February 25, 2018

Letter From Paris: Book That Wins France’s Top Literary Prize Raises Chilling Questions About WWII History

Nicole Prévost Logan

Coincidence or not ?

The prestigious French literary Prix Goncourt came out came just a few weeks before the election of 31-year-old Sebastian Kurtz as chancellor of Austria.  Many would say that election marked another step by the European Union along the road toward nationalism.

The topic of the novel is the Anschluss.  With devastating sarcasm the author, Eric Vuillard, puts the magnates of German industry on trial for profiting from the Nazi regime and the Austrian people for welcoming the invading German army on March 12  1938. The title itself is ironic since L’Ordre du Jour – which translates as ‘the order of the day’ or ‘the agenda’ – refers to a democratic assembly, which in the book will soon be abolished by Hitler.

It is a very short book (only 150 pages) printed in an unusual miniature format.  But it is a striking story, beautifully written, leading the reader through shocking scenes in which cruel humor is mixed with great despair.  Vuillard, is also a film maker, which explains the way he stages the story as seen through a camera, with colorful images, a sound track, leading actors and supporting crowds.

The action starts on February 20th, 1933, in Potsdam.  Twenty-four managers of the German industry – Gustav Krupp, Wilhem von Opel, Günther Quandt, Kurt Schmitt and others – are waiting in the ante-chamber of the Reichstag at the pleasure of its president, Hermann Goering.  The 24 grey-haired gentlemen, dressed in formal black or brown coats, with stiff shirt collars and striped pants, resemble the bare trees lining the Spree river in the winter.

Goering is late but the visitors wait patiently.

When he finally shows up, the guests raise like lizards on their hind legs.  Hitler – appointed chancellor just one month before – makes his entry and greets his guests.  At the end of the meeting, as expected from them, the managers obsequiously make their meager contribution of several millions Deutschmarks to help the Nazi war effort.

Vuillard turns the Anschluss into a farce. Using threats, lies, and brutal intimidation, Hitler manipulates the Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, making him totally helpless, bulldozed by the Nazi timetable.

February 12, 1938, is the second decisive date in Vuillard’s story.  Hitler has invited Schuschnigg for a secret lunch at Berchtesgaden, his mountain retreat in the Bavarian Alps.  It is an ominous sequence.  When the doors close behind the guest, the reader feels a sense of foreboding.

Overwhelmed by the hypnotic personality of Hitler, Schuschnigg caves in and has to agree to all his  demands: appointment of the Nazi Seyss-Inquart to the post of minister of the Interior;  amnesty of those condemned for the assassination of the Austrian chancellor Dollfuss in 1934; rehabilitation of all national socialist officials.  Having said that, Hitler reaffirms the independence of Austria.  Wasn’t that the ultimate?  asks Vuillard.

On the eve of the planned invasion, Mr and Mrs Ribbentrop (he is the German foreign minister) are invited to dinner at Downing Street.  The author describes in detail the menu of French cuisine and the wine list.  The conversation is light and animated.  All seem interested in tennis and the performance of Bill Tilden, who won the Davis cup seven times.

Toward the end of the dinner, a staff member brings a note to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who becomes preoccupied.  Vuillard writes: “Winston Churchill opens his big cocker spaniel eyes.”  The Chamberlains are getting impatient but, out of sheer British politeness, do not show it.  Guests start leaving but the Ribbentrops linger on, saying endless goodbyes.

The camera jumps to the car where the German couple is now on its way home.  They burst out laughing.  They knew all along what was in the note … German troops have just crossed the Austrian border.

The story reaches its climax when the German forces are ready to pounce on Vienna on March 12, 1938.  The sky is a bright blue but it is freezing cold.  The Panzers are massed by the border but a problem arises — they run out of gas and a monumental traffic jam occurs.  It is hard to pull out a tool kit by the side of the road in sub-zero temperatures.

Hitler, who at first was elated by the prospect of entering Vienna with cheering crowds waving small flags and  blond-braided, young girls throwing flowers at the German soldiers, is now stuck on the road along with hundreds of armored cars.  When an army experiences a breakdown en route, ridicule is guaranteed.

Hitler cannot contain his anger and keeps shouting. By dusk, his Mercedes reaches Linz, the town where he spent his youth.  On March 15, the poor Austrian population, abused, but finally submissive, stands in front of Sisi’s palace to hear Hitler’s hoarse voice vociferate insults.  In a referendum, Austrians voted 99.7 percent in favor of the annexation by the Reich.

What happened to the 24 captains of industry we met in 1933?

During the war years, they made an incredible amount of money by employing cheap labor from Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, Buchenwald or Dachau.  They may have died of old age, but their empires live on, stronger than ever … BMW, BASf, Bayer, IG Farbem, Siemens, Tellefunken, Opel, and Thyssen-Krupp.

Exaggerated or not, the fact is that such a novel gives the reader a major jolt.  It is a literary feat, which revives dark moments of history that one should never forget.

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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Letter From Paris: Book That Wins France’s Top Literary Prize Raises Chilling Questions About WWII History

Nicole Prévost Logan

Coincidence or not ?

The prestigious French literary Prix Goncourt came out came just a few weeks before the election of 31-year-old Sebastian Kurtz as chancellor of Austria.  Many would say that election marked another step by the European Union along the road toward nationalism.

The topic of the novel is the Anschluss.  With devastating sarcasm the author, Eric Vuillard, puts the magnates of German industry on trial for profiting from the Nazi regime and the Austrian people for welcoming the invading German army on March 12  1938. The title itself is ironic since L’Ordre du Jour – which translates as ‘the order of the day’ or ‘the agenda’ – refers to a democratic assembly, which in the book will soon be abolished by Hitler.

It is a very short book (only 150 pages) printed in an unusual miniature format.  But it is a striking story, beautifully written, leading the reader through shocking scenes in which cruel humor is mixed with great despair.  Vuillard, is also a film maker, which explains the way he stages the story as seen through a camera, with colorful images, a sound track, leading actors and supporting crowds.

