To what lengths would you go to save your child from the pain and possible death from cancer? Weed the People, a documentary that follows five families who, in a desperate effort to find treatment for their children’s cancer, obtain cannabis oils to give the young patients a better path to a cure. It was screened in Cambridge on April 8, 2019.
The team behind the film – director Abby Epstein, Emmy Award-winning TV host Ricki Lake, and producer James Costa, a Boston native known for the documentary Lunch Hour – was in town for the screening and question and answer session at the Landmark Square Cinema in Cambridge. The event was hosted by the Boston Globe’s Meredith Goldstein. It was a return to town, of sorts, as the documentary brought Lake and Epstein to Boston, specifically Harvard Medical School, where we see the medical efficacy of marijuana in cancer treatment is being studied.
The documentary, which was released late last year, also looks at the federal government’s reluctance to allowing marijuana to be accessible to all patients. (Currently 33 states allow medical marijuana and 10 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana for recreational use.) Weed the People is available for download and online viewing. For more on the film, click here.
Before the screening, styleboston.tv and LeftCoast.LA caught up with Ricki Lake and asked her a few questions about the documentary, the need for medical marijuana, and Dunkin’ Donuts and her other Boston connections.
Q: This project started with a 7-year-old girl reaching out to you at a time when the opioid crisis was coming to the front and center? How have people been reacting to this documentary?
A: The reactions to this documentary have been incredible. People seem to be ready to open their hearts and minds to the true medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant. Yes, the film began with a seven-year-old girl who was a fan of mine from “Dancing with the Stars.” She was undergoing chemotherapy and there were very few options to treat her condition. My late husband Christian Evans had been researching cannabis oil and CBD for his grandfather and we thought it might help this little girl as well because of the anti-tumor properties of the plant. That experience was how our film was born.
Q: Was there anything from the filming that surprised you?
A: One of the most surprising things for me personally was to see how well cannabis can actually work and how little you need to get therapeutic effect. You see one child in the film who was taking six OxyContin a day plus other pain relievers and after two days of taking a sesame seed-size dose of the concentrated cannabis oil, he was completely off the OxyContin. So not only was his pain gone but he was sleeping and eating, where on the opiates he was just vomiting and deteriorating.
Q: Here in Massachusetts we have embraced marijuana, first medical uses and later recreational. But even here, in a super-liberal blue state, it seems like people still don’t “get” the potential of what marijuana can do and the benefits of legalization of it.
A: Yes, there is such an intense stigma around the plant it is incredibly hard to break through, even in the medical community. Doctors have been trained that this is a drug abuse and of course the public has also been brainwashed into thinking this is a dangerous narcotic and a gateway to other substances, which is untrue. That’s been the revelation of this movie and we have shown it in places like Oklahoma City and weeks later they passed their referendum on medical cannabis! The film is a really powerful tool to help people understand the real potential of medical marijuana.
Q: As filmmakers you looked at the choices available to patients and parents. Have you seen changes since you started filming in those choices that the patients’ families have? In the attitudes of the medical community?
A: We’ve seen so many changes since we started this film back in 2012. At the time, a lot of the families were getting medicine from underground sources, medicine that wasn’t properly tested and in one case in the film you see it actually contained rubbing alcohol! In California the regulations have helped improve quality and testing for patients, but ironically the regulations have also made it harder for patients to access certain preparations and strengths. We’ve definitely seen the attitudes of the medical community change but it’s still way too slow and it seems to be that money and the green rush is what motivates most of the public perception changes these days.
Q: You and Abby set up a GoFundMe account for those in your project and others. It seems like this film pushed you in ways that a “typical” film project might.
A: Yes we set up a GoFundMe account for the kids in the film. All of them still take a maintenance dose of cannabis oil and one of the children is still in treatment. Unfortunately even the maintenance dose can run these families around $1,500 a month and it’s just not affordable without help. Our website is weedthepeoplemovie.com And you can make a donation there under the “get involved” menu tab.
Q: OK, a few Boston-centric questions. We know you’ve been to Boston before and even filmed a movie here, do you have any favorite things to do? Go see? Do you load up the carry-on with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee?
A: Oh yes, I grew up in New York so definitely a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts! I absolutely love Boston and have the best memories of shooting “Mrs. Winterbourne” there. I’m excited to share this film with the community.
Q: There’s always Provincetown, but the Fast Ferry is fully running this time of year. Do you get back to the area when you are not?
A: Yes, I have been to the Provincetown Film festival a few times and we screened my earlier documentary “the business of being born” there. My dear friend John Waters invites me there all the time.
Q: Many people know you from so many different things in your varied career. We imagine that people approach you with all kinds of references in your background, but we hope that none of the really whacky people are from Boston.
