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Tea and Treats at The Looking Glass Bed and Breakfast
An Interview with Innkeeper and Rhinebeck Mom, Cari Meltzer
By Marybeth Cale
As I walk over to The Looking Glass Bed and Breakfast on Chestnut Street, I reflect on why we all love to boast about our historic village. Rhinebeck is, indeed, somewhat of a utopia. There are countless reasons why we have become a destination for tourists. There are infinite delights that the guests at The Looking Glass B&B will enjoy this weekend while they are walking through our quaint town – the food, the arts, the culture, the tranquility – it is, indeed, an experience. As I make my way around the corner of Chestnut and Mulberry, and up to the sidewalk in front of The Looking Glass, I am greeted warmly by Cari Meltzer, Innkeeper, as I approach her beautiful Victorian home, where she welcomes people from all over the world, all year long.
M: It is so nice to be sitting on your front porch with you, Cari. Tell me how you first discovered Rhinebeck.
C: I am originally from Central New York, another small town called Marathon. I completed my undergraduate degree at William Smith and then went on to finish my Masters in Political Science at Syracuse University. For a poli-sci graduate, Washington, DC was the most natural place to start my career. So, for several years, I worked in DC for the federal government, during which time I met my husband Philip, who was born and raised in Rhinebeck. When we got married, we decided to make our home here, and are so happy to be raising our two children, Molly and Connor, in his hometown, which is now truly home for me as well. We spend afternoons at the Lions Club Mini Park, enjoy marching in the Memorial Day parade, and look forward to Halloween like it is Christmas in Autumn. It is a really special place to live and we enjoy all of the Rhinebeck traditions that make life here so unique.
M: How did you discover this beautiful Rhinebeck village home? Had you always dreamed of running a Bed and Breakfast?
C: Philip grew up on Starr Drive, right in the village, and his mother always loved this house. When it went on the market, we were looking to move here, so it was perfect timing. Philip actually toured the house first and sent me a video while I was still working in DC. I fell in love immediately and we never looked back. Running a B&B is never anything I considered, but I am very domestic at heart. I love to host. I love to cook. And running a family business is very rewarding. My hobbies are the foundation of my career…I like to cook, a lot; I like to garden, I like to talk to people and make connections. And more and more, I like to brag about Rhinebeck! So, I appreciate innkeeping because it affords me all of these joys, every day.
M: Tell me about what it is like to balance family life with a business, particularly since your home is also your place of work.
C: The balancing act is always part of our discussion. Each season, something is different…more kids, older kids, new social commitments. I’m an organizer- I make lists and I plan. I often tell my guests that Innkeeping isn’t a job, it is a lifestyle. My family is integral to the B&B experience. So while my children aren’t necessarily in the B&B side of the house, my family’s schedule influences how I operate the B&B. For example, I do a lot of baking at night— when the kids are asleep. I let my guests know that if they plan to arrive around 3:00pm, I may have stepped out for 15 minutes to pick Connor up from school. And sometimes, I’m out weeding the flower garden with Molly playing in the mulch and eating her morning snack. It’s just the way we’ve decided to run the business and raise a family simultaneously. And I have to say, it’s a unique environment to raise children in. Connor often helps me when guests arrive. His latest comment made me stop and smile: “Welcome to our home. This is my Mom and she takes good care of you”. He really understands hospitality!
M: What role do you see yourself playing in the future of Rhinebeck tourism and the broader Hudson Valley tourism industry?
C: I see myself and Philip continuing to promote Rhinebeck as a great place to visit, vacation, and live. I think it has charm and an active community life that everyone is enchanted by. I hope to continue our involvement in the Rhinebeck Area Chamber of Commerce, Rhinebeck Rotary, the school district, and Dutchess County Tourism. We participate in many of the seasonal festivities, provide gift certificates to fundraising auctions, and spend time on committees and volunteer organizations.
M: Where do your guests come from?
C: Generally our guests are travelling from the NYC Metro area— but we get a fair number of international travelers and visitors from the Western United States, such as Washington and California.
M: What do they seem to love most about our area?
C: They love the landscape, the greenery, the peace and serenity and the diversity of the area— where else can you catch a world class orchestra, take a cruise on the river, go up in a bi-plane, and taste wines on the banks of the Hudson River? And then the next day, shop at a Farmer’s Market, dine at the CIA, and catch an indie movie before dinner at a farm to table restaurant.
M: Do you have favorite spots that you recommend to your guests in our region?
C: I do have favorite spots. And I’ve learned a lot about the area vicariously through my guests and also because I meet so many interesting people in my profession. I especially promote the merchants, restaurants, and experiences within the Village of Rhinebeck. Because of our unique location on Chestnut St., our guests have an easy and relaxing minute stroll into the village. Along the way, they see incredible architecture, beautiful tree-lined streets, and then — right there, in the heart of our village — over 20 restaurants, dozens of merchants, an independent movie theatre, day spa, and art gallery. It really is so convenient! So because of the ease of this location, and the relationships I’ve built, I developed the idea of creating customized, all-inclusive weekend packages. I’m calling these my Signature Stay Weekends— and the first one, Charmed by Chocolate, is coming up on June 29-July 1. Oliver Kita, Calico, Oblong, Hammertown, The Liberty Public House, Old Mill Wine & Spirits and others are partnering to offer guests a sophisticated, customized weekend experience.
M: So these Signature Stay weekends…do you anticipate hosting more of them throughout the year?
C: I envision hosting two more in 2012, in the fall and winter, and then maybe four or so through the season next year.
M: Do you have anything that you feel makes your B&B particularly unique?
C: I have long felt that as a business owner, I have a social responsibility to give back – and wanted to forge a relationship with a charitable organization that is really enhancing the lives of others. Recently, I met with Jenny DaSilva, a former Rhinebeck resident herself who went to school with Philip. She runs Start Small. Think Big, which is a South Bronx-based not-for-profit doing tremendous work. Within 2 years since their inception, she has procured nearly $450,000 of pro bono legal and financial services for the impoverished sections of the South Bronx. 80% of her clientele are women and she is making a difference in their lives every single day. She is a visionary and I whole-heartedly support her efforts, so The Looking Glass Bed and Breakfast is now her official 2012 Signature Sponsor. We will be offering discounts to her volunteers, and we will select 1 month this season where 5% of our business will be donated to Start Small. Think Big.
M: That is fantastic, Cari, and very inspiring. Maybe you can also inspire me with your response to this question…is there anything you haven’t yet experienced in our area that you hope to?
C: I’d like to run in the Fall Foliage 10 K hosted in Rhinebeck in the Fall (serving breakfast is my conflict!). And I’d like to have horseback riding lessons!…there’s also going up in a bi-plane…wouldn’t that be a hoot!
M: Sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time to share some tea and treats with me today at your exquisite B&B. I have truly enjoyed the experience and hope that people continue to come from near and far to create their own memories here with you and your beautiful family.
For more information on The Looking Glass Bed and Breakfast, please call Cari Meltzer at 845.876.8986 or visit www.thelookingglassbandb.com .
Let’s Meet for Coffee!
Our roving reporter, Kathy Chaneles, catches up with local resident: Elaine Rachlin ~ Chanteuse
July 10th 2011
A brilliantly sunny Sunday morning in July, with Independence Day past, and Bastille Day yet to arrive, the day’s hazy heat hasn’t settled in. This pleasantly tree-shaded street is a joy, as I stroll over to Me-Oh-My Pie Shop & Cafe in Red Hook, to meet Elaine Rachlin, lovely Chanteuse treasure here in the Hudson Valley! I have so enjoyed Elaine’s smoky cabaret performances at the Rhinecliff Hotel, at the Morton Library, at private gatherings in Red Hook and Hyde Park. I always return to hear Elaine Rachlin’s poignant songs of love and loss, just as I return to my own romantic days and nights of summer.
K- Good Morning!
E- Good Morning Kathy.
K- I am so happy to be meeting on this beautiful morning, at Me-Oh-My Pie Shop & Café. In addition to the delicious aroma of baking, and the always warm welcome of the proprietor, Deb Every, I also love it here because I am transported to Paris! I feel like I could be sitting in a Parisian patisserie or cafe, enjoying the moment, the coffee, a tender pastry, and great conversation. I’d like to start, with Paris in mind, how has your life as an artist, as a chanteuse, and as a woman, been informed, influenced, and affected by France, by the French sensibility?
E- I guess back when I started, I was dating someone and his mother was French. I started off learning a lot of French songs, and I got vocabulary, and a feeling of France. I went, between my Junior and Senior years in college, I got a job working for a French export/import firm, and during my lunch hours, I would work at a perfume boutique. So, I learned my way around. Every time they would see me in the export/import business, they would call out, “Bonjour Mademoiselle Helene!” I just loved it there. I had a feeling of belonging. My soul. I went to a lot of what they call, “boites de nuit,” translated it means night boxes, but they were nightclubs. You had singers…it was very charming, very delightful…I lived in a little hotel, right in Les Halles, before they moved Les Halles to the outskirts of Paris. It was the Food Market, like Hunts’ Point, only more flavorful. Here I was, nineteen, twenty years old, walking through the streets of Paris, just getting a wonderful feeling for the people there. I didn’t earn very much money, and so I remember there was a person who unloads the trucks. When I smiled, he gave me some fruit. So every day I would get free fruit, that became part of my meal, and I was invited to his home with his five children. So, I really got a wonderful feeling for the French. Of course, at the time, I was a folksinger. So, I would get invited to everybody’s homes, because I had my guitar.
K- What were you singing? American folk songs?
E- Everything! I was singing everything, even Edith Piaf on my guitar! And French folk songs. When I came home at the end of that summer, my mother picked me up, it was my first time away from home, she was so excited to see me. I had a week before going back and finishing my senior year in college, and every day I was downstairs- I had a room that was finished in the basement- that was my room, my big room. And so I would be listening to Piaf, drinking wine…
K- Living in Paris, in the Schenectady basement.
E- And so every day, when I came up for dinner, I’d be half-drunk. My mother couldn’t wait to get me out of the house again! But I’d be listening to all of these wonderful songs…Jacques Brel…and learning them and singing them with the guitar.
K- You taught them to yourself?
E- The songs I did, but I had studied the guitar. In fact, I had studied with Eric Darling, who had replaced Pete Seeger in The Weavers. He helped me a lot. That was in my New York days. I went to Skidmore College. I majored in French. I taught French in Schenectady for two years in elementary, where they had a special Parlons Francais program, and then a television program with the kids, which was fun. They made a TV segment for the whole system. In fact, there was one part where I was supposed to break a plate and say, “L’assiette est cassee!” (the plate is broken!), but the plate wouldn’t break! I banged it and banged it, and finally, I said “Merde!” (a four-letter word in French!).
Then I went back and got my Masters at Middlebury College in France. I would go to a lot of different clubs. I got a special grant to study in French Canada, between Montreal and Quebec. I used to go to a lot of the boites de nuit there, to listen. Wonderful songs! And so…I used to play my guitar and sing there (Elaine here breaks into song). I learned folklore, the French influence in Canada. When I went back (to France) to finish my Masters, I was again invited everywhere, to homes, performing with my guitar, I sing in other languages as well…Italian, Spanish, Ladino, Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian…
K- So, as you were singing and having diverse experiences singing, that was also a way that you were entering the world and meeting many people. Can you tell about that?
E- Oh, my goodness! I did, I met people from all over the world, I met some Danish people who gave me the names of some French relatives. I was invited to someone’s home and the woman had a son, and then I was part of a whole clique of French people! I was invited to all their parties and events…I’d play my guitar and sing.
K- They must have felt honored to have you be part of their circle!
E- Yes, it was wonderful being included in a group of “copains” (pals). I learned some French slang, and had a taste of foods I would have never tasted. Many of them had places in the outskirts, so I spent time in the country. I spent time in different parts of France, where I would spend weekends in people’s country homes. Some friends lived in Toulon, and I remember taking a little boat, near Marseilles, in a terrible storm, to this little island. The boat was shaking, the people on the boat with me were very nervous, so I started singing!
K- So…One thing led to another, and you allowed it! That’s very interesting. So many people say, “I wasn’t planning this. I’m going home tomorrow.” You’ve lived in an open way!
