Editor’s Letter

Published: 8/23/2018 4:56:54 PM

Hello, friends:

Brooke Hauser is on vacation this week, so as I’ve done a number of times before, I’m filling in for her. Next week you’ll likely get to hear for the first time from Katy McColl Lukens, who will be starting her stint as the Gazette’s new features editor, which includes responsibility for Hampshire Life.

I suppose it’s fitting that I’m writing this week’s letter because I’ve also written the magazine’s cover story, about a trip I took with my family to Greece in late May and early June — my first-ever visit to the Mediterranean. Though I’m not generally a big fan of first-person journalism — some of you may recall I wrote such a piece in spring about my lack of a cell phone — I proposed to Brooke that I write about my trip, given that summer was nearly upon us and the Gazette rarely publishes any travel pieces. She agreed.

At this point, of course, summer’s almost gone. But from the standpoint of traveling to Greece, where summers can be very hot (witness the deadly wildfire that raged east of Athens in July) and certain places quite crowded with tourists, early/mid fall might be a better time to visit, so the article still seems topical. In addition, Greece, after struggling for several years with serious debt problems and an austerity budget imposed by the European Union, seems to be experiencing some economic revival from increased tourism, so there’s a bit of news value to this piece as well.

But mostly it’s a story of traveling in a land that’s imbued with multiple layers of history, which to me was fascinating. The oldest human-made structures I’d previously seen were the remnants of some Middle Age castles and fortifications, and a Roman aqueduct and bridge built between about 40-60 A.D., all in France. The ancient monuments, buildings and ruins I saw in Greece predate all of that.

The trip wasn’t perfect. A pickpocket on the subway in Athens stole about $90 cash (Euros and a few U.S. dollars) from me, though he (or she) thoughtfully didn’t take my driver’s license or credit cards. I also had to admire the thief’s sleight of hand in getting my wallet out of a small, zippered pocket on my shorts (I found it at my feet), even as the theft infuriated and embarrassed me. My wife that day also lost a purse with about 60 Euros (about $70 U.S.). C’est la vie.

Elsewhere in the magazine, we have an interview with actor Myka Plunkett, who most recently was seen in Paintbox Theatre’s summer productions such as “Pirates!” She’s playing the lead, beginning September 6, in Majestic Theater’s production of “Johnny Guitar,” the musical based on the legendary Joan Crawford cult Western from the 1950s (Myka tells us she’s looking forward to reprising Crawford’s role). I’ve also reviewed two new novels, one by Valley writer Dov Zeller and another by Northampton publisher Interlink Books. And Northampton City Councilor Bill Dwight offers his take on why members of government are generally held in such low regard in the U.S. 

There’s plenty of music on tap this coming week, so check out Ken Maiuri’s Tuned In column. Saturday offers two particularly promising shows. The folk/bluegrass trio The Wailin’ Jennys appears at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, while June Millington, who leads classes at the Institute of Musical Arts in Goshen, hosts a benefit show (for her sister Jean) at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield that will feature And the Kids, Kalliope Jones and other young Valley bands.

Have a great weekend, whatever you end up doing (including heading off to Greece).

— Steve Pfarrer



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