Summer Bliss: Maxwell in Concert

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Friday night, I had the best time seeing Maxwell perform live at Foxwoods in Connecticut. Maxwell has been a favorite artist of mine for decades and I had never seen him before.

It had been a while since I had been to a concert at all. After Prince died, I resolved to attend more live shows. I will never regret seeing Prince in concert on the spur of the moment. There is nothing like a live performance.

I had to save and budget for this little trip. This week money will be very tight, because of course unexpected things always come up at the worst time. But I am so glad that I went.

A friend invited me to attend with a couple of her friends and I did not hesitate agreeing to go. We decided to stay overnight at a nearby hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Preston Casino Area, so we wouldn’t have to worry about driving back to Massachusetts the same night and just enjoy ourselves.

The Hilton Garden Inn is a nice hotel and in great location. On my drive down, I passed Mystic Pizza 2. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go in and try their famous pizza. Ever since I saw the movie, one of my all-time favorites, I’ve always wanted to try it and visit the Mystic area.

Also, since I wrote my Craving Boston article about modern Native American food, I wanted to try the food at the Pequot Museum in Mashantucket, which is just minutes away from the hotel. So I already have a return trip in mind.

Back to Maxwell. Before the show, we had a quick dinner at Fuddruckers, because we were running late. The show was a real treat for all of us. I forgot just how much I love Maxwell’s music. He and his band were incredible. And Maxwell is sexy as hell! Go and see him if you can.

You can tell that Maxwell was truly grateful when he thanked us for supporting him for 20 years. He kept mentioning how old he is at 43 and how much he has learned along the way. He knows and respects his audience and we all felt it.

He spoke about the racial tension in this country after the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the police officers in Dallas. The show was a momentary escape, but all that is going on right now was still not far from our minds. Before he sang Lifetime, Maxwell let us know that all our lives matter and yes, Black Lives Matter too.

By the way, I’m listening to his music as I write. If you have Amazon Prime, it appears that all his albums are available in the music library for free.

After the show, we stayed nearby in the casino area, had drinks, listened to music and danced. None of us are gamblers, but we still had a blast.

The next morning we had brunch at the hotel. It was good, reasonably priced and I’d recommend staying there and eating there too. Then we left.

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It was a quick trip and I combined some additional freelance writing work with it as well. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I stopped in Tiverton, Rhode Island on the way back home. Tiverton is quintessential quaint New England. Such a beautiful area!  Milk_&_Honey_Tiverton_Rhode_Island

Milk & Honey is the cutest little store that I found. It has all sorts of local food products. I enjoyed the lemon Yacht Club soda. Delicious! Did you know that their brand is Rhode Island’s Official Soda? It is! I’m also looking forward to trying the Summertime Garden Honey that I bought. It’s from Sakonnet Seaside Bees at Hollygate Farm also in Tiverton. I could not find a website to link to for them unfortunately.Yacht_Club_Soda_Hollygate_Farm_Honey_Tiverton_Rhode_Island

Anyway, while I was there I took many more pictures and did an interview for my next Craving Boston article. Stay tuned!

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Prince Gave Me Religion

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When I heard that Prince died, I was in shock and in transit. Between home and work. When I got on the train, my hands were shaking as I texted my friend the unbelievable and sad news.  So many thoughts swirled in my head all at once. I thought he was alright. He was supposed to be recovering from the flu. Not dead.

Now I am even more grateful that I saw Prince perform live in 2004, when he was here in Boston. The chance to see him came out of the blue. In the middle of the workday, a friend and co-worker told me that she had just gotten tickets and asked if I wanted to go that night.

Did I want to go?! Of course I wanted to go! It was probably the best show of my life. He played for three hours non-stop. His band took a break and he kept going. Playing the guitar alone and talking to all of us in the audience. He gave that show his all. It was amazing.

When I heard that Prince died, I flashed back to college. It was around 1986 and I had tried in vain to win tickets to his concert. I used to be quite good at winning radio station contests and had hoped that my luck would continue. I didn’t have the money to buy tickets, so winning was the only way that I could possibly attend the concert. I didn’t win. I will never forget that moment of realization that I wasn’t going to the concert — sitting at a table in Usdan cafeteria practically in tears and inconsolable. Thinking I will never see Prince and my life is horrible.

When I heard that Prince died, I flashed back to high school and had to laugh. I remembered being at home with a new Prince poster on the wall in my room. He was dripping wet in the shower, wearing a black bikini and a very provocative look on his face. My father walked in to the room. Looked at the picture. Shook his head and walked out.

I was not raised in the church, so I did not learn most of the things that most church-going kids know. Like the Lord’s Prayer. Yup. Prince taught me the Lord’s Prayer. The only reason I can even pretend to recite it today is because I played Controversy so many times. I even feel guilty knowing it, because of how I learned it. While I was playing that song, Dirty Mind, D.M.S.R., Let’s Pretend We’re Married and so many other songs from his many albums that I had back then, my thoughts were anything but pious.

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Since Prince died, I’ve read so many articles about him and how he was so much more than his music. Especially for those that knew him well. Prince truly cared about people and the world and wanted to make it a better place. He was a philanthropist in secret and now so many of his good works are coming to light. He was a fan of the Black Lives Matter movement and supported them without any public acknowledgement.

Prince quietly was a force behind #Yes We Code, an organization founded to help young people of color learn to code, so they have the skills to be part of the tech industry. The more I learn about Prince, the more I like and admire him.

Seeing all the fans in Minnesota talking about Prince as one of their own reminds us all of the regional nature of the United States. It says something about his character that he stayed in Minnesota. He didn’t forget where he came from and stayed centered no matter how famous he became.

