July 16, 2019

Archives for January 2019

Needleman Announces Bill To Hold Utilities Accountable

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

AREAWIDE – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) announced that he has submitted a bill that would hold utility companies accountable to better serve their customers, requiring them to improve their response times after power outages and increase vital staffing.

“An Act Concerning Utility Response Times For Restoration of Electric Service and Utility Minimum Staffing Levels,” Senate Bill No. 469, would require companies to restore electric service on an improved schedule after power outages, also requiring them to establish minimum staffing levels for line crews.

“In the last several years, response times to perform repair work after storms and outages by utility companies like Eversource have grown precipitously, causing significant delays in restoring power to Connecticut residents and businesses relying on it,” Sen. Needleman said. “It’s no coincidence, I believe, this comes as Eversource continues to reduce its repair staff and equipment, instead increasingly relying on private contractors from outside of their system. Without adequate staff, in the event of severe weather, Eversource will waste time and inconvenience customers.”

The bill’s announcement comes as Eversource is requesting a rate increase from the Public Utilities Regulation Authority, according to the Hartford Courant, citing the increased costs of repairing systems after severe storms. If that rate increase passes, the average customer could see their bill jump $1.85 per month or more than $20 annually as soon as this year.

“Why should Eversource receive a rate increase for this work when it drags its heels doing it in the first place? Connecticut taxpayers and businesses were already inconvenienced when their power remained off for days during these storms, and they shouldn’t be punished twice,” Sen. Needleman said. “If Eversource had invested in effective weather responses in the past, instead of reducing staff and equipment to save money, they wouldn’t need to ask for $150 million in repairs.”

“Businesses lose money every second their power remains out,” Sen. Needleman said. “As a business owner myself, I know these problems first-hand. My manufacturing plant in Michigan has lost power one time in 14 years, while my manufacturing plant in Centerbrook sometimes loses power for no reason at all. Connecticut needs to attract businesses, and unstable electrical systems will only drive them away.”

According to the Energy Information Agency, Connecticut residents are already charged the third-highest rates for electricity in the country in both price and expenditure.

“Eversource should provide the services it already pledges to its customers, not be rewarded for failing to implement adequate weather-related response and repair strategies,” Sen. Needleman said. “When Connecticut taxpayers are already charged one of the highest prices in the country for electricity, they should feel confident their service will remain stable, not prepare for days of outages whenever severe storms rear their head. S.B. 469 will hold Eversource and other utility providers accountable for the services their customers deserve.”

Editor’s Note: State Senator Norm Needleman was first elected in 2018 to represent the 33rd Senate District which consists of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook and part of Old Saybrook. Needleman is also the first selectman of Essex, a role he has held for four terms, and the founder of Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company that employs over 250 people.

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Letter From Paris: It’s Been a Rocky Ride, But Will Macron Still Make It?

Nicole Prévost Logan

France always seems to stand out by doing the best or the worst through social and political upheavals.  The movement of the gilets jaunes has been like an earthquake shaking the system to its foundations.    It has created the most serious political crisis the Fifth Republic has known since its creation by General de Gaulle in 1958. 

It is a pivotal moment for France and many other Western democracies when the mechanism of political institutions does not seem to work any more. 

The gilets jaunes are the voice of a rural population never heard before and which feels abandoned.  It is a lower middle class of workers and retirees, who can’t make it to the end of the month and feel squeezed between the very poor — benefiting from social relief — and the more affluent middle class. 

At first overwhelmingly supported by the public opinion, their number –occupying roundabouts and tolls — has reduced from over 280,000 on Nov. 17, to about 84.000 today. Public opinion is becoming weary of the continuous violence.

“Act XI” is taking place as this article is being written. 

French President Emmanuel Macron.

A spectacular fist fight on the footbridge linking the Quai d’Orsay and the Tuileries garden marked the month of January.  Over time a hard core of  gilets jaunes has become more radical, asking for the dissolution of Parliament, the suppression of the Senate, and basically total destruction of the system in place.  It refuses dialogue while chanting “Macron. Demission” (Macron. Resign.)  

The Rassemblement National (RN) extreme right party of Marine Le Pen and the communist party or France Insoumise (LFI) are riding the wave. They help circulate false news to discredit Macron and his government.  The terrorist attack in Strasbourg in early December or the recent deadly explosion due to a gas leak in the center of Paris were just diversion tactics by the Executive, they say. 

On Jan. 23,  France and Germany signed the treaty of Aix La Chapelle to reinforce cooperation between the two countries and facilitate trans-border relations.  The treaty was followed by the announcement of outrageously distorted news on social networks that Alsace-Lorraine was being returned to Germany. 

Eighteen months into his mandate, Macron started  to suffer a catastrophic collapse in the polls. It was not a first for a French president:  Sarkozy and Hollande before him suffered the same disaffection soon after their election. For Macron though, the intensity of the fall was all the more spectacular as his victory had created a surge of hope.

Today he is trying to turn the tide around and pull the country out of its crisis.  And his method? A “Great Debate” throughout the country lasting until March 15.

On Jan. 13, the president posted a “Lettre aux Français” suggesting four themes open to discussion: taxes, public services, energetic transition, and political institutions, including immigration.  France is being turned into a laboratory to experiment with new forms of government – representative, participative or direct (with frequent referendums).

The hard core of gilets jaunes declined to participate.

Macron’s initial step was to face some of the 35.000 mayors of France.  First 700 of them in Normandy, then two days later 700 in the Lot department (Occitanie region.)  It was an impressive show of participative government in action.  Selected mayors presented their grievances related to very concrete and local problems: closing schools, disappearance of public services, medical “desertification,” lack of accessible transports, inadequate internet and phone access, hurtful impact of giant shopping malls on small business, and the demise of downtown areas of small town and villages.

Each speaker was polite, direct and, at times, quite tough. Macron’s performance was phenomenal.  As each speaker took the microphone, the president was taking notes furiously.  For close to seven hours, he absorbed the remarks then answered each one, recalling the interlocutor’s name.  His language was familiar, bringing smiles to the faces in the audience and devoid of any demagoguery. 

For instance, he expressed his opinion on how dangerous popular referenda can be, especially when based on false information — citing the UK’s Brexit vote as an example. Overall it was refreshing to witness courteous and constructive exchanges, far from the heinous invectives to which the president has been submitted lately. 

The “Great Debate” is a courageous, but risky exercise.  Talking to the mayors was the easy part. It will be harder for him to convince broader public opinion — including the moderate gilets jaunes — how to make a synthesis from all the wide array of  grievances and turn them into immediate and concrete measures?

