 7:30-9:30PM | Admission: $10 suggested donation $5 children 16 years and younger
We recently have been gifted a perfectly restored 1912 Steinway grand piano. It came at a perfect time, just after we installed a beautiful new oak floor. Thanks to Martin Movers for holding the piano for a week or so while the floor was finished, it’s all so wonderful!
The board and staff of North End Arts Rising / The Buttonwood Tree are extremely grateful for the wonderful donation of a beautifully restored 1912 Steinway piano from generous donors Deborah Wittes and Steve Gordon. We are thrilled to now be able to offer an instrument worthy of the talented musicians who perform here. We thank Carolyn Halsted for inspiring us to seek a Steinway, and for her performance tonight as we celebrate our appreciation for this gift, our donors, and the Powers That Be that brought us together.
Reserve Your Seat.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Middlesex United Way Young Leaders Society - Stuff-A-Cruiser Toy Drive

Middlesex United Way Young Leaders Society - Stuff-A-Cruiser Toy Drive
Thursday, December 11, 5:30 p.m.
 Restaurant & Wine Bar, Middletown
Socialize with other young professionals, and brighten the holidays for Middletown kids and teens!
Please help us fill a cruiser by bringing an unwrapped gift for a student in grades k-12. Last year, you helped us collect more than 500 toys! Let's help make the season brighter for even more kids this year!
Wrapping paper donations also accepted.
Complimentary hors d'oeuvres will be available, and happy hour drink specials available all night.
No time to shop? No problem. Credit, debit, and cash donations will also be accepted, and volunteers will go shopping the next day!

Cat Tales presents... Cats of the Week!! BLUE and BOOTS ~ URGENT!!

Cat Tales
Cats of the Week


Names: Blue & Boots (bonded pair)
Gender: Males
Breed: Russian Blue & Domestic Short Hair
Color: Gray & B&W
Age: 12 years old

BLUE and BOOTS are a bonded pair who’s owner went into hospice so it is URGENT we find them homes ASAP. Blue is loving and cuddly. Boots is nervous at first, but slowly comes around for petting. Both need a home and family that will love them for the remainder of their lives. They are indoor-only and LOVE their BIG scratching post. These kitties eat, sleep, and play together morning, noon and night. (No Dogs, No Children). 


Friday, November 21, 2014

Buttonwood This Weekend

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center offers a wide range of music this weekend with Reggae/Folk on Saturday and a Jazz quartet on Friday. Due to the request of folks who work in the City but live outside it, TBT is now offering more concerts on Fridays that will start earlier. Folks may now stay in the City after work - have some dinner at one of our numerous restaurants, enjoy a show and still be home by 9:30 (if they wish to)!

Medusa | A Jazz Performance

November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm   $10

Performers include Jocelyn Pleasant on drums, Matt Dwonszyk on bass, Orice Jenkins on piano, and Corey Hutchins tap dancing.

Jocelyn’s jazz drumming draws inspiration from a range of styles, from Charlie Parker to Miles Davis. Talented collaborators on bass, guitar, and percussion will join her to present jazz that is both creative and expressive.

Listen here
Reserve your seats here / Read more

Aligned with Source Workshop — Gratitude

November 22 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm   $5 minimum suggested donation

One simple word ….. a wealth of Grace

A Workshop – Aligned With Source: Hosted by Annaita Gandhy
A Spiritual & Holistic Healer from India, Annaita is experienced in applying varied healing modalities to a
wide range of situations. In these inter-active workshops, Annaita seeks to empower, sharing her deep
understanding of life, holism and spirituality, enabling you to rise above life’s challenges, live a healthy,
fulfilled & confident life.
Life is never easy and change must come from within. In today’s environment of hardship, ill-health,
corruption and inequality it is often difficult to see the Light. The purpose of this workshop is to
empower you to see yours.
Be the change you wish to see. All you need is Willingness.

"Get your groove on"

November 22 @ 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

$10.00 General Admission/8.00 Students & Seniors

Gypsy Reggae
HannaH: Vocals, guitar
Bongo Bliss: Drums, bass, vocals

HannaH’s Field is a gypsy reggae duo and created their unique style when
the two came together living in Portland, Oregon.  They’ve opened for
Gov’t Mule(members of the Allman Brothers), Derek Trucks, and Donna Jean
of the Grateful Dead.

Secret Sage is a fresh and earthy acoustic group from central MA whose
lively rhythmic tunes are sure to get you moving! These five utilize a wide range of musical styles, from reggae to traditional folk.


