‘Ma Rainey’s’ in command of the room at Two River

Although there hasn’t been any sort of an official mission statement to that effect, it’s becoming apparent that Two River Theater Company is well on its way toward mapping and exploring the celebrated “Century Cycle” of the late August Wilson — that collection of ten somewhat interconnected dramas; each one examining a facet of the black American experience in a different decade of the 20th century.With the current production of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Two River offers up its fourth Wilson script in five seasons (following “Jitney,” “Two Trains Running” and “Seven Guitars”) — and, with the return of frequent collaborator Ruben Santiago-Hudson as director, the Red Bank-based professional troupe re-establishes a direct connection to Wilson’s legacy (a Tony winner for his own acting turn in “Seven Guitars,” Santiago-Hudson worked numerous times with the playwright who died in 2005) — tapping into a stock company of seasoned performers (augmented by some welcome newcomers), for a Wilson staging that just might be the best yet seen on the Red Bank boards. MORE THEATER: 'PRODUCERS' TAKE THE STAGE AT PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE  An early triumph for Wilson and his first Broadway breakthrough, the 1984 ensemble piece exists at a remove from the larger cycle (for one thing, it’s the only one of the ten plays that doesn’t take place in the author’s hometown of Pittsburgh) — and while it came to be more or less retro-fitted into the grander scheme of things, it’s not necessary to have seen any of the playwright’s other works to appreciate “Ma Rainey.” It’s a strong stand-alone; one of the playwright’s best-realized scripts and a worthy encapsulation of the themes of social injustice, great aspirations and shattered dreams that pulse through Wilson’s body of work.Set inside a Chicago Continue Reading

Makin Waves with Lambertville’s The Paper Jets

The Paper Jets are a Lambertville-based power-pop band with strong, intelligent lyrics and a Beatlesque, Cheap Tricky sound that soon can be heard on a fifth release being produced in the quartet’s home studio at the abled hands of drummer-engineer Frank Lettieri Jr.The band’s second LP, “Everyday Forever,” is expected to be released by year’s end, possibly on a large independent label. An exclusive video for the anticipated single, “Say I Can,” can be enjoyed above.In their home rehearsal/recording studio, I chatted with The Paper Jets — also vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist Brian Erickson, lead guitarist Mike Virok, and bassist Scott Austin Miller — about the new material. Some will be played for the first time on May 7 when they make their lCourt Tavern debut playing for longtime friend Brittney Dixon, the club’s general manager/promoter. For more about the band, visit www.ThePaperJets.com. READ: More Makin Waves columns Question: You’ve gone back to being a four-piece rather than a power-pop trio?Frank: We always felt that we were missing a little bit. It was fun being a trio, but we felt like if we had the opportunity to make an addition, it would benefit the music. And it’s done that. Q: You’ve put the brakes on live shows to record ‘Everyday Forever,’ but you’ve scheduled one for May 7 at the Court Tavern. Comment on why you’re looking forward to that show and why it will be special?Brian: Scott is brand new. The Paper Jets have never played The Court Tavern either.Frank: We’ve played in different bands or at the Halloween show.Brian: Frank and I did a Halloween show with the two of us and two of the guys from Small Planet Radio. We were The Replacements for Halloween.Q: So you’re close to Brittney, who you’ve played for a bunch, but this is your first time playing the Court for her?Brian: Yeah, she did The Saint, The Rail, Hamilton Stage Continue Reading