A: I definitely have some amazing fans from Boston! It’s a fantastic city and I’m so proud of Massachusetts for making cannabis accessible.
Q: Will you be stopping by the recently opened marijuana dispensary in Brookline?
A: I would love to check out the new dispensary Brookline! We are very fortunate that a local cannabis company called Green Line is sponsoring our Boston premiere screening. I love how Green Line is integrating social justice into their company philosophy. They are including members of the Roxbury community on their board and helping to repair some of the harms of the drug war on communities of color. I believe that social equity needs to be a major component of marijuana legalization.
SOUTH BOSTON — Enough NHL players to fill an All-Star roster turned out the other night for the Summer Happy Hour party at Coppersmith in South Boston to support The Corey C. Griffin Foundation.
The host committee included: Brian Boyle (New Jersey Devils); Paul Carey (Ottawa Senators); Charlie Coyle (Minnesota Wild); Ryan Donato (Boston Bruins); Mark Fayne (Edmonton Oilers); Brian Gibbons (Anaheim Ducks); Steve Greeley (Buffalo Sabres AGM); Noah Hanifin (Calgary Flames); Jimmy Hayes (New Jersey Devils); Kevin Hayes (New York Rangers); Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils); Jimmy Vesey (New York Rangers); Chris Wagner (Boston Bruins); Miles Wood (New Jersey Devils); and
Keith Yandle (Florida Panthers).
All photos by Bill Brett
To view full gallery, click here.
LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars people) has invited Kendrick Lamar, J.K. Rowling, and Audra McDonald among the 928 actors, writers, casting directors and others both in front of and behind the camera to join its growing membership. Today’s move comes as the Academy is trying to diversify its ranks.
This year’s record-number of new members invited tops 2017 with a previous record of 774 new members and that of 2016 when 683 new members were invited, according to Variety.
Among those invited to join the Academy today are several with Boston and New England ties including actors Cambridge native Mindy Kaling, who graduated from Buckingham, Browne & Nichols; Medford native Julianne Nicholson; and Sarah Silverman, who hails from New Hampshire. Invitees from the casting branch includes Sheila Jaffe, whose work on the Oscar-winning “The Fighter,” which starred Mark Wahlberg as boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, is among her enviable list of credits.
“The expansion of Academy membership to more than 8,200 stems from an ongoing effort to diversify its ranks following uproar over the lack of African-American nominees in 2015 and 2016, which culminated in 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy,” Variety wrote.
Most people might have slowed down by now. But Mary Higgins Clark is decidedly not most people. With more than 50 best-selling books to her credit (100 million copies of her thrillers are in print in the United States alone) and a new novel, I’VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU, just released, the “Queen of Suspense” is still on the move. In fact, this Bronx-born denizen of Saddle River, N.J., produces two books a year.
Clark, who celebrated her 90th birthday on Christmas Eve, always makes time for her many (many) fans and will put her pen down long enough to be recognized by her fellow writers. For her “distinguished service to the literary community,” the Authors Guild Foundation on May 16, 2018 will honor Clark, along Fulcrum Publishing’s Charlotte and Robert C. Baron, and Vida: Women in Literary Arts.
Beyond her prodigious and well-received work, Clark has been an indefatigable supporter of the FRAXA Research Foundation, a Massachusetts-based non-profit leading the way into research of Fragile X, the most common inherited form of autism.
Clark indulged our own (resident Clark fan) Carol Beggy in a few questions about her work, her fans, and her philanthropy.
CB: Mary, if I can be so bold as to call a literary hero by her first name, how do you do it? Specifically, you’ve continued to write books that resonate with readers when other authors would have taken their winnings and retired to the beach or the mountains.
MHC: Yes, call me Mary. It’s very flattering that readers have enjoyed my books over the last 43 years. I am at heart a storyteller. That’s what I do. I’m not much of a cook, although my five children did not starve to death. I can’t sew a stitch. Nothing I planted in the garden grew properly. So, what would I do all day if I didn’t write? I hope I never find out!
CB: Are your fans really as loyal as they seem? I overheard two people waiting at the airport, one was reading one of your books, and the conversation involved them first trying to not ruin any plot lines and then debating various stories you told. Do they engage you about your stories? How do you keep it all straight?
MHC: I have been blessed with many readers who say, and they mean it, “I’ve read every one of your books.” We’ve had a relationship that’s lasted over 40 years. I love it when readers tell me my book kept them up until 2:00 in the morning. It’s also great when they tell me which of my books is their favorite. It’s gratifying that their answers are many different titles.
CB: Even within the industry, you have a large following of fans. I have been at Book Expo, the annual publishing industry trade show, and when you are doing a signing the editors, librarians, other authors in attendance “fight” for a spot in your line. (You and James Patterson get that same treatment.) Does it ever surprise you or make you pause that you’ve achieved a kind of rock star status?