E- Even friends of mine at the Sorbonne in Paris wondered how I met so many Parisians. They were not part of different groups. It was wonderful, the boites de nuit, and the singers! There was one, Anne Sylvestre (Elaine breaks into song, delightedly!). I really, really love these songs. I remember at one time, here, I was a tour guide for some French bee farmers, and so I had to learn that language. It was fun. There were forty of them. I went with them to the University of Maryland and we were standing in the middle of all these beehives. The farmers could no longer feel the bee stings , not true with me. We traveled by bus from Maryland to Cleveland, where they have a special factory for the beeswax. I stayed in touch. At another time there were architects who I was a tour guide for. Through my French, I’ve had some wonderful, interesting experiences. So, with French, I have many friends, all over the world, who I’m in touch with.
K- While listening, I am still struck by the idea of letting your life lead where it will lead and saying “Yes!” What a life!
E- Yes. I would go on a train, and I’d have my nightgown wrapped around my guitar, and I’d go wherever the train was going. So I went to Copenhagen, right around the time of the Jewish holidays. I went to the Jewish agency and he said, “There’s a Rachlin family here. They were just released from Siberia. They were prisoners for sixteen years. The father was a Lithuanian Jew and the mother was a Danish Jew.
K- Do you think they might be relatives?
E- Well, we’re still in touch, we look very much alike. The father looks like my father and the daughter, Harriet, looks like me. There are so many experiences. I studied Russian. I studied Russian in Paris. My family is Russian. I took an old address and had my Russian teacher write the letter for me and I traced it, I wanted it to be in my own writing, to my father’s oldest sister, her daughter, and her daughter’s children. I got a letter back. They were still there. I was on a student trip and I took a few days off and I did it. I visited with my family. It was incredible, very moving. I went back to visit two years later, and then we lost track of each other. Two months ago, I got a phone call from a woman in Brooklyn who is married to a cousin of Yulia, letting me know that the family is now living in Israel. Sascha, who was sixteen when I was twenty-four, is now with the Jerusalem Philharmonic. Now we’re back in touch, I Skype with them.
K- The core of your life is very French now.
E- Yes. Now, when I sing at the Rhinecliff, I always do some of my French songs. With Bastille Day coming up Thursday, I’m doing an all-French program. I keep expanding my repertoire, both in the French and in the Jazz. There are some new songs that I’m learning for my next French performance!
K- Speaking about France, and Paris, my thoughts turn to my mother, who was lovely and very Parisian, and I think about the mystique that I associate with that city. I think about the mornings there, hearing storekeepers sweeping the sidewalks, people running errands on bicycles, and about standing on a pretty iron balcony, breathing in that sweet city. I think about the evenings, the Citroens passing with yellow headlights, and spending evenings in those tiny, crowded Jazz clubs. When I hear you sing, especially the Edith Piaf songs, the sensibility of romance and mystique comes through to me and brings up my own romantic memories. Can you tell me something about your feelings about that genre, the French cabaret music, and how you came to be able to share those kinds of very romantic, wistful, poignant emotions?
E- I think they are a sum total of all our life’s experience. It sort-of digests. When I sing a song of Piaf’s- I learned a new one recently that I love, called “La Vie, L’Amour-” when I hear her sing, I also bring in my own feelings of life experience. I don’t have the same experience that Piaf did, my own life experience, disappointments, happiness. Most of her songs are sad.
K- When you sing, and I don’t know how much of it is her song and how much is your way of bringing it to people, memories that might otherwise be just sadness, become more epic, and grand, “Ah, I have lived!” There’s something about French language and sensibility that I think also…maybe I’m speaking as the daughter of a French woman- is very feminine and mysterious, that all becomes part of you.
E- Absolutely. There are two songs that really capture that. One is called “Toujours Aimee.” The first part is about realizing the sadness that someone you thought you loved…it didn’t work out. The second part, she keeps sad, but I think of as a triumph…”I will always keep in my heart enough tears to wipe away the past and enough joy in my life to be proud and have love.”The other song: “Je Ne Regrette Rien.” I wouldn’t change anything, because all life experience has made me who I am today. Pain gives you the sensitivity. I couldn’t sing the way I do…
K- And it also makes you appreciate the good moments. Like in, “Plaisir D’Amour,” you know that the good moments may not last forever, but you appreciate them. You keep the good moments from the past.
E- Absolutely. To me, life is full of both. I feel I have a lot of sunshine in my life.
K- And you give a lot of sunshine. The gift you share, with your voice, goes beyond entertainment, Elaine, and touches on that wistful, poignant, deeply romantic side of life, “La Vie En Rose.” I thank you.
E- Thank you!
Elaine Rachlin is a multi-lingual vocalist, singing in French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, and Yiddish. In recent years she has added a large number of American standards to her repertoire, while performing with John Halsey’s jazz and swing combos. Her two hero’s are Edith Piaf and Billie holiday.
You can find Elaine at http://www.elainerachlin.com/
Thu Jul 14th – 6.30pm BASTILLE DAY Vive la France!! Elaine Rachlin sings & 4 course special dinner a la Francaise at The Rhinecliff !
Our roving reporter, Kathy Chaneles, catches up with local resident:
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Rhinebeck School Superintendent Joseph Phelan
A beautiful morning at the river! I am sitting alongside our lovely and powerful Hudson River, attending a crew race at the Hudson River Rowing Association Boathouse in Poughkeepsie. I am privileged to have the opportunity today to watch as young athletes row graceful long boats along our river, training, gaining skills, competing! On both sides of me, stretching almost the entire length of this clearing, crew parents in folding chairs chat and snack between races. Then, as boats appear in the distance across the water’s sparkle and shimmer, everyone comes to attention. Binoculars are raised and the air is filled with excitement, cheering, and even the occasional cowbell’s loud ring, as the boats pass swiftly. Standing riverside, among these many parents, we find Joseph Phelan, our own Superintendent of Schools, in jeans and sweatshirt like the rest, enjoying the moment. Between races, I catch him for this interview
K- Good Morning! Since we first spoke about doing this interview, I’ve considered and rejected several approaches. I have decided not to discuss Budget, Board Candidates, Social Media, Substance Use, Politics, or Taxes. Here’s the thing: When I read, a few weeks ago, that you are one of the few school superintendents who has offered to give up salary, in these economically challenging times, in support of our community, I was impressed but not surprised. I have heard you speak about encouraging students to engage in leadership developing activities and community service, for example in Interact Club. I hear that you have been spotted bringing young people to provide volunteer service with you at the Queen’s Galley soup kitchen in Kingston. I l love the fact that community service hours are mandatory for all Rhinebeck High school students. I have run into you and your wife at every conceivable school and community function! My interest here is your consistent commitment to serving community and the amazing role model you provide to our student population and to us all. Let’s go back. Can you share a bit about your childhood and where community service first became a part of your life?
JP- Sure. Well, I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and as a kid was very involved in the local church in our neighborhood, and in the Boy Scouts of America. Both of those groups engaged the young people of the day in service types of activities and I suppose that formed a value in me. I learned, with the good example of my parents, that service was something noble, something that was to be expected, that was an obligation to give back and help others who, in some way, shape, or form, were perhaps less well-off than we were. So it came out of my growing up in New York. I have to be honest with you. In high school, I don’t recall doing much in the high school context with service, but I continued to be active in Church and in Boy Scouts. During that time, I found myself gravitating towards a career in teaching, which I felt was a way of giving back to the community, sharing with young people of the community. What pushed me into a career in teaching was this interest in working with young people and sharing with them what I felt I had to offer.
K- So your community service has been independent of your work as well as integrated with it.
K- I’d like to know something about your parents, about them and about how they instilled values during your childhood.
JP- It’s interesting that you asked that question, because this past fall, my Dad, who was ninety-two, passed away. The reason that I mention that is because at his wake and at the service after that, a number of people spoke about him, both publicly and to me, as they came to pay their respects to the family and to honor him. I had never really thought about it quite this way before. I was struck by how the people who spoke of him, who knew him well, spoke of him in terms of service. It didn’t hit me until just very, very recently. He had been a career firefighter, in the New York City Fire Department thirty-some-odd years, putting his life at risk to protect others. Before that, he had served in the Armed Forces in World War II. Always very involved in his community, in our section of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and a Scout leader himself. After his kids were long out of scouting, he continued to be involved in that, to share what he felt he could share, so I almost unconsciously see that he was really a model of service to me. It didn’t strike me until very, very recently. My Mom, on the other hand, was a traditional 1950′s-style stay-at-home Mom. She didn’t work outside the home for all the years that she was raising me and my brother and sisters. She was just totally devoted to family.
K- She made it possible for him to do what he did.
K- That’s a strong role!
JP- You can’t do one without the other. I think that combination of her support and his very active involvement in helping other people formed the basis.
K- That’s where it started. Where did you go to college and graduate school, and were you involved in service projects during that time?
JP- For my undergraduate work, I went to Le Moyne College, in Syracuse New York. I was an English major, and an Education minor. While I was at Le Moyne, I did some volunteer work in some of the local elementary schools, going in and volunteering to help the teachers out. I think my primary motivation was to get some experience in the classroom, in my craft. It was also an opportunity to be in the classroom, to help out. The schools that I volunteered in were primarily inner city schools, and even though they were inner city schools in Brooklyn, New York, I went to private school for elementary school and high school in New York, so I didn’t go to the New York City public schools system. So, volunteering in the inner city schools was certainly an eye opener, it was great experience. It deepened my understanding of the fact that there are a lot of people out there, living right next to us, who are needier than some of us, who are not only needier than we are, but who also benefit greatly by our assisting them. That was really what I did in college. I started teaching full time, in a very small school district in Central New York, the Weedsport central school district. A little whistle-stop near the throughway, used to be the Erie Canal. It must have been a weedy, marshy part of the Erie Canal and that was about as far removed, or so I thought, from growing up in Brooklyn. It was a rural farming community. As an English teacher the kids were constantly correcting me on my pronunciation of words. They were the ones with flat A’s…..They’d pronounce it “or”ange and I’d pronounce it “ah”-range and they’d constantly kinda jokingly mock me, in a nice way, about my New York accent. I was considering other career option at that point.
K- Like what?
JP- Well, I had grown up playing music and I actually thought, foolishly in retrospect, you know what maybe I’ll quit my teaching job and start playing professionally.
K- What was your instrument?
JP- Keyboards. It would have been a disaster, especially having a wife and a young family. I had a principal in the school where I worked who called me in one day when I was not really giving one hundred and ten percent. I had started to become disillusioned with teaching. He called me in and he asked me if I had ever considered a career in administration. I told him I really hadn’t given it much thought. He said, “You might want to consider taking some administrative courses and see how you like it and see if it’s something you might want to pursue.” So I said, “I think that’s a great idea; I think I will.” So I started taking courses at SUNY Oswego, I finished the program. I got my Master’s and my Certificate of Advanced Study. I actually had done an internship as a high school Assistant Principal. They had offered me the job and wanted to hire me as Assistant Principal, but I was fortunate to get a job as Principal of a junior/senior high school, elsewhere in the Syracuse area. So I started my career there as a Principal. During the years that I was there, the Superintendent of Schools left, they asked me to serve as the interim Superintendent.
K- Your professional path was moving fast.
JP- Yes. They had asked me to apply for the job, but I didn’t think I was ready. I had only been a principal for two years. It was not the right job for me at this moment. I didn’t want to get in over my head. Another Superintendent got the job and he was terrific. A couple of years after he got the job, he got ill and had to have some surgery, and he had to be out for about six months, so the Board asked me again whether I would test-drive that job while he was out. I really like doing that kind of work. At that point, I started looking around for a Superintendent’s job, and got one as a Superintendent up in the Adirondacks. I went to Old Forge, and it was a school district of a hundred and twenty-five kids, grades eight to twelve, in one building, in a beautiful part of the state. Very long winters, but if you like to ski, that’s a great place to be. Beautiful falls and summers. I spent six years there. I think the harsh winters started to get to my family. At that time, we had two children. By the time we left we had three. About once a month, my wife would have to go out and rake the snow off the roof, a couple of feet of snow. My job was going up there with a chisel and a sledge hammer, and chopping the ice. The ice would build up about two feet. Chopping the ice! Doing that for about six years, it started to get old. Both of us also had aging parents who were still living in Brooklyn. She and I both have mothers still alive.
K- So Pat is also from Brooklyn!
JP- We went to the same elementary school.
K- Did you know each other?
JP- Oh, yes. We knew each other in elementary school. We dated in high school. And here we are.
K- Before we leave this country setting, getting back to community service, it seems to me that in a setting like that, community service is totally integrated with the job.
JP- Yah, It absolutely is. You go out of your way to find opportunities to do that. You have to do that to survive.
K- That’s also who you are!
JP- In a harsh environment, in an isolated, very provincial setting like that, you have to, and you want to! Pot luck suppers, fundraisers, that’s the fabric of the community, that’s where the community gets together.
