Friday Flicks: The Post

The Post (2017)

The Post (2017)

Friday, January 19, 2019 - 

Does America need a big, dumb love letter to the First Amendment at a time when its big, dumb president is hell bent on destroying the free press?

I’d be into that.

But does Steven Spielberg’s The Post offer anything more than self-congratulatory, overly simplistic, and perhaps even incipiently anti-democratic pablum?

Well… yes and no.

The Post tells the story of the 1971 debate within the editorial and business ranks of The Washington Post about whether or not to publish stories based on the Pentagon Papers, a trove of top secret documents that outlined decades of bipartisan executive branch decisions to keep the U.S. engaged militarily and politically in Vietnam.

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New Program Couldn’t Keep Him Alive

Liaison Jesus Garzon Ospina describes death of first LEAD participant.

Liaison Jesus Garzon Ospina describes death of first LEAD participant.

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 - 

Two New Haven police officers found Mark Cochran, 55 — the first person targeted for help in an experimental program to keep nonviolent offenders out of jail — slumped over and intoxicated behind Trinity Church on the Green.

It was a Thursday in mid-December. The police called an ambulance, and, when it arrived, Cochran picked himself up and walked over to the car of his own strength.

As the ambulance ferried him to Yale-New Haven Hospital, Cochran, who had struggled for years with homelessness and substance abuse, coded. Medical personnel on board were not able to resuscitate him.

Cochran was pronounced dead at the hospital soon after the ambulance arrived.

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New Haven “Rises” To King’s Full Vision

AME Bishop W. Darin Moore at New Haven Rising’s MLK Day rally at Varick Church.

AME Bishop W. Darin Moore at New Haven Rising’s MLK Day rally at Varick Church.

Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 - 

On the day that slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 89 years old, hundreds of New Haveners gathered to celebrate his legacy of racial and economic justice, and to extend that legacy to the current fight for immigrant rights.

Over 400 New Haveners packed into the Varick Memorial AME Zion Church on Dixwell Avenue on Monday night to sing, dance and listen to a three-hour Martin Luther King Day service organized by the local labor advocacy group New Haven Rising.

A diverse crowd of older African American churchgoers, UNITE HERE union organizers, and local politicians filled the pews and balcony, with an overflow audience moving to the church’s basement to watch a livestream of the festivities happening upstairs.

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The DNC Is Sorry

Keith Ellison.

Keith Ellison.

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 - 

Yes, the Democratic National Committee put “a thumb on the scale” to make sure Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in 2016. But it’ll do better next time.

So Keith Ellison — the DNC’s deputy leader — promised a church full of local Democrats Saturday.

Ellison, a Minnesota U.S. Congressman and prominent Sanders supporter who was elected DNC deputy chair in February 2017,  held a community forum on Saturday afternoon at First and Summerfield United Methodist Church at the corner of College Street and Elm Street. The forum was organized by the Connecticut Democratic Party.

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Friday Flicks: Top 10 Movies of 2017

Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird (2017)

Friday, January 12, 2018 - 

Well, it’s been a year.

I can’t remember the last time that Hollywood was the driver of one of the most important and far-reaching news stories in American culture.

But with the takedown of Harvey Weinstein (and so many other predatory producers, directors, and actors) and the rise of the #MeToo moment, women in the movie industry have not only helped lay bare the rampant sexual abuse and toxicity baked into the power dynamics of America’s preeminent entertainment industry.

They’ve also helped galvanize public concern around systemic sexism in all aspects of American society in a way that celebrities, perhaps, are best suited to do. They are people with incredibly high public profiles, adept at telling stories, who are finding ways to use their media magnetism to make a dent in an unequal society. For that, I can’t help but feel grateful.

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Some Of His Best Friends ...

GOP gubernatorial candidate Herbst in New Haven Thursday night.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Herbst in New Haven Thursday night.

Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 - 

Ex-Gold Coast investment banker Bob Stefanowski once wiped down seats at the Yale Bowl. And Timothy Herbst? He even has gay friends.

The two Republican gubernatorial candidates made those pitches Thursday night to members of the local party.

Stefanowski and GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Herbst both attended the Republican Town Committee’s (RTC) monthly meeting at 200 Orange St. to make their cases to New Haven voters in anticipation of the state party convention in May. It was the first in a series of opportunities for the crowded field of statewide candidates this year to try to convince the small but enthusiastic GOP in Democratic-dominated New Haven that they deserve its support — and that they can sell themselves to a city that last elected, say, a Republican mayor in 1951.

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Not-For-Profit Seeks Support To Keep Rebuilding In Hill

Hill North Management Team Chair Lena Largie (right) and Hill Alder Ron Hurt.

Hill North Management Team Chair Lena Largie (right) and Hill Alder Ron Hurt.

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 - 

A city not-for-profit that has spent nearly 40 years rehabilitating historic houses and supporting stable homeownership in the city’s poorest communities is looking for another round of federal grant money to help it continue its housing renovation and education work in the Hill, Newhallville and Dwight neighborhoods.

Bridgette Russell and Elias Estabrook of Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) made that pitch during the Hill North Community Management Team’s regular monthly meeting in the cafeteria at Hill Regional Career High School on Legion Avenue.

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Welcome To The Nut

Trish Clark presents at the kick-off event for last year's 48 Hour Film Project New Haven. (Thomas Breen photo)

Trish Clark presents at the kick-off event for last year's 48 Hour Film Project New Haven. (Thomas Breen photo)

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 - 

What do John McClane, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ and New Haven’s filmmaking community have in common?

Starting in January 2018, the answer to that question will be the Nutmeg Institute: A new venture from local movie advocates Trish Clark, Patrick Whalen, and Michael Field to help encourage and organize the production and enjoyment of movies in the Greater New Haven area.

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One of the group’s first initiatives toward bolstering the city’s cineaste community is a new, monthly brunch-and-movie series to be hosted at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, a North Carolina-style barbeque restaurant located at 196 Crown St. in downtown New Haven.

The series kicks off on Sunday, Jan. 14 with John McTiernan’s 1988 holiday/action fan favorite Die Hard, in which Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, a rakish off-duty NYPD officer who finds himself pitted against a cabal of German terrorists during a Christmas-time visit to Los Angeles.

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Friday Flicks: A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story (2017)

A Ghost Story (2017)

Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 - 

There is something brazen about telling a ghost story in 2017, the age of computer-generated everything, with a man dressed in a bedsheet with two droopy, cutout eyeholes.

Then again, there is also something a little unusual about a low-budget drama focused on two characters and a single location that also tries to tell the entire history of time and space, and then tries to figure out just how any single person can live meaningfully amidst such enormity and obsolescence.

Sure, The Tree of Life connected a Texan childhood with the age of dinosaurs. And Groundhog Day wrapped an existential crisis in romantic comedy. But did either of those movies have a bedsheet ghost? Not that I can recall.

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Engine 6 Pushes Through The Snow

Captain Wayne Ricks, Jr. puts on his boots and prepares to board Engine 6 at the Dixwell Fire Station.

Captain Wayne Ricks, Jr. puts on his boots and prepares to board Engine 6 at the Dixwell Fire Station.

Friday, Jan. 5, 2017 - 

The call came in to the Dixwell Fire Station at 3:43 p.m.: a box alarm at 55 Lock St.

“Let’s go,” Captain Wayne Ricks, Jr. said as he and a team of four fellow New Haven firefighters rushed from the station’s office into the cavernous garage that looks out onto Goffe Street and Webster Street.

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Cowboys Fans Bring Bikes, Toys & Football Love To Preschool

Essence Bennett gets a brand new bike from the CT Cowboys Fan Club.

Essence Bennett gets a brand new bike from the CT Cowboys Fan Club.

Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 - 

Essence Bennett arrived at preschool on Thursday expecting a regular day of reading, singing and naptime.

The Newhallville 5-year-old left preschool at the end of the day with a free new bicycle, courtesy of a local group of hardcore Dallas Cowboys fans who are as dedicated to community service as they are to professional football.

On Thursday afternoon at the Harris and Tucker School, a preschool, afterschool and childcare center on Newhall Street near the Hamden border, the CT Cowboys Fan Club held their first ever toy drive and bicycle give away.

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What I Learned In Democracy School

The author, with his Democracy School certificate.

The author, with his Democracy School certificate.

Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 - 

I didn’t sign up for Democracy School because I wanted to run for mayor. In fact, I don’t want to run for any elected office.

I’m a reporter for the New Haven Independent, and when I first learned about the city’s annual two-month crash course on the ins and outs of New Haven municipal government, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to become a better New Haven journalist.

My primary responsibility as a local reporter is to write with knowledge and clarity about day-to-day happenings in this city. But you can’t do that well without understanding the long-term factors that shape and influence any given night’s assignment.

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Former Refugee Takes LEAD Downtown

Jesus Garzon Ospina

Jesus Garzon Ospina

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 

A Gateway Community College student who first came to New Haven over 15 years ago as a refugee fleeing violence in Colombia has been tapped to help low-level, non-violent drug offenders on the New Haven Green avoid arrest and receive stable housing, employment and medical rehabilitation.

At Tuesday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team (DWSCMT) on the second floor of City Hall, the 20-year-old political science student at Gateway Community College, Jesus Garzon Ospina, introduced himself as the neighborhood’s new community liaison for the city’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.

LEAD is an experimental pre-arrest diversion initiative that the city launched at the end of November in the Hill and Downtown neighborhoods. The program, which was founded in Seattle and has been adopted in Albany, Baltimore, and Bangor, Maine, seeks to provide case management and rehabilitative social services instead of arrests and incarceration for low-level offenders engaged in drug abuse, prostitution and other non-violent street crimes.

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Organizer Takes “Sawdust-On-Floor” Tack

Lorenzo Jones (Katal Website photo)

Lorenzo Jones (Katal Website photo)

Monday, December 18, 2017 - 

For Lorenzo Jones, co-founder of the criminal-justice reform Katal Center, there is a big difference between being an advocate and being an organizer.

One strives for progress, the other for revolution.

“You measure community organizing in changing systems,” Jones said on the latest edition of WNHH radio’s “Criminal Justice Insider” program with Babz Rawls-Ivy and Jeff Grant. “You measure advocacy in reforms that you succeed at securing. As an organizer, you can get reforms, but that’s not organizing. You’ve got to go to the next step, where the system is operating differently as a result of you engaging with it.”

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Beer, Coffee, & Mushroom Businesses Under One Roof

Anthony Allen and Michelle Stronz, the founders of A Tipping Point (ATP), at Monday night’s meeting.

Anthony Allen and Michelle Stronz, the founders of A Tipping Point (ATP), at Monday night’s meeting.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 

A new not-for-profit committed to economic development with a social impact is looking to convert a vacant industrial building near the Mill River into the new home for a brewery, a coffee roaster and an indoor mushroom farm.

On Monday night in the John S. Martinez school’s library, local entrepreneurs Anthony Allen and Michelle Stronz held a community meeting about the plan, called A Tipping Point (ATP). They offered vision for how to create sustainable, environmentally-conscious economic development that directly benefits the neighborhoods in which that development takes place.

Thirty people came out to show their support and learn about the new project.

Allen, a social entrepreneur from East Rock, and Stronz, Allen’s former business school professor at Quinnipiac University, are planning on bringing three new businesses into a 25,000 square-foot former plate-glass factory at 20 Mill St. in the next few years.

