Nov 122015

You don’t write because you want to say something… you write because you have something to say —F. Scott Fitzgerald

Salem LitSo many, many people have had such a great deal to “say” over the years that a regular gathering of writers and readers was inevitable to share and discuss those thoughts put to words. These gatherings are called Literary Festivals and Salem has its own taking place right now, Nov. 12-18.

Among the highlights of this year’s Salem Literary Festival will be guest lecturers Frank Bidart, Stacy Schiff and Brunonia Barry, plus a full day of activities for writers that features an open mic session, a scavenger hunt and playwriting advice from the creators of the critically acclaimed local mainstay Cry Innocent.Salem Lit Fest

11/12/15 – Frank Bidart
Kick off the festival at the Salem State Writer’s Series with a reading from poet Frank Bidart whose first books, Golden State and The Book of the Body, gained critical attention and praise. His reputation as a poet of uncompromising originality was made with The Sacrifice, published in 1983. The 2007 recipient of the Bollingen Prize for Poetry, he teaches English at Wellesley College.

(Time: 7:30pm at Salem State University, Martin Luther King Room, Ellison Campus Center. Admission is free of charge.)

11/13/15 – Stacy Schiff
Join Pulitzer Prize winning author Stacy Schiff for the keynote address and presentation of her new historical work, The Witches, Salem 1692 which she researched at Peabody Essex Museum’s Phillips Library. Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Saint-Exupéry, Pulitzer Prize finalist; A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, winner of the George Washington Book Prize. Named a 2011 Library Lion by the New York Public Library, she lives in New York City.

(Time: 7pm at Peabody Essex Museum, East India Marine Hall. Admission: PEM Members $7; nonmembers $10. Reservations must be made by November 12. For more info go to or call 978-542-1511.)

11/14/15 – A Day For Writers
Nestle into the beautiful Salem Athenaeum for the day. It will begin by bringing you prompt sessions to wake up your writer’s brain. Choose your guide from among fantastic local writers, such as Jaffa award-winning poet Danielle Jones-Pruett or Audrey Mardavich. Keep the creativity flowing with panels on writing adolescent characters for adults, YA, sci fi / fantasy, and poetry.

Learn how to start and run a literary magazine with The Critical Flame and Buck Off Magazine, and gain insights to the page-to-stage process of playwriting with Mark and Kristina Stevick, creators of the Salem theatrical institution, Cry Innocent.

Share your own work at the afternoon open mic, investigate Salem’s literary history and hidden gems as part of an ongoing scavenger hunt, and stay for a Movietelling Reading where fresh young poets will read their own versions of the script over such favorites as Disney’s Cinderella and Return to Oz.

(Time: 10am – 1pm and 2:30pm – 6pm at Salem Athenaeum. Admission is free of charge.)

Brunonia-Barry-RGB-273x30011/18/15, Brunonia Barry
End the Salem Literary Festival by attending the last of the “Seven Lectures at Seven Gables” series with New York Times bestselling author (The Lace Reader) Brunonia Barry who will lecture on her book, The Map of True Places. Set in Boston and Salem, this well-crafted novel has been described as immersive and beautifully written as it explores finding one’s true place in the world.

Barry was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Strnad Invitational Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction.

(Time: 6pm at House of Seven Gables. Admission: House of the Seven Gables members are free; Non-Members pay $7. For more info email, or call 978-744-0991 ext. 104.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed – Ernest Hemingway

Come to the Salem Literary Festival where you will meet those who have achieved success as writers and mingle with those (such as yourself?) thirsting for that success.

Nov 052015

Best Chef 1Blending food, competition and a fundraising event, the Salem YMCA and Creative Salem have partnered to host the 2nd annual Salem’s Best Chef competition, Nov. 7th from 6:30 – 9:30pm at Ames Hall within the Y building.

You are invited to be on hand to observe local Salem chefs facing off to see who reigns supreme.

“Salem is a force in the culinary scene,” explains John Andrews of Creative Salem. “The one constant we have all year long (through Haunted Happenings, the Maritime Festival, cultural happenings, growth in the city, etc.) is an ever growing and changing culinary scene.”

He continues “With those plethora of events throughout the year, the ever expanding culinary scene and the popularity of cooking competitions, it was a unique but logical choice to not only highlight some awesome local chefs but to give a little sample to people to try out some of the offerings in Salem.”

Adding to the local theme, each chef will create three dishes utilizing ingredients from local vendors that participate in the Salem Farmers Market!

Also included in the Best Chef event will be a “Taste of Salem” featuring local restaurants, brewers, and cider masters offering samples to attendees. These include:

Far From the Tree Cider
AMano Italian Kitchen
Ken Rothwell Catering
In A Pig’s Eye
The Lobster Shanty
The Cheese Shop of Salem
Deacon Giles Distillery

This event supports the Salem YMCA and its Annual Campaign which helps fund community initiatives in the areas of the achievement gap, teens, aging population and childhood obesity. It also supports greater access to Y programs in health and wellness, aquatics, camp, child care and in the areas of arts and theater through scholarships and financial assistance.

