Left In Lowell

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October 4, 2014

Open Studios Weekend! And, What’s Playing at Luna?

by at 10:42 am.

I meant to post this last week but…well you know.

Anyway, heading out in a little bit for Open Studios weekend, 12-5 both Sat and Sun, a great time to see a lot of great arts and crafts (and BUY some! Start your holiday shopping, guys!).

Of note:

Mill No 5 is holding a special A Little Bazaar, “Wrong Brain,” which is a collaboration with an arts group out of the seacoast of New Hampshire. As noted on the Facebook page, “A Marketplace of Strange, Unconventional, Underground, and Alternative Goods!” Definitely on my must-do list today.

I’m also going to hit ALL and the ALL gallery as well. (Facebook page here.) Probably Appleton Mills, as well, just to see how they are doing.

I might even get active on my @leftinlowell Twitter account with pic and notes, so keep an eye out!


Also, last night was date night with the Mr., ending with a Luna show after a nice meal (and excellent drinks) at Tremonte. It was good because I was having a kind of rotten day (nothing specific, just little things) so the fact that we had great places to eat out and a great venue to see a movie was a real pick-me-up. We saw Magic in the Moonlight, a Woody Allen movie with Colin Firth and Emma Stone. The acting was great, but Stone totally shone the brightest. It’s a 1920s character study, about a skeptic and a purported psychic he’s trying to debunk. Great dialog (it’s Woody Allen after all). The trailer:

There’s a 5:05 showing tonight (perfectly timed for the end of today’s Open Studio hours!) and one tomorrow (Sunday) at 2:35.

Life After Beth also looks fun. If you are into romantic comedy zombie movies this is your flick! It’s playing this weekend and beyond (fitting, since Halloween is coming up). Since I’m a huge fan of Shawn of the Dead…well, I might have to go see it some time. :)

And finally, of course, at 10:05 tonight, the phenomenon which is the Rocky Horror Picture Show will be showing at Luna! I’ve never quite gotten into the cult aspect of this, but people love it and have a lot of fun with it. I can certainly respect that level of geekdom, so if it’s your thing, tonight’s your chance!

Luna’s got their full calendar for October up, and there are a bunch more movies on the list so go check them out!

September 23, 2014

Le Vieux Théâtre, Renaître

by at 10:36 pm.

 photo 2818f001-c0c8-4b78-b9c1-1ede80491ce1_zps1dc8f758.jpgThis weekend Lowell obtained a gem of a new old treasure. Although I could not make the opening this past weekend, I was already in love with Mill No 5’s new Luna Theatre. (Damn my cousin for being born this weekend which put a priority on visiting her mom at the hospital! Kidding…mostly.)

I got a second chance tonight though with a free, MRT-sponsored, cohosted by Lowell Film Collaborative showing of Julie Mallozzi’s 2004 local documentary, Monkey Dance. Yep, love at first sight as I walked down the hall and saw the big illuminated Luna sign! I had seen the pictures from this weekend, and the work-in-progress (I knew about the armchairs), but the experience is something else.

I hadn’t been able to make any previous showing of the documentary (shamefully), which follows three second-gen Cambodian teens who struggle with growing up, making choices, all in the context of trying to learn about their culture and being a part of the Angkor Dance Troupe (another thing I can’t say enough good things about). The movie was great, and afterwards we got to ask questions of the three teens, now young adults, from the movie. All of whom have moved back to Lowell after college, and all of whom are involved in one way or another with the troupe and with making a positive impact in Lowell. The MRT ran this screening, with another one next week of Still I Strive, because of their current stage production of Year Zero, a “comedic drama” about a Cambodian-American teen.

Phew! That was a mouthful of links to find. :) The event itself was great, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it was the atmosphere of the theatre itself which was the most exciting.

Now, I’m not the biggest movie buff…I like them, of course, but I’m more of a novel type of girl. Don’t ask me about my book collection - visible and invisible (on the Kindle). It’s not small, and moving is always a chore. But I adore the Lowell Film Collaborative and Suzzanne and Brett (and baby now of course!) and it’s so great that the Luna has given them a place to call home. And I love their enthusiasm for movies. :)

Mill No 5 is already just darned awesome, with its “Little Bazaar” events (if you haven’t gone to one, you have to go…next one is Saturday, Oct 4th), brand new coffee house Coffee and Cotton - from which I tried my first kombucha, a trendy drink which swept the west coast and has apparently landed in Lowell. Despite its weird description, it was pretty good. I don’t really go in for the health benefit claims (I’m always skeptical about that), but I’m all for classing up Lowell, so there you go. Also, it meant supporting this fab new coffee shop so, even better!