Macron must meet some, if not all, of the demands being made by the gilets jaunes without appearing to be weak and submissive. In spite of the popular pressure for lower taxes and more benefits, he cannot afford to lose his objective, which is to reform France and make it economically competitive. Finally, time is short since there will only be two months left after the debate before the European elections are held. 

Violence hit cities throughout France causing widespread damage.

The violence brought on by the weekly street warfare in Paris, Bordeaux and many other cities has tarnished the image of France abroad.  The damage caused  to the urban landscape, small businesses and whole sectors of the economy can be numbered in millions of Euros. The loss of one point of France’s GDP has even become worrisome for the IMF. 

On Jan. 22, Macron invited 125 of the most important world CEOs, who were on their way to the Davos Economic Forum, to  a lavish lunch at the Chateau de Versailles, in order to reassure them of his country’s viability and stability prior to a possible Brexit.

The polls have risen slightly in favor of Macron but the president still faces an uphill battle. France is fortunate to have a young president full of energy … but the jury is still out on his future.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Become a Middlesex Health Hospice Volunteer

MIDDLETOWN—Middlesex Health’s Hospice Program is looking for volunteers.

Hospice volunteers are an integral part of the Middlesex Health team, and they work with patients and families as they cope with the challenges of terminal illness.

All aspiring volunteers must submit a volunteer application and complete 12 hours of training and a mentorship before they can begin their work. The next training sessions will be held on April 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and April 13, from 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Both sessions are mandatory for new volunteers and will be held in the Randy Goodwin, MD Conference Center.

For more information and to request an application, contact a Middlesex Health volunteer coordinator at 860-358-5700. 

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Talking Transportation: Global Warming vs. Northeast Travel — An Apology to Future Generations

GWhat follows is a public apology.  Not to you, dear reader, but to future generations.

“To my grand children:  I’m sorry we left you with this mess.  We should have done more, when we still had time.”

What am I referring to?  Not the national debt.  Not even global terrorism.  No, this apology is about coastal flooding that threatens the Northeast Corridor’s rail lines.

I won’t even get into the debate about what’s causing sea-level rise.  Whether it’s man-made or natural, it is happening and we have not been planning for its inevitable effects.  Sure, when the tides are high and the winds are from the east, we already see a little flooding along the Connecticut coastline.  “Look Dad!  The beach parking lot is under water,” the kids would say.  But the tides and winds then subsided and we’d forget about it.

Aside from pretty beaches and expensive homes, what else is along Connecticut’s coast?  Our railroads:  Metro-North, Shore Line East and Amtrak.  And according to a long hidden report, those tracks, and the trains that run on them, are being threatened by sea level rise.

Just before Christmas, Bloomberg wrote about a three year study, “Amtrak NEC Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment,” that was finished in 2017 but never released to the public.  Using an FOI request, they got hold of a redacted (censored) portion of the study, and its findings are frightening.

The Northeast Corridor of Amtrak runs 457 miles from Washington to Boston and carries 12 million passengers a year on 2200 daily trains.  Those tracks not only serve Amtrak’s inter-city trains but also many commuter rail lines, like Metro-North and Shore Line East.  And the rising sea level is already lapping at its edge, where in some areas those tracks are just feet from the ocean. By 2050 the water may be two feet higher.

When it was originally built in the 19th century, the coastline made perfect sense as a location for the railroad tracks:  the coast is where the major cities were and the terrain was flat, perfect for trains.  Sure, there were storms (even hurricanes) that caused short-term flooding, but nothing that was persistent.  Until now.

So what’s to be done?

Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration have no plans to raise the tracks.  They’re already facing $40 billion in unfunded projects just to keep the darn trains running.  As for building a “wall” to keep out the sea water, even a temporary version erected before a storm would take 12 to 30 days to assemble and cost $24 million a mile.

Keeping this all in perspective, Amtrak reminds us that the cities they serve along the coast are also in danger of flooding, so what are a few damp railroad tracks when your city-center looks like Venice?

What’s most concerning is that this study was suppressed by Amtrak and the FRA because, as Bloomberg wrote, “The disclosure of that information “could possibly cause public confusion.” 

I’m not confused, are you?  Maybe enraged, but not confused.  I may not be around to see these predictions come to pass, but I do feel some sense of obligation (guilt) to future generations to whom I can offer little more than an apology.

Sorry kids.  We left you with a mess.  We should have done more.

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media.

Jim Cameron

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

For a full collection of  “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

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Essex Garden Club Donates Food to Shoreline Soup Kitchens

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club (EGC) members collected nonperishable food items for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries (SSKP) at the club’s annual Festivities.  The EGC festivities were held at the Essex Yacht Club.

Individual members donated $1,305.00 and the Essex Garden Club donated $500 for a total of $1,805.00. 

Pictured above packing the food for delivery are, from left to right, Phyllis Graf, Sue Baker and Barbara Campbell.

The Gowrie Group Match Challenge was $1,805.00   

The total weight of the food donation was 302 pounds.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Talk Tonight on Amphibian Habitat in CT

ESSEX — The Essex Land Trust hosts Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, (pictured left) an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at UCONN, Thursday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m. at Essex Town Hall, 29 West Ave. The title of her talk will be, ‘Amphibian habitat in CT: Is there enough for populations to persist?’

She will define amphibian habitat and discuss whether or not there is enough habitat in Connecticut to maintain amphibian population for future generations. Learn about amphibian habitat and improve your understanding of habitat in general.

Rittenhouse has a BS from University of Wisconsin-Madison and MS and PhD from University of Missouri-Columbia. She studies where wild animals live and how they travel through habitats. The snow date for this event is Jan. 29.

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Letter from Paris: Picasso’s Early Years on View in Blue … and Pink

Nicole Prévost Logan

In October 1900, Picasso – at age 19 – arrived at the Gare d’Orsay in Paris from Barcelona. So, it is appropriate that the Orsay Museum would host an exhibition about the young Spanish artist.

The blockbuster, which opened in the autumn of 2018, was called “Picasso. Bleu, Rose” and refers to the 1900-1906 years. It is a long overdue theme, never before treated in France.

For several reasons, this period is unique among Picasso’s long career. It reveals the precocious virtuosity of such a young person as a draughtsman;
never again will he express such intense emotions; Harlequin — a main character from the Commedia del’arte — is introduced for the first time and will remain his double throughout his life’s work. The image at right shows “Arlequin with an acrobat” (1905) portrayed as a young and emaciated boy.