K- You still do that.
JP- Yes, Coming down here, we decided to look for positions a little closer to civilization. One example: I could easily have looked to buy a home in any number of communities. Fewer and fewer school districts have residency requirements. It’s hard to get superintendents locally. A residency requirement can knock out a lot of good candidates. I could easily have bought a home in Red Hook or Kingston, or in any number of other beautiful communities in the area. I could have spent a lot less for a house, but we both felt it was important to live in the community where I worked, to have our kids go to school where I worked. Maybe that’s a carry-over from my experience at Old Forge. I think that community connection is important on so many levels, in terms of service, just in terms of communication. I’ve had colleagues who have told me over the years, who have praised me for living in the school district where I work, because you can’t go to the grocery store without hearing about this or that…
I’m not sure if they’re giving me a “Head’s up” so much as speaking their minds. I’m glad people talk to me. I’m glad they feel comfortable, talking to me over the produce at Stop & Shop, or at a soccer game. I really do appreciate that. One thing that I really do appreciate about this community is that people are very respectful of my private life. I don’t get people calling me at home to complain about something. They get it that I’m a parent. They are very, very respectful of that, and that’s something I’ve always appreciated, since I’ve been here. If you were harangued every time you went out of your home…that wears thin after a while.
K- What you are appreciating, I think that happens because you are not insulating yourself from the community. You are loving it.
JP- I think it’s the way you get to know what people feel, I think that when you don’t have that kind of informal communication, you’re missing a piece. I think it’s important. That’s why we like being here.
K- I’m aware that you and Pat have children whose ages span student through adult. Can you share something about them, and can you share some thoughts about how you have encouraged your kids to interact with their community, in different places and in different periods of your own life?
JP- I think we’ve tried to model that for our kids, and we’ve tried to encourage them to engage in activities where they would be able to have opportunities to provide service, and also to develop their leadership skills. Perhaps more so with Brendon and Sean than with our older son. They’ve both been involved in Boy Scouts; they’ve both done a lot of leadership training,
K- Are you still involved with Scouts?
JP- Yes, I am. Sean is still involved. We do a food drive every year, any number of things that we can do to help the community people who provide us with a place to meet. We’ve always tried to encourage our kids. On the other side, not to take all the credit myself, my wife’s always been very involved. She’ll jump right in. I think modeling is really the strongest way to encourage, whether it’s your kids, or your students, or whatever. You roll up your sleeves and volunteer at the Queens Galley, chopping vegetables. It’s a great experience.
K- You and your wife Pat interact with the school community actively, regardless of the event, Pat is there, smiling, volunteering to bring the coffee, or whatever is needed. You somehow manage to succeed in a leadership role and, at the same time, you are regular parents, unpretentious, fully integrated in the community. You pull it off! I think that must be so challenging, but you manage it. Can you share thoughts about this?
JP- That’s a great question. It kind of goes along with the idea of living in the community and being part of the community. I think when you are a parent in the community, as opposed to being a school administrator, it’s helpful, because you’re seeing things from the parent’s view. I think it’s an advantage to us that we have our kids in the schools. We see both sides of it. We have a lot of robust debates at home, about these kinds of issues. It’s another reason why it’s healthy to have a superintendent who is a parent of kids in the schools. You’re going through the same things that the parents, who are talking to you about their questions or concerns, or problems, are going through, so you can empathize. You can’t always do what they want you to do, but I think they sense that you get it, because you’re listening as a parent, as well as a school administrator. We’ve always been that way, so it comes naturally.
K- I’d like to hear about your involvement in Rotary.
JP- Being a member of Rotary is a different phase of the whole community service part of my life. Its kind-of the adult piece of it.
You’re working with adults and doing things for the community, working on somebody’s farm or the home of a senior citizen who needs help doing some basic work so that they can stay in their home, and they don’t need to go into a nursing home. We do a lot of raising money for good causes. We’re trying to do more hands-on things, locally and globally. Rotary has a mission to perform service in the community and internationally.
K- Is that where Nicaragua comes in?
JP- That’s exactly where Nicaragua comes in. Several years ago, our Rotary had supported a humanitarian international project each year. We decided that it would be so much more effective if we could focus on a single project and build a long-term relationship with a community or a project, internationally, than doing a different project in a different part of the world every year. Through a connection, through Quinnipiac University and David Ives, who works at Quinnipiac University and runs the Albert Schweitzer Institute and is a Rotarian here in Rhinebeck, because of his various international connections, Quinnipiac University students have gone down to Nicaragua to do humanitarian work as part of a Spring Break program. When we were looking for a more permanent international project that came up as an idea. We said, “That would be great! Instead of giving money to different organizations, why don’t we donate money to help the people in that area and we know that Quinnipiac University students are going down there a couple of times a year. They can use the money to do things down there, for that same community.”And then it wasn’t too much of a leap to say, “You know, if college kids can go down there and do this kind of work, how about high school students going down there and doing this kind of work, with the financial support that we’re already providing to the people in that community?” And that’s how this Interact Club trip idea grew from giving money to have the college students give humanitarian service there, to actually doing it ourselves.
This year, my first year going down, we had ten kids. Six of the kids who went this year were part of the group of kids who went the year before. When they showed up there, even though they hadn’t been there for a year, there were kids that they recognized and who recognized them. It was an amazing bond, even though there had been the space of a year between them. It was fascinating! We spent time meeting with the teachers and developing a relationship with them, talking about mutual concerns and sharing information. I hope that if the project is able to continue on, that there are things that I can do personally to provide them with any kind of technical expertise. I would want them to tell us what they need. The last thing we want to do is go down and build something that they don’t have a need for. A lot of our conversation was, “What do you guys need, if we’re able to come back next year?” We don’t want to go down and pre-suppose that we know what they need better than they do.
K- I understand. It’s not a missionary approach but more of a grass-roots situation where you recognize that they know best what would be of most benefit to them. What did they say? Is it about the school building?
JP- It’s about the school building. Also, one of the things we were talking about was affordable housing for their teachers. In the rural areas of Nicaragua, where there is just so much poverty, their teachers, by Nicaraguan standards, make a very good wage. They make twenty-four hundred dollars, US, per year. That’s their annual salary.
K- We’re talking about a whole different scale.
JP- Yes. But even making that kind of money, which they would consider to be good money, the teachers can’t afford housing there. So maybe there’s some way we can build teacher housing, either on the school property or in another area. That came clearly to us as a need. We also talked about the idea of looking into the concept of “microloans.” Maybe we could lend teachers money to buy a house. When we’re talking about a house there, we’re talking literally about a tin shack. You’ve got to go to a well and carry water back.
K- For our kids to see that is an education in itself.
JP- Yes. For them to see how people can live like that and be happy, and have really strong values of friendship and family when they have virtually nothing in terms of material possessions. It’s stunning! So, we talked about this idea of microloans and we thought that maybe that’s something we can do to help. A couple of thousand dollars in a microloan, we could raise in a couple of fundraisers. It means a whole different way of living and the ability of the school to have teachers there who can afford to live close to where they teach, in their community. The thing about community, it’s all these threads. We’ve also been talking about the need for some kind of a health clinic. And transportation is so limited. Walking. There are carts with horses. There are cars but nobody can afford a car.
K- Is there a way that people who are outside of this Rotary and School effort might be able to help support it?
JP- Every year when we do our fundraising for Interact, we run a direct appeal campaign in the community. People have given us money, targeted for certain things. For example, the big thing down there is tuition, because kids have to pay tuition.
K- So not all of the kids can go to school?
JP- That’s correct. This past year, we raised about twenty-five hundred dollars that people gave for scholarships to help kids go to school. It takes a couple of hundred dollars to go to school for the whole year. Another thing we use money down there for is, we work with a group called Allianza Americana (American Alliance). Their goal is to teach kids, older teens to early twenties, English, so they can leverage knowledge of English for employment…translators, work for international companies that do business down there. So we also have raised money to provide scholarships to those kids. They have several different programs. There’s a program that qualifies them to be translators. That’s a way we can help those people to help themselves.
K- You are so much a part of Community both locally, and globally. You are very generous in that way and people respect you because of that.
JP- It’s a good collaboration.
Superintendent of Schools: Joseph Phelan firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhinebeck Central School System
45 North Park Road
Rhinebeck, New York 12572 845-871-5520
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011: Father Richard McKeon
Today is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. Snow is melting into mud and we saw returning geese flying in formation this morning. Springtime is imminent. I am thinking about Mardi Gras in New Orleans, outrageously festive as a Jewish Purim celebration. I am thinking of Fat Tuesday being Shrove Tuesday, which brings Lent. As I prepare to meet Father Richard McKeon, the new Rector of the Church of the Messiah in Rhinebeck, I am also thinking of Easter and of Passover. In this season of economic and political difficulties, of Spring around the corner, I am thinking about people coming out of Bondage to Freedom.
K- We are entering the season of Lent, of Purim, then Easter and Passover, a profoundly moving time for so many people. With Easter and Passover approaching, thoughts abound for some about coming out of bondage and into freedom, experiencing and enjoying that freedom, as well as contributing toward others having that opportunity. Everywhere we look, in newspapers, online, on TV news, we see that many in our world are currently struggling to come out of bondage, whether literally, figuratively, politically, or otherwise. How do you think religious leaders and/or religious institutions can help with these struggles, whether on an individual level, locally, or globally?
Fr. R- It’s universal. There always will be people who are enslaved in some way, by their fear, or more literally by their freedoms being taken away. Religious leaders have an important obligation to call to attention those injustices.
K- In my recent interview of DJ Kadajian, documentary filmmaker and creator of the film series, “A Crisis of Faith,” Kadajian quotes religious scholar Huston Smith as saying, “All fingers point to the moon,” expressing the sameness of all religions. Would you agree with him that the messages, principles, and inspiration that we find in different world religions are essentially the same, or not, and how so?
Fr. R- Well, he’s also the founder of Zen Dog Restaurant!
K- Yes, he is!
Fr. R- So I think there’s a metaphor there. The Banquet.
K- Can you explain?
Fr. R- I think that there’s such richness in universal truth that there are many seats at the table for understanding what that means, so Christianity is one approach to that, and I think that there is such an abundance of truth and love and great messages that are contained within all world faiths, it’s just choosing of what menu you want to order from.
K- As the new Rector of the Church of the Messiah, and as a new member yourself of that community, also as a new citizen of Rhinebeck, can you share how you have been accepted and thoughts about your interactions so far with your congregation and with the larger Rhinebeck community?
Fr. R- I’ve been struck by how welcoming the Parish and the community are, and what a beautiful place it is to live. It continues to take my breath away. There’s just been great welcome offered to me, and patience. When I first came, I’d managed to injure my arm. I fell through a glass door, back at my old Parish, and had sixty-five stitches, actually the week after I started here. A new priest who has no use of his right arm is kind-of useless. They were very patient. I think that one of the things that I love about being here is how welcoming the congregation is, and what great hearts they have. I’m loving being here.
K- Who in your own background has especially prepared you and inspired you for the life you are living now?
Fr. R- Well, I think my family. Both my parents and especially my paternal grandparents. My maternal grandparents when I was younger, but I knew my paternal grandparents through college, and both they and my parents had a profound effect, teaching me that it was okay to be a person of faith, and still retain a sense of humor and be fun. I think they were formative in terms of who I am, but also my teachers in school were all people that opened up new worlds that I love to bring into certainly my preaching, and the teaching aspect of my ministry. So, English teachers that introduced me to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, were all kind-of a soft spot for me.
K- I read that you were particularly active with children and youth where you were before. Are there any programs that you’re looking to start with young people here?
Fr. R- What we’re doing at the Church, my having just begun, is really listening to the congregation and what they’d like to do. We have a wonderful Church School that’s thriving and growing and doing a great job, so I wouldn’t tinker with success! What I would like is to see a bit more of the children in the regular Sunday worship, so they have more of a chance just to see me. We might increase the number of Sundays where the children are in Church, maybe to once a month, but I’m also very careful not to cut in on the teaching Sundays, which are very important too. As an Episcopal priest in the community, one of my main concerns is youth at risk, and our young people who are struggling with a variety of issues, food issues, self-esteem, bullying, issues around sexuality. I think it is important for the Church to be seen as providing a sanctuary where those issues can be discussed and people feel safe in raising them. Also, one of my interests is writing pageants and plays. I think we’re going to use the June Family Service to have a pageant about St. George and the Dragon.
K- Did you know there were performances of that during Sinterklaas, all around Town? What did you think about Sinterklaas?
