Monday, September 3, 2018

72 Hours in Vermont (on a budget)

We went on a 72-hour road trip to Vermont this week. It was our way to celebrate the end of the summer and beginning of the school year for both of us (Ryan is starting his MFA in Arts Leadership at Brooklyn College this year and I am entering my 3rd year of Ph.D. work at the Graduate Center). We rented the car from Newark airport because it's significantly cheaper by hundreds of dollars. If you live in NYC, you should do this... seriously. You may get caught in rush hour traffic when you return (ahem) but you'll have an extra $300 dollars in your pocket that you can put towards your next road trip. 

Vermont is my kind of place... politically progressive, values the arts, plenty of opportunities to be in nature and some mighty damn good food. 

We begin our food tour with... Sonny's Blue Benn Diner in Bennington. Cheap, delicious and cash only. This classic diner will warm your heart and fill your stomach. It will not empty your wallet. I've heard it said that Blue Benn is one of the "greatest diners in the Northeast" and despite being from New Jersey, I believe it. 

Vermont is hidden swimming holes. Our first stop was Warren Falls, the thing I dream of, turquoise water hidden away between rock gorges, natural water slides and pools up to twenty feet deep. The water is crystal clear so looks can be deceiving in terms of depth. The water is also cold... ice cold. It didn't deter either of us, especially Ryan who enjoys the occasional cliff jump (Warren Falls is full of various cliffs for jumping...). Don't be like me and forget your water shoes. The ground is steep is full of rocks. Additionally, the moss on the rocks make it very slippery. 

Entrance to Warren Falls... swimmers and sunbathers can walk a mile in either direction to enjoy this swimming hole. 

After 2 hours at Warren Falls we continued north towards Burlington to Leddy Beach. 

Shoreline at Leddy Beach in Burlington, Vermont. 

Willard Street Inn can be a little pricey, there are less expensive room options that are just as beautiful as the most expensive ones. The homemade breakfasts are unbelievable. This frittata is made entirely from the vegetables in the large garden located behind the Inn. 

Breakfast at Willard Street Inn. 

On our second morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the Inn and then headed over to Mount Philo in Charlotte to hike the 1.9 mile trail to the summit of the mountain. 

In the afternoon we headed over to Shelburne Farms. This working farm has several public education programs for people of all ages which include gardening, animal care and cheese making. We hung out with goats and took a walk on one of the many beautiful nature trails through large gardens.

Goat at Shelburne Farms. 

In the evening we headed back to the Church Street Marketplace, Burlington Vermont's "downtown" for a lovely dinner at American Flatbread, all natural brick oven pizza (here's a fascinating history of the oven, if you are wondering...) followed by dessert at Ben and Jerry's. 


"Every act we perform today must reflect the kind of human relationships we are fighting to establish tomorrow." 
- David Dellinger 

Resources and Recommendations:

Sonny's Blue Benn Diner
U.S. Route 7 North
Bennington, Vermont

Warren Falls
Route 100
Warren, Vermont

Leddy Beach 
Leddy Park Road, North Avenue
Burlington, Vermont

Willard Street Inn
349 South Willard Street 
Burlington, Vermont 

Mount Philo State Park
5435 Mount Philo Road
Charlotte, Vermont

Shelburne Farms
1611 Harbor Road
Shelburne, Vermont

American Flatbread Pizza

Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Three hours in Coney Island - August, 2018

I love Coney Island. This doesn't come as much of a surprise to folks who know me well. At first, it started out as sort of a joke. I didn't really love it as much as I said I did... or maybe I did, I don't really know. It's campy, loud and kind of dirty. The food is expensive (though totally fulfiling boardwalk goodness) and at least once per year the Cyclone gets stuck and riders have to be evacuated. However, despite some of these quirks, it truly is my favorite place in the world. Maybe it's because I grew up on the Jersey Shore and this place reminds me of home like no other... or maybe it's just the diverse community of people enjoying themselves at the beach... or the beach itself... whatever it is, nothing grounds me as much as a few hours at Coney Island. 