Between 1900 and 1904, Picasso made several trips between Spain and Paris, until he settled permanently in the French capital where he rented a studio, along with other artists, in a dilapidated building baptized the Bateau-Lavoir (washhouse.)

He liked to hang around at the tavern of Els Quatre Gats (Four Cats) in Barcelona where he met Catalan friends – such as Santiago Rusinol or Ramon Casos. The exhibit shows hundreds of the small portraits and sketches, sometimes humorous, that he created at full speed.

With a voracious curiosity, he would watch the colorful, loud crowds at cabarets, bordellos, night clubs or caf’concs (cafés with a music hall performance) of Montmartre.

Toulouse Lautrec was his idol.

Like him, Picasso depicted the dejected night-life customers stunned under the effect of absinthe. “Arlequin and his companion” (1901, Pushkin museum, Moscow) shown at left represents a couple totally alienated from each other, sitting at a bistro table, with vacuous expressions on their faces.

The man is Harlequin, dressed in his usual costume with lozenges.

The “Portrait of Gustave Coquiot” (1901, Musee d’art moderne, Paris) at right is emblematic of this garish night life. The collector and art critic is depicted as a well-fed individual, with half naked girls dancing in the background, his mouth snarled in a lecherous grimace, under an insolent mustache.

But those years were lean years for Picasso. Both in Barcelona and in Paris Picasso lived in utter poverty.

This was the height of his “Blue Period” — the color of the bottom of the abyss. Beggars, orphans, the poor — Picasso showed his empathy for all of them.

He would take for models the former prostitutes incarcerated at the Saint Lazare prison in Barcelona, where many were dying of venereal diseases .

One usually links the Blue Period with the death of his close friend Casagemas in 1901 The painting at left of the young Catalan artist on his death bed, (1901, Musee Picasso, Paris) is realistic and shows the bullet wound on his temple after he committed suicide. The feverish multicolor strokes around the candle are reminiscent of van Gogh’s technique.

Abject poverty did not prevent Picasso from leading a lively, bohemian life among artists, poets, writers in the Montmartre district of the French capital, which was the center of the artistic world at that time.

The German art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler immediately discovered the genius of Picasso. Things started looking up when art merchant Ambroise Vollard bought several of his paintings. His melancholy disappeared when he fell passionately in love with Fernande Olivier, one of his many companions whose body and face he kept deconstructing.

The distinction between Blue and Pink Periods is rather artificial. Sadness lingered on through both periods.

Pink became predominant when the artist became interested in the circus world. Several times a week he would go to the cirque Medrano. But unlike other artists like Seurat, Rouault or Matisse, he was not interested in the spectacles per se but rather in what happened backstage and in the miserable existence of the acrobats.

In “Acrobate a la boule” (at right), a frail adolescent is trying to keep his (her) balance on a round ball watched by a heavy set acrobat sitting on a massive cube. Art historians give a deep meaning to the scene, to the contrast between the spiritual world, taking risks, being continually in motion with the stability of life grounded in the earth.

In the summer of 1906, Picasso’s life took a new turn. Being with Fernande on the hillside village of Gozolf, he seemed totally happy, enjoying the sun and inspired by the pink and ochre color of the clay. He discovered the Iberian sculptures of the fifth and sixth centuries BC influenced by Phoenician and Greek cultures as well as 12th century medieval sculptures.

His art seems to be changing course. In “Deux Nus” (1906, MOMA), shown at left, the bodies of the naked women, are deformed, with disproportionate legs and heavy torso. Picasso was ready for another discovery … African art.

Matisse showed him an African statuette in the apartment of Gertrude and Leo Stein. Picasso was stunned.

As a result, after numerous sketches, (the Steins bought most of them when Picasso was still unknown), Picasso produced the ‘Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (1907, MOMA), which remains probably the most important painting of the 20th century.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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State Rep. Palm Plans to Host “Listening Sessions” Monthly

State Representative-Elect (D-36th) Christine Palm.

AREAWIDE — Christine Palm, State Representative-for the 36th District (covering the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam), took the Oath of Office Wed., Jan. 9, at the State Capitol. Palm is one of 151 members of the House (the lower chamber of the General Assembly), each of whom represents approximately 23,000 people.

Palm ran as a progressive Democrat who was cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party, and stood for economic security for all workers, affordable healthcare, school excellence, gun safety, enhanced women’s rights and environmental protections. 

Palm has now started meeting with constituents in various locations in her district. She intends to hold these “listening sessions” in coffee shops in each of the four towns in the 36th District during the month of January.

After that, she will hold at least one meeting per month, rotating times and locations throughout the district, including libraries, assisted living facilities and town halls. Residents of any town are always welcome to attend a meeting in another town.

For the month of January meetings are as follows:

Friday, Jan. 11: The Villager, Downtown Chester, 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. https://www.thevillagerchester.com/

Tuesday, Jan. 15: The Nook, 1610 Saybrook Rd., Tylerville (Haddam), 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 22, Savour, Spencer’s Corners, Centerbrook (Essex), 10:00-11:00 a.m. http://www.thesavourcafe.com/

Wednesday, Jan. 23, Whistle Stop Café, Main Street, Deep River, noon to 1:00 p.m. https://www.facebook.com/whistlestopcafect/

“It’s very important to me to hear from the residents – both those who voted for me and those who did not,” Palm said. “Too many people feel government is out of touch with them – that it’s an inaccessible monolith.

She continued, “That’s not the kind of government I want to serve in and I intend to be as responsive as possible. Not only do our residents deserve a State Representative willing to hear their concerns, I need them, too; talking with folks is a great source of inspiration for me. Through casual conversations, I’ve already gotten some ideas for changes we need to make so that government better represents the people. So, I am grateful to all those willing to meet and share their ideas, concerns and experiences with me.”

Once Palm is sworn in, her official State of Connecticut email, phone number, website and Facebook page will go live and she will make them public. For now, residents of any of the towns she serves are welcome to call her on her cell phone at 860-836-2145.

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Third Annual ‘Women’s March on Washington’ Sister Vigil to be Held This Morning in East Haddam

AREAWIDE — Together We Rise – Building Bridges For Justice has announced that East Haddam, Conn., is again registered as an Official Sister Event location for Connecticut, along with Hartford and Kent, for the Jan. 19, 2019, Third Annual Women’s March:#WomensWave March on Washington.

