Readuponit: Travel and voracious reading

Max Hartshorne, travel website editor, sharing some of the stuff I read, hear and see with you. Updated every day. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

The Budos Band

The Budos Band brings a 10-piece orchestra playing Afro-soul with no singing to Pearl Street Ballroom tonight.

The Budos Band blows into Pearl Street Ballroom tonight and we’ll be front and center. I have been listening to this 10-piece orchestra that plays Afro-soul without the benefit of singers on Spotify, and I can’t wait to see them live.

That’s kind of unique, no vocals. But what I love most are their grooves, they can build up a hypnotic rhythm that flows like any good jam band.

I always love it when a new band I’ve never heard of joins the legions of musicians who play in the fair city of Northampton. We are so lucky, I often say, when I visit places like Princeton New Jersey where there king_cobrais plenty of money but virtually no live music. We don’t have the bucks here but we have the music, that’s for sure.

The Budos Band uses the symbol of a striking cobra as their band mascot.  They record at Daptone Records, and they call their music “the quintessence of Staten Island Soul.”  Here is how they describe their live shows:

“At any given Budos show, one might see b-boys break dancing to the band’s funk and hip-hop beats; record junkies nodding their heads to the soul-infused melodies; metal heads thrashing to the dark and ominous guitar and bass riffs; and general music lovers who eagerly attend Budos shows and smile approvingly at the melting pot of music that takes place. Simply put, The Budos kill the live show and with each record, their ability to put the energy, sweat, and passion of the live experience to wax increases.”

See you on the dance floor!

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Dan Peltier

Dan Peltier

Since 2004, we have had interns from UMass who work for GoNOMAD during the school year and often during the summer.  The interns who have worked with us have all contributed mightily to our body of stories, and each of them has left their own mark.   I often marvel at how great some of these young people are at writing and at social media, and some times I am left disappointed in them too.

There is one consistency that I see every semester.  It’s the one thing you can’t really teach–but it’s something that will have an effect on these interns as they turn into graduates and then job-seekers.  The thing that’s the hardest for them to do is to come up with their own ideas for stories that we publish every day on GoNOMAD.com.

I’m happy to hand out writing assignments, and every week, at the close of our Tuesday sessions, I dutifully do this. I give each of our two interns three or four assignments to work on during the week.  But I wish they could think of their own assignments too!  When I was a daily newspaper reporter, I tell them, I had to make up my own topics. I had to come up with stories every day.  Some times the interns buck this trend and do offer their own ideas.  I heartily appreciate that.  I tell them how you have to have ideas–and that’s the most valuable thing you can offer an editor.

Steffi Porter

Steffi Porter

This semester I am very pleased with the two interns working with us.  Daniel Peltier and Steffi Porter both met me in BJ Roche’s journalism class, both pursued me after the class telling me they wanted to come be our interns.  Both Dan and Steffi have been writing great stories with well-polished leads, and they get all of their assignments done and always show up on time.

These two have even given me two of their own ideas for stories–and both were first rate!  Dan wrote about visiting the site of the former World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, and Steffi wrote a piece about visiting remote villages in South Korea when she made a visit to see her soldier boyfriend there.

Next week both Dan and Steffi are flying out on assignments for GoNOMAD. Dan travels to Virginia and Steffi will be going to New Mexico.  All expenses will be taken care of and they will write stories about the places for GoNOMAD.  I couldn’t be more pleased to be sending them, and they both have already done some local traveling around the state for stories and are both excellent writers.

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It was the first warm night of spring as we drove past woods erupting with the sounds of peepers on our way to Easthampton on Saturday night.  It was the monthly Art Walk, and as we turned the corner onto Cottage Street, it was clear that the balmy weather and excitement about this up and coming city had brought out big crowds.  It was easy to find a parking space (when did you ever find this in Northampton!?) and we made our way to the first gallery of the night, the Thread Arts Collective.  People were going in and out and checking out their latest group show, which was an eclectic mix of different media.  We  ran into Bronwen, my Facebook friend who lives on Cottage Street.  I asked her what she thought about the apartments being built right across the street in the former Dye Works factory building.  Through the large open windows  you could see the high ceilings. “I’ve got my eye on those,” she said, and who could blame her?