The action starts on February 20th, 1933, in Potsdam.  Twenty-four managers of the German industry – Gustav Krupp, Wilhem von Opel, Günther Quandt, Kurt Schmitt and others – are waiting in the ante-chamber of the Reichstag at the pleasure of its president, Hermann Goering.  The 24 grey-haired gentlemen, dressed in formal black or brown coats, with stiff shirt collars and striped pants, resemble the bare trees lining the Spree river in the winter.

Goering is late but the visitors wait patiently.

When he finally shows up, the guests raise like lizards on their hind legs.  Hitler – appointed chancellor just one month before – makes his entry and greets his guests.  At the end of the meeting, as expected from them, the managers obsequiously make their meager contribution of several millions Deutschmarks to help the Nazi war effort.

Vuillard turns the Anschluss into a farce. Using threats, lies, and brutal intimidation, Hitler manipulates the Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, making him totally helpless, bulldozed by the Nazi timetable.

February 12, 1938, is the second decisive date in Vuillard’s story.  Hitler has invited Schuschnigg for a secret lunch at Berchtesgaden, his mountain retreat in the Bavarian Alps.  It is an ominous sequence.  When the doors close behind the guest, the reader feels a sense of foreboding.

Overwhelmed by the hypnotic personality of Hitler, Schuschnigg caves in and has to agree to all his  demands: appointment of the Nazi Seyss-Inquart to the post of minister of the Interior;  amnesty of those condemned for the assassination of the Austrian chancellor Dollfuss in 1934; rehabilitation of all national socialist officials.  Having said that, Hitler reaffirms the independence of Austria.  Wasn’t that the ultimate?  asks Vuillard.

On the eve of the planned invasion, Mr and Mrs Ribbentrop (he is the German foreign minister) are invited to dinner at Downing Street.  The author describes in detail the menu of French cuisine and the wine list.  The conversation is light and animated.  All seem interested in tennis and the performance of Bill Tilden, who won the Davis cup seven times.

Toward the end of the dinner, a staff member brings a note to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who becomes preoccupied.  Vuillard writes: “Winston Churchill opens his big cocker spaniel eyes.”  The Chamberlains are getting impatient but, out of sheer British politeness, do not show it.  Guests start leaving but the Ribbentrops linger on, saying endless goodbyes.

The camera jumps to the car where the German couple is now on its way home.  They burst out laughing.  They knew all along what was in the note … German troops have just crossed the Austrian border.

The story reaches its climax when the German forces are ready to pounce on Vienna on March 12, 1938.  The sky is a bright blue but it is freezing cold.  The Panzers are massed by the border but a problem arises — they run out of gas and a monumental traffic jam occurs.  It is hard to pull out a tool kit by the side of the road in sub-zero temperatures.

Hitler, who at first was elated by the prospect of entering Vienna with cheering crowds waving small flags and  blond-braided, young girls throwing flowers at the German soldiers, is now stuck on the road along with hundreds of armored cars.  When an army experiences a breakdown en route, ridicule is guaranteed.

Hitler cannot contain his anger and keeps shouting. By dusk, his Mercedes reaches Linz, the town where he spent his youth.  On March 15, the poor Austrian population, abused, but finally submissive, stands in front of Sisi’s palace to hear Hitler’s hoarse voice vociferate insults.  In a referendum, Austrians voted 99.7 percent in favor of the annexation by the Reich.

What happened to the 24 captains of industry we met in 1933?

During the war years, they made an incredible amount of money by employing cheap labor from Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, Buchenwald or Dachau.  They may have died of old age, but their empires live on, stronger than ever … BMW, BASf, Bayer, IG Farbem, Siemens, Tellefunken, Opel, and Thyssen-Krupp.

Exaggerated or not, the fact is that such a novel gives the reader a major jolt.  It is a literary feat, which revives dark moments of history that one should never forget.

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Second Annual Festival of Women’s Plays Opens Season at Ivoryton Playhouse, March 2-3

Kathleen Cahill

The Ivoryton Playhouse has announced the dates of its Second Annual Women Playwrights Initiative – Passion, Power and Prose 2018.

The Initiative provides a safe, nurturing environment for the development of new, one-act plays by and about women and the issues that shape their live, including a week of intensive rehearsal with the playwrights, directors, and actors.

The workshop culminates in two evenings of staged readings which will take place on Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3, at The Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT, followed by discussions with playwrights, actors and directors.

Friday, March 2, at 7 p.m., there will be two readings presented:  

  • Henry, Louise and Henri by Kathleen Cahill and directed by Linda MacCluggage is an hilarious look at the different effects of art on an American couple in Paris.
  • Karen Howes

    To Fall in Love, Do This by Jennifer Lane and directed by Hannah Simms. Scientists claim that there are 36 questions you can ask to fall in love with anyone. But can this seemingly simple exercise save even Wyatt and Merryn’s marriage?

Saturday, March 3, at 7 p.m. there will be two readings presented: 

  • Blood by Yael Haskel and directed by Kathryn Markey. When a young woman elects to donate blood to a sick pastor and pillar of the community, hellish truths are exposed forcing a devastating decision for both her and the nurse.
  • The Gentleman’s Pact by Karen Howes and directed by Addie Gorlin. A witty, acerbic look at marriage, fidelity, and self-determination when Bill, a college professor, tells his colleague, Arthur, that he wants to marry Arthur’s wife, Evelyn. Can their pact survive Evelyn’s unexpected response?

To purchase tickets for the Friday, March 2 or Saturday, March 3 readings – each starts at 7 p.m. – call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Tickets:

  • $20 adult each night: $15 senior each night; $10 student and LPTW.
  • Special two-day pass: buy tickets for Friday and Saturday night performances for $30.00 – call box office 860.767.7318 to book 2-day pass.

Yael Haskal

The Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT  06442.

For more information about the Women Playwrights Initiative, visit the Playhouse website or  contact Laura Copland, Director of New Play Development,  laurac@ivorytonplayhouse.org.

The Women Playwrights Initiative is generously funded by The Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut, the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Laura Copland, Kathleen and Al Jaffe, and Rosalind Pressman.

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Norm Needleman Announces Campaign for State Senate, 33rd State Senate District Includes Lyme

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman who yesterday announced a second run for the 33rd State Senate District.