Together We Rise will join more than 650 sister events/marches throughout the World, when an outdoor gathering and vigil will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee House & Café, located at 374 Town St. in East Haddam, CT at the junction of Rtes 82 and 151.

Those interested in participating in the Together We Rise Jan. 19 Sister Event vigil should register by going to  https://www.womensmarch.com/2019/ and clicking on Sister Events, and entering zip code 06469. 

Participants are encouraged to arrive early. Parking Monitors will be on site to direct participants to parking venues near Two Wrasslin’ Cats.  Parking in Two Wrasslin’ Cats parking lot is available only to those with disabilities. 

Speakers at the Together We Rise Vigil in East Haddam will include Christine Palm, Marta Daniels and Ella Briggs.

Palm is the newly elected State Representative for the 36th Legislative District covering Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam. A lifelong Connecticut resident and progressive Democrat, her social justice advocacy began in high school when she marched with Caesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Palm’s work has culminated in her strong desire today to champion public policy that reflects the aspirations and concerns of people in the lower Connecticut River Valley.

Palm has been a journalist, high school teacher, communications manager, and small business owner. Most recently, she has served as Women’s Policy Analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors, a group that advocates for policies that enhance the safety and economic security of these three under-represented populations. Before that, she was Communications Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. 

Daniels is a writer, activist, and public historian. Her 35-year professional career has focused on expanding and improving civic engagement in public policy issues on peace, justice, and the environment.

She was director or co-director of half a dozen national and state educational organizations and also served as a consultant for several environmental and humanitarian organizations. Daniels is the author of several books on peace, many research papers and hundreds of articles and op-eds on peace and disarmament, and US-Soviet relations.

Daniels lives in Chester and is an active member of the Chester Democratic Town Committee, the Historical Society, and the Land Trust.

Briggs is the 2019 Connecticut Kid Governor.  She is a 5th grader at Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Elementary Magnet School in Avon, CT.  Ella lives with her family in East Hampton.

In addition to these speakers, music will be provided by Thomasina Levy and Diane Adams. Levy was Connecticut State Troubadour for 2005 and 2006. An award-winning mountain dulcimer player, singer, poet and songwriter, her performances weave together traditional and contemporary folk music.

Adams is a local musician, who has performed at a variety of public events celebrating justice and equality including Together We Rise’s 2018 March for Our Lives event.

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Letter from Paris: Picasso’s Early Years on View in Blue … and Pink

Nicole Prévost Logan

In October 1900, Picasso – at age 19 – arrived at the Gare d’Orsay in Paris from Barcelona. So, it is appropriate that the Orsay Museum would host an exhibition about the young Spanish artist.

The blockbuster, which opened in the autumn of 2018, was called “Picasso. Bleu, Rose” and refers to the 1900-1906 years. It is a long overdue theme, never before treated in France.

For several reasons, this period is unique among Picasso’s long career. It reveals the precocious virtuosity of such a young person as a draughtsman;
never again will he express such intense emotions; Harlequin — a main character from the Commedia del’arte — is introduced for the first time and will remain his double throughout his life’s work. The image at right shows “Arlequin with an acrobat” (1905) portrayed as a young and emaciated boy.

Between 1900 and 1904, Picasso made several trips between Spain and Paris, until he settled permanently in the French capital where he rented a studio, along with other artists, in a dilapidated building baptized the Bateau-Lavoir (washhouse.)

He liked to hang around at the tavern of Els Quatre Gats (Four Cats) in Barcelona where he met Catalan friends – such as Santiago Rusinol or Ramon Casos. The exhibit shows hundreds of the small portraits and sketches, sometimes humorous, that he created at full speed.

With a voracious curiosity, he would watch the colorful, loud crowds at cabarets, bordellos, night clubs or caf’concs (cafés with a music hall performance) of Montmartre.

Toulouse Lautrec was his idol.

Like him, Picasso depicted the dejected night-life customers stunned under the effect of absinthe. “Arlequin and his companion” (1901, Pushkin museum, Moscow) shown at left represents a couple totally alienated from each other, sitting at a bistro table, with vacuous expressions on their faces.

The man is Harlequin, dressed in his usual costume with lozenges.

The “Portrait of Gustave Coquiot” (1901, Musee d’art moderne, Paris) at right is emblematic of this garish night life. The collector and art critic is depicted as a well-fed individual, with half naked girls dancing in the background, his mouth snarled in a lecherous grimace, under an insolent mustache.

But those years were lean years for Picasso. Both in Barcelona and in Paris Picasso lived in utter poverty.

This was the height of his “Blue Period” — the color of the bottom of the abyss. Beggars, orphans, the poor — Picasso showed his empathy for all of them.

He would take for models the former prostitutes incarcerated at the Saint Lazare prison in Barcelona, where many were dying of venereal diseases .

One usually links the Blue Period with the death of his close friend Casagemas in 1901 The painting at left of the young Catalan artist on his death bed, (1901, Musee Picasso, Paris) is realistic and shows the bullet wound on his temple after he committed suicide. The feverish multicolor strokes around the candle are reminiscent of van Gogh’s technique.

Abject poverty did not prevent Picasso from leading a lively, bohemian life among artists, poets, writers in the Montmartre district of the French capital, which was the center of the artistic world at that time.

The German art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler immediately discovered the genius of Picasso. Things started looking up when art merchant Ambroise Vollard bought several of his paintings. His melancholy disappeared when he fell passionately in love with Fernande Olivier, one of his many companions whose body and face he kept deconstructing.

The distinction between Blue and Pink Periods is rather artificial. Sadness lingered on through both periods.

Pink became predominant when the artist became interested in the circus world. Several times a week he would go to the cirque Medrano. But unlike other artists like Seurat, Rouault or Matisse, he was not interested in the spectacles per se but rather in what happened backstage and in the miserable existence of the acrobats.

In “Acrobate a la boule,” a frail adolescent is trying to keep his (her) balance on a round ball watched by a heavy set acrobat sitting on a massive cube. Art historians give a deep meaning to the scene, to the contrast between the spiritual world, taking risks, being continually in motion with the stability of life grounded in the earth.

In the summer of 1906, Picasso’s life took a new turn. Being with Fernande on the hillside village of Gozolf, he seemed totally happy, enjoying the sun and inspired by the pink and ochre color of the clay. He discovered the Iberian sculptures of the fifth and sixth centuries BC influenced by Phoenician and Greek cultures as well as 12th century medieval sculptures.