MHC: I can honestly say I am living my dream. I know so many people who are wonderful writers who can’t make a living doing it, who get very modest contracts if they can get published at all. I must share a story from the old days. The first book I wrote was a historical novel on George Washington. Its title was ASPIRE TO THE HEAVENS. This was 1968. I would go around to the few bookstores that carried it and volunteer to autograph the copies. In those days the stores could not return a signed book for credit, so every signed book meant a sale. I made a pact with God. If I ever become famous, I’ll never refuse a request to sign a book. I’ll always remember that a signed book meant a sale.
CB: I have a Little Free Library (one of those take a book, leave a book, swapping stations) in front of my house. Your books, any time or format, are among the fastest moving. I put one in the Library’s shelf and it is gone. I even saw an older man take one telling me that he loves to read your books, but people give him a hard time. Has it ever surprised you to learn that someone was a fan?
MHC: My publisher tells me that about three quarters of the people who buy my books are women. But I’ve been delighted to hear from so many men who became readers when their wife, girlfriend or mother insisted that they give my books a try.
CB: As new audiences find you, do you ever want to go back and re-tell a story or re-do a book?
MHC: Not really. Whenever I finish a book, I say, okay, I’ve told the best story I can possibly tell. The only time I have regret, and maybe that’s too strong a word, is when a lot of readers tell me they figured out early on who the killer was, and they were right. I remember in one of my early books I introduced a character who was expert at imitating other people’s voices. That skill makes people very uncomfortable, and they immediately suspected him. I try to keep readers guessing, but when the killer is revealed, I want the reader to agree that there were clues along the way that built a case for this person to be the killer. Nobody likes an ending that comes out of left field.
CB: I understand your son Dave plays an important role in your writing. Can you tell me about that?
MHC: Dave started working with me about five years ago. In the beginning he was doing research and handling my email correspondence with my editor. I developed arthritis in my hands and typing became difficult. I started dictating to Dave. He would bring back what I wrote with some suggestions on how things might be said differently. They were good. It quickly evolved into talking plots and characters with him and the results have been very good. Dave came up with idea for my current book, I’VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU.
CB: Now to the non-writing work that you and your family have dedicated yourselves to: advancing research toward improved treatments and a cure for Fragile X, which affects your grandson. What’s the most important thing people who have not been directly affected by this genetic condition should know about it?
MHC: It’s not always obvious that a child has Fragile X, so if you see a child who is having a hard time – anxious, afraid. having a meltdown – it’s quite possible that they are doing the very best they can. But despite challenges, most people with Fragile X are very friendly and love humor.
CB: Fragile X has been a cause close to your heart. Tell us why it’s so important to you?
MHC: There are so many worthy causes and diseases to be cured, but the impact is greatest when it hits close to home. When my grandson was born, his parents quickly became aware of a relatively new organization called FRAXA Research Foundation. Almost 30 years ago, shortly after my grandson was diagnosed, Katie Clapp and Mike Tranfaglia came to my house, shared the story of their son Andy and how they were devoting their lives to finding treatments and a cure. I was so moved that I pledged $1 million to FRAXA and I hosted a fundraising gala in New York City.
CB: You and now so many members of your family are big supporters of FRAXA Research Foundation. Could you tell us a little bit about FRAXA?
MHC: FRAXA is a national 501c3 nonprofit founded in 1994 in Newburyport, MA. FRAXA’s mission is to find effective treatments and a cure for Fragile X, the most common inherited cause of intellectual disabilities and autism. To date, FRAXA has invested over $27 million into cutting edge biomedical research, yielding discoveries that are changing the lives of families coping with fragile X.
CB: Of the many FRAXA fundraising parties/events you’ve attended, tell me about the one when your granddaughter Elizabeth gave a remarkable speech, “This is my brother”, about her brother David who has Fragile X.
MHC: I thought it was remarkable. Elizabeth has always been so wonderful in how she has gone out of way include her brother in every facet of her life. I’ll never forget her line, “I judge people by the way they treat my brother.”
CB: How can people help?
MHC: There are two ways people can help. Research is expensive. FRAXA is such a worthy cause. And the research they are doing is making a difference in the lives of those affected by Fragile X. There’s another way the relatives and friends can help a family with a child who has Fragile X. Many of them are so good about minding the kids so the parents can have a break. What they should also consider is the sacrifice that siblings of Fragile X kids make. If you can take care of the child with Fragile X while the family and the non-affected siblings have a chance to do an activity together, that is so helpful. We should remember that the siblings of kids with Fragile X are really special, too.