Yesterday, Essex First Selectman and successful businessman Norm Needleman announced his campaign as a Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, promising to use his business and small town leadership experience to bring people together to get Connecticut back on track.

The seat will be vacant due to the incumbent Senator Art Linares (R) moving out of the District and announcing his candidacy for State Treasurer.

“Leading a small town and building a business taught me that the best way to get things done is to put people and their needs ahead of party politics,” said Needleman. “I respect taxpayers’ dollars because I know how hard you’ve worked to earn them.”

He continued, “That’s why as First Selectman, I brought Democrats and Republicans together, found consensus, solved problems, and kept property taxes among the lowest in the state without cutting services. If elected State Senator for the 33rd District, I will make a clean break from the decades of bickering and harmful policies that have come from Hartford, and I will get Connecticut working for the towns in our district.”

“As an elected town official, I’ve seen the work Norm does as the First Selectman of Essex,” said Colchester Selectman Rosemary Coyle. “Norm governs in a fiscally responsible manner, making sound decisions. His hands-on, small town government experience in the legislature will benefit our communities and help us build a brighter future for our children and families.”

Needleman, who campaigned for the seat in 2016, is currently in his fourth term as Essex First Selectman. He has over 20 years of experience advocating for his small town, having previously served as an Essex Selectman, a member of the Essex Zoning Board of Appeals, and a member of the Essex Economic Development Commission.

Needleman is also a member of the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, helping the 17 member towns coordinate various government functions. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Building a company from the ground up has given me invaluable experience on how to grow jobs and create a region where businesses want to start and thrive,” said Needleman. “I will be a State Senator who will create good-paying jobs in our towns and throughout Connecticut.”

Needleman founded Tower Laboratories, an Essex manufacturing company, 38 years ago. The company has grown to become a leader in its field, employing over 250 people. As a leading CEO in the region, he serves as a board member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. He is also a board member of Valley Shore Emergency Communications, a center formed by local pubic safety professionals to handle emergency call processing and dispatching needs for communities throughout the region.

“Norm asks the right questions, and is willing to listen to all options,” said Centerbrook businessman and Clinton resident Gary Stevens. “I believe that with Norm’s insight into the way that a successful business (his) is run and considering the wasteful and unnecessary spending habits of the State, he could go a long way to make the government a more responsible entity.” Stevens, an unaffiliated voter who has known Needleman since the 1980s, owns Stevens Excavating, Inc. and has worked with Needleman on numerous projects.

The 33rd State Senate District consists of the Town of Lyme along with the Towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and a portion of Old Saybrook.

Needleman lives in Essex with Jacqueline Hubbard, the Executive Director of the Ivoryton Playhouse. His two sons and their families also live in Essex.

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CT River Museum Offers Range of Winter Wildlife Programs, Activities

Eagles on Ice: White-headed adult eagles can be seen in numbers along the lower Connecticut River. Photo by Mark Yuknat.

Winter along the Connecticut River brings many things – including cold winds and grey skies.  But the change in seasons also signals a shift in the ecology of New England’s Great River.  The osprey, the swallows and the egrets may be gone, but in their place now are mergansers, goldeneyes, and the highlight – bald eagles.  These once rare, majestic birds can be seen fishing along the unfrozen lower Connecticut River, a testament to one of the greatest environmental recoveries of the last half century.  To highlight these winter wonders, Connecticut River Museum (CRM) has planned a range of programs and activities.

Connecticut River Museum is happy to again partner with Connecticut River Expeditions to offer Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises in February and March.  These popular trips offer visitors a chance to get out on the River in winter to see eagles, as well as other winter species that visit the estuary such as harbor seals.

This seal is relaxing on the Connecticut River ice. Photo by Bill Yule.

Cruises aboard the environmentally friendly R/V RiverQuest provide passengers with a comfortable, heated cabin supplied with hot coffee and tea, as well as binoculars to aid in spotting and narration from a staff naturalist.  These cruises depart Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at various times in the morning and early afternoon, and are $42 per passenger.  Museum members get 10 percent off and group rates are available.

In addition, the Museum will offer its annual Eagles of Essex exhibit, which offers a wealth of information about bald eagles and their return to the lower Connecticut River.  Patrons can try their hand at building an eagle nest, and marvel at life size silhouettes of Eagles and other large raptors, a map showing good shore viewing locations, and other displays.  On the opening day of the season, Saturday, Feb. 3, the exhibit will host Family Activities related to the return of the Eagles from 1 to 4 p.m., free with Museum admission.

On Saturday, Feb. 17 and March 17, award-winning photographer Stanley Kolber returns to CRM to offer his annual Bird Photography Workshop.  Kolber has been photographing birds for years, and takes great pleasure in sharing his experience with aspiring photographers of all levels, through anecdotes, slides, and question and answer.  In addition to helping skills development, his greatest pleasure in giving workshops is the opportunity to kindle and encourage his audience’s interest in the natural world.  He hopes that young people as well as adults will attend the workshops, so that he can impart some of his own enthusiasm to the next generation.  These popular programs are also free with Museum admission.

Species other than Eagles visit our River during the winter months. Photo by Joan Meek.

A Live Birds of Prey Show will be offered on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m.  CRM will partner with Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation Organization for this annual show, which features a bald eagle and several other species of raptors.  Visitors will be able to get an up close look at the birds while learning more about the lifecycle and ecology of these magnificent animals.  This event will be held at the Centerbrook Meeting House and is free to the public.

For a full listing of event details, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street and is open Tuesday – Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Connecticut River Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River.

For more information, call CRM at 860.767.8269 or RiverQuest at 860.662.0577.

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Community Music School Hosts Free Preview Week Through Friday

Community Music School, located at 90 Main Street in Centerbrook and 179 Flanders Road in East Lyme, welcomes the general public to enjoy a variety of music programming during Free Preview Week scheduled for Jan. 29 through Feb. 2, 2018.

Children and adults are invited to schedule a free 30-minute preview lesson, and sample a vast array of programs for all ages including private and group lessons, Suzuki violin, adult cabaret, senior band, string ensembles, music therapy, Kindermusik, and more.