There’s a great article on Yahoo! where entertainment industry insiders reflect on their encounters with Prince. Singer-songwriter Louise Goffin wrote about the time she got to dance with Prince at a party.

I was on the stairs near the ladies room, and out of nowhere I see Prince standing around, and shy as can be. All of a sudden Sex Machine by James Brown comes on and I look over at him and he looks at me and says “you know this?” I say “of course I know this, I wasn’t born yesterday!” And he looks up devilishly and says… “wanna dance?” and reaches out to grab my hand. I’m losing my mind, not believing what’s happening and he leads me down the stairs to the dance floor (disco lights, the whole bit), and we’re bumping into people who at first act annoyed and then turn around and see its him. I’m hearing some people I know say “look it’s Prince! and then a second later, saying oh my God, it’s Louise!” Its the truth. I danced with Prince to James Brown’s Sex Machine.

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As a food blogger, one of my favorite stories is about food and from an article on Vulture from Prince’s former butler.

I have a lot of great memories but the one that made me laugh was there was one night where I got a call at about 3 am in the morning and he wanted breakfast for 14 people. I was the only butler on duty during that graveyard shift. He asked for 14 omelets and 14 orders of pancakes. I called everyone in the casino and had all the cooks running to make this order while I made the table. I had to serve the whole breakfast at now 4am in the morning by myself. I came up with the two carts full of food trying to plate it as fast as I can when Prince stood up from his chair and walked over to my cart. He grabbed a plate of pancakes and started helping me serve.

With all these new stories coming out, we are all being flooded with many feelings, memories and emotions. Based on what those closest to Prince have to say, he would want his death to inspire us to do better and “level-up” by pushing ourselves to the next level. Figuring out what is next for each of us and then actually doing it. Because he certainly always did.

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Flickr Photo Credits: Top photo by Derek Wolfgram. Middle photo by Jason Lei.

The Audacity of Mark Wahlberg

#CriminWhileWhite trendSome don’t like the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite. But I think it’s a good way to shine a light on the disparity in treatment by the justice system between white people and people of color.

This hashtag immediately came to mind as I read The Week’s article stating that Mark Wahlberg should not receive a pardon from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Wahlberg filed a pardon petition last month. The audacity.

The article gives details of the events that resulted in a criminal conviction. I was surprised, because it seemed like a hate crime to me. His Wikipedia page discusses more and it is all rather disturbing.

I won’t write the details here; you can take a look at both articles on your own and decide whether to believe them or not. However, beating two Asian men severely while shouting racial epithets at them is horrifying to say the least. Whether Wahlberg was drunk or on drugs is not an excuse.  One of the men lost sight in one eye. Wahlberg spent 45 days in jail.

Part of the reason reading about this has upset me so much is the timing of it. The racial climate in this country at the current moment is tense to say the least. Not that there are no injustices happening to other people, but foremost on my mind are the recent grand jury decisions and the differences in treatment in this country based on race. I recently read an article about a black man who spent decades in prison for a crime that he did not commit. That was just one article, but it is story that has been repeated over and over.

The law is so harsh to people of color where it can often be quite kind to white people. Thus #CrimingWhileWhite. The stories are being told tweet by tweet.

Apparently Wahlberg thinks it was perfectly fair that he only served 45 days in jail for his crimes. The audacity. If he had been black would he have received that kind of sentence? I really don’t think so.

While Wikipedia cannot always be believed, the entry about him says the following.

“I did a lot of things that I regret, and I have certainly paid for my mistakes.” He said the right thing to do would be to try to find the blinded man and make amends, and admitted he has not done so, but added that he was no longer burdened by guilt: “You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn’t until I really started doing good and doing right by other people, as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don’t have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning.”

I do believe that we have to move past our mistakes and go forward with our lives, but wow…. Why hasn’t he found the blinded man and tried to make amends? Has he been compensated? I would think that given all the money that he has made and how his mindset has changed that he would want to apologize and give the man some money. Maybe he has and the article did not include that. I sure hope so.

To ask for a pardon seems like a lot for me. He basically got a pardon with just 45 days in jail. Others would have served years, maybe decades or life. Wahlberg was able to enjoy his youth, his freedom and become the best version of himself. He received a valuable gift.

As much as I detest his crimes, I admire what Wahlberg has done with his life. He has made the most out of it and is doing more good with his foundation. He is giving back. He has brought great joy to many with his music. Including me. Who hasn’t found themselves bobbing their head to Good Vibrations?

With his Massachusetts restaurants Alma Nove and Wahlburgers, he is bringing jobs and good food to the local economy. I’m certainly not against any of that.

But how do you balance so much good with the atrocities? Maybe the balance is leaving the conviction on his record.

I think the world is probably a better place having Wahlberg as he is now rather than being behind bars. He got a second chance. Many others deserve to as well, but never get it. Refusing the pardon, might make sure that Wahlberg never forgets just how truly lucky he is.

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*Updated 12/11/2014* This story is developing. A Daily Mail article says that the man who was attacked, Johnny Trinh, forgives Wahlberg and has just now learned of his fame. Also Trinh says that he lost his eye before he was beaten by Wahlberg. The initial injury took place during the Vietnam War. It’s quite an in-depth article and worth reading.

*Updated 12/17/2014* Here are two more articles with information: Back In The Day: Marky Marks Rap Sheet  and Reminder That Mark Wahlberg Allegedly Threw Rocks, Slurs, At 4th Grade Class in 1986

*Updated 1/14/2015* An interesting article on Boston.com: Ex-Prosecutor: Don’t Pardon Mark Wahlberg for Racist Attacks

*Updated 9/15/2016* Was happy to learn that Wahlberg now regrets asking for a pardon and the pardon request has been closed. Also, he did meet with Trinh and apologized to him in person.

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