For years I've been going down to Coney Island at all times of year (the dead of winter is the best) to take photos. At some point, I'll pick the best ones out. Yesterday I only had my iPhone with me, but for a little phone, it takes wonderful photos. I call this mini photo essay "Three hours in Coney Island". 

The classic Wonder Wheel shot. Without a photo of the wheel was I really even in Coney Island? If you have 3 hours in Coney Island, you must ride the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone. Both require separate payment at the entrance (and don't take tickets). One has to get at least one ride in each season. I have not been on it yet this season but there is time... I mean, only 2 more weeks until school starts. Clearly, I better get on this... 

Iconic Nathan's. I usually go to the one at the boardwalk and have a picnic on the beach but this one is the most iconic and the site of the annual hot dog eating contest on July 4th. Joey Chestnut is still the reigning male champion for the 11th year in a row, having downed 74 hotdogs in 10 minutes. Miki Sudo remains the female hotdog eating champion for the 5th year in a row. 

The Nathan's website offers suggestions for how to dress your dog but I prefer the classic - sauerkraut, relish, mustard and ketchup. Utter perfection. 

The water was cleaner than I've ever seen it before and those unfriendly clouds provided some much-needed shade from the sun but sure caused some havoc on the walk home.

I was supposed to be reading theory for school but somehow the theory turned to poetry. Andrea Gibson speaks to my soul in a way that very few humans can. I tried to get their latest book but it wasn't available at The Stand yet. 

Closing with some necessary inspiration from Andrea Gibson... 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Palestine - To Be Continued

There is too much to say about Palestinian theatre that I have left off this blog because I am in the process of writing two articles - one for HowlRound and another for Arab Stages which will speak in detail to the experience. I will be posting links as soon as they are available.

This mural is on the wall at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Dispatches from Palestine (Part 2)

"You are witnessing our annihilation..." - Bank teller in Ramallah

For most of my life, the only images I ever saw of Palestine were crying women and stone-throwing youth. The US media does a terrible job of portraying Palestine, even the progressive media. I was contemplating whether or not I should post some of the photos below because it reinforces a certain image of Palestine that already saturates the media. This was not the Palestine that I experienced. It was certainly part of it given that it's under a military occupation, but it's really important to portray the joy, resilience and life that was present in every second of the day. However, to not show the occupation is equally problematic. 

The entrance to the Al-Amari Camp. Many of the camps have large keys near the entrance. The key is a symbol of the Nakba - the catastrophe, the final turn of the house key and displacement of 750,000 Palestinianian women, men and children who were thrown out of their homes in 1948. Many of these people still hold on to their house keys. 

 Israeli soldiers outside of the Ibrahami Mosque. To enter the mosque you have to go through several checkpoints (see one below) and show your passport.

Below: Handala on the wall of the Aida Camp in Bethlehem. Handala was first created by Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali who wrote: “The child Handala is my signature, everyone asks me about him wherever I go. I gave birth to this child in the Gulf and I presented him to the people. His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way." Read more here.

A mural on the wall in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.

The other side of the wall - Jerusalem.

A woman waits for a bus to get from Ramallah to Jerusalem. Distance wise, the trip should be less than thirty minutes but because of security, it took us three hours. We switched vehicles several times. We were fortunate that our American passport allows us to visit Jerusalem. Many of the youth we worked with are not allowed to visit. 

Gernika refers to Guernica, the town that was razed by German soldiers during the Spanish Civil War. The attack specifically targeted civilians and was the topic of the famous painting by Pablo Picasso.


One of the murals in Ramallah asked "These Walls Can Talk - Will You Listen?" and that is the question.

When is the world going to listen?

Dispatches from Palestine (Part 1)

So many more questions than answers.