Fr. R- Great! It was the Sunday I was officially installed as the Rector, so then I read the Blessing of The Turtle at the end of it.
K- As the days are growing warmer, we’re all looking forward to Spring! I hear you do some gardening. Do you plant mostly flowers? Vegetables? Do you like to keep a vegetable garden and then cook?
Fr. R- I set the table. Tim cooks. He’s a great cook. I do the centerpieces. I’m a member of a garden club for five years. I’m active both in arranging and in the gardening side. I love the look of the English perennial garden, mixing everything together. I’ve entered some shows and done some arranging. The problem with my arranging is that I’ve been told they all look like they should be in Church.
K- I can’t imagine why!
I am aware that you collect ocean liner memorabilia. As a child, I crossed the Atlantic several times, on mostly Dutch and one French ocean liner. Those voyages were exciting! Dressing up for dinner, where Big Bands would play over the tinkle of fine china, the captain in white uniform circulating, couples dancing as the ship sailed through the blue evening. As kids, our favorite parts were the non-stop movies in cool, dark ship-cinemas, and rounding up all the kids on board to get big card games going. What got you started with the ocean liner memorabilia and what kinds of items do you collect?
Fr. R- You’ve captured perfectly the romance of ocean liners. I grew up with my grandparents traveling quite often and sending back postcards and gifts from around the world, and watching as their ship would sail out, so there was always that romance of travel and the exotic. Later, as I began to appreciate the aesthetics of how beautiful ocean liners were in their design and the way of life that they represented, it just resonated for me. The two ocean liners that I love the most are the SS United States and the Queen Mary. I have a phone booth from the original Queen Mary; it’s sitting in the Parish Hall.
K- You could hook it up!
Fr. R- Yeah, Ship to Shore!
I have china from the Queen Mary and the SS United States, and the flag from the last voyage of the SS United States. What’s a fun thing to do is to take some of the menus and recreate dinners, serve it on the china from the ship.
K- So you have an entire evening about that ship?
Fr. R- Yes, exactly, but not the Big Bands.
K- I did like the Big Bands. Can you tell me one of the menus you’ve done?
Fr. R- We had something like Beef Wellington, and Floating Island.
My partner Tim and I have gone on the Queen Mary twice. It still goes across, it goes to cruises, voyages around the world, and shorter trips up and down the East Coast. It’s a beautiful ship.
K- Did it match your expectation?
Fr. R- It did. The thing I remember the most was the smell of mahogany. That wonderful smell.
K- You mentioned your partner. Is he working in Rhinebeck also?
Fr. R- He’s Director of Music at Grace Episcopal Church, in White Plains, and runs a community-based music program as well.
K- So you both are interested in theatre-related activities. You know that we have here the Center for Performing Arts? Have you thought at all about getting involved?
Fr. R- I’m not sure that I’d get involved, other than in the eighth row center! I certainly want to be supportive by watching it.
K- Continuing about our community, I have not seen a tremendous amount of anti-Semitism here, although occasionally it does come up, but I have noticed much more of it around the Easter season. I’ll forget about it and then when it’s Easter again, sure enough, I’ll be hearing jokes and remarks. I’m wondering where you think it’s coming from?
Fr. R- My guess is that it points to what is read in Church at that time of year. Traditionally, John’s Gospel is read liturgically on Good Friday. It’s a gospel that’s located at a time when the division between Christianity and Judaism became much more entrenched and bitter. John’s Gospel reflects that bitterness, tension. The blaming of Jews for the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus is simply not historical in a culture ruled by the Romans. The Romans never surrendered their authority to anybody, let alone religious leaders, and indeed, the crucifixion was a Roman punishment, not a Jewish punishment. I think it has to do, very pragmatically, with the fact that Christianity was evangelizing Roman culture, so they didn’t want to be anti-Roman. The pool of conversion, where they were making great progress in expansion, was in the Roman and Greek world, so they weren’t going to insult the Romans.
I think, unfortunately, this is something we have to grapple with, to teach about all year. I don’t think Christians can ever say we’re sorry enough, for the wrongs we’ve done against many people. Jewish, Muslim, gays, lesbians and of course women. It’s all the same thing, based in hate and fear, and acting out on that.
K- and control and power.
Fr. R- It’s all about power. There’s been a terrible history of complicity in the wrongdoing. The religion has more value the more you’re ready to own that and move past it, to say we won’t let that happen again.
I think it is part of Lent and Easter. To experience new life, you have to understand that there’s a cost, and part of the cost of being Christian is understanding the darker legacy of the faith. There is a tremendous amount that the Christians need to own, in terms of history, to make sure that those wrongs are not perpetrated and certainly never occur again. That does have a political manifestation, but it’s lodged in owning what the real history has been. I think it’s more profound to say, “We’ve been wrong and we’ve done wrong in Christianity, and we vow and promise not to.”
K- This process is like Yom Kippur.
Fr. R- Exactly. Yom Kippur and Lent, both lodged in reflection, not so much in terms of just naming sins, but in the way of making changes.
K- The turning.
Fr. R- It’s a profound use of time. When I’ve had the honor to bless same-sex unions, it seems always appropriate to begin that liturgy with an apology for the wrongs that have been done. Rather than saying, “Isn’t it great that we’re here today,” saying, “We only got here because of the courage and bravery of people who challenged the Church when it was wrong, and now we’re celebrating that the Church is moving forward, but recognizing the cost of that and that there were people who were irreparably damaged.
K- You are honoring those people.
Father Richard McKeon, Rector
The Church of the Messiah
47 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck, NY12572
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March, 2011: DJ Kadajian, celebrated documentary filmmaker and the Man Behind the Zen Dog
I arrive at Zen Dog before DJ this blustery March morning, to find my favorite haunt in full renovation mode, plastic sheeting covering all of the usually polished and beautiful surfaces, a fine dust frosting the perfect tiles, silvery chairs stacked neatly along the passage that has led me to fine evenings of jazz and good company. I have the thrilling sensation of being backstage. DJ arrives, only barely windblown, arranges two of those chairs facing each other, and then, surrounded by the exciting evidence of work-in-progress, we begin.
K- DJ, I was going to jump right in and start with questions about the changes that are happening at Zen Dog, and I will get to that, but when I began preparing for this interview, I quickly came to understand that Change seems to be a powerful theme with you! Moving from work in the financial sector through spiritual exploration and immersion in the arts, certainly music, you’ve experienced change and you have also been creating change, in your work, in our community, and in contributing toward making the world a better place. You have synthesized threads from different areas of life into films that are themselves vehicles of change that challenge and confront us as individuals and as a society. Can you share some thoughts about Change, both in your own life and in where you would like to make a difference?
DJ- I’m always interested in building things. When I build something, when I create something, it tends to be when I learn the most. I had a difficult time as a student. I had decent grades and I knew how to take tests, but I didn’t learn much, so part of what I do is to learn. In the financial world, in the beginning, it was survival. I grew up, we had no money, I was always broke. I had a pretty strong work ethic, so initially it was getting into a position where I could take care of myself and have some kind of freedom. Then, along the way, what I saw was the way things were being done. I felt like they could be done very differently and much more beneficially to the clients that I was dealing with. Part of Change for me is that I am interested in doing things that are very different. I try to bring things into at least my world that are very different. I’ve always had this natural bent for doing things that are counter to the way that things are mostly done. In investing, that’s critical, because when you follow the herd, you get slaughtered. It’s very counter-intuitive as well. In the beginning, it was difficult to do, especially in finance, because you’re dealing with so much money, and you’re dealing with a lot of emotion from your clients because you’re managing everything they have. It’s a lot of responsibility and it’s different to go out on a limb when you’re there, because there’s a lot of risk, but I always felt like what I was doing was creating something that would work, so I went in that direction, which was very much against how things are done in finance, and it worked. That gave me a lot of freedom, financially, to do some of the other things that I was interested in doing.
I’ve been very interested in the spiritual world, so I spent a lot of years studying the world’s religions and also mythology. Joseph Campbell! The brain lit up when I first read him. At that point, I still had my business but I decided that I needed to really do something different, at least part-time. At first, I decided to try Divinity School. I couldn’t do it. My mind just didn’t work like that… linear thought, more test-taking. When I decided that Divinity School wasn’t for me, I went into film. I decided that instead of reading books by people who don’t interest me, why don’t I get people I’ve been inspired by? I learn by listening to incredible scholars. They’re compelling and colorful, and there’s humor mixed in with the wisdom, which makes it more approachable. What lit my brain up in that realm was documentary film. It ended up becoming a series of films. Everything about it was driven by music. The foundation was music, which is what gets me going. The images are also extremely important. The driving force in terms of the intellectual content was the personalities. I was able to sit in front of my heroes and have a dialogue. I’ve read all of their books, but now I was able to interact with them. Part of film-making is breaking down all these conversations, turning them into transcripts, and then creating a story. So I listened to these words, over and over, hundreds of times. By the time it’s finished, infused with music and image, it becomes so real, and so rooted in your psyche, that at the end of it, not only do you learn so much, but it becomes almost part of your DNA. That was unbelievably rewarding. Then what happened, I’d had no experience with films, but the films ended up being picked up by Hallmark. I was blown away. It’s unrealistic, but it’s like I always knew it was going to happen, I was sure of it. But when it actually happened, I was really proud of it. It was the first time I ever made anything. In this culture, it’s a service economy, we sell things to each other and we don’t really create things anymore. So to have this box of films that I could actually give somebody was really rewarding.
K- Your films inspire questions.
DJ- Yes. Questions. I was producing films that I felt weren’t giving people answers, which I think is really not anybody’s position. I think that’s really dangerous. I have no right to tell people what the answers are.
K- Your films, while not giving answers, do resonate with answers that are given in different religions, for example, the idea which is brought up in the first film of the series, “A Crisis of Faith,” about spirituality having to do with the connection between people and about taking responsibility.
DJ- Oh yeah. And, what I found too is that all the world religions, at their root, are the same. I’ve never been big on institutional religion, but I feel like the religions, in their essence, contain the wisdom of humanity. That’s why I was interested in World religious studies. A leading scholar on World religious studies, Smith, calls it “All fingers pointing to the moon.” It’s all pointing to the same place. So I think it was important, not only not to give answers, but also not to put any particular religious bent on it. The more I’ve studied other religions, the more I felt I could pull out. Christianity, in terms of the path that Jesus took. I only read the parts of the Bible in red letters, which are what He said, what He did. I have no interest in theology.
K- You wanted to have your own interaction with those words.
DJ- Yes. And all I did was look at Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and not even John, because John is very theologically driven. All I went through is, “What did He say and what did He do?” It’s very compressed, it’s very simple. At least I knew, “Okay, this is what the real deal is. What you do with it is up to you.”
K- And you have been doing with it!
As I gain an understanding of your work, ranging from the films of “A Crisis of Faith/ The American Dilemma” and “Moving Poetry,” to what you’re doing beautifully here at Zen Dog, I’m beginning to appreciate you as a sort of radical hero, or heroic radical. I am aware that radical work often requires funds that come from traditional Capitalist endeavors. As a man with the means with which to make an impact, can you tell about any contrasts or conflicts in juxtaposing the world of finance with the role of Challenger of Materialism?
DJ- The whole thing that drove my first films was that I was in this world that I really enjoyed finding, the Markets! I believe that they are very much reflected in what is happening all around us. I got to the point in the business where it was very difficult for me to continue to deal with just the money. I had great relationships with my clients, but at the same time, there was so much pressure. The Markets are driven by fear and greed essentially. So, when I first got into the filmmaking, it was my way to balance it and also a way to…
DJ- That too, and push back, and not be completely sucked up in it, because what I saw all around me was people who would never get out, who would stay in it forever. It becomes all-consuming. It becomes a religion almost. The Markets have become that for so many people. I needed a way to express; I had to do it to create balance. It was difficult because of my clients who saw this. It was maybe not comfortable. That’s another thing I like to do in my work, to make people feel a little bit uncomfortable. But it was a little bit difficult for me because I’m railing against the very thing that I do myself. It was also really about materialism in America, and I went to the center of that universe, not only in my business but geographically. I grew up very poor in a very wealthy community, so being on both sides of that, I feel like I saw behind the curtain. That was my way of expressing this feeling that we’ve become obsessed with it, the money, and we miss out on 99% of what we’re probably here for.
K~ Some of the language that you’re using now, as well as in the “Crisis of Faith” series resonates with the language of the sixties and seventies…about imperialism, about questioning authority, taking a position against the status quo, being the person who’s taking the risk, the nonconformist, the dreamer…even some of the music. I’m wondering, since you are young to have overlapped with that period, whether the questions that were raised during that culturally revolutionary time fit into your path?