The public is welcome to observe any group class or ensemble during Free Preview Week.

Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.mMonday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Those interested in a 30-minute preview lesson can schedule it by calling 860-767-0026 or emailing info@community-music-school.org.

Musical instruction is available for all ages, all abilities, and all genres.

For additional information, visit www.community-music-school.org/programs, call 860-767-0026, or email info@community-music-school.org.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 34 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.  Learn more at www.community-music-school.org or call (860)767-0026.

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‘Essex Ed’s Identity Will be Revealed in Today’s Annual Groundhog Day Parade on Main St., Essex

Groundhog fun at a previous parade.

ESSEX — Grab your pots and pans and head to Essex Village this afternoon, Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. for one of the most popular parades of the year.

“Essex Ed”, a larger-than-life ground hog, will make his annual pilgrimage from Essex Boat Works on Ferry Street up to the top of Main Street leading a parade of antique cars, fife & drum corps, residents, and visitors.

Immersed in the spirit of the parade, this marcher posed with her personal groundhog.

All are invited to join in and encouraged to bring their own noisemakers and ground hog gear to celebrate the day.

Each year, Essex Ed is dressed in unique attire to acknowledge a special occasion or person. As always, this year’s costume is a secret but organizers guarantee that it will be a “huge hit” when Ed makes his appearance.

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Climb Aboard Essex Steam Train’s ‘Santa Special’ Today

Such fun aboard the Santa Special!

Climb Aboard Essex Steam Train’s ‘Santa Special,’ SaturdayAll aboard the Santa Special for a one-of-a-kind, daytime holiday experience. Make sure you’re camera-ready for that special moment when Santa and Mrs. Claus visit each child! Enjoy the spirit of the season as you relax with family and friends aboard festive railway cars adorned with vintage decorations.

•       Tickets are $24/coach, $40/first class (individual armchair seats with cash beverage service). Reindeer Breakfast upgrade is available on Santa Special days from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. for $15 adults / $5 children (age 1-6).
•       Date: Saturday, Dec. 23
•       Departure times: 9:30 a.m.10:00 a.m.11:00 a.m.11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. & 1 p.m.
•       Rudolph and Pablo the Penguin will be on board to spread holiday cheer.
•       Each child receives a small holiday gift from Santa’s Elves!
•       Special Christmas performance by Sunny Train. Shows are at 9:30, 10 & 11:30 am12:15 and 1 pm.
•       Write and Mail your “Letter to Santa” at Santa’s Post Office.
•       Take your family pictures in Santa’s sleigh.
•       Visit “Create a Card!” Station
•       Enjoy fresh baked cookies & other goodies in the Klaus Kitchen.

Visit essexsteamtrain.com/seasonal-excursions/santa-special for tickets and more information!

Tickets:
https://essex-steam-train-riverboat.myshopify.com/collections/select_santaspecial-11-2017
Location: Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, 1 Railroad Avenue, Essex, CT, 06426
Contact: Pam Amodio
Phone: 860.767.0103
Email: pamodio@essexsteamtrain.com
Price range: $24-$55. $24/coach, $40/first class. Reindeer Breakfast upgrade available for $15/adult, $5/child (age 1-6)

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Enjoy an ‘Ivoryton Playhouse Christmas Radio Hour’ with David Pittsinger & Friends Tonight

David Pittsinger performs in ‘The Man of La Mancha.’ File photo.

World-renowned artist David Pittsinger will be performing a holiday show on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 2 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m.

An old fashioned Christmas celebration of holiday standards and sacred songs featuring David with his wife, Patricia Schuman and Carly Callahan, Katie Weiser and Charlie Widmer.

Set in a 1940s radio station, the show will take you back to the days when the radio had pride of place in the living room and the family gathered round in the evening to listen to their favorite shows.

Since it’s going to be cold outside, come on down to the Ivoryton Playhouse to warm your heart with music we all know and love.

This concert is a benefit for the 106-year-old Playhouse to further its mission to provide theatre of the highest quality to the residents and visitors of our community.

Tickets for this special event are $50. Seating is limited; call the theatre box office at 860.767.7318 to reserve your seat for these two special events.

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

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Letter From Paris: Deaths of Two Icons Leave a Nation in Mourning

Nicole Prévost Logan

From Les Invalides to the Champs Elysees, intense emotion grips France at the passing of two iconic personalities.

Within 24 hours France lost two familiar figures: Jean d’Ormesson, 92, man of letters, and Johnny Hallyday, 74, the popular singer who, for almost 60 years, enthralled millions of fans. The intensity of the emotions was incredible. For a week, politics, wars, economic crises, were suspended and replaced by an immense sadness, which united the nation. No matter how different the two men were, they shared a great simplicity and the gift of connecting with the people.

It is not unusual for the French to express their collective grief in the public place. In 1885, two million people attended the national funerals of Victor Hugo. Simone Weil, the courageous woman who showed exceptional fortitude in her public life by being a pioneer of the right to abortion, received the highest honors by being laid to rest in the Pantheon. In 1963, a human tide surged toward the Pere Lachaise cemetery to say goodbye to Edith Piaf.

Count Jean d’Ormesson

Count Jean d’Ormesson, at age 48, was the youngest “immortal” to enter the Academie Française – a literary institution created by Louis XIII to uphold the French language. He died as the dean of that 40-members council. Son of a French ambassador, d’Ormesson was part of the French aristocracy, with degrees in history and philosophy. He directed the conservative daily Le Figaro, became a prolific writer, publishing a book per year, with the last one completed three days before his death. His smiling face and piercing blue eyes were a familiar sight for the viewers of countless televised literary shows, such Bouillon de Culture, Apostrophe or La Grande Librairie.

An elegant conversationalist, he spoke with wit, lightness, and optimism. His remarks, studded with literary quotes, included gems of uplifting philosophy, such as,”Life is beautiful because we are lucky to die”, and “In the New Testament, the myth of the Wandering Jew is condemned to immortality by Jesus.”