But the Luna Theatre really caps MN5, and makes it…well, THE COOLEST PLACE IN LOWELL. Hands down. No contest. Yes, I love the Brush and the Whistler House and MRT and ALL and downtown. But y’all just got bumped down a notch.

There is of course fresh made popcorn, soda, and candy for sale. (And, at reasonable prices I might add, not like the big box movie theatres). The vintage, glowing signage, the red armchairs and little side tables, the beautiful wood floors all polished and finished grandly…the whole thing works in concert to transform you into another era. If that doesn’t do it, the classic animated movie intros (buy Orange Crush!) or other commercials from your childhood will do it.

Luna also showed some of its Coming Attractions, and the movie selection is really cool…I very much want to catch Finding Vivian Maier, and Frank seems really fun and quirky. You might recognize the movie Snowpiercer. They run movies Thursday through Sunday, which surprised me - they have quite the ambitious schedule!

So even though I am not the biggest movie buff out there, I have to say, Luna Theatre might convert me. Access to independent movie-house films on a regular basis…is something Lowell greatly lacked. In fact, most communities lack it, unless you live in Boston or Cambridge. Lowell is lucky to have Luna…so let’s make sure Luna is successful beyond its wildest dreams.

Le vieux théâtre, renaître…the old theatre, reborn. Step back in time with some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

July 9, 2014

Marketing GENIUSES

by at 7:09 pm.

Lately the talk on City Council has been about marketing the city. Because, you know, we’ve never really done that before, ever. It’s not like an organization called COOL, or any other entity in the city, has ever done any sort of advertising, campaign rollout, or viral marketing.

Of course, a lot of this silliness comes from the mouth of one Corey Belanger, who, besides his customary 2,340 average uses of the phrase “quite frankly” on a given Tuesday night (followed closely by “I’d like to inform my colleagues” like they don’t know anything, which, granted, for many of them is true), has noticed that his poor dive bar downtown is quite empty. How do I know? I, and others I know personally, have walked by that place at prime time for bars and have witnessed it for ourselves.

You see, there must be something the city can do for Corey to help his business - why else would he be a Councilor? If it’s not the parking fee enforcement preventing patrons from his otherwise worthy establishment, it’s panhandlers, teenagers from the high school, the tagline being supposedly dropped (Lot to Like…) or any other number of bugaboos.

Right now (as of last night) he’s on an anti-affordable-housing kick, cuz, you know, there’s so few market rate apartments within stumbling distance from Wicked Major’s Pub or whatever the hell he’s calling it this month, except, of course, if you go around the corner to Fuse, Tremonte’s, Centro, El Potro, The Old Court, Cobblestones, Blue Taleh, etc etc and see how packed those places are. And they are, I know from experience…as a DINK couple again, Chris and I are enjoying spreading the wealth to many downtown establishments. We love downtown…parking fees, panhandlers, and affordable housing notwithstanding. But we don’t hit Major’s Wicked Empty Bar.

So how are we marketing the city and getting Lowell in the news? Is it for our upcoming Folk Fest, which I’ve been talking up to work colleagues and anyone else that will listen? Is it the art venues or the theatre? The great restaurants?

Oh no, no, and no again. It’s something MUCH grander! The City Council, in its utter idiocy, got Lowell in the news today for…wanting to go back to an enforced teenage curfew. Drawing attention in the meantime to some of the high profile shootings that have happened. A work colleague today, not prompted by anything, asked me, “What’s with that curfew thing in Lowell??”

Maybe this City Council is practicing the Reverse Psychology school of marketing…hoping that by getting all the negative stuff in the New England news market, people will think good things?

Let’s set aside for a moment that this curfew idea is a worthless, knee-jerk reaction to a problem that it will have nothing to do with solving. Let’s pretend that the shootings which have occurred are not mostly older 20- and 30-something ex-cons getting out of jail and causing trouble. Let’s imagine that Rita Mercier did NOT blanket accuse our kids of drug dealing on bikes (does that make our bike lanes “drug lanes”?).

Let us also ignore the fact, temporarily, that the SJC ruled that a good portion of the 1994 ordinance that is still on the books is unconstitutional. Despite Rita’s call to jail those hooligans, the only thing that can be enforced is a minor fine.

And the ugly anti-teenage rants from the old white people on the City Council are also besides the point…with real gems from the likes of Rita Mercier, Corey Belanger, and “mayor” Elliot, who can’t seem to relate to anyone under 55. And when I say it was ugly, I mean it. Flinch-worthy. It’s online and you should go watch. The curfew discussion starts just after 125 minutes, but if you want the full effect of stupid, please watch from 113 minutes to catch the affordable housing debacle, where any educated viewer will notice the plethora of misinformation.