Fourteen foot ceilings, all new windows, right on Cottage Street with all of this night life, galleries, coffee shops–even a real RECORD STORE!  And a bike path and cheap apartments!

Galaxy, Easthampton

Cool light at Galaxy, Easthampton.

Once again I was impressed with all that Easthampton has to offer, it’s the same combination that makes so many towns hip these days.  It’s the housing like these new apartments, that’s fun and not traditional single-family homes, the new 50 units being built here are just what urban hipsters are looking for.  You can pedal your bike to Northampton on the bike path that runs right past Cottage Street.   Bronwen told us about how some of the breweries that are opening in town are located near the bike path, so they are re-figuring their entrances to face that way instead of toward the street.

We walked up Cottage and visited a few more galleries–one was a make-it-yourself place with all sorts of things you could make other stuff with. Each gallery was full of people and interesting.  We were headed for Casey Douglas’  new restaurant, Galaxy, right around the corner on Pleasant Street.  It’s got two sides, on the right is a proper bar and I liked that the TVs were not on.  On the left, the dining room with tables on one side and booths on the other. In the back where we were seated is another room that looks like it was once somebody’s office, now it’s got a dramatic chandelier in the Galaxy, mid-century modern theme, with balls like planets and a dramatic circle around it 0n the ceiling.

I loved the menu at Galaxy–it was simple, it included lots of small plates like mac and cheese, beet salad, and broccoli rabe on the side.  We tried the most popular menu item, which is the fried brussels sprouts which were very good too.  We had a simple meal with wine, and the bill was only $55.  Perfect!

Later Casey told us how much work it had been to convert the place from a clock shop to this restaurant. His Apollo Grill is still going strong with his brother in charge as chef, and his sister Kim was taking care of the front of the house, much as she used to do at Apollo.  Casey was happy that the spring weather had brought out so many customers. “Never open a new restaurant in the middle of the winter,” he advised.

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Sofie Reminds me to Play Whenever She Visits

by Max Hartshorne on April 10, 2014

sofieWhat do you do when a little girl pays a visit to your house? I often am confronted with this when my daughter Kate asks me if I can watch Sofie, her five-year-0ld daughter on a weekday. There are times when I think I should decline, and tell her how busy I am and that I can’t possibly drop everything and babysit.

But I never do that, well, almost never. Because I am of the belief that you can get things done while little ones visit, you just have to set aside a little bit of time to play and then they’ll figure out what do the rest of the time when you’re actually working.  I think there is far too little play in most people’s day to day lives, and so, I’m always ready.

Today the appointed hour came around and as usual, I was taken by surprise. I never remember that Sofie is coming even though I’ve put it in my calendar on my phone. No, the minute I hear these small steps and a door creak open, it’s ‘oh yeah, Sofie!’

Today after her dad left, and I had gone downstairs to keep on working, Sofie asked me straight up–come on Gramps let’s play. Who can say no to such a demand, such a request? Certainly not me. So I tell her to pick which little toys she likes from my row travel souvenirs up on my mantle, and we select a bear, a tortoise, a koala, a kiwi and an English replica of a mailbox. We’re ready.

These little toys have all kinds of purposes, besides being memories of places around the world I’ve visited. They can have contests of strength between them, they can be arranged in a perfect circle, they can try to tickle eachother…they can do whatever we tell them to do.

So we play a little, and then they get returned to their mantle, where dust gathers on some of them. A good reason to take them down and play with them once in a while. There’s always time to play.

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Basketball Games So Late That the Next Morning Is Foggy

April 8, 2014

Tweet It’s funny how I notice things that once went unnoticed as I advance in age. Last night I watched the NCAA Men’s basketball finals that didn’t start until 9 pm. We had been invited by a couple we like to come have dinner at their house and watch the game. Later on when our [...]

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A Satisfying Sunday Getting a Lot Done

April 7, 2014

Tweet Today was a satisfying day, one where you could make a list and joyfully cross off each thing you got done. After our bummer winter, everyone like me with a yard is eager to get out there and clean it up. So I groomed the grass and filled three huge garbage cans, then went [...]

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