During the strikingly sober ceremony, in the courtyard of the Invalides, a small group of guests, representing the world of politics and culture, stood stoically, whipped by a glacial wind. The eulogy given by French president Emmanuel Macron, matched the literary sophistication of the deceased academician.

Johnny Hallyday was a monument in France with an amazing longevity. From the first time he appeared on the stage at age 17, this blond, tall young man became an adulated performer and he remained a star for almost 60 years. For millions of fans, his disappearance meant the loss of a chunk of their own life. Fighting lung cancer for several years, in spite of the terrible pain, he continued performing until the very end. People thought he was indestructible, hence the extreme shock people felt when they learned about his death on Dec. 6th.

Abandoned by his father at the age of eight months, Hallyday did not grow up in the security of a proper family but bounced around from one relative to another. A cousin gave him his stage name.

Facts about his career are staggering: more than 28 million spectators attended the 3,300 concerts he gave in 40 countries; he sold 110 million records. He had a real talent in choosing the best composers and song writers, which allowed him to produce 1,000 songs, many of them in Gold albums.

Johnny Hallyday

Hallyday went through all the styles of music from rock n’roll, pop, blues, soul, country, and hard rock. Among the best known hits is, “Ah Marie, si tu savais, tout le mal que l’on m’a fait” (Ah, Marie, if you only knew how much they hurt me) about a young man, fighting in the WWI trenches and writing to his fiancee.

It is a paradox that, in spite of his love for the US, that country barely knew him. Driving full speed on his Harley Davidson with his buddies from the Midwest to California was one of his greatest pleasures. He sang with Sammy Davis Junior. Michel Berger wrote for him a song called “On a tous quelque chose de Tennessee” (We all have something of Tennesse.) The lyrics recall lines from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

He spent the last 10 years of his life in Los Angeles, Calif., with Tom Hanks and Ben Affleck as neighbors and only returned to France to perform in concerts. Some of his concerts became giant productions of a size never seen before. The absolute zenith of his career was right after France won the soccer World Cup in 1998 when Hallyday flew over the Stade de France by helicopter and was lowered into the hysterical crowd.

The public funeral of Hallyday was an incredible spectacle offered to millions of fans. The cortege moved slowly down the Champs Elysees, led by a white coffin. This was followed by a caravan of black limousines filled with family, close friends and dignitaries and then – even for people who do not particularly like motorcycles – the incredible sight of 700 bikers, who had come from all over France.

On the steps of the Madeleine church, President Emmanuel Macron, paid his respects to the rock star and invited the crowd to bid farewell to “Mr. Johhny Hallyday.”

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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Letter From Paris: A Six-Month Performance Review for Emmanuel Macron

Nicole Prévost Logan

Six months into his mandate, French President Emmanuel Macron has been working at a dizzying pace to fulfill his campaign promises.

Hubert Vedrine, former minister of foreign affairs and expert in international and strategic affairs, made the following comment : “Emmanuel Macron immediately embodied the stature of a chief of State. ”

“The French people are impossible to reform”, said Macron during his campaign.  This is why he set out not to reform but to transform France from top to bottom.  First he brought “parity” men/women into the government. 

The “moralization” of the two legislative chambers was his second objective, which meant bringing an end to the opaque system of financial privileges long enjoyed by the deputies.  Like a breath of fresh air, the professional politicians who, since the beginning of the fifth Republic, had been playing musical chairs, faded away .They were replaced by influential members of the civil society, without any political experience.

Emmanuel Macron

As a rule, the French do not really like to work during the summer.  Breaking with that tradition, Macron spent four months talking with the trade unions.  He invited – separately – the leaders of the different groups (CGT, FO, CFDT)  in order to hear their demands and make his own proposals.

The result was amazing.

The loud manifs (street demonstrations), which traditionally are the main tool of the trade unions, rapidly run out of steam.   On the basis of the summer negotiations, changes in the labor code were formulated into executive orders before becoming law.

Macron used the same strategy – divide and conquer – to defuse the revolt of the mayors. 

There are 36,000 municipalities in France.  Some of the communes are tiny with as few as 200 inhabitants, and feel unfairly treated as compared to the large and wealthy urban centers like Paris, Lyons or Marseille. When Macron announced he would drastically slash down the dotations (subsidies) made by the State, the local officials went up in arms. 

What did Macron do? 

He invited 1,500 mayors to the Elysée Palace and developed his plan to help the small communes .

Thanks to his work experience in the financial and business world, he focused on a crucial economic problem: the cost of French labor is not competitive enough. The main reason?  The cost of labor is bloated by the inclusion of “social charges.” Macron plans to have the entire population share the burden by paying a general tax.  The other pillar of his financial program is to stop demonizing capital income by reducing the tax to a flat rate of 30 percent  – a win-win system to encourage the French population to invest.

Emmanuel Macron has been described as having a velvet smile contrasting with the steely expression of his blue eyes. From the youthful, exuberant attitude he projected during the electoral campaign, he has evolved into the image of an authoritarian leader. He delegates the day-to-day running of the country to his prime minister Edouard Philippe, who is doing his job efficiently and with discretion.  This leaves Macron time to address the big picture, particularly regarding the new place of France on the world stage.

On Sept. 26, in a major speech at the Sorbonne, Macron showed his unwavering ‘Europhile’ vision. He proposes a ‘re-invention’ of Europe with action led by countries willing to make changes. To ensure the future of the Eurozone, he proposes a single budget, a ‘Super Minister’ of economy and the creation of a European IMF. He wants a “protective Europe” in relation to workers and consumers. He believes strongly in giving a central role to culture in defining the European identity.

During his visit to Abu Dhabi for the inauguration of the new Louvre museum on Nov. 8, Macron met with “MBS” (Saudi Arabia prince Mohammed Ben Salmane ) and with “MBZ” (Abu Dhabi crown prince, Mohammed Bin Zayed)  A feverish round of diplomacy took place in which the president succeeded to  “exfiltrate” the Sunni Lebanese minister Saad Hariri from Saudi Arabia and acted as a mediator in the growing fracture of the Persian Gulf.

