Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Polaroid Stories" by Naomi Iizuka - A "Must See" at the Boston Center for the Arts

I was at Opening Night last evening at Boston Center for the Arts Black Box Theater for "Polaroid Stories."  You have two more weeks to see this remarkable piece about the underbelly of NYC street life.  Under the dual direction of Joey C. Pelletier and Elise Weiner Wulff, the ensemble cast is pitch perfect.

This production is a collaboration among three theater groups: Happy Medium Theater Company, Boston Actors' Theater and Heart & Dagger Productions.

"Naomi Iizuka’s 1997 play, Polaroid Stories, consciously uses stories, characters and themes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to tell the stories of street kids living on the edge in a desolate, urban landscape. Because these characters are named after Orpheus and Eurydice, and Echo and Narcissus, or based on stories of Dionysus, and Ariadne and Theseus, and because scenes are entitled “The Story of Semele” or “Theseus in the Labyrinth,” Iizuka creates a world that has two dimensions: the gritty realm of drug dealers, homeless kids, and prostitutes and the realm of self-fashioning and shape-shifting gods. By blending these two dimensions, Iizuka comments on several Ovidian themes: the relationship of the gods to humans, women as victims, and the power of story-telling. "

The production stars: Danielle Leeber as Philomel, Mikey DiLoreto as D, Elizabeth Battey as Echo, Erin Rae Zalaski as SkinheadGirl, Kiki Samko as Persephone, Michael Underhill as Narcissus, Amy Meyer as Daphne, Michael Caminiti as SkinheadBoy, Jesse Wood as G, Robyn Linden as Semele, Melissa DeJesus as Eurydice, and Luke Murtha as Orpheus.

Among the outstanding ensemble, several actors stood out in their electric performances: Michael Underhill, Mikey DiLoreto, Kiki Samko, Erin Rae Zalaski, Jesse Wood, Luke Murtha, Melissa DeJesus and Michael Caminiti..

The show is not uplifting in its themes; it is, in fact, sometimes bloodcurdling.  It is transcendent in its execution.

Get to the BCA before July 14.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Remarkable Restored Footage for Honolulu - VJ Day, August 1, 1945

My friend, Scott Snook, made me aware of this remarkable footage of the spontaneous celebrations that broke out in Honolulu on VJ Day, August 14, 1945.

Thanks to Richard Sullivan, whose father shot the film.

67 Years Ago my Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender. Kodachrome 16mm film: God Bless Kodachrome, right? I was able to find an outfit ( to do a much superior scan of this footage to what I had previously posted, so I re-did this film and replaced the older version There are more still images from this amazing day, in color, at

Monday, June 25, 2012

Outstanding Employment Opportunity in Boston for Experienced Sales Person

My good friends, Glenn Gaudet and Jason Nochlin, have formed an exciting social media amplification company called GaggleAMP. Because of continuing growth, they are adding experienced sales professionals.

 Please check out the job description below. If it fits you and you would like to apply, follow the directions at the end. Please feel free to forward this information to those in your network with 2-5 years experience in sales.

 Social Media Sales Consultant – Greater Boston area

  • Are you social media savvy? 
  • Do you enjoy talking on the phone? 
  • Do you enjoy consultative selling? 
  • Are you motivated by closing business? 

If you answered yes to the questions above, then read on. GaggleAMP is now hiring motivated self-starters who want to help companies to “amp up” their social media marketing using the GaggleAMP social media amplification platform. This is a great opportunity for individuals who want to make a lot of money and create amazing customer relationships by advising their clients on how to help grow their company using social media amplification.

Successful candidates will include college grads with sales experience through seasoned inside sales people who want to join a fast growing social media company.