 The Buttonwood Tree is located at 605 Main St. 860-347-4957

Thursday, November 20, 2014

‘Tis the Season! Wesleyan University Orchestra Spreads Holiday Cheer (Nov. 22)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Nadya Potemkina, Isabel Csete ’18, David Lopez-Wade ’18, and Rachel Rosenman ’17 about the free Wesleyan University Orchestra concert taking place on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog
Winter is in the air, and the Wesleyan University Orchestra is here to usher in the holiday season. This Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall the Orchestra will perform an evening of popular holiday classics.

Free and family friendly, the concert will feature music from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Festival, Mykola Leontovych’s Carol of the Bells, and an orchestral suite from Disney’s Frozen.
Directed by Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Nadya Potemkina, the Wesleyan University Orchestra is comprised of students, faculty, and members of the Middletown community. Together they are a group of roughly 50 musicians.

“It’s a really friendly atmosphere,” said violinist Isabel Csete ’18. “Everyone is here to have fun and to do what they love.”

This is the Orchestra’s second concert of the semester, and markedly different from their first, which featured a selection of movements from several large-scale symphonic works of a more serious tone than the holiday tunes of this Saturday’s concert.

“I want my students to be able to learn all styles and genres of music,” said Professor Potemkina. “You have to play The Christmas Festival at least once in your life as a performer in a symphony orchestra. It’s a staple of the popular repertoire.”

“It’s songs we know,” said clarinetist Rachel Rosenman ’17. “And it’s fun to sing along.”
Ms. Potemkina will invite the audience to sing along during The Christmas Festival, a collection of famous carols.

Alongside these holiday oldies is a suit from Disney’s recent film Frozen, released in 2013.
“There are a lot of different characters in Frozen, and you hear them in the different songs we play,” said Ms. Rosenman. “All of their voices come out in the music.”

Frozen is really fun because it’s so new,” said clarinetist David Lopez-Wade ’18. “Everyone knows it.”

“It’s a cheerful concert,” said Professor Potemkina.

What better way to kick off the holiday season?

International Men's Day, November 19th

"Today is International Men's Day. It can be a great feminist cause," writes Ashwin Murthy in the Washington Post.  

Read the entire article at

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

World Record Attempt by MxCC Staff Member on December 5

Stationary cycling reaches a whole new level at Middlesex Community College as Trenton Wright, MxCC’s coordinator of institutional advancement, attempts to set a new world record for “Farthest Distance on a Static Cycle.”  The spinning, which begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, December 5, on the second floor of Chapman Hall, will also be a fundraiser for the MxCC Foundation which supports academics and student achievement at the College.  To be successful, Wright must cycle non-stop until 3 p.m.  The event, which is open to the public, will be photographed, videotaped, and witnessed for verification by the official Guinness World Record organization and the World Record Academy.  Results from the World Record Academy will be several days, while results from Guinness will be approximately 12 weeks.
Wright has been training for this record-setting event since August working out on a prop spin bike at home, at the Middletown Y and at Super Fitness in his hometown of North Windham, Conn.  As a former Division III cross-country and track athlete at Eastern Connecticut State University, he is familiar with the discipline and extreme dedication a physical endeavor such as this requires.  “It won’t be pretty and it won’t be easy,” he said.  “But world records seldom are.”
As this will be Wright’s second attempt to set a world record for stationary cycling, he has titled the effort “Unfinished Business.” Last year he tried to set the 12-hour world record, cycling for 187 miles.  Although unsuccessful at setting the record, he raised more than $2,800 for the MxCC Foundation. He hopes to outdo both performances this year – and remove one item from his personal bucket list.
Pledges or donations (cash or check) to the MxCC Foundation can be made the day of the cycling event, or sent by mail to: MxCC Foundation, 100 Training Hill Road, Middletown, CT 06457.  Online donations using a credit card, PayPal account, or checking account can be made by clicking on the “PayPal Donate Now” button at (add “Spin-A-Thon” in the special instructions box).  An ALS ice bucket challenge will immediately follow the event.
The Guinness World Records ( is the universally recognized authority on record-breaking achievement, first created as a result of the inquisitiveness of Sir Hugh Beaver, chairman of the Guinness Brewery in Ireland. The annual Guinness World Records book, which was first published in August 1955 is the best-selling copyrighted title of all time. Applying and attempting a record is free and, although the company receives more than 1,000 applications a week, fewer than 5% ever become a Guinness World Records title.
The World Record Academy (, based in Miami, Fla., is the leading international organization which certifies world records, based on unlimited categories. The group has the world's largest online database (text, photos and videos) of more than 2,300 world records, along with the largest off-line database of more than 250,000 world records.