By Joane Nelson
LA JOLLA, Calif.—Those who were lucky enough to be at the ArcLight Cinema for the U.S. premiere of “I’m Not Here,” on April 25 will not soon forget the special night. If, alas, you were not at the San Diego International Film Festival VIP pre-screening on Wednesday night, then you missed out on a thought-provoking, exclusive screening with a theater packed with people excited to see J.K. Simmons do what he does best.
The film “I’m Not Here” is directed by Michelle Schumacher, whose star is her husband, Academy Award-winner Simmons. It was nothing short of amazing. In addition to Simmons, the features Mandy Moore and Sebastian Stan, who can be seen in “Avengers: Infinity Wars” and “I, Tonya.”
There’s really no way to describe this feature without any spoiler alerts but we have to try: Simmons plays a man at the end of his rope who’s dealt with problems that a lot of people can relate to. The film’s teasing logline is “A man struggles with the tragic memories of his past to make sense of his present, but soon realizes that time isn’t the enemy he thinks it is.”
In addition to the pre-screening, SDIFF also announced it had a new sponsor, the blue chip financial investment company, Morgan Stanley, which was represented by several staff including systems and policy expert VR Raman. Also in attendance were members of styleboston.tv and LeftCoast.LA.
Tonya Mantooth, CEO of SDIFF, led a lively post-screening Q & A panel with Simmons, Schumacher, and others who held nothing back as the night was full of thoughtful conversation, drinks, and laughs.
(Screening location: ArcLight La Jolla, 4425 La Jolla Village Drive, CA 92122.)
Speaking of movie director Michelle Schumacher, J.K. Simmons talked about the important qualities she brought to the production, including her sense of purpose, her detailed preparations and an ability to adapt to different situations. Michelle on her part told the SDIFF audience that the production was very dear to her heart. She thanked everyone who supported the project and described the movie as a low budget production which was made possible through the collaboration of friends and family.
Answering questions from the audience during the prescreening of the movie, Simmons talked about how he decided to shed more than 20 pounds to play the role of an emaciated 60-year-old alcoholic. According to him, he had a choice between getting emaciated or bloated for the movie role but he chose the former.
He and Michelle also talked about similarities/differences between the movie characters and real life.
In “I’m Not Here” J.K. Simmons played a remarkable character that did not speak a single word throughout the movie. He told the audience during the SDIFF prescreening that he had to completely immerse himself in the screenplay to prepare for the movie role. He said he was able to make a success out of it by relying on the guidance of the movie director
Photographer Steven Tackeff is a Boston area native who recently returned to his favorite professional subject: photographing concerts and capturing the music scene.
BOSTON – We now have a date.
After two years of being dark and undergoing an extension renovation, the Emerson Colonial Theatre will re-open on June 27 with the world premiere of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” producers Global Creatures and the Ambassador Theatre Group announced.
The historic Boston theater, the anchor of Boston’s Theater District, will re-open on June 27 for just 36 performances. “Moulin Rouge!,” is based on the Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film of the same name, and is expected to transfer to Broadway for a run. “Moulin Rouge! The Musical, will play this limited engagement at the newly refurbished venue at 106 Boylston St.
The Colonial, long known for its amazing acoustics, launched many legendary shows from its storied stage on Boylston Street, including “Anything Goes,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Oklahoma!,” “Born Yesterday,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “Grand Hotel,” and “La Cage aux Folles.”
Tickets for the musical go on sale on Wednesday, January 17 and start at $55. They are available at EmersonColonialTheatre.com or by calling 866.616.0272. (In-person purchases will be possible when the theater’s box office opens at a later date.)
Although casting has not yet been announced, the musical is directed by Alex Timbers (A Tony nominee for “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “Peter and the Starcatcher”) with a book by John Logan, in photo, (Tony Award for “Red”) and choreography by Sonya Tayeh.
As in Luhrmann’s film, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” celebrates some of the greatest popular music of the last 50 years. The stage musical promises to feature many of the iconic songs from the movie and also includes recent hits released since the movie premiered 15 years ago.
There’s no mistaking when Mario Frangoulis takes the stage. The only thing that is crisper than his clothes is his remarkable voice. A sterling tenor that has taken this singer-actor to some of the world’s greatest stages and allowed him to perform in opera, classical theater and popular West End musicals. Born in Africa and raised in Greece, Frangoulis was trained at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was discovered by legendary Broadway creator Sir Cameron Mackintosh. His “Mario Frangoulis: Sing Me An Angel” tour launches on Saturday, March 25th at the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University in Cambridge. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are still available. (https://www.mariofrangoulis.com/concerts)
STYLEBOSTON: Classical performers, particularly tenors, are known for being put together (tux, tails), but traditionally haven’t been known as fashion-forward trendsetters (those tux, tails). And then there’s you. You have made headlines for your “style.” Where does your sense of style come from?