DJ- I guess it was always in the background, but I missed the whole thing. There’s a point where you start to look at other ways of perceiving the world. When I started looking around, I said, “There’s something really wrong with the way we’re living now.” All of the wisdom thinkers that I was attracted to were counter-cultural. Even my film “Portrait of a Radical,” which was about Jesus. I grew up where that was almost like a four-letter word, to speak about religion that way. I had a real problem with it. In fact, when I started doing it, I felt so uncomfortable because I didn’t want to be seen as this religious person. That was really hard for me. But what I loved about it, what I saw, with “Portrait of a Radical,” was that He was very counter-cultural. There was movement because there was a movement that was going on. When I read about all the poets in my poetry series, Pablo Neruda became my favorite, and then I did get into the Beat generation. I was attracted to Jack Kerouac. And the music! As I dove into that whole pool, it became unavoidable, all the wisdom-teachers saying, “What you’re doing is nuts. Don’t listen to what’s going on around you.” When you start to go down that road, you get deeper and deeper into it. It’s hard not to do it yourself. I think, again because of how I grew up, really poor in a very wealthy society, you either want to be it….for me, it was a little bit of both. That’s driven what I do.
K- I can see that, not only in your films. There’s a connection between your films and this Zen Dog phenomenon, and they are both very much mixed media productions, creative mixed media productions with a jazz beat. You mentioned the Beat generation. That came to my mind here at Zen Dog also. You’ve synthesized different generations and parts of different places. Thoughts of the moody coffee houses of the Beat generation, threads of the sixties and seventies in terms of counter-culture…and places…I am reminded of places in New Orleans, cafes in Paris, the old Figaro’s that used to be on Bleeker Street. There’s a universal quality to combining art, music, and dining in company.
Let’s turn to Zen Dog! First, the music. Always the jazz and live performances on Wednesdays and Fridays! This terrific place is truly a haven for jazz lovers. Even the album covers on the walls evoke great memories of times & places, of such good jazz. Everywhere one looks here, jazz and jazz imagery infuse the experience. How did this jazz adventure start for you?
DJ- When I was a kid, I took up the saxophone, and I got into the jazz band at school. I didn’t really hear that music growing up, it wasn’t in my house. My wife says, “You were definitely from the forties and fifties,” because she hears what I listen to. Big Band jazz. When everybody else was listening to The Doors and Hendrix and whatever, I was attracted to it for whatever reason. In my town, there was a lot of great live jazz.
K- What town?
DJ- Westport (Connecticut). It was originally a really cool artsy town, but now it’s become a mall area. So I spent time around live jazz. When you get in front of it and you start to get into it, it’s like nothing else because of the way the musicians interact with each other. So much of it is improvised. When there is no music, musicians are able to be much more expressive and do things they don’t expect. So that’s how it started, hearing live jazz. And then, in terms of the theme of the Zen Dog, my father lived in Germany most of my life, so I spent a lot of time overseas and it’s very different in Europe, where people will sit out in a cafe for hours. There’s nobody pushing them out of there. You’ll sit there and watch the world go by, have a cappuccino, listen to the music. You can breathe over there.
When I saw this building, heard the church bells ringing…I saw where you could put a real patio, could listen to live music. Also, what you see over in Europe, in the Middle East even, people sit down and they’ll talk about politics and art. I wanted a place where a person could sit down and start talking politics.
K- You have created that.
DJ- It was really about creating a community of people who wanted to interact with each other, more than just about the Markets or where they’re going shopping.
K- I love that I can come to Zen Dog and have a great, great evening, without spending a lot of money. I’ve so enjoyed sitting at my table, over an interesting pizza and perfect coffee, or a hot dish on a snowy night, while hearing really good jazz. Zen Dog is not just a restaurant or club. There’s an experience to being here, a moment apart from regular rushing around, to enjoy friends with unhurried & delicious food & music, or to enjoy alone. I’d like to hear about what your original vision was for Zen Dog and what it is now?
DJ- I guess originally it was a place that I could hang out in, that I could never find. I looked to do it in my home town but just didn’t get the right vibe. I fell in love with this area, mostly because of the land. It reminded me a lot of Europe. There was a feeling here that something was going on that was much more interesting. I thought this was the place to create the space where I wanted to hang out. I felt that other people would want to hang out, because there’s nothing like it. That was really the genesis of it. Again, I like creating things, I learn by building things. A lot of the work I did myself. I enjoy doing things with my hands, which we don’t get to do a lot in this culture. When you’re done, you’ve created something beautiful. To me, this place is a little bit a work of art. I think that I started with a place where you would combine so many things that make you think, the books that we have, the artwork…if you could put this all under one roof, it would find its own rhythm. I think so much of what I’ve done has a rhythm. The Markets have a rhythm. When you look at a chart, it measures rhythm. If you learn how to understand rhythm, you can apply it to anything. Like a film, to me it all starts with music. There’s a rhythm to it. Everything seems to fall into place, it’s a puzzle. This became possible because there was no plan, no architect, no designer. I just started, and after you start, you take down a wall and then you say, you know the way the light’s hitting this, maybe I should put a painting here…it was all just very fluid, improvisation, which is what is interesting about music. They go hand in hand. I always felt like music would attract people. And then I liked the fact that it’s not being done. It’s like with my trading program that I created. People are like, “It can’t work. It won’t work,” and then I become more interested in doing it.
K- Okay, now let’s talk about the changes coming to Zen Dog! Shall we start with the space where the musicians perform?
DJ- When we initially started, when I was looking at the space, I said, “I don’t know where we’re going to put the music exactly.” It was a challenge, “Where are the musicians going to go?” This particular place seemed like the only place. What happened was, it filled up so quickly. We only had about thirty-five seats. The configuration of the room was such that if you were on the left side of the room, you couldn’t hear the piano, if you were on the right side of the room, the horn might be too loud. And we didn’t have enough seats. Now, I was able to bring two rooms together and knock a wall down. The little area that had music and books for sale became the stage, which now gave us seats.
K- So you turned it around.
DJ- Yes. It’s on totally the other side. Now the cafe, which was also small, is part of the music lounge and so we have twice as many seats. And when we don’t have live music, we also have more seats. We tripled the size of the kitchen, so we’re able to produce more food, and we’re putting more equipment in there so we’ll have a much broader menu. I’ve teamed up with a couple. They are Culinary grads and they have twenty-five years each in the business, in experience. As the restaurant grows…
K- So you’re preparing for where Zen Dog is headed, not just for where it is right now.
K- There is something very generous going on here. Somebody’s heart and soul. How is it that you’ve clearly put so much of high quality into Zen Dog, into each detail, the artwork, the tiles, the furnishings, yet you don’t charge a hundred dollars a plate or discourage diners who just enjoy a pizza?
DJ- Well, I guess I look at it the way I enjoy being out. I don’t want to necessarily spend a hundred dollars and I don’t have a huge appetite. I’d rather sit at the bar and have a pizza and a beer, and maybe a salad. I think, not just in this economy, but generally speaking, I think it’s nice that you have a place that’s much more approachable. I think a lot of times when you have people who are really interested in the arts, they’re not necessarily the wealthiest people, the artists and the musicians who we see coming in here. I don’t want to discourage. I mean, if you want to spend two hundred dollars, you can. We have the wine list. If you want it, it’s there. But you can also have food that’s affordable.
K- It sounds like this comes from the fact that you’ve lived in an expensive community when you were young, at a time when you didn’t have. Also, that you’ve spent time in Europe, where you’ve seen people sit over a cup of coffee for hours, and how wonderful that is.
DJ- We couldn’t afford to go out to places in our town. It was a huge deal. There was a time when I was a kid when we were on food stamps. I’ve seen the extremes.
K- Will the price range hold steady, or will that be changing?
DJ- I think it’ll probably become broader.
K- There will still be options at low cost?
DJ- We’ll always have that.
K- And will the jazz still be without a cover?
DJ- We pay a lot for the musicians and I think it’s important to have the four, we do mostly quartets. We’re thinking of not having a cover, but maybe having a table minimum, which won’t be high. We have to generate the funds to pay the musicians and the people who work here.
K- As a regular here, I’ve seen the music room on a jazz night grow from a few scattered tables to a packed house with standing room only around the edges, the air pulsing with the beat and Gabrielle amazingly serving everyone with grace and good cheer. Zen Dog sure has caught on rapidly! How has this ride been for you?
DJ- For me, it’s a monster roller-coaster! Opening it, I said, “This is my greatest work.” I turned to my wife and said, “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.” The films are great, but it’s very isolated. You’re sitting in a room and doing everything by yourself, for a year. So this was like a whole community that I wanted to create. At the same time, part of it is learning how to be around crowds for the first time. It’s been good for me because I tend to isolate, but at the same time, it can become really exhausting, because I feel I’m trying so hard to be around so many people. In that sense also, it’s a roller-coaster for me. I have to learn not to take things personally, because when I create something unique, if somebody doesn’t like it, I could have a hundred people tell me it’s amazing, but if one person says they don’t like the music and the art, then I’m crushed. It’s weird. We could have a full house, but if I see somebody get up to walk out, I’m like, “Why is that person leaving?”
K- They might have a babysitter problem.
DJ- They might be walking out to go get popcorn. I’m used to focusing on one thing. I can handle that. There are so many pieces here, I get overwhelmed. So bringing in the couple is a huge thing. They know how to make a menu, how to make it work. I can focus on the music, and literally hang out with people.
K- You can enjoy it.
DJ- It’s doing films that make people uncomfortable, or doing something like this, that hasn’t been done. So it’s worked really well, which has been really gratifying to me. You don’t know what you have until you start going down the road. Then you start to find who you are.
4 Seasons Productions:http://4seasonsproductions.com/homepage.htm
Zen Dog: http://www.zendogcafe.com
Let’s Meet For Coffee!
Our roving morning reporter, Kathy Chaneles, catches up with local residents around town…
Interview 2/7/2011 Bread Alone: James Ransome and Lesa Cline Ransome
Early February morning of a long and snowy winter, I am picking my way through patches of ice and slush, to get to Bread Alone, where I am looking forward to meeting with James Ransome and Lesa Cline Ransome, illustrator and writer, respectively, of an amazing array of well-known children’s books, a number of which are collaborations by these two very talented people and all of which are highly acclaimed, many prize-winning, works that have enriched the lives of scores of young people. Since meeting the Ransomes when one of their daughters joined my then Girl Scout troop several years ago, I have been wowed, not only by their considerable professional accomplishments, but equally by the harmonious fashion in which they conduct their lives, raising four great kids, participating actively in our community, and always spreading warmth, good ideas, humor and help.
K- James and Lesa, I am very happy to be meeting with you this morning. In the years that I have known you and your family, I have been greatly impressed with all of the aspects of life that you juggle, keeping so many balls in the air at once! You both have successful careers, yours, James, in children’s book illustration, and yours, Lesa, in writing. You have both also turned your attention to the next generation, in your teaching and in your activities with education here in our community, including your work, Lesa, with CISPE (Community in Support of Public Education), and with the Whale Watch and other school programs. Your books, James and Lesa, help make the world a better place, forwarding an appreciation of diversity, of understanding, of tolerance, celebrating what can be achieved through hard work and dedication, and sharing the lives of strong role models in many fields. At the same time, you are raising four wonderful, intelligent, articulate, nice children, each of whom has varied interests and activities. And you are all smiling!
In preparing for this interview, I did a little research and I am speechless regarding the accomplishments you have achieved, the honors and awards you have earned. I cannot ask you here about each book and each award, so I am attaching links to that information and will focus here on how you do it all, as a team, as an astoundingly high-functioning family!
K- First, how did your grandmother, James, and your parents, Lesa, prepare you for the multi-faceted and high-achieving life that you experience today?
L- I had a mother who loved, loved, loved to read. We used to spend a lot of time at our local library, so on weekends, we would go and we would pick up a stack of books, my mother would pick up a stack of books, I would go home and read, and sometimes I would go back to the library, as I would plow through the books and sometimes I would go back and forth over the weekend. And my mother, also, loved to tell stories, so, she created in me a love of story-telling. She would share passages from adult books that she was reading, when I was a child and she always encouraged me to write and she encouraged me also through the gift of a diary when I was very young, so the more I read, the more I wanted to write, and the more I wrote, the more I wanted to read.
J- Your father, also, had a sense of storytelling. He’d be sitting around talking about different events.
