Letter From Italy

Padua From Padua’s Piazza Insurrezione, where I was standing at 11 in the morning on April 16, the general strike–Italy’s first in twenty years–looked and sounded like a great success. More than 70,000 people were already jammed inside the mid-sized square along with their broad union banners and thousands of flags. Three immense vertical standards–one for each of the labor confederations–loomed over the crowd. The noise was deafening: drums, horns, gongs, a PA system on the electronic equivalent of steroids and 70,000 voices cheering each announcement: “We’re ten million strong! More than half the labor force is striking against the antidemocratic policies of Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right government! Three-hundred thousand are marching in Florence, two-hundred thousand in Rome…” The demonstrators in Padua–a university town forty minutes west of Venice–weren’t just striking, they were celebrating. Gathering together 70,000 adversaries of Berlusconi in the heart of the miracolo del nord-est–the economic miracle of Italy’s conservative northeast where small- and mid-scale manufacturers have produced one of Europe’s greatest concentrations of wealth–was a miracle in itself. The union banners identified the protesters: eyeglass assemblers from Santa Maria di Salva, carpenters from Iesolo, leather workers from Verona (most of them African immigrants), poultry processors from San Martino, hospital workers and schoolteachers from Venice. But students, university professors, insurance brokers and television producers also carried union banners. Thousands of others–teenagers, homemakers, young professionals–marched with family and friends. The unions called the strike to protest a reform that would undermine the 1970 Workers’ Statute, the key guarantee of labor rights in Italy. That’s why Sabina Tonetto, a 26-year-old software Continue Reading

Makin Waves with Modern Chemistry

Modern Chemistry may be an unsigned band, but damn, are they a good one!The New Brunswick-based alt-rock act has toured nationally with Mayday Parade and Taking Back Sunday, whose front man, Adam Lazzara, produced the band’s third and most recent EP. “Dreaming Adjacent” was released earlier this year to raves from Alternative Press to The Aquarian Weekly, both of which touted Mod Chem as one of the nation’s best up-and-coming unsigned bands.The four-piece’s original vocalist-guitarist Joe Zorzi, guitarist-vocalist Brendan Hourican and drummer Jesse Slachman have been joined on the road with Goodbye Tiger vocalist-guitarist Rob Talalai on bass. Their next show on Dec. 16 at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville will mark the third time that Modern Chemistry has opened for Taking Back Sunday at their annual Holiday Spectacular. The weekendlong celebration also will feature Philly indie rockers Starting Line on Dec. 16 and New Brunswick-based Pure Noise recording artists Gates and the reunited Seattle band Acceptance on Dec. 17.For more about the Taking Back Sunday shows, visit www.starlandballroom.com. For about Modern Chemistry, visit www.facebook.com/modernchemistry or www.modernchemistry.bandcamp.com and check out the following chat with Zorzi.Question: What are the band's connections to Christian Brothers Academy and Rutgers University, and how did those relationships form Modern Chemistry?Answer: A few of us went to CBA, but the band didn't form until Rutgers. We all lived really close to each other, and it fell into place kind of perfectly. Living so close to each other really helped us grow together and figure out what we wanted to be as a band. Q: Along with Brand New, Taking Sunday is among the band's biggest influences. What did you like most about recording your most recent EP, "Dreaming Adjacent," with Taking Back Sunday front man Adam Lazzara?A: You know, the whole thing was really just as good as it Continue Reading

Get your geek on: The best ways to celebrate Pi Day

Pi Day is a yearly celebration of that useful, yet irrational number that has a transcendental pull on thousands of math nerds around the world. Pi (3.14159265359 ... ) is used to calculate the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The number has become an integral part of geometry, trigonometry and physics. But for die-hard fans, pi is much more than that. It’s a predictable challenge, a constant that has a wild sort of beauty. It has eluded its seekers for almost 4,000 years. The ancient Babylonians and Egyptians came close to approximating its value, but it was the Greek Archimedes of Syracuse who first used the Pythagorean Theorem to prove that pi is between 3 1/7 and 3 10/71. Hundreds of years later, mathematicians are still trying to wrap their heads around the concept. In 2010, a French computer scientist claimed to have calculated pi to almost 2.7 trillion digits. RELATED: PI DAY GALLERY -  CELEBS GETTING PIED IN THE FACE Congress officially recognized March 14 as Pi Day back in 2009, in an attempt to encourage STEM education. But don’t be fooled — this holiday isn’t just for math teachers. Whether or not you’re interested in the relationship between a circle’s circumference and diameter, here are some of the best ways to get geeky on Pi Day. Take the Pi Day Challenge. This delightfully complex series of puzzles is the brainchild Matthew Plummer, a former math teacher at Boston’s Hanover High School. Plummer wanted to share his love of pi with his students, so he created the site back in 2007. Since then, more than 100,000 people around the world have accepted his challenge. Scroll to the bottom of this page to take a stab at one of Plummer's puzzles. Have a Pi-arty. Pi Day is also an excuse to meet other math nerds. You can liven up a pi-themed party with a game based on Pilish or Piem — poetry based on the successive digits of pi. According to Pilish expert Continue Reading