MARIO: I have always cared about fashion and how it is influenced by the various changes in our society, the political climate, the style of music and the arts. In so many ways, styling itself gives an “identity” to an artist, “signature” clothes, and one’s own style. I have been extremely lucky to meet great designers at such a young age in my life and career. Donna Karan, for example, dressed me on my first album “Sometimes I Dream.” Valentino designed my first tuxedos early on in my career and let me launch his Red Label tuxedos. Giorgio Armani designed all of the suits, costumes and clothes for the movie “De Lovely” starring Kevin Klein and Ashley Judd in which I wore a great Shakespearean period costume designed by Armani himself! He was also a very cool person to meet. Lately I have been dressed exclusively by Ermenegildo Zegna.
STYLEBOSTON: Do you have a favorite designer? A favorite piece in your wardrobe?
MARIO: I had the chance to meet the unique Ralph Lauren at an exclusive party at Bloomingdales and I have to admit that his casual-wear clothes are the best! Very comfortable and all time classic. I have many jackets by Ralph Lauren that I also wear with jeans for press conferences and casual smart occasions. One of my very favorite designers these days is Tom Ford. His tuxedos are incredible —especially the great thick and old-fashioned but contemporary lapels. Tom Ford’s tuxedo has to be my favorite piece in my entire wardrobe!
STYLEBOSTON: Just as you have made an impression for your style, you are known for your versatility on stage. Do you prefer traditional opera over Broadway or West End musicals? How does traditional Greek music fit into your repertoire?
MARIO: Opera is my first love. West End musicals, however, especially “Les Miserables” was my first big adventure on stage. The costumes were actually designed by the Greek-Cypriot English costume and Tony Award-winning designer Andreane Neofitou. Playing Marius, the romantic lead, gives me so much theatrical and stage experience.
As you said in your question, I truly enjoy being versatile on stage, and this really represents who I am. I enjoy being different in every role I play: from Raoul in “The Phantom of the Opera” to Tony in “West Side Story” at Teatro Alla Scala to the King in “The King and I” and so many leading roles in ancient Greek drama, like “Prometheus Bound,” a Titan who defies the gods and gives fire to mankind, acts for which he is subjected to perpetual punishment. Achilles was a great role for me in the ancient theatre in Epidaurus in the year of the Olympic games in 2004. It was the first time this great Ancient Greek play was presented after 2,500 years. It is a trilogy by the great dramatist Aeschylus and was so full of great adventures, heroic battles and fate itself which one cannot escape from. Dionysus, however in “The Bacchae” was the most challenging of all roles. Dionysus, the protagonist of Euripides, “Bacchae,” is one big contradiction. The character embodies many of the dualities that we see throughout the play. First of all, in some ways he represents both human and god. Dionysus definitely has all the powers of a god. He summons earthquakes, lightning, and has a knack for getting into people’s heads, driving them insane!
Another interesting duality is that Dionysus is foreign and Greek at the same time. He was born in Greece, but his religion, for some reason, first spread in Asia. Another contradiction is that Dionysus in some ways represents both male and female. Yes, he is a male god, but the mortal form he takes is said to be quite effeminate. Dionysus also had a strange birth. The play itself is full of dualities and that is what I love about it!
Perhaps the play is trying to say that everything that exists is also its opposite at the very same time—more specifically, that we as human beings are inherently contradicted. We’re all both rational and irrational. All humans are animals, but there’s also something special that undeniably separates us from the rest of Earth’s living creatures.
Though we all (or at least most of us) belong to one gender or another, there are things about all of us that don’t quite fit into the role that society prescribes to specific sexes. Even though everybody is from somewhere, we’re all a foreigner somewhere else. Sometimes we even become foreigners in our own homes. Lastly, even though we’re certainly mortal, maybe, just maybe, some part of us is eternal and divine. It seems to us, that in the character of Dionysus, Euripides captured many of the amazing contradictions that make up every human being.
In music and in theater, I must be flexible, adapting to what’s happening around me, and experimenting with new and unique combinations of music and acting skills—this also translates to my sense of personal style. Life is a mosaic of experiences that make up who we are—there is no one “right” way to do anything…everything I do has to do with my truth, my feelings and my identity. That is why Greek music is always part of my repertoire—not only because of the beauty of the language, but also because it is core to who I am and my identity as a human being. I can’t imagine a performance without Greek music…my style is the same way… in everything I do I strive for simplicity… I was trained to respect simplicity in my voice/singing, I was raised to admire simplicity in my personal life, and my aesthetic reflects this value.