L- Well Yeah, both my parents. We would sit around at the dinner table, sometimes for two hours. It would be a two-hour dinner, talking. They were both nurses and loved to share crazy, crazy stories of their patients. A lot of laughter and a lot of talking.
J-On my side, my grandmother gave me a sense of hard work and creativity. She was a quilter and a gardener. The hard work that I saw her do every day was a good example for me, the way she cared for the house the cleanliness. Hard work is a large part of being an illustrator. I learned a lot from watching her, being in her care and seeing all of those things.
K- Do you think you are passing those attributes on to your kids? Are you, for example, talking and telling stories around the dinner table? Are you visibly doing that kind of work that your kids follow by example?
J- I think so. We don’t spend two hours talking at the dinner table, but we do talk. Lesa is a wonderful storyteller with the children. I work, I work late. They see that. I’m not sure if that’s something that I’d want them to emulate, but it is an example of the hard work that I put into projects.
K- They see what gets you there, yes.
L- I think that the kids sometimes rely on me for telling stories. Often, James and I will go to a movie, and they’ll be waiting for us when we get back and they want me to kind of tell them what happened. At certain points, I tell them so much about the story, and I recreate the scene and go through the whole thing. There was a movie that we saw, a Will Smith movie, I Am Legend, and I told them so much about the movie that when the movie was released on DVD, they said they felt like they had already seen it.
K- Do they share stories about things that happened during the day?
L- They do, especially at the dinner table. Everyone’s kind of relaxed and there’s a lot of talking.
K- How great.
I want to ask you about balance. You are both so active and creative! Over the years, how have the two of you created and maintained the balance that works to support your professional and family growth?
L- I’m going to say that balance is something that I struggle with every day. I feel like I’m trying to always get it right. I’m not sure that I always do. I think sometimes that the challenge is a little different for women. I feel like if I’m devoting a lot of time to work, that I’m letting something slip with the kids, and if I’m devoting a lot of time to the kids, work is not where it should be. So it’s a balance I’m not sure I have right, but James and I, I think we really try to talk through our schedules, we work things out so we can manage the kids. But still, I don’t think that personally I have it quite right yet.
J- I agree, think balance is very difficult. I don’t think I have it right either. I often feel that I’m bouncing from one project to the next. And coming into the middle of things that happen in the household, not really being aware how they began or how they turn out in the end. It’s something we all struggle with. We don’t have a magic formula. It’s just each day you get up and do the best you can, and that’s all you can do.
K- Continuing with that theme, you both work and are active with your family and community. I’d like to ask about division of labor in your family. To what extent would you say that your family dynamics are described by the classic division of labor, with the husband mainly working while the wife tends to the needs of the children and the home, cooking, cleaning, homework, music lessons…and in what way does your family represent the values of feminism and equal partnership?
L- You have now touched on a very, very sensitive subject. This is definitely relating to the balance issue. To be quite honest, there is a disproportionate…I feel like I’m surprised. Coming of an age when I felt that the relationship would be much more equal in terms of division of labor, and it’s not. I’m not sure if it’s just that I’m more comfortable doing, or how this happened, or which came first. I feel like it’s me, it’s the household, the kids and the world.
K- Do you think that’s related to the nature of Illustration versus Writing, regarding deadlines and that sort of thing?
L- I think in some cases it is. I just am not sure if it’s just that I don’t allow the space for that to happen, for it to be a little more equitable, or if it’s that it wasn’t equitable, so I had to fill it.
K- That’s interesting. You say that you don’t allow it. Do you mean that you might prefer to keep it, the household and children part to yourself?
L- Yes. So, I’m never sure which one.
J- I think that it’s not fair. It’s hard to balance. Painting takes so long. It’s one of those things you struggle with, you always struggle with. It’s sort of the nature.
L- One of the things I hang onto is a story James once shared with me. He had heard an interview with Tony Morrison, who’s one of my favorite writers, and she talked a lot about the idea that a couple could be married and the man will say, “I ‘m going to go write the great American novel,” and the man will go off into a shed in the woods and devote himself to this novel, this great piece of literature. The woman, who wants to write the same novel, sits at the kitchen table, with the kids around her feet, cooking with one hand and with the other, writing the great American novel. I find that it’s something I really connect with.
J- She’s stirring the pot.
K- Yes, she stirs the pot!
This column is largely about Rhinebeck. Your world extends far beyond Rhinebeck, as you travel, teach, and interact with people all over! Yet you are a solidly Rhinebeck family, involved in school, sports, book groups, educational initiatives, social life and more, right here in this town. Can you share the path that brought you to choose to live and raise your kids in Rhinebeck, what you love most about living here, and reflections on this community?
L- We’ve been here for eight years now. I’ll backtrack. We graduated from college in New York City, we moved to Jersey City, an affordable place to live. We wanted to live in a really large Victorian on the Hudson. That was our dream. We still needed to be on the train line, to get back and forth to the city. We found a beautiful home in Poughkeepsie. It was a beautiful home, but the educational component was missing. I gave birth to all four children at Northern Dutchess. Rhinebeck is a town that I always loved… being here, driving through, visiting here, and having dinner for special occasions…I just loved it here.
J- And the Fair!
L- I always said it would be nice to live here. I was concerned about the lack of diversity. But then when we were selling our home in Poughkeepsie and looking at different options… this town offers almost everything that we need, without the diversity. What I love about being here, despite the lack of diversity, is a kind of open mindedness. I feel like we’ve been embraced, and this is a community that I really love, just a nice group of people that I feel very connected to.
K- Continuing with your comments about the lack of diversity, it’s interesting to note that you are creating diversity, providing an education, not only to your children, but to the community of children in school. Can you share some thoughts about being one of the very few African-American families in Rhinebeck?
L- Well, when we moved here, I remember meeting with the principal, and I asked her how many African-American children were in the school. She gave me a number and I said, “so, essentially, we will be quadrupling the African-American population of the school, with four children!” I can’t say that it’s been that much of an issue for me, in part because I grew up in a very similar community. In the town that I lived in (outside of Boston), out of a graduating class of five hundred, there were seven African-Americans. In many ways, it’s very similar and I feel like I can better help my children understand, and I appreciate the struggles that they may have encountered. All four of them have found nice groups of people to connect with. It’s very welcoming, perhaps because it’s so small. Everyone looks out for each other.
J- I was interested in coming here because of the artist friends that I had, the art community was a real draw for me. I also grew up in a town, in the late seventies, where there was not a lot of diversity, so I was accustomed to the environment and it wasn’t that much of an issue for me. I lived in a very small town in North Carolina, and I wanted that small town atmosphere for my children. Rhinebeck had a lot of the things I was interested in for my family. I’m a small town guy.
L- One thing I want to add: We are very close with our family, so the kids are part of a large African-American family. We do try to maintain ties with our church in Poughkeepsie, and I’ve helped to start an organization called Mocha Moms, which is for women of color. We’re located throughout the Hudson Valley, so that the kids can have experiences, and I can have experiences with other African-American women, which is really important to me.
K- Let’s turn to your new book, Before There Was Mozart, The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George. Can you tell me a little about how you found out about him? I never heard of him before. Can you tell about how you came to create this beautiful book?
L- James has a wonderful assistant, named Jeanette Peterson, who is a real music lover. She happened to watch a CBC special, a Canadian broadcast. They featured a story called, “Le Mozart Noir.” (The Black Mozart). She saw this special, and she thought this might be a perfect subject for a book! So I did a little research. The story was interesting, in that he was the son of a slave and a plantation owner, in Guadeloupe. They actually had a loving relationship, which was unusual. He was raised as a plantation owner’s son, not as a slave. He never worked as a slave.
K- Did he take music lessons?
L- He had music lessons, riding lessons…At age nine, his father decided he wanted to return to France to give him a better education, so they moved, with Mom. She was put in a separate home. He and his father shared an apartment in Paris. His father provided the best Paris had to offer. Joseph was a world-class equestrian, a fencer, even ice skater and swimmer. Then he turned his attention to music, so he received lessons from master violinists and went on to great fame, so much that it was speculated that he inspired one of Mozart’s works. It’s a great story. I love celebrating the stories of people who are relatively unknown, and this is a particularly fascinating one.
J- When I work, I usually hire people to model for me, to play different roles. In this book, a young man by the name of Sebastian plays the part of young Saint-George, and Chris Knight plays the part of the older Saint-George. David Gideon plays the part of the overseer that teaches him the lessons, Terri, a friend of ours here in Rhinebeck, plays the part of Saint-George’s mother, Jeff Romano plays the part of Saint-George’s father, Reese Williams plays the part of the Priest, it’s a community effort!
K- It does become a community effort, friends and neighbors! Have your own kids played parts in this book as well?
J- Yes, they’re in there as well. They played other parts, background parts here, “extras.”
K- I love how you speak about it, like theatre! In a way it is a cast of characters.
J- Yes and it’s all pieced together over time. We actually went to Guadalupe and researched the book, and then, a year or so later, we went to Paris. We traced the steps that he took; we got a sense of the environment and of the life that he lived. It’s fun, it’s a lot of fun when you research. We rented the costumes in Kingston. A lot of people are involved, turning things into books!
K- That’s fabulous. I am so thrilled to have my new copy here. I can’t wait to read it! Thank you.
L- Thank you!
James Ransome and Lesa Cline Ransome
K- Before There Was Mozart came out January 26, 2011 and is available now in the Hudson Valley, at Oblong Books, Merritt, Barnes & Noble, and on Amazon!
Facebook ~ Lesa Cline-Ransome Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lesa-Cline-Ransome-Author-Page/129444377123120?ref=ts&v=wall
Let’s Meet for Coffee!
Our roving morning reporter, Kathy Chaneles, catches up with local residents around town…
Interview 12/17/2010 Bread Alone: Liza Donnelly
I am in awe of Liza Donnelly and I haven’t even met her. I am on my way to Bread Alone this morning, to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, to soak up the wood & breadbasket ambience, and to meet and interview Liza Donnelly, accomplished cartoonist of New Yorker fame since 1979, author of several terrific books, including her latest, a wise and witty one on women, When Do They Serve The Wine?, also Vassar College faculty member, public speaker, and activist for world peace. I stand tall in the knowledge that this lady I am about to meet is truly helping to make the world a better place.
K- I am happy to meet you this morning, Liza. First, congratulations on your new book, When Do They Serve The Wine?, which I am pleased to see on the shelves, locally, at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, at Merritt Books in Red Hook, and at Barnes & Noble both in Kingston and in Poughkeepsie, as well as on-line!
Your new book of cartoons is all about women, and it is just such delicious fun to laugh about aspects of womanhood at different ages! I find your latest book thrilling and hilarious!
How do you think humor changes as we get older? Has your sense of humor been different at different stages of your life, and how so?
L- You take yourself less seriously as you get older, I think, and you know more, so you laugh at more things, that’s my experience. Although I’ve been a cartoonist for thirty years, I’ve been doing this since I was in my twenties and teens actually; I started drawing when I was a girl. My perspective is better, I can laugh, and I’m less worried about how I appear to other people. I’m not so self-conscious. It frees you up. Age frees you up.
K- I understand that you have two daughters. How have your relationships with the women in your life, and especially with your daughters, informed your work?
L- Well, my relationship with my daughters is really great, to understand now what twenty year-olds are going through, cause it was different when I was, it was a long time ago. Observing them…I observe all the women in my life. Some of the cartoons were informed by my editors, because they’re in their thirties and I don’t know many women in their thirties. Since I’ve been doing this so long, I’m always observing women in my life, also looking to the older women to see how they’re dealing with being older, because I’m not yet in my sixties.
K- You said that it’s different, the experience of being in one’s twenties, now, from when you were in your twenties. Can you expand on that?
L- Well, I was in my twenties in the late 70′s, early 80′s. I came out of being a sort-of earthy girl, like I didn’t wear makeup and I didn’t pay much attention to women’s magazines and trends. I don’t think there was all that pressure on us. There was some pressure to conform but I don’t feel like there was as much pressure to conform as a woman in the late 70′s. And then it started to change in the 80′s and 90′s, and now I feel like there’s so much pressure on girls to conform, to be a certain way, to look a certain way. It may be harder for them now. But, on the other hand, there are a lot more choices for women. More careers, more lifestyles. You don’t have to get married right away. I didn’t feel like I had to get married right away…
K- But many people did.
L- Yeah. So, I think, just coming out of the hippie movement…that’s how I see it as different.
K- As a child, did you draw and did you make people laugh? How did it come about that you found yourself making funny drawings?