Phila Rawlings Hach, grande dame of Southern cooking, dies

Before there was elevated Southern cuisine, before we thought in terms of foodways, there was Tennessee native Phila Rawlings Hach, knuckles-deep in biscuit dough, wearing a floor-length apron and a frock with frills.The grande dame of our culinary region died Wednesday morning at the age of 89.In the pioneering days of television, Mrs. Hach was recruited by WSM-TV to do a cooking show. Called "Kitchen Kollege," it ran from 1950 to 1956 and was the first show in the South to try such a thing.At the time, Mrs. Hach was balancing a career as a flight attendant for Pan American and American Airlines. Not content to just serve coffee and tea, she created one of the first cooking manuals for the aviation industry.Through international travel, Mrs. Hach saw the opportunity to learn new cuisines and techniques. It was an early harbinger of her tenacity, where she would walk into the great kitchens of the Savoy in London or the Hotel Georges V in Paris and simply ask to cook along.During one of those hotel stays in Paris, she met a handsome man who offered to help with her luggage. That young tobacconist, Adolf Hach Jr., lived in Clarksville and reached out to her via letter after seeing her on television. The two would marry in 1955.After life on and in the air, Mrs. Hach and her husband turned their attention to catering, restaurants and inn-keeping. In 1964 they started the Hachland Hill Inn in Clarksville, adding Hachland Hill Vineyard in 1984 near Joelton. They sold the Clarksville property and a farm in 2005, but the vineyard and adjoining Spring Creek Inn still operate under the hand of her son Joe.Mrs. Hach loved to tell stories in an offhand way, like, "There was that time in 1976 when I cooked for the United Nations."A commemorative marker in Centennial Park tells the "official" story of how Gov. Ray Blanton and Mayor Richard Fulton persuaded 101 permanent members Continue Reading

Restaurant review: The Bowery Diner

With its glossy nostalgia and haute comfort food, The Bowery Diner seems eager to claim the mantle of Florent, the legendary all-night Meatpacking District diner that epitomized ’80s New York in all its gritty lunacy. Along with ’40s-noir graphics, burgundy vinyl booths and abundant stainless steel, The Bowery Diner boasts a row of black message boards with white plastic letters at the bar — a direct homage to Florent’s mordant signature placards. That was then, this is now. While its kitchen executes in a way Florent’s never managed, The Bowery Diner is lacking something more important: a sense of place. Absent are the dry wit and seen-it-all smarts of a true New York joint. Its earnest retro feels more Johnny Rockets than clubland. You’ll have no sense you’re sitting on the same Soho strip as the New Museum. That said, The Bowery Diner makes an easy spot to while away a weekday evening, when locals seem to outnumber visitors, or late weekend afternoons, when the place exhales after brunch. A long, sleek bar in Miami Beach white and turquoise dominates a front room whose diamond-punched metal walls recall sleek Airstream trailers. Bar mirrors tout carefully painted messages like “EGG CREAM-MILKSHAKE-SODA” and “COCKTAILS-MARTINI.” In case you miss the point, the soundtrack to Barry Levinson’s 1983 hit “Diner” is showcased on a front shelf, and a gleaming vintage Seeburg jukebox squats near the entrance. The menu mostly matches the surroundings, with upscale updates of ersatz-diner classics served on old-school Homer Laughlin porcelain. Belgian-born chef Mathieu Palombino, whose artisan pizzas made Motorino a mecca for foodies, takes a more-is-more approach with some dishes, and deconstructs others. As an exemplar of the former, his twice-baked Mac + Cheese is a thing of beauty. A crispy, blistered top layer yields to a molten mix of cheddar, goat cheese, Swiss and heavy Continue Reading