STYLEBOSTON: Do you have a favorite stage to perform on or favorite venue to perform in? A favorite performer to appear with? Or, symphony to perform with? (No pressure to say Symphony Hall or the Boston Pops…)
MARIO: I love Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops! Symphony Hall in Boston is an amazing venue and acoustically one of the best in the world. We did an “epic” show there in 2012 that aired on public television across the country and I will never forget it. I have performed in Boston many times. It is one of my favorite cities to perform in. I love the combination of history with young energy (all the students). It has a European feel to it, and it is next to the ocean, which is so beautiful. Of course performing in venues like Milan’s La Scala and my favorite Herod Atticus at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens is tough competition! But Boston is certainly up there!
I have had the pleasure of performing with such a huge range of talented artists—from Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras to Justin Hayward and Klaus Meine to Lara Fabian and Sarah Brightman to Natalie Cole, Tina Arena and Smokey Robinson. The list goes on and on!
What I have enjoyed so much about Boston are the fantastic young and talented musicians, many of them from Berklee College of Music. I have a passion for supporting young musicians and I love to walk the halls at night when we are rehearsing and feel the energy of all of that great young talent ready to take over the world.
STYLEBOSTON: How did it come to be that Boston was the first location on this US tour?
MARIO: We have been talking with my team for a while about returning to one of my favorite venues in Boston—the Sanders Theatre at Harvard. That theatre is amazing and the acoustics are fantastic. We’ve always performed great shows on that stage full of amazing positive energy. I always get so much energy and love from this city and have many friends here who I can call my family. We decided that since WGBH has been such a supporter over the years, and we got a great date to start the 2017 concert series here, why not “come home” to Boston?
STYLEBOSTON: Do you have any favorite haunts, places or stops in Boston?
MARIO: Of course I love to walk around the Boston Common and Newbury Street; Harvard Square and brunch at the Charles Hotel is always a great favorite! Lobster and crab at Legal Sea Foods on the Harbor is great as well. There is a long list and it, of course, includes Symphony Hall, and also Harvard Yard. I love to walk in Boston. Bostonians have a certain casual sophistication that makes me feel very at ease.
BOSTON—Despite a rainy May 1st, the 48th annual Walk for Hunger & 5K Run brought together more than 35,000 neighbors to raise money to fund hunger-relief programs throughout the state. In the morning, participants were greeted by some of Boston’s biggest on-air personalities from Project Bread’s partners, including iHeart Media radio stations, Kiss 108, JAM’N 94.5, and 101.7 The Bull. Kiss 108’s legendary morning show host Matt Siegel was joined by Frankie & Ashlee, Lisa Donovan and Billy Costa. WHDH-TV Boston’s 7News anchors Kim Khazei and Adam Williams joined Jeremy Reiner on location for the morning weather, and Sarah French cooked up healthy school lunch recipes with Project Bread’s Chef Educators in the Snack Station.
The Snack Station was a new feature to the Walk for Hunger’s Walk Village, presented by the Walk’s flagship sponsor Arnold Bread. After crossing the finish-line, completing a 10-mile scenic route through Boston and Cambridge, Walkers were entertained by performances from the Main Stage while re-fueling with an Arnold Bread sandwich and sampling other treats from Shake Shack, KIND, Polar, and more.
All money raised from participants of the Walk funds more than 300 critical hunger-relief programs, including: food pantries, soup kitchens, community gardens, summer meal programs, and more. To make a donation to support the Walk for Hunger please visit www.projectbread.org/walk.
For his latest (soon-to-be) bestseller, “Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs and the Greatest Wealth in History,” Ben Mezrich turns his laser-like gaze to the high-stakes story of two Russian oligarchs. The rise and fall of Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich may seem more like a Robert Ludlum novel than a Ben Mezrich-crafted true-crime account, but Ben, who lives and writes in Boston, covers this new turf like a seasoned foreign correspondent. The author of a dozen books, including “The Accidental Billionaires” (which became the Oscar-winning film “The Social Network”), Ben sat down with our own Carol Beggy just a couple of days after the book’s release to talk about his “first grown up book,” what he learned while researching some of the world’s wealthiest (and most corjrupt) people, and what his next project is going to be. And, yes, he talks about his next Hollywood deal.
(Ed. Note: Ben’s wife, Tonya, is styleboston’s chief fashion correspondent.)
Video produced by V-Neck Media
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Boston was represented at BookExpo America—right from the start. The line to have B.A. Shapiro sign advanced copies of “The Muralist” snaked around the corner of the Algonquin Books booth on the first day of BookExpo America but the novelist still took the time to chat with her fans. As those with Massachusetts’ ties reached the Boston-based novelist’s signing area, the topic quickly changed to the 1990 heist of the 13 precious works of art, including an important Rembrandt seascape. “I hope that they are found one day. I hope they aren’t lost,” she told one fan from Western Massachusetts. It’s not just a passing interest for Shapiro, who has also taught creative writing at Northeastern and sociology at Tufts. Shapiro’s bestselling novel of a couple of years ago, “The Art Forger,” explored the underworld of art theft and forgery. “The Muralist” is set in 1940 and centers on an American painter who disappears and neither her family living in German-occupied France nor her patron, Eleanor Roosevelt, knows what happened to her. The 352-page book is scheduled to be released on Nov. 3.