L- Well, I was always drawing when I was little, according to my father. I think when I was around seven years old, my mother gave me a book of cartoons by James Thurber, and I started tracing them. I also traced Charles Shultz. I loved Dr. Seuss, so I started tracing those cartoons. There was humor in my family. My sister was always getting in trouble, I was the good girl. It was my way to be myself and do what I wanted to do, and still get approval, get attention.
K- It was a place you could also express yourself?
L- I was so lucky to be able to find that at an early age. And then I drew in High School. I went to college and I studied art. I went to a small liberal arts college in Indiana. It was small, so I could do what I wanted to do. And then I moved to New York, to do an internship in the Natural History Museum, and I got a job there.
K- What did you do at the Museum of Natural History?
L- I was in the Art Department. My other interest is Biology. I worked there for several years, still cartooning all the time. It had a family atmosphere working there, it was really nice.
K- I am aware that the Rhinebeck area is home to several New Yorker and other cartoonists. Is this just coincidence? How did this come about?
L- Well, we were here first. I met my husband, who is also a New Yorker cartoonist. His name is Michael Maslin. We met in New York but he was living in Kingston at the time, and he showed me Rhinebeck. I was actually ready to leave New York, to slow down a little bit, to live in the country, and I saw Rhinebeck and I said, “Wow, this is the place where I want to live!” I saw Upstate and Stickles and I thought, “Whoa! This is great!” And we were lucky enough to find…we bought a house in 1987. So we moved here then, and the other guys followed. I don’t know if they actually followed us. I just think there’s something about Rhinebeck, that is country but it also has an urban sophistication. It’s got an arts community, so it’s accepted artists.
K- Our nation upholds the concepts of Freedom of Speech and of the Press. These Freedom issues can be complex and are lately in the news, for example, in the Wikileaks controversy. Have you encountered Freedom of Speech issues in the world of cartoon publishing and how would you explain your stance?
L- I haven’t personally really experienced it. When you do cartoons, I do them every week, I do five or six sketches every week, you send them to the magazine and they either buy them or they don’t. So, in a way, your freedom of speech is determined by the editor, by what he wants to publish. I know that there’s a lot of this discussion going on in cartooning because of the Danish cartoon controversy.
K- Can you explain a little bit about that controversy, so that readers who may not have heard about it…?
L- About 2005, some cartoons were drawn that depicted Mohammed and they were drawn at the instigation of the editor for publication in Denmark, because they wanted to test the waters of Free Speech. They wanted to see if it was possible to say what you wanted to say and not get a reaction from the Muslim community. My understanding is that there was not a reaction immediately from the publication of the cartoons. The internet and some extremist groups began to make it more of an issue than it normally would have been. It just became a hot button issue. For me personally, I wouldn’t go there, I mean I don’t. My stuff is very quiet. I do political cartoons, but they usually are cartoons that get into your skin, but not in a provocative way. Writing, doing cartoons about women, you don’t always get them published as easily, in the mainstream press. I do those types of feminist cartoons for women’s publications.
K- When we look back over the history of cultural and political initiatives, and the Movement toward world peace, tolerance, and freedom, we find that cartoons, both political cartoons and social commentary cartoons, have been powerful tools of expression, of rebellion, and of change. Can you share some thoughts about cartoons as agents of change in our world?
L- It’s a good question! Actually, I just proposed to give a talk about that subject, how cartoons can be agents of change, and I want to go back and look at the history of cartoons in this country and around the world, at specific cartoons that caused a controversy. I don’t think there’s been anything…there’s been nothing quite like the Danish controversy in history, but maybe there has.
K- I know there’s a thread about anti-Semitic cartoons during Hitler years.
L- That would be the first place to go, I think, to look at that. If you look at the history of the magazine, The New Yorker, you look at the cartoons, it started in 1925, and you look at the cartoons and see how cultural attitudes changed.
K- That’s fascinating!
L- I know, it is fascinating. You see people’s sense of humor, what was “P.C.” now would not be so, and vice versa, there were a lot of racist cartoons. Those people weren’t really quite aware what they were doing. The thing about humor is, humor serves a function, it serves to solidify a base, you know, take for example the sort-of elite magazines, not so much now, but in the 30′s, so if you were part of a certain group, and class, and you got these certain jokes, then you felt like you had a certain status. Conversely, there’s humor among women, we have our humor, it’s not what we share with men necessarily, it keeps us together. It bonds people.
K- I see that with kids, even. I remember when my son read Mad Magazine. It served that same function.
L- In our culture, humor often defines us, or we think it does.
K- You probably could also follow a thread about censorship. You said that the magazine decides what’s published. There must have been periods that were more conservative…
L- Yes! In the 20′s, the humor was quite broad. There were women in magazines, they let it roll. Then there was the war and the Depression, and they clamped down.
K- The 50′s must have been really controlled, just like the outfits, the belts!
L- The girdles!
K- You have been involved with the work of Cartooning for Peace, the organization started by the French cartoonist, Jean Plantu. Can you share what Cartooning for Peace has been doing?
L-They have a foundation. The idea: promoting tolerance among different countries (cartoons have the ability to communicate without words). They have talks in different countries with cartoonists from different countries. They have a Facebook page, where they invite cartoonists to send in cartoons.
Along the same lines, I started a section of a website, dscriber.com, called World Ink. I invite all the cartoonists I know to submit. “Send me your cartoons that you can’t publish.” We can’t pay them yet, it’s start-up, but if you want exposure, we’ll publish it, and your bio and your picture…all your information. You go to dscriber.com and then you go to World Ink.
I feel like it’s great for Americans to see humor of other countries. Sometimes, Africa or Turkey or Asia…they could be cartooning about something that I have no idea was important to them.
Not through the mainstream media, but through individual cartoonists, we do that!
K- I see how through individual, small connections, you are working globally.
K- Is there a way that our readers can help?
L- Visit Cartooning for Peace Facebook page, communicate with them, “like” if you like something, go to the World Ink site, contribute your opinions to that, I think that would be the best way. Also, go to my blog, and comment to me. tell me on my website. That’s the wonderful thing about publishing cartoons on the internet. I’m so used to publishing in a magazine and you don’t get feedback. But when I started publishing on www.salon.com , www.wowowow.com , they would give me feedback. Sometimes its negative. When I’ve had some cartoons on salon.com, which is a huge site, it’s not like a community or women’s website, I got some really nasty comments, I think because my work is subtle and some people don’t like subtle, oblique, kind-of cute, but it was interesting. Some people just want to get their anger out.
K- I think it’s an anonymous way for some people to get away with saying some nasty things. I’m aware of it, but I also think that it’s amazing how the internet has made many of the endeavors you’re describing possible. I think there’s still much more gain.
L- Yes, I’m a big proponent.
K- I’d like to hear about your children’s books. You’ve written and illustrated seven children’s books! Our children inherit the Earth. How do you see your role as children’s book-creator, in terms of our future and theirs?
L- If I could say something about the struggles in my growing up and help another person, another little girl, or boy, I’ll write about it.
K- You are helping children to be more themselves, giving them permission to be who they are.
L- It’s funny. If you’ve been doing it as long as I have, I just keep following my nose. I just keep doing what feels right, what interests me. I don’t have a grandiose idea of myself.
K- When you validate a little girl and make her feel that she’s okay the way she is and that she can do what she wants and doesn’t have to be or look a certain way, you’re also teaching tolerance of others.
L- Thank you. I like to make people laugh and I also like to make them think, if I can.
Look for When do they serve the wine? in your local bookstores!
Some links from Liza
Womens news.org : http://womensenews.org/
Women on the web:http://www.wowowow.com/
Let’s Meet for Coffee!
Our roving morning reporter, Kathy Chaneles, catches up with local residents around town.
Interview 11/11/10 Samuel’s ~ Jeanne Fleming the founder and coordinator of Rhinebeck’s own Sinterklaas, as well as of the Halloween Parade in New York City, the Opening Celebration of the Walkway Over the Hudson, and many more.
Approaching Samuel’s this morning, to interview Jeanne Fleming, I notice that the tiny twinkly lights that yearly bedeck our holiday village streets are not yet on and that I am longing for them. It’s not even Thanksgiving and already I am anticipating the exciting air of December, lovely snowflakes, cozy holiday times with family and friends, and Sinterklaas! Looking forward to grumpusses cavorting in the streets, wild women getting their yaya’s out, the teen-powered papier-mâché dragon of Crew (Krewe de Crew, if we were talking Mardi Gras), the Whale Watch spaghetti dinner I hope, and, above all, the Parade of Us, tramping through the night with stars held aloft!
Samuel’s is the perfect setting for this interview, as Samuel’s and Sinterklaas are inextricably linked in my experience. From the moment Ira, owner of our local jewel of a sweet shop on East Market Street, was approached about holding the first Sinterklaas Teddy Bear Contest, he was on board and supporting all things Sinterklaas! The chocolate Sinterklaas pops he sells, the buckets of teeny foil-wrapped holiday sweets he has donated for Teddy Bear contestant prizes, the contest itself, which crowds his doorstep with red-cheeked teddy-owners every year, all prove Samuel’s a prime Sinterklaas destination! And then, as the magical night goes on and on…we find revelers of all ages there, sipping sweet hot chocolate.
K- Thank you for joining me this morning at Samuel’s. I am so happy to have this opportunity to interview you, over this delicious coffee (mine: vanilla-hazelnut, hers: cappuccino), for Rhinebeck Community Forum, and to get to know you better myself!
Our community knows you, Jeanne, primarily through your work. We’ve come to love Sinterklaas, with its wintry magic, fun, beauty, and pageantry. Your creative expression is the festival itself, but many people wouldn’t know who you are, as you run around through the snow, in your wonderful long coat, making sure everything is going right! Rhinebeck Community Forum would like to give readers a chance to know you. Where did you grow up and when did you come to the Hudson Valley?
J- I came here when I was 17 years old, as the faculty wife of an English professor at Bard College.
K- at 17!
J- At 17, yes, I married him when I was 17. He was 26 and he was a teacher at the University of Southern California. I met him actually playing Go. I played this Japanese game and I was a very good player of that game and I met him at a little coffee-smoke shop where I would go to play this game. He came in and he saw me there and we got to talking. He was a professor and I met him and we got married. He had gone to Bard College so at a certain point after he got his PhD, he was offered a job at Bard and I came here as a faculty wife.
K- So young.
J- So young, yes. I was a student, only a sophomore when I first came here.
K- So you were both a faculty wife and a student. Am I correct that your area of interest was Medieval studies?
J- Bard offered a lot of opportunities and I created my own major. The thing that interested me was a broad sense of community and a unified world view that existed in the Middle Ages, so I started taking a lot of courses in that time period but because it was Bard, you didn’t have to choose a major, so I took equal courses in history, art history, literature…I was able to really concentrate on the Medieval period. I knew a lot about that period. What interested me the most was when the Christian conquerors came into an area where there was an established-already pagan, generally, religion, the way the Christian invaders took over that culture, co-opted that culture, and the difference between earth-based and spirit-based religions and how that all evolved in countries all over Europe, in Norway and Sweden.
K- Do you think that this understanding and this investigation has influenced your work? Do you think that your festival work has been influenced by celebrations in medieval times?
J- Yes, the fact that whole communities came together and it didn’t matter whether you were an artist. That notion of artist as “separate from” didn’t exist in those days. It was really about everyone contributing to community celebrations. That was of interest to me. It’s letting everyone find their place in the community on a making level and a spiritual level. It’s finding the way for everyone to come together, with whatever it is that they can contribute. So if you’re a butcher and a fabulous actor, then you become an actor in the pageant, but if you’re an artist and what you always wanted to do was guide the horse, then you can do that. It’s finding the right place for everybody that matters.
K- In Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Dancing in the Streets, she discusses the idea that street festivals emerge in times of political dissent, rebellion, and change. Do you think that there is a political aspect to street festivals?
J- I definitely think there can be. I was laughing the other day just thinking about the Halloween Parade in New York City, where there were 90,000 people this year. I thought to myself, “Wow! If I decided to do something political, I’d have a lot of people behind me!” I’ve never really been very interested in that, only interested in politics in communities to the extent that politics tend to divide communities. I’m more interested in bringing them together. So it’s more interesting to me to be anti-political, or apolitical, because it allows people to come together, to put aside all these differences and not be afraid of each other, trust each other. I’ve never been interested in political street theatre, that’s not what I’ve done in my life, but, I think there’s some truth in that. Certainly, in Halloween for example, it’s a night of inversions. It’s when the least powerful become powerful and the most powerful perhaps are not. It’s not about money. It’s not about power. It’s really about creativity and the power of creativity to transform communities and individuals. It’s more about the power of the heart I think that I enjoy.