When I first arrived in Palestine I struggled with how to write about it. What is my responsibility as a westerner, specifically an American in documenting the Palestinian struggle against the occupation? What is my role as someone with an extreme amount of privilege, a US passport holder who can come and go as I please and buy pretty much anything I need while on the ground in talking about life under occupation? How do I speak to "audiences" (which for now consists of the ones I have on social media) who already have a preconceived idea of what Palestine is and is often driven by an extreme religious ideology that commits them to dehumanize an entire population (I'm talking about evangelical Christians more than anyone else)?

These photos don't begin to do anything justice - it's an attempt to start figuring out what questions to ask and where to enter the conversation.

More to come...

A boy selling birds and poultry at a shop in Hebron. 

Glassmaker in Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank. The city is divided into two parts - H1, which is under Palestinian control and H2, which is under Israeli control.

Finding Wifi in Bethlehem. 

Children playing in Hebron. 

Three photos of children and youth in the al-Am'ari Refugee Camp. Established in 1969, the al-Am'ari Refugee Camp is a Palestinian refugee camp in east Ramallah. Al-Am'ari suffers from a water crisis, poor sewerage, unemployment and overcrowding. A large majority of the population is under 18. 


Tattoo in Ramallah. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Greetings from Ramallah!

Marhaba from Ramallah in the West Bank.

Al-Manara Square in Ramallah

I am here to do pre-dissertation research and as a participant in the Ashtar Youth International Theatre Festival which begins on Saturday. I have a fantastic group of artists from New York City (the Co-Op Theatre East youth ensemble) who will be joining me tomorrow.  This week I am beginning to collect interviews with theatre artists working in Palestine. I will be doing that the entire time I’m here but I’ve had an extra week to get everything kick started and get acclimated.

I have been studying Palestinian culture and theatre since I was in undergrad but there is no amount of reading that can prepare you for what is actually happening on the ground here.  In only four days of being here, I have met some of the most remarkable people, artists and activists from around the world.

I have never felt so welcome as a stranger to a new place. For example, I took a shared taxi to Jenin (which is the most northern city in the West Bank) today and was speaking with a young woman named Noor who was sitting next to me in the cab. She was pointing out various sites like olive orchards, villages, checkpoints and Israeli settlements. She invited me to her home for lunch. We spoke about life in Jenin and how her family had moved several times because their home was destroyed by buldozers and then bombed. 

Homemade Palestinian lunch in Jenin. 

I am looking forward to sharing more stories and photos from Palestine in addition to sharing more about Ashtar.

Ashtar aims at making theatre a fundamental need within Palestinian society, through stimulating cultural awareness, awakening perceptions towards aesthetics and arousing artistic sensibility and taste. It also seeks to build and strengthen cultural bridges with the Theatre World through creative works and ideas. Ashtar is actively engaged in researching and experimenting with various artistic elements, tools, and techniques. It aims at creating at theatre that has the scent of Musk, the color of Amber and the taste of Figs. A theatre that is capable of penetrating all walls including that of the audience’s unconscious.

The entrance to the Ashtar Theatre in Ramallah. 

I look forward to sharing more from Palestine and the Ashtar International Youth Theatre Festival. Here are a few more photos from around the neighborhood. 


Rooster on sale at poultry and bird farm

Sunset over Ramallah

Friday, July 13, 2018

Belgrade in Photos

Because this is a photo blog… here are my favorite photos from Belgrade.

Protest outside of the National Museum in Belgrade

After the rain 

The view from my flat

Lido Beach 

Kayaking tour in the Danube 

Graffiti on the wall outside of the University in Belgrade

Lido Beach

Fisherman on the Danube 

Architecture in Belgrade

Another view from the entrance to my flat.

Neigborhood park. 

Red umbrellas outside of Manufaktura 

Swans on the Danube 

This wraps up my time in Belgrade. I look forward to returning to this wonderful city in the near future.