This Thing Called Courage

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Western Swing, Part II

Or maybe I should call it Semi-Western Swing, as we didn't go quite so far this time as we did this past late winter when we visited Northhampton, Heath, and Brattleboro. At any rate I was invited to do a reading at Bruce's Browser, a delightful book store (and, like a library, is there any such thing as a bad bookstore?) in the town of Athol, Massachusetts, as part of their Gay Pride Celebration. On the way out, we were invited to lunch at the writer Allen Young's house, which is part of the Butterworth Farm Intentional Community of gay folks, in Royalston, Massachusetts, two towns north of Athol. Butterworth Farm is a beautiful place and there are about half a dozen (self-built) homes out there, scattered hither and thither through the old woods of white pine, hemlock, birch, and pink lady slippers.

Allen's is one of them, The Octagon by name, and yes it is in that shape. It's a delightful home, and when one walks in you think of an enchanted home in the forest, a house out of some fairy tale, or the home of Bilbo Baggins-- utterly charming. The inside is all dark wood and built-in bookcases featuring hundreds of books and hundreds of vinyl albums, and a rustic table set for lunch right at a front window, through which one looks out at the forest and the hummingbird feeder (which was visited during our meal-- wonderful!)We were treated to a delicious lunch of tuna salad, flax-seed bread from a bakery in Montreal, fresh salad from Allen's garden, and, for dessert, home-made pound cake put together by a friend of Allen's featuring eggs from their own hens. Dee-lish! We had a quick tour of the rest of the house after lunch (though we didn't have time for the basement-- the pelting rain we hit on the way up and pit-stops for a wildly pesky Fionn made us a bit late). Upstairs is the big master bedroom, out of the midst of which rises a pole like a mast on a ship, with horizontal pegs for climbing up into the top floor of the house, a wonderful guest bedroom with glass all round like the top of a lighthouse. I can't stand heights and demured at the end but Chris went to the top and said it was beautiful. Then we visited the home of a friend of Allen's, Buddy, a native of Fields Corner, Dorchester. A Jack-of-All-Trades and fabulous gardener, Buddy had helped Allen immensely in the building of his own home. Buddy's two friendly dogs greeted us, then we toured the long rows of perennial flower gardens spilling up a hillside-- beautiful, featuring the largest peony flowers I've ever seen, as well as dozens of Iris (Siberian and Bearded) and Daylilies.

Next it was on to Athol, to Bruce's Browser specifically, for the reading. There we met the wonderful proprietor, Diane Lincoln, who is also a singer/songwriter who performs under the name Linq. She used to own a pharmacy in this same spot, which explains the delightful fountain service that this delightful bookstore offers. It's aptly named, for one could spend the whole day browsing there, and I heartily recommend a trip out there to see for yourself.

We had a nice crowd at the reading, and were pleased to see a few old friends from the last Western Swing, specifically Glenn Johnson, and Dave Gott from Burnt Hill in Heath. Filmmaker John Scagliotti was there to film my reading, along with his crew, and he's a wonderful man doing really interesting work-- and will be at the LGBT Film Festival in Brattleboro, VT, next weekend. Here are the details on that:


Friday June 22 to Thursday June 28;

Organized by Brattleboro's Latchis Theater by programmer Darren Goldsmith
and special GLBT Screening Sessions presented by the Kopkind Colony's
programmer, John Scagliotti.

Note: The Latchis, 50 Main St, will be presenting GLBT oriented films
through out the week in the evening and matinees; please refer to the
Latchis web page for films and times.


Sat, June 23, 4PM Shorts Screening, Latchis:

"Local Filmmakers and Friends Making Us Proud"
World Premiere of: Butterworth: A Short Video Essay by Allen Young

Allen Young was a pioneering gay liberationist in the post-Stonewall era,
collaborating on four books with lesbian writer/editor Karla Jay. In 1973,
he moved with several friends to a rural region of Massachusetts, to create
a unique community they called Butterworth Farm. As its 35th anniversary
approaches, this brief DVD, including music from our neighbor, lesbian
singer-songwriter Linq, was created. (Linq will introduce program with a
couple of songs) It was produced with the help of John Scagliotti and David
Hall, as a sort of minimalist portrait."


This short opened to delirious applause at the 2004 Brattleboro Women's Film
Festival. Five years in the making, it focuses on 4 (mostly adult) tomboys,
ranging in age from 14 to 90. (including "Granny D") Julie Akeret &
Christian McEwen are local filmmakers, one based in Leeds, MA, and one
across the road from the Kopkind Colony in Guilford, VT.

Creating A Safer Space
Using Vermont as a case study, local filmmaker and writer Jason Whipple and
Alex Martin, explores in this 10-minute short, anti-LGBT hate violence.
Features interviews with a survivor speaking candidly about her experience,
and the executive director of SafeSpace-an organization working to end
anti-LGBT hate violence in Vermont.


Written by Mike Clark who was born in Saxtons River, VT. His family then
moved to Bellows Falls where he lived, went to school and graduated High
School (Bellows Falls Union High). He and his partner Sam Mathewes, who
stars in this short film, visit often as Mike still has a large family here.
He now lives in Los Angeles, California and works in production and has
worked on several shows e.g. Animal Planet and they might be here in the

The reading went very nicely, and the wonderful people in the audience were very engaged and asked great questions. They even let me sing! After that, a bunch of us went out to dinner at The Copper Angel, a wonderful restaurant in Erving, several towns to the west of Athol. A good time was had by all. The Copper Angel is owned by a lesbian couple who are friends of Allen and Diane.

Special thanks to all those who made this possible: Allen Young (who kindly presented me with a copy of his newly-updated classic, 'North of Quabbin'); Diane Lincoln; and Dave Gott, who started the whole thing rolling last fall when he sent me a kind letter and invited me out west.


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