Job Requirements:
  • Prospecting and setting up online meetings
  • Balancing out phone prospecting with emails and social media outreach.
  • Manage prospect and client relationships
  • Online product demonstrations and social media consulting.
  • Leverage company-provided leads and cold calling. 
Key Responsibilities:
  • Identify and develop new business opportunities;
  • Actively and effectively promote GaggleAMP to targeted key accounts and develop and grow the associated pipeline;
  • Leverage personal effectiveness through excellent communication and professional web based presentations while making recommendations for ROI, 
  • Customer Lead Gen improvements; and 
  • Grow an existing trial customer base of multi-national, multi-site organizations by nurturing relationships with clients to understand their business needs and requirements. 
  • Positive, success oriented attitude
  • Web-based demonstration finesse
  • Quality minded
  • Growth-oriented
  • friendly
  • 2-5 years experience selling social media, professional services 
Sales positions are success based with the opportunity to make a six figure income.

If this sounds like you and you want to be part of our team, send your resume and a cover letter to:

In addition, Tweet Al Chase with the reasons why you would like to work at GaggleAMP. Tweet to: @achase47.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Station Foundation - An Update and a Video

Check out the link to the video of Kevin Stacy discussing The Station Foundation with U.S. Senator Baucus.  Kevin, a special forces veteran, is Founder and CEO of The Station Foundation.

Baucus Champions Provisions to Boost Veteran Employment in Farm Bill
New Program Coming to Montana Hopes to Leverage Farm Bill Support to Help Veterans Find Jobs, Purpose in Agriculture

(Washington, DC) -- Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus is championing provisions to help boost veteran employment through the Farm Bill being debated on the Senate Floor this week. The provisions Baucus inserted in the Farm Bill give veterans preference in programs that make it cheaper and easier to institute best practices in farming. The bill also creates a new Military Liaison Office to assist veterans at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and expands outreach programs to help make veterans aware of the resources available to them.

"Our veteran unemployment rate is shameful, and it really hits home in rural states like Montana where so many folks volunteer for service. So, we have to think outside the box and look for ways to boost jobs for our veterans in everything we do. The Farm Bill is just one more tool we can use to help our veterans get access to the high-quality jobs they deserve, and we owe it to them to get this done," Baucus said. 

• 45 percent of those serving in the military come from rural communities.
• The unemployment rate among Montana's Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is nearly 20 percent. 

Baucus met today with Kevin Stacy, a recently discharged major in the Army Special Forces. Together with his wife Shannon, Kevin is working to establish the Station Foundation, which they hope to have up and running later this summer on a plot of land south of Bozeman, near Gallatin Gateway. The goal of the Station Foundation will be to provide an environment for Special Forces veterans to recover from the impacts of combat and learn skills -- like farming -- that will help them adjust to the civilian workforce. 

Stacy said the provision Baucus inserted into the Farm Bill could be very valuable to the Station Foundation's work. 

"What we intend to do, with the help of things like Baucus' Farm Bill amendment, is to really provide a map and a compass to navigate this very unfamiliar and unforgiving terrain of a man or a woman who comes home from serving overseas in combat and now has to transition back into a world that is very unfamiliar. And farming makes sense because a majority of our service members come from a community that is enriched with farming, and often want to go back to that way of life. If you look more closely at these farming amendments they provide a purpose -- it's something that has meaning that you're not just going to a job that was given to you. You're empowering yourself with these skill-sets and these values and giving back to your community," Kevin Stacy said. 

"We're excited to have the benefits of what Senator Baucus and his staff have worked so hard to do. To have this is absolutely critical. For our program and just for veterans at large. To not support it, really is to do a disservice because you have this pool of talent that is coming home and looking to give back. They are not looking to be a handout, or a charity They're looking to make a difference. And what better way than to immerse them in a job that has value and meaning."

• Baucus' provisions are also endorsed by the American Legion, the VFW and the National Guard Association.