On Nov. 28,  after a two-hour speech to 800 students of the Ouagadougou University, in Burkina Faso, the Q and A session turned into an hilarious exchange. “Can you help us fix the frequent power outages on the campus?” asked a student. “But this is not my responsibility,” Macron answered, “Ask your president to deal with this problem.” The reaction of his audience – was at first a roar of laughter then deafening applause. A symbolic detail of the Macron’s visit to Africa was that he was accompanied on his trip by leaders of recent  start-ups instead of the CEOs of large companies such as Areva or Total.

The three-day visit to Africa in late November was an opportunity for the French president to break, not only with the colonial era, but also with the neo-colonial era of Françafrique launched by General de Gaulle in 1960.  At a summit meeting held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where the discussions at the summit meeting dealt mostly with the immigration crisis, Macron initiated a partnership whereby Europeans and Africans should share responsibilities.  Macron did not mince words when he told his audience : “The passeurs (smugglers) are not European, my friends , they are African.”

At a time when Angela Merkel is vacillating and Brexit is looming, the role of Emmanuel Macron in Europe is crucial. 

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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Child & Family Hosts Essex Holiday House Tour Today

File photo of a beautifully decorated home from the 2015 tour.

This Saturday, Dec. 9, will highlight a memorable stroll through Essex, one of New England’s most picturesque towns, for its 14th biennial holiday house tour.  Created and organized by the Essex Auxiliary of the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT, the tour consists of seven distinctive private homes beautifully decorated for the holidays, the Essex Historical Society properties, and the Connecticut River Museum with Steve Cryan’s special holiday train show.  The Essex Art Association will also offer free chili.

Home base for the tour will be the Essex Town Hall at 29 West Avenue, where tickets may be purchased or picked up, and where there will be a large Boutique with vendors offering clothing, jewelry, gifts, home décor items, holiday arrangements and other alluring items.  Several drawings for donations by the vendors will be held here at the end of the day, and, during the day, Santa’s Café will offer snacks and refreshments.  The Boutique will be open from 9:30 to 5:00, and admission is free.

Tickets for the tour are $30 in advance, $35 the day of the tour.  Checks payable to Child & Family Agency may be sent to:  Essex Holiday House Tour, 168 River Road, Essex, CT 06426.

Tickets are also available in advance at www.childandfamilyagency.org; at the Griswold Inn Store, One North Main, and Walker Loden in Essex; Centerbrook Cheese Shop in Centerbrook; Saybrook Country Barn in Old Saybrook; Lark in Chester; Celebrations in Deep River; Bowerbird in Old Lyme; Walker Loden in Madison and New Haven; and the Child & Family Agency in New London, (806)443-2896, ext. 1403.

All proceeds from the tour go to funding Child & Family Agency’s programs addressing the mental health, educational, and healthcare needs of children and their families to promote the well-being and development of all children.

Services are offered from birth through high school in southeastern Connecticut and include child guidance, early childhood development, and after-school academic, recreational, and artistic activities.  Adult services include parenting education as well as prevention training for scholars and professional practitioners.  Healthcare services address both physical and mental health issues facing children.

Office-based, community-based, and home-based mental health services are available from New Haven to Stonington, and 14 school-based health centers provide healthcare options to children in Waterford, New London, Groton, Norwich, and Stonington. Child Guidance centers are based in Essex, New London, and Groton.

Last year, with a professional staff of more than 190, Child & Family provided services to over 18,000 children and their families in 79 towns in New Haven, Middlesex, and New London Counties.

In other words, your enjoyment of the Essex Holiday House Tour will benefit thousands of children in our neighborhoods, so come and help us celebrate the holidays by exploring lovely historic homes, including a mansion, in a picture-book setting!

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Carol Stroll Down Main Street, Then See ‘Trees in the Rigging’ in Essex Today

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights. Photo by Jody Dole.

Kick off the holiday season in Essex with the annual Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Lighted Boat Parade.   The Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Board of Trade, and the Essex Historical Society combine to present this annual event that includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street where spectators are invited to bring their own lanterns or flashlights and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars.

Participants can gather at the Essex Town Hall at 4 p.m. The stroll steps off at 4:30 p.m. beginning on West Avenue and ending at the Connecticut River Museum with a parade of vessels dressed out in holiday lights and passing in review along the Connecticut River.  Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum. The Connecticut River Museum will also be open that evening for all to attend the 24th Annual Holiday Train Show at a reduced admission of $6.

Register Your Boat for the Lighted Boat Parade

A critical and crowd-pleasing part of this free community event is the parade of boats dressed in holiday lights that sail along Essex’s waterfront. The decorated boats are part of a friendly competition.  A modest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize will be awarded to the best dressed boats. Winners will be invited to receive their prize and participate in a photo-op on Monday, Nov. 27 at 4:30 p.m. at the Connecticut River Museum.

Registration is required to participate in the boat parade that usually begins around 5:15 p.m. from the south end of Essex Harbor. To register, send emails to: kperkins@ctrivermuseum.org. Information should include: vessel name; type of boat and description; owner(s) name; contact information (phone and preferred email); decorating scheme (if known at time of registration). Registration must be received by Monday, Nov. 20 at 4:30 p.m.  

To make your own lanterns at home:
Step 1: fill an empty aluminum can with water and freeze. This will make it easier to punch holes for the design in the can.
Step 2: using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the can to make a connect-the-dots style picture of a holiday design. Use plenty of holes to allow the light to shine through.
Step 3: punch two holes near the rim to attach a wire handle.
Step 4: after the ice is melted, attach a votive or other small candle to the inside bottom of the can.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am – 5 p.m.  For more information, call 860.767.8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

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It’s Holmes for the Holidays! Final Day to See ‘The Game’s Afoot’ at Ivoryton Playhouse

Hard at work in a rehearsal for ‘The Game’s Afoot’ are, from left to right, Katrina Ferguson, Michael Iannucci, Molly Densmore, Erik Bloomquist, Craig McDonald and Maggie McGlone Jennings. Photos by Anne Hudson.

IVORYTON – On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the Ivoryton Playhouse continues the Halloween season with a murderously funny thriller set in William Gillette’s Connecticut Castle – Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot.

