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UPDATE: DIGBOSTON DISPATCH

Still from NOTES AFTER LONG SILENCE (1989) by Saul Levine
Still from NOTES AFTER LONG SILENCE (1989) by Saul Levine

 

News from behind the editorial curtain plus support for Saul Levine

 

Seeking next group of working-class journalists

In November, I put out the word that DigBoston was looking for working-class Boston natives to write for us.

 

Specifically, I called for locals with three of the four qualities we look for in good journalists: ability to communicate, compassion, and deep local knowledge. The fourth quality, formal journalism training, was something my colleagues and I were willing to provide at an introductory level to motivated applicants.

 

A very diverse group of 15 DigBoston readers hit us back, and we ultimately trained four of them in a free three-hour basic journalism workshop that Chris Faraone and I prepared for the occasion. Since then, two of the trainees have filed draft articles, and you can expect to see them published with us by summer.

 

So now we’re ready to accept new candidates for our next class of trainees.

 

And I’ll ask the same questions of interested audience members that I asked before: Are you a smart, compassionate, talkative person from one of Boston’s working-class neighborhoods? Can you put words in rows, and maybe take some pictures on your phone? Do you want to learn to be a journalist? Do you want to tell the world about the place you grew up? About its problems and its successes? About its corruption and its virtue? Its shame and its glory?

 

Yes? Then drop me a line at execeditor@digboston.com. Let’s talk.

 

Comment on reader feedback

A few weeks back, I asked DigBoston’s audience to send in comments about what they thought we were doing well and what they thought needed improvement. We then got a bunch of responses—most highly complimentary. Which were nice to read. But some folks also included some very useful criticism about some of our various beats and how we could make them better. We took those to heart and are working to make the requested improvements.

 

Follow DigBoston on Flipboard

In an editorial a couple of weeks ago, I announced that DigBoston is moving away from Facebook. Not so much because of the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal, as that the social media platform has become a drag to use and expects us to pay it to reach our own audience. Regularly. Naturally, the editorial was thin on specifics about how we would do without Facebook. I mentioned that Twitter was one logical place to focus our social media activity, but recognized that Twitter is not really so much different than Facebook that it will provide us with a long-term alternative.

 

However, there is one hot social network that can replace a big part of what news publications like DigBoston do on the internet… in a more equitable way for all concerned. While we participate in the movement to build the more democratic and decentralized social media we’d ultimately prefer to use.

 

Flipboard, which has been around for a few years, has more than 100 million users and growing, and provides a great way for people to share news articles with each other. And it’s perfect from our perspective because we don’t have to pay Flipboard to reach readers that follow us there. It pushes our latest articles to all our followers as part of its service.

 

After a couple of months’ wait, I’m pleased to announce that DigBoston has now been accepted as a Flipboard Publisher. And we invite all our readers to join Flipboard and follow us there. Here’s the link: flipboard.com/@DigBoston. You’ll find using Flipboard for your daily news dose to be a much more pleasant experience than using Facebook. And it’s just as social as Facebook with far more ways to share articles with your friends and family than the larger social network ever had.

 

Justice for Saul Levine

The Boston art scene was shocked last week when longtime MassArt film professor Saul Levine announced that he had resigned from his job after teaching there 39 years. Why? According to Levine, on the last day of his fall semester senior thesis class he was expecting students to present some of their work in progress. But they didn’t. Scrambling for something to discuss with them, he decided to review different editing constructions. He chose two of his short films to use as examples. One of which, NOTES AFTER LONG SILENCE, had a great number of fast cuts. He had shown the film every year in class since making it in 1989 and thought nothing of using it to make his points. The 15-minute film had some nudity and sex in it, but only a few seconds that go by so fast viewers typically barely notice it.

 

According to his friend, film critic Gerald Peary, in a Facebook post on Monday, at the end of the class one of the students asked Levine who was having sex in the film. He said, “It was me.” Then, unbeknownst to him, at least one student anonymously reported him to the MassArt administration for sexual harassment… or at least that’s what the school claims.