His art seems to be changing course. In “Deux Nus” (1906, MOMA), shown at right, the bodies of the naked women, are deformed, with disproportionate legs and heavy torso. Picasso was ready for another discovery … African art.

Matisse showed him an African statuette in the apartment of Gertrude and Leo Stein. Picasso was stunned.

As a result, after numerous sketches, (the Steins bought most of them when Picasso was still unknown), Picasso produced the ‘Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (1907, MOMA), which remains probably the most important painting of the 20th century.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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The Movie Man: The Joy of Going OUT to the Movies

As the calendar progressed through December, most people were looking forward to Christmas with joy and anticipation.

For me, as I looked at the calendar last year, I found myself looking back to a December from my childhood. The year is 2003, and I am recalling the day I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on the big screen; to this day it remains my favorite movie-going experience of all time.

I’m writing this because one of my recent reviews published in LymeLine.com was for a direct-to-Netflix release, not by some forgettable children’s movie, nor an attempt at slapstick by Rob Schneider and Adam Sandler … rather it was a film by the Coen brothers.

Years ago, we witnessed the vanishing of record stores with the digital revolution via iTunes. I was not alive when it was a social occasion to go to the record store and check out whichever new album had been introduced, but I did have a high school teacher who still raves about that to this day (I’m talking to you, Mr. Braychak.)

Going to the movies has always been magical for me. I recall that Steven Spielberg shared on Inside the Actor’s Studio that even he still takes his family to the theaters.

Years ago, I wished there were ways for me to see classic films on the big screen … how they were originally released. Lately, I’ve been able to see that wish fulfilled by catching The Big Lebowski, The Shining, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly courtesy of promotions by Regal Cinema, and the treasured Coolidge Corner Theatre (for those of you who have been in the Boston area).

And I firmly hold that catching a film on the big screen in its original run is as exciting and memorable of attending a live sports event. Both sources of entertainment you can watch at home, yes, but there’s nothing like being caught up in the energy of the moment.

A while ago, I developed the mindset of thinking that seeing a film by your favorite actor or director on the big screen is akin to seeing your favorite athlete compete. I am proud to share that I frequented Fenway Park and saw David Ortiz play. In time, I’ll talk of that in the same way that older folk today mention having seen Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams play.

Similarly, the day will come when Leonardo DiCaprio departs this world, and people will tell the younger generations about being caught up in Leo-mania with Titanic; or when George Lucas leaves us, people will recount the time they saw the unexpected sci-fi empire of Star Wars take flight at their local theater in 1977.

But as this ‘release via Netflix’ trend continues to gain momentum, I have to ask if we can really imagine replacing certain occasions that are meant for the theater to be changed to accommodate the streaming method? So many romantic relationships have begun with a date at the movies (Barack and Michelle Obama saw Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee on their first time out together).

Imagine this … “Alright! I got the computer ready … wait, the battery’s dead. Let me grab my iPad! Yeah, I heard this is supposed to be really great, didn’t you say you had a crush on … oh, come on! The Wifi is down? I thought I took care of that! Give me a couple of minutes to fix this!”

It just does not work.

Photo by Julien Andrieux on Unsplash

Going to the movies is quite simply magic … even if the movie does not entertain you. I always loved the process of lining up for my ticket (and skimming the list of other flicks that are playing), getting the drinks and popcorn, and picking my seat during the idle pre-showing ads.

Then the lights slightly dim for the previews, and you make remarks to either your friends or self as to whether the movie looks interesting or you plan on skipping it. Then the lights dim all the way until they’re out, save the little ones in the aisle.

Then the real magic begins.

And when it’s over, you leave, and you chat with whoever you came with about what you thought of the movie. Good, bad, whatever, and you marvel about the people attached to the project, and when their next movie is coming out.

Photo by Karen Zhao on Unsplash

The Lord of the Rings remains one of my all-time favorite movies. My love for the trilogy is increased all-the-more whenever I recall the day I went to see the final installment on the big screen on Dec. 20, 2003 … mainly because I felt like I was on my own personal quest towards seeing this film.

From Christmas of 2002 until the day I saw The Return of the King, I was on a metaphorical journey through the trilogy, in which I waited several months for opportunities to see each installment on DVD. This was also accompanied by a move to the home in which I would spend the rest of my childhood. Granted it was from Old Lyme to Lyme, so I would not be dropped somewhere with which I had no familiarity whatsoever, but leaving the place I had spent two thirds of my life was a big deal.

Not exactly like being taken halfway across the country and plopped in a totally foreign environment, like some others experience. But I was leaving the home that I had lived in for nearly nine years — three quarters of my life. It was all I knew.

We moved from Chestnut Hill in April of that year. But we did not move into our eventual home on Hamburg Road until that November. The home’s previous resident had dozens of animals on her property (some of you may be fondly smiling as you will recognize to whom I’m referring) and her new residence was not finished.

We therefore arranged a real estate deal that involved us renting the home to her, and since we had already sold our home, we briefly rented a home on Griswold Point. It was a beautiful home right on the Lieutenant River, and my mother raves that it was her favorite house. The only downside for my brothers and me was … it had no cable. Not something kids want to hear. But no cable meant … more time for The Lord of the Rings.

When we finally moved to Hamburg Road that November, the adaptation of the journey’s end in The Lord of the Rings seemed to go hand-in-hand with the fact that my own residence journey had also ended. All I had to do was wait another month.

But lo and behold, I was never a good student, and I got in trouble academically, resulting in the loss of my media privileges for over a month, which, in turn, meant I could not see The Return of the King.

What a devastating blow to the gut!

However, my mom understood how much this movie meant to me, so she made a compromise: if I went an entire week without a teacher calling to say I was missing homework, my punishment would be lifted (how bad a student do you have to be for a compromise like that?)

Luckily for me, I made it in time, and the Saturday after the film was released, Dec. 20, I ventured off with a friend to the Marquee Cinemas in Westbrook to catch the final installment. I remember standing in the long line, fretting over whether we would find a seat with a good view, drinking all of my soda before the movie started (and subsequently suppressing my need to use the bathroom for the next three hours), and once the movie was over … clapping vigorously when the words ‘The End’ appeared on the screen.

I left the theater more than satisfied.

I left fulfilled.

But I wonder how different this story would be had Netflix started the streaming business back then, and Peter Jackson opted for this method? I could not imagine myself getting hyped up for a groundbreaking movie that I would watch at home, leaning forward on my couch at the TV, no matter how sophisticated the device is?