Other novels from Algonquin that are already getting notice—and it’s only Day 1 of BEA, the country’s largest book industry convention—are Jonathan Evison’s “This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!” due out on Sept. 8; Ron Childess’ “And West is West,” due out Nov. 13; and “The Fall of Princes” by Robert Goolrick due out Aug. 25.
HarperCollins offered a tease (just a booklet sample) of T.J. English’s “Where the Bodies Were Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him,” about the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, which will be released on Sept. 15. The booklet, copies of which English signed, is the book’s introduction and promises to be a review of Bulger’s “reign of terror.”
From the BEA Editors’ Buzz Panel: Grand Central Publishing’s release of Julie Checkoway’s non-fiction tale “The Three-Year Swim Club,” due out on Oct. 27, 2015; Dr. Damon Tweedy’s highly anticipated “Black Man in a White Coat,” from Picador, which will be released on Sept. 8; Dan Marshall’s memoir “Home is Burning” will be released by Flatiron Books on Oct. 20; Simon & Schuster’s imprint Scout Press makes its debut with Ruth Ware’s haunting novel, “In a Dark, Dark Wood,” which is due out this summer; “City on Fire,” is Garth Risk Hallberg’s sweeping debut novel set against the backdrop of the 1977 blackout that nearly crippled New York City, which Knopf will release on Oct. 13; and, finally, Boston-based fiction writer Ottesa Moshfegh’s “Eileen,” which Penguin Press will release on Aug. 18.
When the convention floor opens on the first day there is a rush—not a run, but at a clip that could quickly turn to a stampede—by attendees to grab the copies of the advanced reader copies (ARCs) of the hottest titles. We didn’t want to miss out so we risked our safety and road the wave of librarians heading toward the Hachette area. For those of you who aren’t “label queens” when it comes to your reading, Hachette is the parent company of Little, Brown and Company, which will publish Sunil Yapa’s anticipated novel “The Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist” on Jan. 12, 2016. The bright yellow cover of this debut novel set against the conflict of Seattle’s 1999 WTO protests was an easy way to spot the literary trophy hunters. And Hachette’s Grand Central Publishing has Pulitzer Prize winner Oscar Hijuelos’ “Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise,” slated to be released on Nov. 3, 2015. In this novel, Hijuelos looks at the real-life relationship of Mark Twain and Sir Henry Morton Stanley. For those who love historical fiction, this will be on their “wish lists.”
One of the fastest growing segment’s of the publishing industry is the young adult category (called “YA” in the biz) and while it would be impossible to say which title was the hottest, it can be said without fear of argument that Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s “Illuminae: The Illuminae Files__01” is a book, from Alfred A. Knopf for Young Readers that will make some waves when it is released on Oct. 20. With an elaborate layout and design, the book is that rare find: it offers enough to get both male and female younger readers to pick up a nearly 600-page book.
Another first day stop is the booth for Soho Press, which is known for finding the brightest new voices in crime fiction, where they were promoting Matt Bell’s “Scrapper,” a novel about a Detroit that never rebounds from its economic depths. Think that might not be enough to base your fall reading list on? How’s this for an opening sentence: “See the body of the plant, one hundred years of patriots’ history, fifty years an American wreck.” Soho also has Peter Lovesey’s “Down Among the Dead Men,” a Chief Superintendent Peter Diamond investigation story, out this July and “One Man’s Flag,” by David Downing, which is a follow-up to his “Jack of Spies.” Set in 1914, “One Man’s Flag” covers a lot of history and territory and works, we were told, without having read the first installment. The book is due out in November.
We’ll be back with Day 2’s roundup.
Stopping by the Harvard Book Store to get a copy of “Master Thieves” by Stephen Kurkjian seemed easy enough. (I’ve always thought the hardest part about shopping at the store is finding a parking spot or making the trek up from the Red Line station.) Then I started to puruse the “staff recommendations” and look at the “signed editions” available for sale in the Massachusetts Avenue shop.
First, let me say that the staff at the Harvard Book Store takes the idea of recommendations seriously, very seriously. This staff has a running list of the “Top 100” as well as their own—printed on-demand—book with staff recommendations.
And the “Staff Recommendation” section contains more than 750 suggestions online. Here are a few I’d recommend as well:
[ezcol_1half]First up is a pick from store staffer Ben N., which he says is “not quite like anything I’ve ever read,” the novel “The Man With the Compound Eyes,” by Wu Ming-Yi.