 

With no warning about what was coming, the administration called Levine into a Feb 8 meeting where he was “ambushed” and harangued for two hours by officials he felt sure had never watched the “offending” film. They apparently agreed with the anonymous student or students that his showing a movie in which he appeared nude and having sex (with a committed partner) did indeed constitute sexual harassment. Despite the fact that much of his body of artwork is very personal, and sometimes features him nude. And the fact that he had every right to show his own very public and very well-known artwork in his own class for completely valid pedagogical reasons. Artwork which is in no way prurient or pornographic.

 

Although he had a faculty union leader accompanying him in the meeting and was not fired immediately, Levine felt so pressured by the encounter that he decided to resign rather than wind up in a protracted and expensive legal battle with the administration to clear his name.

 

“I am a full professor in film and video,” Levine told me on Tuesday. “I am still teaching until 5/31. I chose to resign because I felt targeted. The 2/8 meeting let me know that they were gonna get me!”

 

Since making a video attacking MassArt last Thursday—excoriating the administration for effectively violating his artistic freedom, his academic freedom, and his rights of free speech and expression—his situation has received coverage in Artforum, Boston Globe, IndieWire, and other outlets.

 

Dozens of fellow artists and civil libertarians from around Boston and beyond are rushing to his defense. I strongly agree with them that MassArt’s treatment of him is unconscionable. I think the college should make a serious effort to bring him back. And its administration should put much more careful thought into how they handle similar incidents in the future.

 

NOTES AFTER LONG SILENCE can be viewed here: vimeo.com/73242778/. Levine’s video response to MassArt can be viewed at facebook.com/saullevine/videos/10215932754649479/. I encourage readers to watch both. And if they agree that justice was not done, to join me and other supporters of Saul Levine in contacting MassArt Interim Provost Lyssa Palu-ay (lpaluay@massart.edu, 617-879-7782) and Director/Title IX Coordinator Courtney Wilson (cwilson24@massart.edu, 617-879-7751) and demanding that MassArt apologize to him and offer to reinstate him to his former teaching post immediately—removing any blemish to his record that may have resulted from this unfortunate incident.

 

Levine concluded: “I’m out of MassArt but people should protest the attack on free speech—which includes showing my film and the manner in which I speak.” The last comment in reference to his lifelong speech and motor disabilities that he feels the college administration used against him.

 

Jason Pramas is executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston. He is also arts editor and holds an MFA in visual art from the Art Institute of Boston.

CARAMEL’S CARAMEL

Caramel at Caramel French Patisserie. Photo by Jason Pramas. Copyright 2018 Jason Pramas.
Caramel at Caramel French Patisserie. Photo by Jason Pramas. Copyright 2018 Jason Pramas.

 

A taste of the new French bakery cafe’s gateway dessert

 

The Boston area has been in the midst of a bit of a bakery renaissance in recent years. The growth of small upscale cafe chains like Flour and Tatte is testament to Hub dwellers’ love of sweets, and we don’t seem to have hit the “peak pastry” threshold yet.

 

Which is lucky because if there wasn’t room for more artisanal confections, then French chef Dimitri Vallier and his business manager sister, Sophie, would never have launched Caramel French Patisserie in downtown Salem in 2015, and at a second location in Davis Square, Somerville, last year.

 

And that would be a shame… because their baked goods and pastries blow every similar place in our region completely out of the water.

 

I mean, seriously, I spent the better part of a month in Paris in 2010. And I ate at over a dozen different bakeries there—all highly rated by locals—and Caramel is better than most of those. I’m no expert. But I’ve eaten lots of stuff at pretty much every noted Boston bakery, and I’ve never been to a place where, like the best Parisian bakeries, literally everything is delicious.

 

Visitors will need several visits to eat a representative sample of the array of croissants, tarts, macarons, and assorted fancy pastries on hand, but I recommend starting with their signature dessert first time out: the eponymous Caramel. It’s one of those creations that sounds simple enough when you read the ingredients but has clearly taken real mastery to perfect.

 

Delicate caramel mousse enrobing perfectly poached pear slices. The sweetness of the mousse cut by the freshness of the chilled pear. Presented in an artful shape and served cold. It’s a must try.