It is December 1936 and Broadway star William Gillette, admired the world over for his theatrical portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast-members to his Connecticut castle for a weekend of revelry. But when one of the guests is stabbed to death, the festivities in this isolated house of tricks and mirrors quickly turn dangerous. Then it’s up to Gillette himself, as he assumes the persona of his beloved Holmes, to track down the killer before the next victim appears.

In the vein of the best “whodunit” murder mysteries, the plot takes many twists and turns. The dialogue is witty and face-paced; there’s suspense within the laughter and even when you think you’ve figured out who the bad guy is, you will start to question yourself when the plot takes an unexpected twist.

An intense moment during a rehearsal for Victoria Bundonis and Craig McDonald.

The Cleveland Examiner writes about The Game’s Afoot, “From the intriguing opening mini play within a play to the surprise last scene a split second before final curtain, The Game’s Afoot gives you everything you love about great live theatre. Billed as a comedy thriller you will find yourself swept along for a wild and funny ride.”

The Game’s Afoot is directed by Playhouse Artistic Director Jacqueline Hubbard and features Ivoryton favorites Erik Bloomquist, Victoria Bundonis*, Katrina Ferguson*, Michael Iannucci*, Maggie McGlone Jennings and Beverley J. Taylor, as well as Craig McDonald*, making his Playhouse debut as William Gillette and Molly Densmore* as the beautiful Aggie.

Set design is by Daniel Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott, sound by Tate R. Burmeister and costume design by Kathleen T. Gephart.

The Game’s Afoot opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse runs through Nov. 19. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m.Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Flag Tribute to Veterans with Lymes’ VFW Post #1467 This Morning in Essex

A short Flag Tribute to Veterans will be held this morning at 10 a.m. in the Essex Town Park across from Saint Johns Episcopal Church assisted by 15 members of the Lymes’ VFW Post #1467 in their uniform of blues and grays with VFW caps and white gloves.
All are welcome to come and stand in tribute to the flag of the United States of America and honor our veterans.  The ceremony is anticipated a round half an hour.
The outline of the ceremony is as follows:
– Opening of Funeral Flag (1 minute)
– Opening Prayer Lymes’ VFW Post #1467 Chaplain Capt. (Ret) Larry Olsen (2 minutes)
– “Amazing Grace” Recorded Music (2:30 minutes)
– Lymes’ VFW Post Rifle Volley followed by TAPS
– Echo TAPS by Charles and Susan DeLinks in honor of those who died in service to our country (3 minutes)
– Scottish Bag Pipe marching music (2 minutes)
– Playing of Armed Forces Medley: Service members invited to come up, touch the flag, and stay with their left hand as their theme is played (5 minutes)
– Pledge of Allegiance Led by St. Johnʼs Youth (2 minutes)
– “God Bless The USA” by Lee Greenwood Recorded Music (4 minutes)
– The United States National Anthem Recorded Music (2 minutes)
– Dismissal: Observe silence while the flag is folded (3 minutes)
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Letter From Paris: The State of the Continent – A Snapshot of European Politics

Nicole Prévost Logan

Is the far right forging ahead in Europe?

The political landscape of the European Union (EU) has shifted somewhat to the right during the past few months.  At the core of this trend is the fear of losing one’s identity following the recent surge of migrants.  Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to open wide Germany’s borders – and hence Europe’s – has had a lasting impact.  Max Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign  Relations, based in London, has suggested that the trauma resulting from the decision for Europeans can be compared to that of the 9/11 attack for Americans.

Sebastian Kurz

In Austria , the legislative elections, held on Oct. 17,  gave 31.5 percent of the votes to the conservative People’s Party (OVP) led by Sebastian Kurz.  At age 31, Sebastian Kurz may become the youngest ever Chancellor of that small alpine country of eight million people with a robust economy.  He is not xenophobic nor racist and disapproves of anti-semitism.  However, Kurz may have to strike an alliance with the far right Freedom Party (FPO), which finished in third place behind the declining social democrats (SPO).

To understand Austria, one needs to remember a few facts: it  has been subjected to a flux of Kosovar and Bosniac refugees following  the late 1990s conflict in the Balkans;  it has never been a colonial power and does not have a bad conscience with regard to the economic fate of sub-Saharan migrants. According to French political commentator Christine Okrent, Austria has never gone through the process of “denazification” and considers itself to have been a victim during World War II.  The nostalgia of its past as part of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian empire still lingers.

Andrej Babis

To complete this snapshot of European politics, the Oct. 20 and 21 legislative elections in the Czech Republic saw Andrej Babis’ party arrive in first place. The 63-year-old tycoon – nicknamed Trump 2 –  proclaims to be anti-immigration, but pro-Europe and pro-NATO. He shares his ideas with the other members of the central European “Visegrad group” (Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.)

Angela Merkel, after her somewhat disappointing results in the last September elections, is reaching out to the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Greens in order to give her Christian Democrat party (CDU) a comfortable majority. These negotiations may keep her off the front stage until the end of the year.   

In France, Marine Le Pen has practically collapsed after the disastrous debate against Emmanuel Macron on May 3 between the two rounds of the presidential elections. She has become an inaudible adversary in the National Assembly.  Marion, her even more right-wing niece, was clever enough to jump ship last spring.  Marine’s co- president, highly educated Florian Philippot, was ejected from the National Front (FN).  Several legal pursuits for financial “improprieties,” both for her activities as European deputy and in France, are still looming against her. 

After six years of being in the limelight , Marine Le Pen is now in the process of redefining herself. 

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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‘Overabove,’ Co-founded by Old Lyme’s Visgilio, Expands with Opening of West Coast Office 

The staff of OverAbove gather for a group photo in front of their premises at the Witch Hazel Works in Essex.

ESSEX – Overabove, a strategic marketing and communications firm based in Essex, Conn., has expanded its business footprint and enhanced its offerings with the opening of a Los Angeles office. The firm’s new office is located in Manhattan Beach on the Manhattan Beach Studios’ Media Campus – a facility where media arts, studio production, new technology and ideas converge.

The creative space is just south of Hollywood and bustling with the kind of activity at the heart of Overabove’s culture and services. Seasoned industry leader Tara Walls has been appointed to lead the firm’s new office.