Guest judges include: the 2014 winner Antonio Bettencourt; 2014 Businesswoman of the year Brandi Dion, owner of B&S Fitness; and the creator of Nosh Northshore and Dinner Dealer Jessica Brand Alves.

Best chef 2Andrews points out that last year’s event revealed that “Putting the focus on the chefs in a city where we don’t really do the ‘celebrity chef’ thing didn’t involve some of the ego that can usually go into these events.”

In fact, it was just the opposite, providing a chance for the locals to really see who is cooking for them in their favorite local restaurants.

Andrews, a former chef himself reveals, “One of the wonderful things about the culinary scene in this city is that a lot of the staff that work in these places frequent each others establishments so there is a real wonderful sense of camaraderie at events like this.”

Best chef 3Additional entertainment at Best Chef  will be provided by DJ Noel Snow and a fun-filled photo booth.

Andrews adds, “With Mayoral visions of a shared kitchen incubator space.. An exciting artisanal beer, cider and spirit scene… A vibrant and thriving Farmers Market…The potential turning of the page on the possibility of food trucks… and some really wonderful new options for people to dine… we need residents & visitors to support all these initiatives and new businesses; hopefully events like this and the upcoming Salem Restaurant week will encourage people all over the region to start seeing Salem as the culinary destination that it is.”

Tickets are $35 or $50 for VIP access! (VIP access includes a drink ticket and balcony seating!)
Call 978-740-9622 for more info.

(Photos courtesy of Social Palates Photography)

Oct 282015

Spice ChallengeWhat isn’t different in Salem MA during Halloween what with all the witch-stuff, ghostbusters, zombie nurses, etc.? How about these two alternative events for Friday Oct. 30th evening: the First Annual Spice Eating Challenge at Artists’ Row and the Salem Classical production Songs of the Supernatural, produced with support from Salem Main Streets and Creative Salem.

Deborah Greel, Public Art Planner for the City of Salem (Department of Planning and Community Development) describes both events as having an “appeal to tourists but definitely geared for locals too.”

The Heat is ON

Step up to the 1st Annual #Salem MA Wicked Hot Spice Tasting Challenge!!! It will be conveniently located in one of our hottest creative spaces, Artists’ Row, and hosted by Karen Scalia of Salem Food Tours (which is itself located at Artists’ Row). The Challenge will run from 6-7pm, rain or shine. Sign up sheet to be a taster available night of the event.

“The tastings will be four types of mashed chili peppers,” explains Scalia. “Four levels of hot fun – from mild, medium, hot, and SUPER HOT!”

Too afraid to try the heat??? Then just come on down to cheer the poor souls on!! Bwahahahahahaha

The chilis are being supplied by Salem Spice, which also will have them for sale during the event.

“We are thrilled to stage this free community event,” states Scalia. “It’s a fun and exciting way to start Halloween weekend in Salem, a fantastic way to celebrate Artists’ Row, and a great way to support our local fire department.”

Salem Fire Department Local 172 will be in attendance selling tee shirts to raise money for local fire station amenities (which are usually paid for out of pocket by fire-fighters).

SHU ChilAs for just what makes chili peppers such a hot deal? According to the website, “That spiciness we all love and crave comes from a compound called capsaicin that is found in all hot peppers. Interestingly enough, capsaicin is found in no other plant than the chili pepper. A single drop of this substance combined with 100,000 parts water is still noticeably spicy.”

As for advice when the heat is too much to beat? The website advises “Don’t Drink The Water! Pure capsaicin is soluble in alcohol but not soluble in cold water. Hence, instead of dousing the raging flame on your tongue, the water will only spread the spices around in your mouth and make the situation worse. Instead, try sugar or milk to curb that luscious heat.”

For more info, check out the Challenge website.

And if you DARE for more, The Lobster Shanty (also on Artists’ Row) will be serving some delicious spicy HOT specials to get your taste buds roaring.

Coldly Haunting Classical

A siren haunts a rock on the river Rhine.
A princess, locked away in a Bronze Room.
A charlatan conducts sham séances.
A teenage girl, driven to suicide by cruel fate

The Salem Witch Trials are not the only persecutions fixated on the supernatural. Explore dark magic and tragic heroines, set to hauntingly gorgeous music by Schubert, Berlioz, Liszt, Menotti, Lees, and Rorem, when Salem Main Streets and Salem Classical present the Salem debut of Songs of the Supernatural at the First Church in Salem (316 Essex Street) at 8pm.

Kate KostopoulosKate Kostopoulos will be the performing soprano; she is from Boston and has been pursing vocal performance for the past six years and simultaneously maintaining a career in Arts Administration.

She is a recent graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music where she received her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance. Earlier this year Kostopoulos was a Young Artist at the Atlantic Music Festival performing opera and art song repertoire.

Brendon Shapiro will be her pianist; he is a vocal coach, musical Brendon Shapirodirector, and conductor based in Boston. Currently serving as a staff pianist at Boston University and organist for First Parish in Arlington, MA, he has additionally been hired by numerous opera companies, recitalists, choral ensembles, and religious organizations in the area.