The Station Foundation actively assists the Warriors and Families of the United States Special Operations Command fully recover from the impacts of combat. We design and implement individually tailored programs at our year-round recovery-training center in Montana. We empower participants to harness their strengths and realize their full potential. We are the sole 501(c)(3) organization created specifically to address the health, wellness and resiliency of this Community. We exist for one simple reason: to ensure our Warriors and Families enjoy the same resources in aftercare as they receive in combat.
Kevin and his wife, Shannon, will be in the Boston area in July.  They are looking to meet with interested parties that would be willing to stand with them in helping to raise the additional fund needed to make The Station Foundation a the kind of resources our returning heroes need and deserve.

Let me know if you would like to be connected to Kevin and Shannon to offer your support and encouragement.


Understanding the Emergence of Centers of Innovation: Review of "The New Geography of Jobs" by Enrico Moretti

Enrico Moretti is a professor of economics at UC Berkley.  With his new book, "The New Geography of Jobs," he has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the complex geography of innovation in the U.S.  He argues very persuasively that we are moving towards an economy in which where you live will determine very strongly how successful you are able to be.  He examines the emergence of the major U.S. centers of innovation - San Francisco Bay area, including Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin and Research Triangle around Durham, North Carolina.  The rise of these hubs of innovation is causing significant and surprising disparities in a wide variety of social factors, including education, life expectancy, wealth, and involvement in political processes.  Moretti postulates clearly and convincingly policies for encouraging the continued growth of innovation hubs while at the same time offering suggestions for arresting the decline among the rest of the nation's cities.

The publication of this book is particularly timely for me, since I maintain an office in the epicenter of one of the most successful and rapidly growing centers of innovation - Kendall Square Cambridge and the Cambridge Innovation Center that has served as an incubator for hundreds of start-up companies that are leading the innovation charge in a variety of fields.  I am also about to participate in a Global Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley in July, and the dynamics that Moretti describes will be very much part of the agenda of the gathering of global innovators and tought leaders.

One of the points that the author makes very clearly is the multi-level benefits of  hving innovators geographically close to one another - rubbing shoulders, if you will, with each other.  It reminds me of "The Intersection" described a few years ago in Frans Johansson's landmark book, "The Medici Effect."

"It is not just that people publish more when they are close; the quality of their research is better.  When a team of Harvard Medical School  doctors analyzed all medical research articles published at Harvard and correlated data with the distance between the authors' offices, they found that being less than one kilometer away raised the quality of the research, as defined by how many other researchers cited the article.  The effect was even larger if the authors were in the same building or used the same elevator." (Page 142)

I see these dynamics at work every day at the CIC.  I hear conversations that start during an elevator ride, continue in the common space kitchen on the 14th floor, and spill over into a Thursday afternoon Venture Cafe session on the 4th floor.  From such propinquity is often born serendipitous and synergistic collaboration and innovation.

This book is a "must read" for anyone who wants to understand and take advantage of the factors at work in creating, sustaining and expanding centers of innovation.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Parsing the Role of Evangelicals in American Society: Review of "Faith in the Halls of Power" by D. Michael Lindsay

Before he was named President of Gordon College, D. Michael Lindsay was a member of the sociology faculty at Rice University.  During his time there, he launched a comprehensive project of interviewing hundreds of self-proclaimed evangelicals who are leaders in industry, government, entertainment, academia, church and parachurch ministries.  The results of this research are cataloged in this in depth study of "Faith in the Halls of Power - How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite."  In his research and his writing, Lindsay stands on the shoulders of Mark Noll, whose 1994 book, "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind," served as a prod to many evangelical Christians to take a hard look in the mirror and be honest about their failings as thought leaders able to influence the broader culture.

In this book, Lindsay offers a clear definition of, and paints a full-color portrait of, the American evangelical microcosm as it exists at the beginning of the 21st Century.  Evangelicals are often misunderstood and mislabeled - even within the Body of Christ - so the author's clear and unambiguous definition sets the stage beautifully for his treatment of some of the movement's key leaders and influencers:

"I define an evangelical as someone who believes (1) that the Bible is the supreme authority for religious belief and practice, (2) that he or she has personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and (3) that one should take a transforming, activist approach to faith." (Page 4)

Among the men and women (the author points out clearly the paucity of women in leadership positions within the evangelical world) profiled in this far-reaching study and analysis, I have been privileged to know several dozen of them, so I am able to personally affirm the conclusions that Lindsay has drawn about their character and breadth of their influence.  The point of the list that follows is not to engage in "name dropping," but rather to add my own small individual voice to that of Dr. Lindsay in corroborating the influence that I have observed these individuals have had and continue to have on society.  I have observed them to be committed men and women of God.