As Head of Entertainment for Overabove, Walls will draw upon nearly 25 years of experience in the Hollywood entertainment industry to connect brands with television shows, feature films and talent. She’ll leverage industry relationships and tap her experience in brand integration and promotional partnerships, as well as with music and influencers, to craft customized entertainment partnerships to elevate brands of all sizes. She’ll also create original content to give brands exposure.

Walls’ depth of experience in identifying and structuring relationships between Hollywood properties and brands will bring strong added value to Overabove’s clients. While Walls only recently joined Overabove in a formal capacity, she’s been an extension of the Overabove team for more than a decade – collaborating with the firm on a number of entertainment partnerships for shared clients.

A resident of Los Angeles, Walls joins the Overabove team after serving as executive vice president of brand integrations & entertainment partnerships at FRUKT and Rogers & Cowan. She previously worked as a product placement executive at two Hollywood film studios.

“We are thrilled that our business footprint will now reach from coast to coast and that our new office is in such an ideal, exciting location – spearheaded by someone as talented and experienced as Tara,” said Ralph Guardiano, principal and co-founder of Overabove. “We know that these enhancements will greatly benefit our clients’ strategic and creative plans and look forward to seeing the results.”

Old Lyme resident John Visgilio, principal and co-founder of Overabove with Guardiano, added, “The opening of our West Coast office along with Tara’s hiring is part of our continued evolution to keep our clients’ brands above the noise, make our offerings as extensive and accessible as possible, and tap new growth opportunities.”

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Old Lyme’s DeMeo is One of ‘Five Women Painting,’ Opening Reception, Friday

‘Sunset through the Branches’ by Rosemary Cotnoir is one of the featured works in ‘Five Women Painting.’

The ninth annual Five Women Painting show Oct. 6 through 9 at the Essex Art Association Gallery features a large selection of new works by Pam Carlson, Rosemary Cotnoir, Claudia Van Nes, Kathleen DeMeo and Janet Rayner.

The gala opening party is Friday, Oct. 6, from 5 to 8 p. m when a selection of wines, homemade appetizers and desserts will be offered and all five artists will be on hand to greet visitors.

The show showcases a wide diversity of styles, medium, sizes and price point by these five established artists. DeMeo, who lives in Old Lyme, primarily does abstract monotypes and Cotnoir from Essex paints large semi-abstract oils and does stone sculptures, Carlson, also from Essex, paints water scenes and landscapes in acrylic, Rayner from Haddam uses pastels for her realistic paintings while Chester resident, Van Nes works mainly in watercolor.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m., Rayner will give a pastel demonstration and on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 1 to 4 p.m., Van Nes will create a painting using pen and ink and watercolor, and Carlson will give an acrylic demonstration.

There will be a free drawing for a painting during the exhibit as well.

The show is Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and by chance that afternoon; Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Essex Art Association Gallery is at 10 North Main Street, Essex.

For more information, call 860-767-8996 or visit the ‘Five Women Painting’ Facebook page.

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Award-Winning Photographer Presents ‘Tools of Travel Photography’ at CT Valley Camera Club Meeting

Shadows of camels and their riders in the Sahara desert in Erg Chebi, Morrocco (Photo by David H. Wells)

The guest speaker at next Monday’s (Oct. 2) meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be award-winning photographer/videographer David H. Wells, who will give a presentation titled, “The Tools of Travel Photography.” The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, Conn.  All are welcome.

Wells uses whichever technology he feels is most appropriate for the specific situation to create visual narratives. He is based in Providence, RI, affiliated with Aurora Photos and is also a photo-educator. One editor described him as a “… specialist in intercultural communication and visual narratives that excel in their creative mastery of light, shadow and sound, stills and video.”

Wells became the photographer he is today by first trying on the styles and/or methods of other well-known and historic photographers. Then he mastered the challenging discipline of color slide film. He fused all of these experiences, over 30-plus years, to develop his own style, built on a mastery of light, exposure and tonality, framing and composition with predictable and consistent control over focus and depth of field.

As a photography educator, he leads students to learn how to master consistently these same elements of photography. He was featured in Photo District News as one of “The Best Workshop Instructors.”

A Sicilian sunset (Photo by David H. Wells)

His project on the pesticide poisoning of California farm workers was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Over the years he has worked on assignment for such magazines as Fortune, Life, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Sunday New York Times, Time, etc. He also worked for corporations such as Consolidated Natural Gas and DuPont as well as for non-profits such as the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund.

His work has been featured in more than 50 exhibitions and he has taught workshops at the International Center for Photography in NYC and at the Maine Media Workshops. He has received two Fulbright fellowships, a grant from Nikon/N.P.P.A., a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation’s Program of Research and Writing on International Peace and Cooperation.

For more information on David H. Wells, visit his website.

Connecticut Valley Camera Club is dedicated to offering its membership the opportunity to become better photographers. The club 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 both sides of the river, from Middletown to Old Saybrook; from East Hampton to Old Lyme; and along the shoreline from Guilford to Gales Ferry.

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

 

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Essex Steam Train Offers ‘Three B’s’ (Beer, Bratwurst, Beautiful fall foliage) Cruise, Thursday

It’s the “Three B” cruise! Beer, Bratwurst, and Beautiful fall foliage on the Connecticut River. A great night is in store for you from the minute you smell the brats sizzling on the grill to the last sip of beer as you glide into dock after the last rays of a stunning sunset.

This unique evening on Thursday, Oct. 5 runs from 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. Arrive 5:15 p.m. in Essex for departure at 5:30 p.m. for a two-hour cruise on the Becky Thatcher Riverboat. Return to Essex at 8:30 p.m.

The evening offers:

•    tastings of several carefully selected craft beers provided by Cellar Fine Wines and 30 Mile Brewing Company
•    a buffet of brats and all the fixin’s
•    gift bag including an engraved beer glass as a memento

Note this event is for adults 21+.  Ticket prices are $60 in advance/ $70 Walk-up (pending availability.)

Visit EssexSteamTrain.com for tickets and more information.

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