If this is an action/adventure movie, and special effects are supposed to be out of this world, do I really want to see it on a 50-inch TV, and miss out on the sound system the theaters have? As much as we rave about Game of Thrones and treat each new episode as a social occasion, we can tell the special effects are not of the same quality as those we enjoy in full-length features. It’s almost as if everybody in the entertainment industry understands this.

Should the next Star Wars movie have the option for watching at home, I surely would skip that and go through whatever it might take to see it on the big screen, as it deserves. My plea to Hollywood legends is to not opt for the easier option, regardless of how much profit it might generate.

I certainly pray that if Mr. Spielberg reads this (first, I would faint upon learning he decided to read LymeLine.com!), he continues to respect the importance of the social aspect of movie-going … and that the rest of movie-dom join him in that belief.

Editor’s Note: Top photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

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Saybrook Stage Presents ‘Other Desert Cities’ at the Kate Through Sunday

OLD SAYBROOK — The non-profit production company The Saybrook Stage Company will be performing Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities live at the Kate in Old Saybrook from Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 17-19, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m.

Rehearsing “Other Desert Cities’

Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz is a poignant play about the strong bond and love of family that overcomes any differences that exist between individual family members. This thoughtful, relevant play will have you sharing tears of laughter, sadness and joy as you become immersed in the heart-wrenching yet heart-warming story of the Wyeth family.

What is the price a family will pay to protect their good name? What is the price parents will pay to protect their children? These difficult questions are addressed in this wonderful and funny play!

It’s Christmas Eve 2004 and Brooke Wyeth is returning home to Palm Springs after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother and her aunt.

Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history – a wound her parents don’t want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them to cross it.

The cast of Other Desert Cities gathers for a photo .

A realistic story about family struggles and conflicts – The New York Times is quoted as describing this play as “The most richly enjoyable new play for grown-ups that New York has known in many seasons … Mr. Baitz makes sure our sympathies keep shifting among the members of the wounded family portrayed here. Every one of them emerges as selfish, loving, cruel, compassionate, irritating, charming and just possibly heroic … leaves you feeling both moved and gratifyingly sated.”

Other Desert Cities opened on Broadway in November 2011 and received critical acclaim in addition to many awards including a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as Tony Award nominations for Best Play; Best Actress and Best Scenic Design.

Visit www.thekate.org or call 860.510.0453 to reserve your tickets.

Also, visit www.SaybrookStage.org for more information about The Saybrook Stage Company.

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‘Choosing Love’ in Deep River; Information Panel Discussion at DRES, Jan. 24

DEEP RIVER — Deep River Elementary School (DRES) has launched the Choose Love Program for grades K-6 this year. This comprehensive Social Development Curriculum fuses Social Emotional Learning with Character Education, Positive Psychology, Mindfulness, Neuroscience and Emotional Intelligence. 

Students are learning the Choose Love Formula: Courage + Forgiveness + Gratitude + Compassion-in-Action = Choosing Love. 

On Thursday, Jan. 24, DRES invites parents and members of the community to learn more about the tenets of the Choose Love Program and how it is being implemented at the school. This meeting will be held at the Deep River Elementary School Gymnasium from 6 to 7:30 p.m. For planning purposes, RSVP for the event to Tri-Town Youth Services @ 860-526-3600

There will be a variety of Make & Take Activities for participants to gain hands-on experience with the lessons and gain useful tools to try at home.

The evening will conclude with an Informational Panel Discussion with members of the DRES school community and Tri-Town Youth Services. The panel will discuss the program as a whole and each panelist will address how the program fits within the classroom, school, home and broader Deep River community. 

Tri-Town Youth Services will provide information about the free Choose Love at Home online course. Throughout the month of February, Tri-Town Youth Services will also be hosting a Choose Love at Home Study Group on Thursday evenings.

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Late Registration Tonight to Sing Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’ with Cappella Cantorum in April 14 Concert

Cappella Cantorum logo

AREAWIDE — Join the Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus for registration and its first rehearsal of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” on Monday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m., at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River (use rear entrance).

The lyricism and use of orchestral and choral color in “Elijah” reflect Mendelssohn’s genius as an early Romantic composer.This inspiring work will be performed in concert Sunday, April 14, at John Winthrop with professional orchestra and soloists.

Simon Holt of the Salt Marsh Opera will direct. All singers and high school students are welcome; auditions are not required.

Registration is $50 plus cost of music. Late registration is the following Monday, Jan. 14, same time and place. Singers may register on-line or in person at John Winthrop.

For more information, visit www.CappellaCantorum.org or call 860-526-1038.

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Public Hearing to be Held Tomorrow for 9 Town Transit’s Proposed New Service for Disabled

AREAWIDE — 9 Town Transit (9TT) is planning to begin offering ADA paratransit service along the 641 route in February of 2019. This new service will be offered to individuals who have a disability that prevents them from using the fixed route.

ADA paratransit is a reservation-based origin-to-destination service similar to our Dial-A-Ride program. It must be booked at least one day in advance and has a 30-minute pick-up window. The cost is twice that of the equivalent fixed-route fare, currently $3.50 each way.

Unlike 9TT’s Dial-A-Ride, which is open to the general public, ADA Paratransit is only available to people with a disability that have gone through an application process.

ADA Paratransit offers the same hours as Route 641, making it available Monday through Friday 6:20 a.m. until 7:50 p.m. and Saturday 7:20 a.m. until 6 p.m., which is beyond that of Dial-A-Ride.

ADA Paratransit is only available within 3/4 mile of Route 641. This includes the section of 641 serving Madison. Any trip with an origin or a destination beyond this area would remain a Dial-A-Ride trip.

There will be a public hearing on Jan. 15, 2019 at 3 p.m. at 17 Industrial Park Rd, Suite 6, Centerbrook, CT, 06409. 9TT will hear comments and answer questions about their proposed ADA plan and paratransit.

Comments may also be submitted in writing by Jan. 25, 2019 by email to info@estuarytransit.org or mail to address above.

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New York Philharmonic String Quartet and Mihae Lee Open Essex Winter Series 42nd Season This Afternoon

New York Philharmonic Pricipal String Quartet, 11/26/16. Photo by Chris Lee

ESSEX – Essex Winter Series’ 42nd season begins with a stunning program of Haydn, Dvorak, and Schumann performed by the New York Philharmonic String Quartet and Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Rd., Deep River.