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Friday Flicks: Lady Bird

LADY BIRD (2017)

LADY BIRD (2017)

Friday, December 8, 2017 - 

The high school coming-of-age comedy, when pitched somewhere between slapstick and sincere, may just be the perfect cinematic genre.

For therein lies the somewhat shameful but persistently heart-fluttering promise that any cinephile feels when the lights go down and the movie screen brightens: an exuberant, greedy, uncynical yearning for self-discovery. Limitless possibilities that run roughshod across the boundaries of a naïve, limited understanding of the world.

RushmoreDazed & ConfusedGhost World.

Youth is the subject of these movies, and, lucky enough for even the most jaded of film fans, youth is not just about being young.

Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird opens with a quotation from Joan Didion, that great neurotic chronicler of the sad, weird banality of California:

“Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento.”

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Female Ex-Cons Band Together

Jackie Lucibello (Paul Bass photo)

Jackie Lucibello (Paul Bass photo)

Friday, December 8, 2017 - 

Jackie Lucibello was serving a three-year sentence at the York Correctional Institution when she found out that her mother was dying from complications related to AIDS.

If Lucibello wanted to visit her mother in the hospital, she first had to be “blackboxed.”

A high-strength plastic box was placed over the key hole to her handcuffs to keep her from trying to pick the lock.

Chains running from her ankles to her waist to her wrists all intersected in that black box, rendering her practically immobile.

At the hospital, she was pushed in a wheelchair through the corridors, was not allowed to see any other visiting family members, and was watched by two guards with the hospital bedroom door open as she spent her final moments with her mother.

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Mid-Year Car Tax Increase Coming

Alders prez Walker-Myers breaks news to neighbors Tuesday night.

Alders prez Walker-Myers breaks news to neighbors Tuesday night.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 

New Haveners will receive a slightly higher mid-year car tax bill in January 2018 as the city looks to stay within budget without cutting social services, in the face of reduced state aid.

Board of Alders President and West River Alder Tyisha Walker-Myers revealed that news to neighbors at Tuesday night’s Dwight Community Management Team meeting, which was held at its regular monthly location in the gymnasium of Amistad Academy on Edgewood Avenue.

Walker-Myers told the two dozen attendees that the city will send out semi-annual car tax bills in January 2018 that will reflect a mid-year increase in the local motor vehicle mill rate from 32 to 37 mills. That means that residents will pay $37, rather than $32, for every $1,000 worth of assessed value for their cars.

That’s a mid-year adjustment for the fiscal year that began July 1. Taxpayers have already paid a car tax bill for the first half of the fiscal year based on the 32 mill rate.

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Alt-Transiteers Map Attack On “Anarchy”

Rob Rocke, Nadine Horton lead infrastructure session.

Rob Rocke, Nadine Horton lead infrastructure session.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 

More people biking in protected lanes, paying tolls, surviving crosswalks — and running, for office.

Advocates promoted that vision for safer streets and, with the running suggestion, how to realize it, at a strategy session Monday night.

The occasion was the latest edition of Transportation on Tap, a semi-regular conversation series organized by the local alternative transportation advocacy group GoNewHavenGo.

The series, started in 2015, connects transportation experts with community members every few months to talk about how to achieve improved pedestrian, cyclist and public transit infrastructure and access throughout the city.

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City Prepares To Clear Mill River Homeless Camp

Monday night’s East Rock Community Management Team meeting.

Monday night’s East Rock Community Management Team meeting.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 

The city is planning to clear a large Mill River homeless encampment near the Ralph Walker Skating Rink sometime before the beginning of the new year.

Livable City Initiative (LCI) neighborhood specialist Linda Davis delivered that message to the East Rock Community Management Team (ERCMT) on Monday night during the team’s regular monthly meeting at the mActivity Gym on Nicoll Street.

Davis told the team that the city’s Homeless Outreach Task Force plans to clear out a homeless encampment that has been active for months under the I-91 overpass sometime “before the first snowfall.”

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