 

CARAMEL FRENCH PATISSERIE. 235 ELM ST., DAVIS SQUARE, SOMERVILLE;  ALSO 281 ESSEX ST., SALEM. CHECK THEM OUT ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM. WEBSITE COMING SOON AT CARAMELPATISSERIE.COM.

QUICK & DIRTY CAMBRIDGE CITY COUNCIL ELECTION GUIDE

collage of 2017 Cambridge City Council candidates
collage of 2017 Cambridge City Council candidates

Because in a race with 26 candidates, you’ll only remember slogans

 

November 1, 2017

BY JASON PRAMAS @JASONPRAMAS

 

Everyone outside Cambridge thinks they understand why it’s kind of a weird place. But to truly apprehend how odd the city is, you really need to vote in one of its municipal elections. Especially this one. Where else in the area do you have a ranked choice voting system where every candidate is an at-large candidate with a theoretically equal chance of winning one of the nine seats on offer, and every incumbent has to run for reelection in every election? What makes this year’s council race particularly wild is that there are three open seats. Meaning that there are six incumbents running, including the current mayor (a councilor who is elevated by a vote of her peers), and no less than 20 other candidates.

 

Having attended a recent debate with most of the candidates in attendance, I can assure you that it’s no easy task to even remember anything about individual candidates, let alone choose one to give your coveted #1 vote to (and then assign your #2 through #26 votes—although few people bother to go further than picking their top four or five choices).

 

So, as a public service to DigBoston’s Cambridge readers, I’ve put together the following list of all 26 city council candidates with one line or two to three phrases for each that I think encapsulates their campaign material, and a link to their website. Each of the six incumbents is noted with an asterisk. Hope it helps. Just try not to remember that an appointed city manager actually holds much of the power in the “People’s Republic.” (D’oh!)

 

Ronald Benjamin: wants to create community, votebenjamin2017.com

 

Josh M. Burgin: 25 ideas for Cambridge, votejoshburgin.com

 

Dennis J. Carlone*: manage new development, true to community values, denniscarlone.com

 

Olivia D’Ambrosio: arts, but not a one-trick pony, vote-o.com

 

Jan Devereux*: civic engagement, sustainable growth, jandevereux.org

 

Samuel Gebru: entrepreneur, community organizer, gebruforcambridge.com

 

Richard Harding Jr.: advocate for working families, voteharding.org

 

Craig A. Kelley*: vibrant local democratic institutions crucial to US, craigkelley.org

 

Dan Lenke: little city halls, nano city halls, potlucks, danlenke.com

 

Ilan Levy: activist since 2006, fought for the Foundry, critic of the Volpe plan, vote1ilan.net

 

Alanna M. Mallon: prioritize public service by strengthening social safety nets, alannamallon.org

 

Marc C. McGovern*: for collaboration and social/economic justice, gets results, marcmcgovern.com

 

Gregg J. Moree: concerned about lack of options open for our young people, greggmoree.com

 

Adriane B. Musgrave: fight so everyone in Cambridge has economic opportunity, voteadriane.com

 

Nadya T. Okamoto: protect the concept of home for all Cantabrigians, votenadya.com

 

Hari I. Pillai: not selling out values just for more economic growth, cambridge2017.city

 

Jeff Santos: progressive broadcaster, backs affordable housing and a living wage, santosforcitycouncil.com

 

Sumbul Siddiqui: affordable housing, economic development, civic engagement, votesumbul.com

 

Denise Simmons*: understands unique needs of residents in our community, denisesimmons.com

 

Vatsady Sivongxay: bringing diverse voices to the decision-making table, vatsady.com

 

Bryan Sutton: can analyze complex systems and make data-driven decisions, bryansutton.org

 

Sean Tierney: experienced public servant, dedicated to Cambridge, seantierney.org

 

Paul F. Toner: engaging people with a diversity of opinions to find solutions, tonerforcambridge.com

 

Timothy J. Toomey Jr.*: experience and vision to guide Cambridge’s continued growth, timtoomey.org

 

Gwen Thomas Volmar: for affordable housing, against luxury high-rises, votegwen.org

 

Quinton Y. Zondervan: environmentalist, helped create the Net Zero Action Plan, votequinton.com

 

*indicates incumbent