7 theater reviews in a nutshell: What to see this weekend in Phoenix

A new theater season gets in the swing of things with beauty queens in drag, a parody of ’20s musicals and a parody of “Three’s Company” that might have you running for exits. Here are this week’s short reviews.Great ★★★★★ Good ★★★★Fair ★★★ Bad ★★ Bomb ★★★★★“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first hip-hop musical, the Tony Award-winning “In the Heights,” gets a local premiere at Phoenix Theatre that’s energetic and heartfelt. Pasha Yamotahari stars as Usnavi, a bodega owner who narrates the story of Dominican-Americans struggling to get by in a New York neighborhood beset by rising rents, and he is an absolute charmer, rapping with aplomb as he crisscrosses the line between hip-hop braggadocio and nerdy self-deprecation. Other standouts include Christopher Brasfield (gorgeous tenor) as the one non-Latino character trying to fit in and Johanna Carlisle as the quirky but loving Abuela Claudia. The broad strokes of the narrative — two of-course-they-will love stories punctuated by right-on-time strokes of good luck and tragedy — are old-school musical theater, but the characters and setting set the show apart. It’s a love letter to a place and a people performed with genuine affection.Bottom line: Sincere performances and some spicy tunes make a joyful noise for the audience. READ: Full review of “In the Heights”Details: Reviewed Friday, Sept. 9. Continues through Sunday, Oct. 2. Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell Road. $30-$80 (subject to demand pricing). 602-254-2151, phoenixtheatre.com.★★★★They’re handing out Kleenex at the exit for iTheatre Collaborative’s production of “The Velocity of Autumn,” Eric Coble’s intimate drama about a mother and son facing a future that’s Continue Reading

Every Indy food + drink event you need to hit in April

Egyptian Room at Old National Centre, 502 N. New Jersey St., indianaontap.com/next-hop-model/Taste the beer and rate the looks at this totally tongue-in-cheek fashion show 7:30-10:30 p.m. April 28 at Old National Centre’s Egyptian Room. Down unlimited beer tastings from 15 to 20 of the Indy area’s most popular craft breweries while their celebrity staffers work the runway in brewery apparel and gear. Every look will be for sale at the event. Don’t forget to personalize your own outfit for this Craft Beer Week headliner. Tickets cost $35. Pan Am Pavillion, 201 S. Capitol Ave., indyvegfest.comStep aside bacon lovers. This is an all-vegan event, although meat-eaters will find some delicious bites like truffles from Litterally Divine Chocolates, chunky nut butters by Revival Food Co., Mami’s Gelato flavors and craft beer from Metazoa Brewing Co. They’re among at least 18 food vendors. See cooking demonstrations, hear from speakers, visit healthy living and eco-friendly vendors, take a fitness class and bring the kids to Pan Am Pavilion noon to 7 p.m. April 29. S is for ‘scallops Hyatt Regency, 1 S. Capitol Ave., (317) 275-4040, indyreads.orgThe annual Indy Reads fundraiser Alphabet Affair started with the letter A in 1999. This year, it’s up to S and the theme is “stunning and spectacular” 6 p.m. April 29 at Downtown’s Hyatt Regency. Wear an S-related costumes, maybe a sailor, super hero or sexy beast. The menu is still in the works, but expect S-heavy fare. Scallops? Steak? Strawberries? Stay tuned. Tickets cost $125. Proceeds benefit adult literacy programs. Cowpokes and Cocktails Lucas Estate, 1143 West 116th St., Carmel, (317) 275-1316, eiteljorg.org/cowpokesandcocktailsHit Carmel’s Lucas Estate Party Barn wearing your Wild West best for this high-end event replacing Eiteljorg Museum’s Buckaroo Bash. Smoked barbecue and all the fixin's come Continue Reading