Help: Food, water, toilet paper, baby items, boxes needed

As we continue to deal with this weekend's catastrophic flooding throughout Acadiana, we want to make sure the community is informed about all available resources: where to get help, and how to give help.Again, please continue to send us your latest photos, videos and any other information about resources for flood victims.PLUS, All you need to know: Get all the latest info here | Helicopters drop supplies to 1,500 motorists | Your latest flood photosTo drop off supplies, including food, clothing and blankets: The Daily Advertiser, 1100 Bertrand Drive, Lafayette, is serving as a drop-off point.Volunteers are helping us sort and deliver items to the National Guard who are using high water vehicles and dump trucks to bring supplies to people stranded in high water. Most needed right now are food, water, toilet paper, and baby items.Please come by at any point this morning or afternoon if you have anything to donate to victims or if you'd like to help.If there are specific items you need, or you're at our building and need assistance, call 318-419-5253. More details to come.To connect with people in the community who may have resources to share, join the Acadiana Flooding Message Board on Facebook.Here is the list of shelters available for those fleeing flooded homes and streets, courtesy of KLFY: Opelousas:  Iberia Parish Lafayette Parish Vermilion Parish Youngsville ScottIn Lafayette Parish, sandbags may be picked up at the following sites:Sandbags will be available throughout the weekend. Residents must fill their own sandbags. Breaux Bridge: 231 Refinery Street (old DOTD site). For more information call 332-2186In New Iberia, Mayor Hilda Curry tells KLFY that the city facility at 907 Fulton St. will be handing out sandbags from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. today.City officials are asking residents to approach the sandbagging facility from the North Street side in order to Continue Reading

Two Rivers family: ‘We’re all OK’ after fire

TWO RIVERS - Tess Fallier and Ray Miettinen, who, along with their five children, were displaced by a house fire, are finding themselves overwhelmed by support from the community.“Overall, we are doing good,” Fallier said. “You’ve got to roll with it, I guess. But we’re all OK.”Their home at 2012 Jackson St., Two Rivers, was mostly destroyed by a fire that started in what used to be the family’s living room Nov. 11. Luckily, no one was home when the fire started.RELATED: Two Rivers family displaced by house fireRELATED: HTR paper carrier helps save Manitowoc womanNow, only a few days after the tragedy, Fallier and Miettinen said the community has risen to help their family.A friend has given them a place to stay until they can arrange to move into a new home and others have given them a couch, bed mattresses and other necessities the family needs. A local church has even offered to adopt the family for Christmas.“It is amazing how much people have helped, like crazy amazing,” Fallier said.Fallier said she posted on Facebook pages where people sell secondhand items, asking for help.“There must have been a hundred responses,” Miettinen said.Miettinen said it has been difficult for him and his family to have to ask for help. He has been offering his services as a construction worker to those who have helped his family.“Our good friends and family have been like, if we need anything, just ask,” Miettinen said. “They have been very understanding, too. They know how we are and that asking for help while we’re figuring things out is difficult.”Fallier and Miettinen were renting the house from Karin McCoy. The family did not have any renter’s insurance and most of their possessions were destroyed.“Pretty much everything is — I mean it is covered with that wet, black soot stuff and it reeks,” Fallier said.Firefighters were called to the scene the Continue Reading

Christina River suffering

For centuries, water went downhill literally and figuratively in the big 565-square mile Christina River basin that fills the drinking taps for more than 70 percent of northern Delaware residents and 40 percent of Chester County, Pa.Although the Christina basin boasts sizable wooded and natural areas, much of it fails to meet Clean Water Act requirements for swimming use because of bacteria levels, especially in the lower reaches. Floating and bottom sediments, some toxic, also are problems – particularly around Wilmington and industrial sites in both Delaware and Pennsylvania. Fertilizer-like nutrients from farming, suburban lawns and other sources also have degraded the water and habitats.Presently, none of the fish in tidal portions of the Christina, Brandywine and White Clay Creek are considered fit to eat even once a year because of cancer risks and other health concerns from toxic polychlorinated biphyenyls and dioxin, and in some cases the banned pesticide dieldrin.In the most-recent complete studies, state and regional officials have warned that regular, lifetime consumption of catfish from the lower Christina and Brandywine can increase additional lifetime cancer risks to 1-in-1,000 – far greater than the 1-in-100,000 or 1-in-1 million risk thresholds often used by state and federal regulators to trigger action.Although the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has reduced PCB releases to the river from individual spots by more than 50 percent in recent years, relatively huge amounts still wash in from stormwater drains and other undefined sources.Other pollutants trickle in from a variety of sources: legacies of old shipbuilding and civil war tannery operations in Wilmington; a shuttered and bankrupt specialty paper-coating business in Yorklyn; landfills and chemical plants in Newark; a paint plant turned federal Superfund site near Elsmere. In some spots, including along the Red Clay and White Clay Creeks, industrial Continue Reading