No, what really makes this special is that, instead of talking about the imminent Folk Fest and other summer activities in Lowell, we once again have reinforced the notion that Lowell is a scary place not to visit, despite the general drop in crime rates. That it’s a place where irrelevant solutions to real problems are the only ones that the brain trust that is our Mayor and his cronies on City Council can come up with. That filling Corey Belanger’s bar is the main reason the Council exists.

Sure, the city has problems, and the shootings are not a good trend and we should be doing everything (that is USEful) to curb the violence…but seriously. Perception is reality, and the perception of Lowell just got a good rolled-up-newspaper whack on its wet nose. By our own “leaders,” no less, who are supposed to be in the position to do something about it, but who are tiptoeing like mice around the real issues. Scratch that, I like mice and hate to insult them like that.

This whole disgusting episode of “As the City Council Panders” doesn’t sound like good marketing to me. Though, I have only over 14 years experience in print and web marketing and design, so what do I know?

January 30, 2014

Valentine’s Gifts - Love Buzz at Mill No 5

by at 6:36 pm.

I had the pleasure of seeing Mill No 5 first hand recently and I’m a new fan. All I can say is…it’s a fun concept, and I hope they do awesome over there. They’re working on a farm-to-table cafe and small movie theatre/stage venue as well.

This weekend (Saturday) from noon to 7pm, they’re doing one of their Little Bazaar events called Love Buzz. They’ve been sharing info about vendors for a couple of weeks, but this video really showcases the sort of stuff that’ll be available. Guys n gals with valentines to buy for, this is your chance!

If you haven’t checked out one of Lowell’s hot new art venues - where you can buy vinyl records, have a photo shoot, or buy any number of things - this weekend would be a great time to go! I promise you, it’s like nothing else in Lowell!

Love Buzz Facebook Event Page
Mill No 5 Facebook page

November 3, 2013

Learning Lowell - A Busy New Blog

by at 10:30 am.

Lynne introduced LiL to Learning Lowell.

Suffice to say, they have been chugging, steadily along.

City Manager contracts across MA
Several counselors and candidates have expressed a belief that contracts for executive officers in a city are inappropriate. Mr. Leahy mentioned that he believed contracts were appropriate for school executive leadership, but not for city managers. I was curious, and did a quick internet search.

Sun Debate: Taxes, Inspections, Elections, and LHA
This is the second post about the Sun debate. The first is here.

Sun Debate: City Manager, School, and Safety
The Sun Debate was about a week ago, but I’ve just finished watching the third at http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_24385207/crime-takes-center-stage-round-1-lowell-city. I’ve seen a few folks comment on the Sun’s follow-up articles, but the videos give much more context. The same pool of questions were used in each debate, although moderators sometimes didn’t address every question or varied the phrasing. This will be the first of two parts recording the questions and our reactions. The second is here.

“What do you want in a police chief?” asks the City Manager
Last Thursday, City Manager Lynch, CFO Tom Moses, Solicitor Christine O’Conner, HR Director Mary Callery, and Executive Assistant Lynda Clark held the public listening session to discuss attributes the public desires in a new Police Superintendent. Unfortunately, this session competed with both the first of the three Sun Candidate Forums and a Red Sox World Series game–something the City Manager apologized for. It perhaps contributed to the slim turnout of about half a dozen. This meant Aurora and I composed a third of the focus group! A streetworker from UTEC, a reporter from the Sun, a fellow from the Senior Center actually just there to get photos, and a long-term resident rounded out the group. I’ll try to summarize what was discussed, but I’m largely working from memory.

Please consider putting Learning Lowell into your blog routine.

October 3, 2013

Govt Shutdown and Lowell Open Studios

by at 10:49 am.

Lowell Open Studios is this weekend (Oct 5 & 6, 11am to 5pm both days). But the outlook is not rosy for all its venues.

The Brush Gallery has been closed due to the government shutdown. The Brush has a coop agreement with the National Parks Service, and therefore, if the government shuts down, The Brush (along with the Mogan Center and other venues with similar agreements) has to close its doors. And the National Parks lot is also closed, which means the downtown venues of Open Studios are all going to be affected. (And with that, also, the businesses downtown where visitors to LOS might eat and shop.)

I talked with Eileen, the director of the Brush and a friend of mine, about the situation. Since the doors are closed, the Brush will not be charging any of its tenant artists while this shutdown is in place. These artists not only show their work here but DO their work here, so closing the Bursh is especially frustrating for them. And the loss of the rent is thousands of dollars a month of lost revenue for the Brush, not to mention lost sales for the artists, lost exposure for the venue (right during the beginning of the big season for sales) and probably a substantial loss of donations, since often people who visit the Brush leave small donations.

The artist community has opened its arms to Brush artists for Open Studios weekend, and you will find a number of its artists at the nearby Gates Block Studios at 307 Market St, on the third floor. Please visit them there!