Rick Warren was a classmate of mine in a doctoral program at Fuller Theological Seminary
Chuck Colson was head of Prison Fellowship during the 10 years I worked for him.
Max DePree was a professor of mine at Fuller.
I have sat under the preaching and teaching of Bill Hybels, Tony Campolo, Eric Metaxas and Tim Keller
I spent two weeks with President Jimmy Carter on a Habitat for Humanity project in Chicago
Nancy DeMoss was a gracious hostess and benefactor for many programs at Prison Fellowship.

My point is that these strong evangelical leaders have had a profound personal impact on me, and I am pleased to see that Dr. Lindsay has taken the time to share with the readership of his book their stories.  He chronicles with great care the individual and collective roads traveled to bring evangelicals into the "Halls of Power."  He also very careful differentiates the progressive evangelical leaders from the populist fundamentalist figures often see on TV.  To the outside world, the differences may be subtle or even invisible, but within the family of believers, the differences are significant.

Implicit throughout much of this book are the questions: "What are evangelical leaders doing with their new-found access to the halls of power?  Are they handling that power as wise stewards?"  One of the most enlightening observations comes near the conclusion of the book when Lindsay discusses the phenomenon of "convening power":

"Public leaders wield a particular kind of power, one that comes from their location within these influential networks.  Convening power is the ability to bring disparate people together, like introducing a congressional staffer to a senior media executive.  It is the ability to set agendas and to coordinate activity.  Sociologist Harold Kerbo argues that elite power is the power over social networks, and this certainly proved true among the leaders I studied.  Convening power is what this structural strength gives leaders.  It enables them to marshal resources, to share information, and to deflect criticism.  Elite power is the power to convene, and it is through their privileged positions within various social networks that leaders exercise it, bringing people together wand then introducing and recruiting others to join their causes." (Page 215)

Certainly, this book will be of interest and of value to anyone who proudly claims the label of "evangelical."  It will be of equal interest and value to those outside of the evangelical circle who seek to understand its history and mission.



Monday, June 11, 2012

The Kreutzer Sonata Set in Israel - Review of "Second Person Singular" by Sayed Kashua

Sayed Kashua has written a deeply moving and powerful novel.  The  center of the theme is Tolstoy's novella, "The Kreutzer Sonata."   The music piece by the same name was composed by Beethoven.  Tolstoy's piece examines the irrational jealousy of a husband who kills his wife in a fit of passion.  Kashua has taken these dynamics and transplanted them to present day Jerusalem amid the background noise of the "Palestinian Question" in Israel.

A successful Palestinian, a lawyer who is an Israeli citizen, buys a copy of Toltoy's novella, and in it finds a love note written in his wife's hand.  Assuming that she is carrying on an elicit affair with Yonathan, whose name is in the used book, the lawyer becomes consumed with discovering the treason and punishing his wife.  Yonathan is a poor Palestinian social worker from the humble Triangle region.  He aspires to become a photographer, and changes his identity so that he can pass as Jewish.  The identity he steals is that of a patient who hovers in a vegetative state after a failed suicide attempt.

The story is told beautifully in counterpoint - going back and forth between the two Palestinian protagonists.  It is at once a psychological thriller and a deep exploration of the sociological dynamics at work within present day Israel and even within the fractured Arab community.  Kashua has a keen eye and ear for detail, so the dialogue captures fine nuances of conflict and attempts at communication.