K- When you were a kid, did your family ever participate in festivals, parades, community celebrations?
J- That’s a funny question. My father was a funeral director, so I grew up in a very big house that had a lot of funeral parlors, so, in a certain way; I saw a lot of ritual around me because of that. My father was a funny guy. He had a great sense of humor about life. He used to do kind-of odd things during the funerals, like he would play music very, very quietly so people wondered if they really heard it or if they just thought they heard it, because of the circumstances. So certainly my father was at an important juncture during people’s lives. And my father was actually a politician. He was the coroner for the City of Philadelphia, so he was invited to a lot of big celebrations, so I grew up on the Mummer’s Parade in Philadelphia, which I adored. I loved that event.
I don’t think it was so much in my family, I think it was really a bizarre realization that I had the ability, from a very early age, to see the big picture, to be able to see the entire picture in all of its details, all at once, and not be afraid of it.
I could go to an event and see it. The first time I remember that was: I went to see Elvis when I was about 12 years old. We had all agreed that we would not tell our parents that we were going because we knew they wouldn’t let us go. We would get on the trolley car, go to Philadelphia and go to this amazing event. So I got there and of course all the other kids had told their parents that they were going to do it and they were forbidden. So I went by myself. I had probably the cheapest ticket in the house. I was way up in the balcony. Elvis was like a sequin, moving, tiny, on the stage. But what I saw was the whole thing! I saw all the people. The girl beside me was carving his name in her arm. I saw the pandemonium, the people being taken out on stretchers, just the whole thrust of the entire event and that just was utterly interesting to me. I got it! I understood the whole thing. I could have run the event.
K- As a child, you saw, loved and formed a bond with large events. How did you get into creating festivals? Where did you step over that line and do it?
J- Well, I graduated from Bard and the first job I got was for The Associated Colleges of the Mid-Hudson Area. There was National Endowment for the Arts funding and State Arts Council funding, and so I put together the first regional Theatre Festival and Poetry Festival. I wound up running festivals in every art form because I had this wonderful position, getting together with all of the deans and presidents. Before I knew it, I had the biggest cooperative arts group in the country. After that, I got hired by Mohonk Mountain House, so I started creating events for them. Producing my own things happened when I had been traveling in Africa and I got very sick. I drank a whole lot of water out of a tin can in the Sahara Desert. I got hepatitis and thought I was going to die. I said, “Well, if I’m going to live for three more months, I might as well do something!” I did my first pageant, the first thing where I designed it.
K- Those of us who have lived here for many years recall the days of Dutch Christmas that you created, as well as the beautiful Native American celebration and program of study that you did at Chancellor Livingston School, called “Let the River Connect Us,” but it wasn’t until I was preparing for this interview that I discovered the amazing range and scale of your work. You were behind Harbor Festival 86, the official New York City public celebration of the Statue of Liberty, which drew 12 million people! And you were behind the Phoenix Rising event that helped heal New York City after 9/11. Can you share any dreams or visions of future celebrations that you’d wish to see happen?
J- Years ago, I had the great opportunity to meet David Amram’s manager. She was 96 and she was really quite an astonishing woman. I remember asking her, “How do you do it? How do you manage?” She said, “I do the next thing and I do it well.” That’s what she said, and I took that as my mantra. I don’t know.
K- One at a time.
J- One at a time. I do what I’m doing right now and I never know what’s going to happen next. The next thing just comes, or the next idea just comes.
K- I had the privilege, years ago, of attending a wonderful event that you created for your son’s eighth birthday, and it made me see how you integrated this festival phenomenon into your own life. He loved fire and firemen, as many 8 year-old kids do, but instead of having a little birthday party with 8 kids wearing fireman’s hats, you created a full-scale, amazing and memorable event. You brought in elements about the fire of the Sun, and even the Fire Department was there with a fire truck! How would you say that your work has affected your son’s life?
J- Probably adversely, because my son has had to live with his mother, as producer of large events, ever since he was born. That particular night, he refused to go in the boat and light the fire. It was the first time he really said, “No! I will not be your pawn!” I can remember his saying to me, at two and a half, “Mommy, I love you but I no likey Jeanne Fleming,” so many people would call and leave messages for Jeanne Fleming. The thing that’s really great is, now I’m taking him to all my meetings. He ran the telecast on Halloween night! He was the person who knew the most about the parade so he was in the truck with the telecast, telling them what they were seeing and what was coming. He’s become a kind of producer on his own.
K- One aspect of Sinterklaas that many of us especially love is the celebration of Diversity! I am thrilled to experience the Jewish Havdalah candlelight ceremony, alongside Dutch Christmas traditions and then Native American dance performance and more. How has Sinterklaas come to include the diverse cultures and traditions that are represented in our homes in the Hudson River Valley?
J- That’s easy! It came to be because of the Dutch! The Dutch are a very open and tolerant culture. They’re traders. They trade all over the world. They appreciate: we don’t have coffee beans in Holland, but they’ve got them somewhere else. They’ve got cocoa beans somewhere else. They’ve always appreciated the whole world for what it had to offer, without thinking, “They’re different from us.” It’s more like, “We can do business together.” As a result, when they came to America, they brought with them all of these trading partners. There were 48 languages being spoken in New York. Sinterklaas was created because everyone said we want something based on our Dutch traditions, around the holiday time. I went out and did research when I was doing the Quadricentennial, but I had researched it twenty years ago when I first started Dutch Christmas, which I thought was an inappropriate name. It isn’t really about Christmas. It’s about the spirit of Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas, who saved the children who were running from the Inquisition. He took in everybody and that’s the great generous spirit of that character. Santa Claus has nothing to do with Christmas, has everything to do with Sinterklaas. It was just this wonderful holiday for children, nonsectarian and nonreligious, about this benevolent old man who loved them all!
K- In conclusion, is there anything you’d like to add about yourself, your work, or Sinterklaas?
J- Well, I think that I’d say that the work that I do is really important work. I think that in a world that is very divided, and we’ve seen it again in the recent election, where people are red and blue, or white and black, or Christian, Jewish, Muslim, all of that. I really feel that the work that I do is a good antidote to all of that. It is a way for people to be able to connect to their basic humanity and to their creativity, which tends to make people more open. It’s about opening your heart to everyone around you, and the feeling that you get from that. It’s about faith; it’s about recognizing the things that bring us together. That’s at the heart of the work…Sinterklaas, honoring the children, not being afraid of each other in the streets of Rhinebeck. It’s all the same thing.
So, that’s the work, that’s the work.
K- Thank you, Jeanne, for being here and for your interesting and thought-provoking comments. We are all excited about the fantastic, all-day magic and fun of Sinterklaas, on Saturday, December 4!
Let’s Meet for Coffee!
Our roving morning reporter, Kathy Chaneles catches up with local residents around town…
Interview 10/29/2010 at Leonardo’s: Jeanne Kelly, local mom, home owner, business owner of The Kelly Group
October 29, 2010, a chilly yet sunny Friday morning, 7 am, in Town, leaves still golden and apricot, two days before Halloween. The people who are up and about look surprised to be wearing warm coats. Some are early rising tourists picking up the Times at the Corner Store, or catching an early walk around our pretty village. Two are young children, a ballerina and a scary guy, happy to be allowed to wear their Halloween costumes ahead of time. Others are regulars of the local early morning coffee scene, of which I am a part. We are fortunate to have a number of welcoming places to have a hot cuppa at this hour or earlier, and each place has its own vibe. As newly appointed reporter for the Rhinebeck Community Forum, I have been handed the delicious task of interviewing morning coffee drinkers, all around Town. The plan is to take turns going to various venues, working my way through, for example, Samuel’s, Bread Alone, Leonardo’s, The Bagel Shop, the Mobile Station, Zen Dog, Calico…all the while conducting fairly short interviews. Some will be scheduled (hence the title, “Let’s Meet for Coffee,” and in other cases, I’ll just go up to people and see what happens. This is the first interview of the series, and I have chosen Leonardo’s for this honor, primarily because of its coziness. I also approve of Leonardo’s easy mood, friendly staff, the $1.00 honor-system-any-size-coffee, the buy-6-get-one-free card, and Sinatra crooning while you sprinkle cinnamon over your $1.00 find. A warm and comfy spot.
K. Jeanne, since many people who follow Rhinebeck Community Forum may not know who you are, why don’t you start by introducing yourself and the type of work you do here in Rhinebeck?
J. Well, I’m Jeanne Kelly, of The Kelly Group, and basically, I’m a credit expert. I’m here in Rhinebeck, its back to my home town! Started the company over ten years ago to help people understand their credit report and their FICO score.
K. What made you think of getting into that type of work?
J. I’m a single mom and when I got divorced, I didn’t realize how bad my credit was and when I went to go for help to figure it out, I realized there really wasn’t a place to go. So I started learning the credit industry on my own and after I helped myself, I thought, this is something I could really do to help other people, and that’s how it started!
K. and you’ve helped so many people, it’s excellent.
J. It’s a great celebration this year, knowing that we’ve been around for ten years now. I started when Cassandra (Jeanne’s daughter) was in Kindergarten. That was my goal, you know? Once she started school, what am I going to do? You know, how I am going to figure it out, to be the single mom and still put her on the bus every day, but also work and make a living.
K. You sure have done it!
K. With the economic difficulties that so many people are facing at this time, and with the holiday season fast approaching, could you give some tips to help people get through and enjoy the holidays without making their financial stresses worse?
J. Yes. One of the things that is really important when you go to the stores and they offer you to get a credit card to get that ten or fifteen percent off, you really have to think about if it’s worth getting it. Timing is everything with your credit. If you know in the near future you’re going to need a big loan for a mortgage, an automobile, then you don’t want to be opening up new credit cards. That will drop your score, so that ten percent will not save you in the long run, when you have a big ticket item waiting behind it a few months later. So be careful about opening new credit cards during the holiday season. Now of course, if you aren’t getting something big, then it’s fine to do.
The other thing is: because of how crazy-busy we are, I always say it’s important to stay on top of the bills you already have. During the holidays, I always say,”Just like Santa checks his list twice, I want you to do that as well,” because you may go through your bills thinking everything’s fine, but just do a little double check and make sure everything goes out on time. One late payment on your credit report in the moment, if it happens in December and your credit is pulled in December, can drop your score 100 points.
K. 100 points!
J. 100 points.
K. I understand you grew up in the Rhinebeck/Red Hook area. How do you think the area has changed since you were a kid around here?
J. Well, I think the area has changed with the volume of people, because I grew up on a farm in Red Hook and when I was 16 and I’d get to the end of Linden Avenue, I could just stop and look for a second and go. Now I sit at that stop sign for five minutes, just many more people here. I think that the Rhinebeck community has grown charming. More town, more shops, restaurants…it’s fabulous, I love it!
K. I do too. We’ve been seeing many tourists here lately, strolling through the beautiful streets, shopping, enjoying our many eateries, driving spectacular cars! How do you think this will affect Rhinebeck now and in the future?
J. I think that it’s great to have more tourists. With the big wedding that was here, it may have made people think about Rhinebeck again! We found out about Rhinebeck…my dad was an iron worker in Manhattan…we found out because of the Dutchess County Fair, and that’s what brought us up here! I think it’s great when you go around town and you see more people going into the shops and restaurants. Yeah, I think it’s exciting too!
K. How would you like to conclude this interview?
J. Well, I think the number one message regarding credit is to be aware, no matter what! Whether you’re having financial good times, you should be aware and still on top of what’s being reported about you, and during these hard economic times, I want you to still, even if you know it’s bad, still look at it, know, so you can come up with a game plan. And so, my number one message is: be aware, and today, go pull your credit report!
K. Thank you so much for meeting, this is fun over coffee!
J. I love it, have me again.
The Kelly Group Web Site : http://www.kgroupconsulting.com Jeanne Kelly is a nationally recognized voice in credit consulting. In addition to serving her clients in their efforts to improve their credit scores, Jeanne has been sought out by real estate professionals, mortgage analysts and journalists for her thoughts and advice on how to best manage your credit portfolio in an ever-changing financial landscape. Most recently, Jeanne appeared on a WBNW radio show dedicated to addressing the ongoing mortgage crisis to discuss the basics of managing your FICO score.
Read Jeanne on the Huffington Post :http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeanne-kelly/keeping-the-love-alive-wi_b_453563.html
Read On : http://www.kgroupconsulting.com/