Flint red flag: 2015 report urged corrosion control

LANSING -- A March 2015 consultant's report recommended spending $50,000 to add corrosion control chemicals to Flint's drinking water because iron was leaching from the pipes and turning the water brown — a significant and relatively early red flag that city officials and regulators missed, experts said Thursday..The report, commissioned by the City of Flint from the multinational environmental consulting firm Veolia, made no mention of lead leaching into the water and did not cite health concerns, only aesthetic ones. Its recommendation to add phosphates to soften the water would have cost a tiny fraction of today's mounting costs to address the Flint drinking water crisis, but it went unheeded by the city's state-appointed emergency manager."If you've got iron sloughing off (the pipes), you've got other metals sloughing off, including lead," said Joan Rose, a chair of water research in MSU's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and a former chairwoman of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water committee.The March 12, 2015, Veolia report, addressed to former Flint emergency manager Gerald Ambrose, had earlier been posted on the Flint website. It resurfaced Wednesday when Snyder released hundreds of pages of e-mails related to Flint that he sent and received in 2014 and 2015.It appears Snyder did not get the report when Ambrose did. An electronic version of the report was forwarded to the governor by his then-chief of Staff, Dennis Muchmore, on Oct. 13, after state officials acknowledged a health problem with Flint water following months of denials.Ambrose could not be reached for comment Thursday.Snyder and his administration are under intense criticism and media scrutiny over the poisoning with lead of a still undetermined number of Flint children while the city was under control of emergency managers the governor appointed. In April 2014, in what was to be a Continue Reading

Diehard supporters of Yankees, Red Sox are the most passionate in all of sports

Five days after the Titanic hit ice and sunk in the North Atlantic, its maiden voyage turning tragic at the 41st parallel, a far more benign unveiling took place on the coast of Massachusetts. It was a Saturday, April 20, 1912. Following two days of rainouts, the Boston Red Sox finally played a game in their new home, Fenway Park.  The field was built on a patch of former marshland. Boston's star center fielder, Tris Speaker, knocked an 11th-inning single to bring a 7-6 victory. The opponent that day was the New York Highlanders - soon to be the Yankees - and if you don't find that fitting, well, you haven't been paying attention over the last 97 years. The Highlanders/Yankees were on their way to their worst record (50-102) ever, while the Red Sox were about to win the World Series. Soon enough an iconic star, Babe Ruth, would be sold, the clubs' fortunes would reverse, and baseball's oldest, hottest and most chronicled rivalry would be on its way, a hardball border war that has not always been torrid (raise your hand if you spent time in 1966 debating who was better, Steve Whitaker or Jim Gosger), but has given us more great theatre than Broadway, and all manner of psycho-socio subplots for no extra charge. "Long before I knew the word 'conspiracy,' I felt it every August, when the Yankees would get the exact player they needed from the Kansas City A's, and would beat us out again," says Rob Gilbert, who grew up in Boston before becoming a professor and sports psychologist at Montclair State University. From Russell Earl Dent to Aaron John Boone to David Ray Roberts, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry has produced epic moments and Ted Williams for the great Joe DiMaggio); some infamous brouhahas (Carlton v. Thurman, Bill Lee v. Graig Nettles, Pedro v. Zim) and ceaseless taunts and retorts. "Got rings?" reads a popular Yankee T- shirt, reminding Sox fans of their 26 World Series titles. "Got rings lately?" reads a popular Sox T-shirt, reminding Yankee fans Continue Reading

Castle Mound’s dramatic rock formations make for a nice hike in the Black River State Forest