The New York Philharmonic String Quartet comprises four Principal musicians from the Orchestra, including Concertmaster Frank Huang; Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples; Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps; and Principal Cello Carter Brey. The group formed in January 2017, during the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season, and made its debut as the solo ensemble in John Adams’s Absolute Jest in March 2017.

The Quartet will start the program with the delightful Haydn Quartet Op. 72, No. 2 and end the first half with the iconic Dvorak’s “American” Quartet. Mihae Lee will join them for the brilliant Schumann Piano Quintet in the second half. 

Essex Winter Series’ season continues on Feb. 17 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring the Midiri Brothers Sextet with special guest Jeff Barnhart performing the music of reeds giants Benny Goodman, Jimmy Noone, Artie Shaw and more.

On March 17, violinist Tai Murray (the 2019 Fenton Brown Emerging Artist) joins the New Haven Symphony Orchestra under the direction of William Boughton for a program featuring Mozart, Prokofiev, Barber, and Hadyn.

The final concert of the series is Chanticleer, known around the world as “an orchestra of voices,” celebrating their 40th year with a program of favorites composers, from Palestrina and Victoria to Mason Bates and Steven Stucky, as well as audience favorite arrangements by Jennings, Shaw and others on April 7.

All performances take place on Sundays at 3 p.m. with the January and March concerts at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Rd., Deep River; the February jazz concert at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 John Winthrop Middle School Road, Deep River; and the April concert at Old Saybrook Senior High School, 1111 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook.

Seating is general admission and tickets may be purchased by calling 860-272-4572 or visiting www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2019 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Masonicare at Chester Village, Tower Laboratories, Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.

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Reading Uncertainly: ‘The Fifth Risk’ by Michael Lewis

Is our government too bloated, too intrusive, too expensive?

Is it a “swamp” that needs to be drained if we are to survive?

Michael Lewis, the author of such jewels as Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short, Flash Boys (see my review of 12/15/2014) and The Undoing Project (see my review of 1/22/2018), has been stimulated by the election of Donald Trump and Trump’s “willful ignorance” and “subsequent incoherence” to step back and take a serious look at a few departments of our government.

Lewis has selected the work of the Departments of Energy  (controlling nuclear waste), Commerce (predicting the weather), and Agriculture (assuring food safety), and using in-depth discussions with selected government servants illustrates what is seldom acknowledged – the long-term contributions of much of what goes on at the federal level.

Part of the problem in Lewis’ word is that we have ”two million federal employees taking orders from four thousand political appointees. Dysfunction is baked into the structure of the thing …”

He leads this analysis with the words of John MacWilliams, the Department of Energy’s “first ever chief risk officer.” MacWilliams offers his top four risks as the threat of nuclear disaster, North Korea, Iran, and protecting our electrical grid from cyber-terrorism.

But topping all four is the broader inadequacy of “project management” in the US. MacWilliams states, “managing risks (is) an act of the imagination. And the human imagination is a poor tool for judging risk … They (humans) are less good at imagining a crisis before it happens—and taking action to prevent it.”

Lewis goes on to explain, “ … the risk a society runs when it falls into the habit of responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions,” results in, “ … the innovation that never occurs, and the knowledge that is never created.” He concludes, “We need doubtful and forever curious students of possibilities.”

Lewis’ answer is that the long-term and continuing government work of managing the risks of nuclear waste, unusual weather, and food safety has been successful … if not exceptional.

But is this work threatened by the current administration?

To Lewis, “Trump’s budget … is powered by a perverse desire—to remain ignorant.” And that seems to have led to “a rift in American life … between the people who are in it for the mission and the people who (are) in it for the money.”

So what is “risk”?

Lewis quotes David Friedman, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who says, “Risk is uncertainty about the outcome.” We can never be certain of what will occur, but we can certainly try to be.

And that leads to his final sentence, “It’s what you fail to imagine that kills you.”

A most provocative and coherent analysis.

Editor’s Note: ‘The Fifth Risk’ by Michael Lewis is published by W. W. Norton, New York 2018.

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction, which explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farm Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His late wife, Ann, was also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visited every summer.

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Saybrook Stage Presents ‘Other Desert Cities’ at the Kate, Opens Thursday

OLD SAYBROOK — The non-profit production company The Saybrook Stage Company will be performing Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities live at the Kate in Old Saybrook from Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 17-19, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m.

Rehearsing “Other Desert Cities’

Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz is a poignant play about the strong bond and love of family that overcomes any differences that exist between individual family members. This thoughtful, relevant play will have you sharing tears of laughter, sadness and joy as you become immersed in the heart-wrenching yet heart-warming story of the Wyeth family.

What is the price a family will pay to protect their good name? What is the price parents will pay to protect their children? These difficult questions are addressed in this wonderful and funny play!

It’s Christmas Eve 2004 and Brooke Wyeth is returning home to Palm Springs after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother and her aunt.

Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history – a wound her parents don’t want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them to cross it.

The cast of Other Desert Cities gathers for a photo .

A realistic story about family struggles and conflicts – The New York Times is quoted as describing this play as “The most richly enjoyable new play for grown-ups that New York has known in many seasons … Mr. Baitz makes sure our sympathies keep shifting among the members of the wounded family portrayed here. Every one of them emerges as selfish, loving, cruel, compassionate, irritating, charming and just possibly heroic … leaves you feeling both moved and gratifyingly sated.”

Other Desert Cities opened on Broadway in November 2011 and received critical acclaim in addition to many awards including a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as Tony Award nominations for Best Play; Best Actress and Best Scenic Design.

Visit www.thekate.org or call 860.510.0453 to reserve your tickets.

Also, visit www.SaybrookStage.org for more information about The Saybrook Stage Company

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SE CT Legislators Including Sen.-Elect Needleman, Submit Bill To Allow Online, In-Person Betting at CT Casinos

Press Release) State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and members of the Southeastern Connecticut legislative delegation have submitted a bipartisan bill for the 2019 legislative session that would amend Connecticut’s existing state laws to allow for online and in-person sports betting at Connecticut casinos.

State Senator-Elect Norm Needleman

The proposed law would include age and location verification requirements designed to block online access to persons under the age of 21 from betting on sports.

Since last May, when the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law banning sports wagering, eight states now offer legalized sports betting, including nearby Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. New York has passed enabling legislation but has not yet instituted sports betting, and several other U.S. states – including Connecticut – are now considering it.

Rhode Island – which just launched sports betting in November – estimates it will collect $11.5 million in new state revenue in its first seven months of operation.