A number of Brush members have expressed gratitude for the generosity of the wider artist community for coming to their rescue for LOS. Of course, for the long haul, Brush artists are going to lose a lot of exposure and sales if the shutdown is not resolved soon.

To that end, I’d like you to keep the Brush artists in especial mind this fall and winter, as you start shopping for gifts for the holidays. Once they are open again, please consider stopping by, whether that’s for an opening for a show - they are supposed to have a new show opening in November, should the shutdown be resolved by then, called “In Cold Blood” - which is about lizards and amphibians, not murder! Or else visit them during their regular hours (once they are open) just because. Find something you love and buy it.

Also, if you are able, please consider a donation of any size to offset the loss of revenues for The Brush. Winter is coming and they will have to pay for their heat and light, and those bills are not cheap. The loss of the rental and other revenue will affect their operations budget. You can donate here online.

And let’s hope the shutdown will be resolved very soon, before it hurts more people.

September 5, 2013

Photo Journey

by at 9:14 pm.

Dick Howe posted to Facebook this forum that he found which has an awesome trip through Lowell’s mill redevelopment, and it’s worth every minute you spend on it. It’s a great celebration of some of the accomplishments of the city. There are a lot of before and after pics.

July 27, 2013

Folk Fest First Night

by at 8:02 am.

I grabbed some video on my phone and spliced it together in case you missed the first night of the Folk Festival. This is what I could get before my phone got tired. :)

May 18, 2013

“Lowell … where real things go down”

by at 12:22 pm.

I’ve known Dee Tension, going on 20 years. I always enjoy his perspective, especially when he delivers one of his ‘man on the street’ reports.

This entry comes from Dee’s Facebook page. Click in, if you have a FB account and read the words of a man who ‘keeps it real.’ - Jack

Ah Umass Lowell Graduation. The day when downtown is flooded by terrified parents who think campus is the only safe place in town. They’re lost but won’t ask for directions. They look at their maps and phones afraid someone is going to stab them so they can’t concentrate which causes people who’ve been married for 30 years to start yelling at each other.

“It’s says go left Walter”.

“No it doesn’t Claire. I think i know how to use GPS thank you”.

I ask “are you lost?” and moms clutch their purses and husbands put their arms around their wives. They park at the first garage they see and then reluctantly walk through downtown waiting for the promised land that is The Tsongas Arena Center Coliseum. They finally see it in the distance and literally say out loud “Oh thank God”.

Quit insulting my town you sheltered numbskulls. No one is going to mug you. Don’t you know we give the crackheads and gangs Saturday mornings off? Believe me I feel much more afraid when I accidentally wander into Westford and can’t find a drive through restaurant or when I go to Concord and my bottle of water is illegal or Wellesely where the cops ask me what my purpose is for being in Wellesly and I answer “where’s the nearest liquor store” which gets me “escorted” to the town line.

Lowell is a real place where real things go down. Things like museums and restaurants and a production of Glengarry Glenross. Oh by the way your crappy kid flipped me off and pissed on my front steps in last week’s pub crawl.

So take a deep breath, enjoy your stay, have a bite to eat at Cobblestones or La Boniche and enjoy your sons and daughters as they celebrate their very significant achievement. It’s sonny and warm and you will always remember how pretty Lowell was on this day.

Also don’t leave your purse, GPS or brief case in your car.

March 9, 2013

Coming Soon: “Threads” Episode Two!

by at 4:25 pm.

So we didn’t make a huge fuss about this in January, and we should have, because the new show we’re doing on LTC, “Threads,” is a lot of hard work and we’re proud of it! In case you missed it on Facebook or elsewhere, Threads is a hyperlocal cable access TV show with great local hosts and even greater local guests! Everything current affairs, culture, history, arts, politics or government is fair game. The aim is to bring new voices and diverse points of view together for a one hour show once a month.

Today we wrapped our studio segments (with a couple more field pieces to come), where this month’s host Corey Sciuto interviewed Dick Howe about his new book, Legendary Locals of Lowell (Facebook page here), and Joy Mosenfelder, coordinator for the Coalition for a Better Acre’s new program, Merrimack Valley Time Exchange. They were both great topics and timely, with Dick’s book coming out on Monday, and the MV Time Exchange looking for new members for its pilot program…people willing to give an hour of their own talent to get an hour from another person with a skill they need.

To keep abreast, I recommend Liking our Facebook page, and if you missed our pilot episode, you can catch it in segments or as a full episode at our website LowellThreads.com. Our first episode focused on the Master Plan draft that the city held public meetings on in January.

If you are interested in seeing what it takes to do a show on cable access, have a great idea for a segment, or want to become part of the team, we have plenty to do and never enough hands to do it, so email us at producers [at] lowellthreads.com (copy and paste, replace spaces and [at] with @)!

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