It was a beautiful late-fall day last year when I found myself stuck inside — a car in this case.On my way from Milwaukee to Eau Claire, the freeway miles piled up behind me as the sun shone outside, teasing me from a bluebird sky. I had to get out of the steel bubble and soak it in.Luckily, I was just shy of Black River Falls, home to the 68,000-acre Black River State Forest.The forest in Jackson County buzzes with activities year-round — sometimes literally, as ATVs and snowmobiles zip along more than 30 miles of trails. It's also a popular spot for mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, camping, hiking and cross-country skiing in the winter.It was just me and my legs that day, so I opted for a quick jaunt on one of the forest's hiking-only trails, the Castle Mound Nature Trail.Most of the forest is northeast of I-94, but a couple of small parcels, including this trail, are south of the interstate.Tucked along Highway 12 southeast of Black River Falls, the trail is in the Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area, which protects a 180-foot butte of Cambrian sandstone. The mound's location and orientation creates different plant communities on either side of the mound, "an ecological dividing line," notes a sign along the nature trail.The cool, north side harbors a boreal forest of white and red pine, paper birch, white oak, red maple and large-toothed aspen — a collection of trees typically found about 100 miles north. The drier southern side of the mound is home to jack pine and oak plus prairie flowers such as goldenrod — a forest community more common 100 miles south.I parked near the trailhead at the entrance to the Castle Mound campground and started southeast down the 1.5-mile nature trail that circles the base of the mound, traveling a wide and easy path. About midway down the mound, I followed the half-mile trail that climbs up and traverses along the top Continue Reading

Southwest Florida Fishing Report: Redfish, Spanish mackerel, red grouper action strong

School bells across the region will ring this week as the summer break comes to a close. All who wet a line both shallow and deep were hopefully rewarded, as the various bites have for the most part been quite consistent.Out on the grounds, the bell also has sounded for several exciting species. Redfish are beginning their anticipated late-summer aggregation, Spanish mackerel continue to gather in numbers over the nearshore structure, and red grouper have started to move slightly eastward and stack up over the natural reef areas.With plenty to choose from, catching success relies on having the right supplies. Similar to pencils, paper, tablets and laptops, students of the fishing game have to show up on the scene well prepared with the correct approach techniques and baits in order to get the bites. Like achieving good grades, those that put in the work reap the spoils.Live sardines/shrimp, lures and flies will attract the attention of many inshore species, especially redfish. Patterning the movements of redfish is just as paramount as presentation. Creatures of habit, redfish will stage up and feed in certain locations at certain times during the tidal phases. Solving the equation is indeed half the fun.Arriving early to Spanish mackerel class will earn anglers extra credit points in the catching department. Positioned along our region’s coastline are many artificial wrecks and reefs. Resting in the less than 30 feet of water depth, these fish havens are currently hosting large schools of the feisty mackerel. Heavy chumming with frozen block combined with casting jigs, spoons and live sardine will keep anglers hooked up until the midmorning recess hour.The half-day grouper action has so far been inconsistent this summer season, while landings on full-day excursions have been robust. While not impossible, half-day grouper success can be found through aggressively moving from location to location. Larger profile live baits deployed to depth combined with Continue Reading


We're just as surprised as we can be - aren't you? - to discover that so far not much is happening with this big, robust peacekeeping force that the UN pledged to dispatch pronto to preside over brotherhood and goodwill forevermore in the promised lands as the Security Council forced an end to Israel's war of self-defense against Hezbollah. Italy, standup kind of country that it is, commits to supply up to 3,000 troops in short order, and places like Finland and Bangladesh have offered contributions as well, but nearly everybody else is scrambling furiously to squirrel out of any significant participation. Chiefly France, naturally. France until just a few days ago was supposed to be leading this UN force. Now France thinks it can't spare more than a few hundred soldiers. Reason, so stated: The UN ceasefire resolution does not sufficiently spell out the rules of engagement. France, you'll recall, was a co-author of the very resolution it is complaining about. So it is unclear exactly when all these UN boots are going to be on the ground in southern Lebanon to back up all those Lebanese soldiers who are moving southward to secure the Israeli border country, but who are, of course, not for a single minute going to dream of tangling with the Hezbollah gangsters, who are clearly the big guns on the block. Neither, it appears, will the UN peacekeepers, at whatever point they start arriving. Disarm Hezbollah? That's not the UN's job, says Secretary General Kofi Annan, that's the Lebanese government's job. No, replies the Lebanese government, that's not our job. And even Secretary of State Rice is left to talk about Hezbollah disarming voluntarily. Well, then. Never mind all these ongoing UN demands that Hezbollah surrender its weapons. Doesn't seem to be anybody's job to see to it that this happens, does it? The UN ceasefire resolution is a grotesque joke, another utterly worthless piece of paper to come out of Turtle Bay. Board games There are millions of Continue Reading