“Connecticut needs to play catch-up with surrounding states if we’re serious about modernizing our existing gaming industry. Fortunately, we can do that with a relatively simple regulatory fix,” said Sen. Osten, who represents Ledyard and a portion of Montville, home to Connecticut’s two Native American tribes that already operate gaming casinos.

She continued, “The U.S. Supreme Court decision last year paved the way for the expansion of private-sector sports betting, and I think Connecticut is in a good position to take advantage of that. We have the infrastructure with the tribal casinos, we can use the new revenue, and we’ve got bipartisan support. This should be an early session success story.”

“Neighboring states are already ahead of Connecticut on sports betting, but I think it’s an issue we can quickly catch up on that will have positive employment, economic and revenue impacts on Connecticut, “ said Sen.-elect Norm Needleman (D-Essex). 

He noted, “Two of Connecticut’s top-10 largest employers will benefit from this bill. The U.S. Supreme Court has already cleared the way legally, so I believe it’s incumbent on us as state policymakers to do what’s necessary to remain relevant and profitable in a rapidly expanding new national industry.”

The bill, with the current working number of LCO 578, is co-sponsored by Sens. Osten, Steve Cassano, Paul Formica, Heather Somers, and Sen.-elect Needleman, and by state Reps. Ryan, Christine Conley, Emmett Riley, Joe de la Cruz, Susan Johnson, Doug Dubitsky, Mike France and Holly Cheeseman.

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Professional Nature Photographer to Speak Tonight at CT Valley Camera Club Meeting

The guest speaker at the Monday, Jan.7, 2019 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be professional nature photographer Michael Milicia. He will give a presentation titled, “Focus on Sharpness”.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn. All are welcome. There is no admission charge.

Capturing fine detail is often a critical element of a successful image. This presentation will explore a variety of tools and techniques which help to maximize image sharpness.  Milicia will take an in depth look at the many features and tuning options of today’s autofocus (AF) systems and how to best take advantage of them.

Other topics to be covered will include live view AF, mirrorless AF, back button focus, tripods and heads, long lens technique, handholding, and microfocus adjustment.

Milicia’s love of the outdoors is rooted in his time growing up in the rolling hills of rural Western Pennsylvania. After earning a Computer Science degree at Carnegie-Mellon University, he embarked on a 27-year-career as a Software Engineer which included stints at IBM, Digital Equipment Corporation, and Hewlett-Packard, as well as graduate studies at Syracuse University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

In 2005, he left the software industry to pursue a second career as a Nature Photographer specializing in birds and wildlife.

He strives to create images that include an artistic element and have an aesthetic appeal that transcends their role as natural history documentation.  Motivated by a love of nature, Milicia has a fascination with wildlife, and the never-ending challenge of finding that perfect combination of good light, cooperative subject, attractive setting, and beautiful background that allows him to create an artistically pleasing image. 

His passion for photography is rivaled only by his passion for teaching photography. During his years as a Software Engineer, he was continually faced with the need to analyze complex subjects and break them down in a well organized, step-by-step manner that made them easier to understand and communicate.

He finds that this approach also works quite well when teaching the technical aspects of photography. He enjoys teaching at all levels, whether it is helping beginners get acquainted with the world of digital photography or helping more experienced photographers take their images to the next level.

The CVCC is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers. The group offers a variety of presentations and interactive workshops to help members expand their technical and creative skills. Photographers of all levels of experience are welcomed. 

The club draws members from up and down the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook; from East Hampton to Old Lyme; and along the shoreline from Guilford to Mystic.

For more information, visit the club’s website at https://ctvalleycameraclub.smugmug.com. CVCC meeting dates, speakers/topics, and other notices are also published on the club’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage.

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Sign up for Spanish! Classes Held Thursdays at Ivoryton Library

IVORYTON — Sign up for weekly beginning Spanish classes starting at 4 p.m. on Thursdays at. Ivoryton Library, 106 Main St., in Ivoryton.

The teacher is Sara Bendetto, and the cost is $10 a class.

Register by calling the library at 860-767-1252.

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Kyle Zrenda Joins Suisman Shapiro as Firm’s Newest Associate

AREAWIDE — Kyle J. Zrenda has joined Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law as an associate on the firm’s civil litigation team, practicing in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and insurance health care law.

Attorney Kyle J. Zrenda

Prior to joining Suisman Shapiro, Attorney Zrenda was an associate at Vigorito, Barker, Patterson, Nichols and Porter, LLP in New York where he focused his practice on construction site accidents, premises liability, motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and health care law. Attorney Zrenda represented physicians, nurses, medical groups, hospitals, property owners, general contractors, and subcontractors throughout New York and Connecticut.

“We are pleased to welcome Kyle Zrenda to Suisman Shapiro,” said Managing Director John A. Collins, III. “Kyle just obtained an outstanding result in Bridgeport Superior Court and we know that his trial experience will further enhance our litigation team’s approach to aggressively representing our clients.”

Zrenda is Connecticut native who graduated from East Lyme High School. He received his B.A. from Boston College in 2010 and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2013, where he was an Associate Editor of the Quinnipiac Law Review.

Attorney Zrenda was admitted to the New York Bar in 2013, the Connecticut Bar in 2014, and is also admitted to practice in the Federal District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, and Northern Districts of New York. In 2017 and 2018, Attorney Zrenda was listed by Super Lawyers as a New York Metro “Rising Star” in the area of personal injury.

Suisman Shapiro is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut, serving the community for over 75 years with a wide range of legal services.

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Chester Celebrates ‘First Friday’ Tonight

This painting of Chester’s own ‘Starry Night’ is by Barbara Rossitto.

CHESTER – Chester’s First Friday festivities on Friday, Jan. 4, are a great way to kick off the new year with art exhibits, holistic health professionals and some post-holiday sales and deals. Downtown shops are open until 8 p.m., and many of your favorite Chester restaurants will have drink and appetizer specials.

Look for exhibitions at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery and The CHESTER GALLERY (76 Main Street); discussions with wellness advocates and samples and sales of essential oils and other products at Kismet Chester & GKD Designs (11 Main Street) and Lark (4 Water Street); and holiday specials at The French Hen (14 Main Street),Shops at the Mill House (5 West Main Street) and The Perfect Pear (51 Main Street).

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, on Water Street and on Maple Street.
More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by calling (860) 322-4047.
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Happy New Year!

We wish all our readers, advertisers and friends a very Happy New Year 2019.

We hope it brings you and yours peace, prosperity, good health and much happiness.

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