He also is on faculty as a vocal coach at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Shapiro holds a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano Performance from Boston University and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Ithaca College School of Music where he won the Mary Hayes North Piano Competition Award.

Salem Classical is the home of classical music located in the heart of the pedestrian zone of historic downtown Salem. The mission of Salem Classical is to remove the boundary between the public and performers, bringing some of the greatest music ever composed to Salem.  Audiences are invited to frequent concerts as a compliment to the overall cultural experience in the city of Salem that includes dozens of restaurants, shops, and museums. And witches, ghostbusters, etc., etc.

For more info go to the Classical Salem website.

This upcoming Friday night is the “calm before the storm,” so why not venture out for chili and classical? Only in Salem MA would saying that make any sense.

Oct 062015

Salem is going to the dogs, and we couldn’t be happier about it! Salem Main Streets is excited to be working with Salem Pet Photo, the New England Dog Biscuit Company, Creative Salem, It’s Reigning Cats-n-Dogs, and a number of other community partners to introduce the first annual Howl-o-ween Parade, to be held on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 1 pm on Artists’ Row.

People in pet costumes? That’s not unusual, at least for this city. No, this event will feature pets as participants/stars in a parade and costume contest with prizes! Howl-o-ween will also include a pet photo booth, some games, and an area with information about local rescues and pet-focused downtown businesses.

howl-o-weenv2“There have been many wonderful October pet events in the past,” says Kylie Sullivan, Executive Director of Salem Main Streets, “but I didn’t see anything planned for this year. I really wanted to do something special that would engage our residents, appeal to our visitors, and celebrate our local businesses.”

She adds, “Salem is such a pet-friendly community; it seemed like a no-brainer that we needed a pet parade during Haunted Happenings.”

Pets of all species are welcome, but should be well-behaved and comfortable at a busy event where there are likely to be many dogs.

“I think the City of Salem’s Artists’ Row is the perfect venue for Howl-o-ween, and not just because it’s a safe space for the attendees,” explains Sullivan. “From the pet-inspired works at Diane Hoffman DINO Textiles to the very dog-friendly Lobster Shanty, there are such great partners on the Row to play with for an event like this.”


Costume ideas at Penelope’s (now inside Coon’s)

This is a free event, though attendees wishing to participate in the parade will be asked to register at the event to make note of their pet’s name for judging and verify that all required vaccinations are up-to-date.

In addition, Salem Main Streets is working with Creative Salem & It’s Reigning Cats-n-Dogs on a special social media contest for the “Black Cat of Salem.” Details to come!


Aug 232015

Remember Pokemon from your childhood? Or perhaps you are actively involved with some form of anime now? The videos and card games are still going strong. As is a much more grown-up and tightly written anime called Attack on Titan. Both of those as well as three other forms of anime will each have a day of exposure during the Flying Saucer Pizza Company special Anime Week, Aug. 24-28.

AnimeExplains Nicole Spirito, General Manager of Flying Saucer, “This is the first EVER Anime Week at Flying Saucer in our three years of being in business.  We are well known for our creative intertwining of delicious pizza and good nerdy fun, and I decided that it was time for the anime/manga crowd to have a fun week just for them!”

Harrison’s Comics & Pop Culture in Salem is co-sponsoring the week long event and is supplying raffle prizes. It also holds Pokemon sessions & tournaments on Sunday afternoons.

She adds, “Harrison’s Comics has always been a loyal friend and partner with us as business owners in Salem, and we saw this as the perfect opportunity to have our worlds collide, so to speak. Many of our staff and customers are avid anime enthusiasts, and we all enjoyed collaborating on ideas to make this week fantastic.”

The night returns some fan pizza favorites, including the BULBASAUR and VEGETA – as well as introducing some lively cocktails. You are invited to wear your finest merch to receive some “awesome” Saucer freebies.

For those of you that don’t know about this art form, the word anime is a shortened version of animēshon and can be characterized by colorful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastical themes.

Anime weekAccording to Wikipedia, “The earliest commercial Japanese animation dates to 1917, and production of anime works in Japan has since continued to increase steadily. The characteristic anime art style emerged in the 1960s with the works of Osamu Tezuka and spread internationally in the late twentieth century, developing a large domestic and international audience. Anime is distributed theatrically, by television broadcasts, directly to home media, and over the internet. It is classified into numerous genres targeting diverse broad and niche audiences.”

In other words, anime is everywhere and enjoyed by males & females of all ages and nationalities.

The schedule (at posting time):

  • Monday – Pokemon
  • Tuesday – Naruto
  • Wednesday – Dragon Ball Z with a special screening of Resurrection F at 8pm
  • Thursday – Inuyasha
  • Friday – Attack on Titan with a late night screening from 11pm-1am

And, don’t forget, adds Nicole, “We’ll be raffling off killer memorabilia provided by Harrison’s Comics each night!”

Flying Saucer is located at 118 Washington St, in Salem MA. And Harrison’s is across the street from Flying Saucer at 252 Essex Street.