Melissa L.-O. calls Sarah Manguso’s book of essays “Ongoingness: The End of a Diary”, which was released by Graywolf Press on March 3, “a dazzling philosophical investigation of the challenge of living in the present.” High praise, indeed.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]And, like all of us who love books, the Harvard Book Store is celebrating the life of Terry Pratchett, the acclaimed author of 40 “Discworld” books, who died this month in England.
The store recommends this young readers (ages 8 to 12) book “Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales,” a specially released “never-before-published collection of 14 funny and inventive tales.” It is a great way to celebrate the life of this talented writer.[/ezcol_1half_end]
If you love books, you’ve really got to like Newtonville Books. First, let me just note how much affection I have for any bookstore that keeps a separate area for Europa Editions. Yes, I’m judging a book by its cover (they are wonderfully designed) and by its content. Europa is the publisher of dozens of notable novelists including Fabio Bartolomei, Seth Greenland, and Elena Ferrante, whose “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay” has become a book club staple since its release in September 2014. (It is the third in a series.)
Speaking of book clubs, Newtonville hosts a half dozen book clubs. The store runs and stocks a number of books that are favorites of area book clubs. The selection is well-curated to reflect a broad taste – both popular and new and titles that have been on shelves for a while and might just be gaining a following.
But back to the task at hand: The Staff Picks. This bookstore’s staff clearly has as much love for fiction as it does for non-fiction (something that appears to be rarer than I might have guessed.)
Some of the staff choices that I’d like to point out:
David Peace’s “The Damned UTD,” which The Times of London called “probably the best novel ever written about sport.” The book was originally released in 2006 and was made into a movie. (See The Guardian’s review here: I would suggest, Peace’s book from last May, “Red or Dead” but I do so with a warning. It is a 700-page experimental novel about a soccer coach. Yeah, I know.
Notable in the non-fiction category is Eula Bliss’s “On Immunity: An Inoculation” from Gray Wolf Press that was released last fall. This title was among the “Buzz Panel” titles from last spring’s Book Expo America, which means that the industry and stores had a head’s up about the its release. What I can’t figure is that why a book about how humans are afraid of vaccinations hasn’t prompted even more discussion. Even if this book weren’t as well written and researched (and, I hate to admit an easy to read and share 216 pages), it should be a book all parents are required to read.
[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]And, finally, something from the staff recommendations that you can just enjoy as we wait for the weather to get nicer: “The Good Lord Bird,” the National Book Award winner by James McBride. It’s a historical novel with a raft of new characters and voices. McBride, who was first trained as a journalist, imbues the book with historical accuracy and precision that shines throughout.[/ezcol_1half_end]
Newtonville Books, 10 Langley Road, Newton Centre, MA
When newly minted Super Bowl champ Rob Gronkowski appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Monday night, the host asked the dancing tight end if he would read an excerpt from Lacey Noonan’s erotic novel “A Gronking to Remember.” Not one to be easily embarrassed, No. 87 told Kimmel that he’d give it a go, but that he hadn’t read a book “since the ninth grade.” Gronk even referred to that last book as “A Mocking to Remember” and then “A Mockingbird to Remember.”
That got us thinking that now that Gronkowski is in the off-season, we’d make a vacation reading list for him. (I asked the help of our Facebook friends to offer some suggestions as well.)
The Gronkowski Summer Reading List:
- Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” (or the Gregory Peck movie adaptation) since Scout & Co. didn’t seem to leave much of a lasting impression. And, Gronk can be caught up when the new sequel is released.
- Nicole Barrick Chiasson suggested we “keep it classic and start easy?” So her suggestion is Maurice Sendak’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are.”
- Kathleen Drohan wrote that she thought Gronk should have some spirituality on his readling list so she proposed “The Tao of Pooh.”
- Meg Harris gave a twist on Don Miguel Ruiz’ “The Four Agreements” and suggested that Gronk might create “The Four Agronkments: 1. No Readin’ 2. No Writin’ 3. No ‘rithmetic 4. Girls
- Ryan Bruner thinks that maybe Gronkowski would make for the perfect replacement in “The Gronk That Stole Christmas.”
- styleboston’s dear friend Mary J. Kakas “went there” and suggested Gronk might first start with elocution lessons, but lightened up a bit and said that he should read “War and Peace.”
- Cathy Kleinbart made such a wonderful suggestion that we almost claimed we thought of it: “Make Way for Ducklings.”
And, we’d like to throw on the list the not-yet-released (due in March from Triumph books) “Pumped” by the staff of the Boston Globe. Yes, that’s its actual title.
By the way, since Gronkowski’s appearance on Kimmel’s show, “A Gronking…” has since risen to a “No. 1 Bestseller” on Amazon.com.
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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