Sep 142014

Salem Spice FestivalWhat can we tell you that has not been said previously? Salem thy name is diversity. Yes, we are world-famous for our month-long Haunted Happenings festival of events for Halloween. But on any weekend day, there is much more than monsters and mayhem. For example, on Sunday you can check out three special events spotlighting spice, steampunk and cars

Spice, as you may or may not know played a major role in Salem’s early seafaring history and it revisits our city this weekend for the Salem Spice Festival 2014 at Pioneer Village.

Spices, herbs and teas will be explored in culinary and medicinal usage to spotlight Salem’s long and fascinating history with exotic spices from around the world.

As always with most festivals in Salem, there will be arts and crafts, food, demonstrations, live music, lectures, workshops and storytelling featured as well. Salem Food Tours had a very nice photo essay of yesterday’s activities on their Facebook page.

This is a ticket free event (but they won’t turn away a donation). For more info on Pioneer Village at Forest River Park call 978-744-8815 or write to .

Photo courtesy Social Palates

Photo courtesy Social Palates

Steampunk is a grand perception of the future from a point in the Victorian past; science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology. But the concept jumped off the written page to become a style of life for followers. It influences their art, fashion, music, jewelry and so forth.

The Salem Arts Association  is showcasing “Gears, Grit and Gaslights: Steampunk in Salem,” a juried art show running now through to Sept. 28th on Artists Row, New Derby St.

Special juror for this show will be Victorian Lady Lisa, known locally and nationally for her Cape Ann cable TV show, All things Victorian and her book, International Steampunk Fashions. She is currently writing a second book on Victorian/Edwardian fashion. A third book, with steampunk designer/model phenom Karo, is also being planned.

Cars— fast ones, pretty ones, and perhaps a strange one or two will be parked along the Essex St Pedestrian Mall walkway on Sunday for your visual delight. The Village Tavern will be hosting its 1st Annual Antique Auto Show, featuring North Shore Old Car Club members displaying “styling” antique cars.

From noon to 5 pm you can look under the hood (sorry, no kicking of tires) and chat with owners who love their antique cars. There will be live music by the Olde Village Fountain and all proceeds raised will be donated to the Salem Veteran’s Services.

See, Salem is not just a bunch of hocus pocus…

Sep 212013

That which the world could have been, and yet can still be to some, fills the air at the next PEM/PM open late monthly evening party.  Steampunk will flavor this month’s Peabody Essex Museum event which celebrates time travel and globetrotting through PEM’s extensive riveting collection of art from around the world, Thursday, Sept. 26 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm.

The museum’s after-hours program with music and dance performances, food tastings, lectures, art demonstrations and activities kicked off in the summer of 2011, and has grown in popularity ever since. Besides the fantastic art collection as an attraction, this month’s theme will also draw special visitors.

Photo courtesy Social Palates
For the uninitiated, Steampunk embraces the social and/or technological aspects of the 19th century (think steam engines) at the expense of (quoting from “some deconstruction of, reimagining of, or rebellion against” parts (think punk) of the 19th Century. At least that was the launching point of this science fiction & fantasy subgenre.

It soon took on a life of its own; Steampunk burst forth onto the gaming scene, then into movies and TV. Steampunk clothing and accessories soon appeared. And then came the sub-culture of followers to the philosophy which melds ideals of creativity & self-reliance with a Victorian optimistic view of the future.

All this extra information is to prepare regular PEM/PM attendees because the PEM is inviting guests to wear their favorite Steampunk fashion and come, as the featured Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band requests, “to dance at the edge of reason, sing the song of society’s fringe and drum out whatever rhythm you are called to march to.”

Then take a Victorian-themed global quest via the PEM galleries to seek answers to art-related trivia questions. The evening includes cocktails & conversation, art making, and games, plus a tasting & demonstration by Brown Butter Bakery in Cambridge. And in attendance, a lot of costumed people celebrating a way of life.

No reservations are required. Members and Salem residents will be admitted free of charge; $10 for nonmembers. For more info call 866‐745‐1876 or visit the website at

And if you really get into the swing of the Steampunk mode, there will be an after-party party at Opus Restaurant, 87 Washington St. Call 978-744-9600 or go to their website for more info.