It’s dear ol’ Dad’s day to shine

Dear Dad: Every year I write you a letter thanking you for your love and support, even when I was behaving pretty badly. Looking back, I just wanted to let you know that it was even worse than you thought. I wanted to spare you. Now that I've got that off my chest, I feel better already. Thanks, Dad. Oh yeah. Sunday is Father's Day. Let's Eat Out. If you want to treat Dad to the very best, head straight for Da Gianni's in Long Island City. It's sumptuous and romantic. The service is warm, and the cuisine is deliciously elegant. Specialties include fresh mozzarella di Bufala ($8), thinly sliced carpaccio of beef with arugula ($11), homemade fettuccine with pancetta and onion in tomato sauce ($13), chjicken scarpariello with white wine and rosemary ($16) and veal stufeed with mushroom, prosciutto and fontina cheese ($23). Da Gianni. 21-50 44th Drive, Long Island City, Queens. 718-707-0442. Dad has always been my knight in shining armor. But if you want to see a re-enactment of 11th century jousting and pageanty, invite Dad for a performance and feast at Medieval Times, located in Lyndhurst, NJ just one mile west of Giants Stadium. As you enjoy the spectacle of horsemanship, swordplay and chivalry, you'll jump into a spectacular meal of garlic bread, soup, roasted chicken, spare rib, herb-basted potatoes and the castle's freshly made pastry. It's okay to eat with your fingers - they didn't have forks back then! Medieval Times. 149 Polito Ave., Lyndhurst, NJ. 888.WEJOUST Rare Bar & Grill is a real guy kind of place and Dad will love the hearty he-man grub. The weekend brunch is a great introduction to the Rare experience. Specialties include a ground Kobe beef omelet with melted cheddar and caramelized onions ($13.50), challah bread French toast topped with warm bananas and Vermont maple syrup ($10.50), lump crab meat benedict with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce over two English muffins ($16) and a Texas omelet stuffed with cheddar and organic Texas Continue Reading

Corrections & Clarifications

To report corrections & clarifications, contact:Please indicate whether you're responding to content online or in the newspaper.The following corrections & clarifications have been published on stories produced by USA TODAY's newsroom: February 2018Life:An earlier version of this report incorrectly credited the 1996 Summer Olympics performance of The Power of the Dream. Celine Dion sang the theme at the opening ceremony; the song was performed again at the closing ceremony by Rachel McMullin and a choir of other children. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2016/08/04/olympics-theme-songs-katy-perry-whitney-houston/87968806/​ Sports: A previous version of this graphic incorrectly located hockey player Megan Keller's hometown on the map. https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/sports/winter-olympics-2018-team-usa/#/profile/megan-keller/ Sports: An earlier version of this story misidentified the U.S. hockey player who is quoted in the third paragraph. https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/winter-olympics-2018/2018/02/17/ilya-kovalchuk-hockey-olympics-usa-russia/348011002/ Opinion: An earlier version of this column mischaracterized who could receive a tax credit for campaign donations. It would be refundable and available to all Americans who file taxes. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/02/14/paul-ryan-tax-cut-how-start-fixing-democracy-1-50-week-jason-sattler-column/332739002/ Sports: A photo in some editions Feb. 8 incorrectly identified the person next to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The person was special teams coach Joe Judge. Sports: A headline in some Feb. 12 editions had an incorrect result of Serena and Venus Williams’ doubles match in the Fed Cup. The sisters lost. Twitter: On Feb. 11, a previous tweet misidentified Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson. https://twitter.com/USATODAY/status/962907261801783296Life: Continue Reading

Mob frameup bombshell . G-man’s informant is eyed

PROSECUTORS are looking into allegations that three mobsters serving life terms for murder were framed - possibly by an informant handled by indicted ex-FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio. Investigators for newly elected Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice are examining the role that the late Colombo capo Greg Scarpa Sr. played in the convictions of rival capos Joseph and Anthony Russo and associate Joseph Monteleone, sources told the Daily News. All were found guilty in 1994 of murder and racketeering charges arising out of the internecine Colombo war of the early 1990s in which 11 people were killed. A spokesman for Rice declined to comment, but sources familiar with the probe said that her office was examining new evidence, including testimony in a separate case that pins the slayings on others. "Scarpa Sr. wanted the [convictions] to get rid of anyone else with claims to any leadership," said Stephen Dresch, a private investigator who spent years unraveling the ties between Scarpa and DeVecchio. "[Scarpa] was on the rise," Dresch said. "DeVecchio had this vision of having an informant as head of the family." DeVecchio, 65, was charged last week, in a case brought by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, with four counts of murder for allegedly feeding Scarpa inside dope he needed to kill his enemies. Dresch and an associate, private eye Angela Clemente, played an early role in bringing out evidence against DeVecchio that Hynes' office turned into a criminal indictment. Scarpa died in prison in 1994. DeVecchio, who has vigorously denied any wrongdoing, is free on bail. Asked about the latest twist in the Scarpa-DeVecchio saga, Mark Bederow, the retired FBI agent's lawyer, said, "This is the first we've heard of it." The Russos, who are cousins, and Monteleone are serving life terms for the 1992 shooting deaths of gang rivals John Minerva and Michael Imbergamo in front of Minerva's Massapequa, L.I., pastry shop. In 1996, a judge agreed to Continue Reading