In the Epiloque, just when it appears that the lawyer's suspicions have been laid to rest, he stops by a photo exhibit, and the scab is pulled off the wound and doubts reappear.  The reader is left hanging in suspense - much as Yonathan had hung suspended from his bedroom ceiling in his suicide attempt.  It has the feel of a musical coda that ends with an unresolved dissonance.  Very apt.

Reading this book was a rich and enriching experience.



Review of: " Johnson's Life of London: The People Who Made the City that Made the World" by Boris Johnson

I must admit at once that London is among my favorite cities in the world - along with Boston, New York, Istanbul, Kiev, Krakow and Florence.  Standing on the literary shoulders of Dr. Samuel Johnson, current Lord Mayor, Boris Johnson, has penned a fascinating tour of his city.  The cover tells the tale - on the bus that is his narrative, The American-born author has embarked key figures from the most significant epoch's in London'd history.

The Mayor's writing style is wonderful - full of insight, double entendre, wry commentary and civic pride.  Over the years, I have taken many walking tours of London, and feel as if I know the city reasonably well for an American who has never lived in the UK.  Johnson's anecdotes and historical references deepened my hunger to return to London and explore many of the nooks and crannies that still exist where significant events occurred.

One theme that keeps recurring in the book is the unique relationship that exists between The City of London - the square mile financial center of the world - and Westminster, the seat of government of London and the UK.  As he discusses each period of history, Johnson points out the sometimes synergistic and sometimes antagonistic relationships between the two poles.

If you already know London, this book will deepen your love and understanding.  If you are a stranger to London, read the book, and you will yearn to be a stranger no more.



Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Arthur Miller's Novel Assault on American Antisemitism - Review of "Focus"

I have long known of Arthur Miller's writing through his plays - "Death of a Salesman," "The Crucible."  Little did I know of the punch of his fiction writing.  "Focus" is a small jewel - and by far his most controversial work.  In this compact novel he attacks the antisemitism that boiled beneath the surface in America during World War II.

Lawrence Newman lives in Queens and commutes to his safe job in Manhattan working for The Corporation.  He is a nondescript personnel officer.  In this corporation, Jews need not apply, but what is that to Newman?  He is safe and secure.  Then his world slides out of focus.  Too vain to be willing to get glasses as his eyesight deteriorates, he tries to hide his myopia.  Unfortunately, he hired a woman who clearly looked Jewish, but his eyesight was too poor to pick up on the stereotype.  He is reprimanded by his boss.  The eyeglasses he finally gets accentuate his facial features in such a way that many people assume he is Jewish.  He is asked to move to an office where he will be less visible, and he resigns in protest.

Meanwhile, back in his gentile neighborhood, changes are taking place.  A Mr. Finkelstein has moved in and opened a candy store.  A group of vigilantes make sure that Finkelstein - and the presumptive Jew, Newman - are made to feel uncomfortable.

Throughout the ordeal,Newman's own values and assumptions are shaken to the core as he confronts racists neighbors and his own wife.

Miller captures in sharp focus the anguish of Newman in a way that reminds me of the memoir, "Black Like Me." As Newman experiences what it feels like to be marginalized, he is forced to reassess every part of his life and his thoughts.    

Monday, June 04, 2012

An End to Cruel and Unusual Punishment for Us Punsters: A Review of "The Pun Also Rises" by John Pollack

John Pollack has dug deeply into the history of communication and civilization to vindicate the much-maligned pun.  By extension, he has helped those of us afflicted with the mutant punning gene to regain a modicum of self respect.  The subtitle of this little gem says it all: "How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More than Some Antics."

The author brings us all the way back to Chinese punsters offering double meanings in Mandarin ideograms, as well as unearthing hieroglyphic and cuneiform puns.  The author, a former World Pun Champion, has researched thoroughly the rise and fall of the pun as an accepted - and often celebrated - literary form.   He even invokes cognitive science to explore the complex and sophisticated neural processes at work when one person coins a pun and another person struggles to understand its multiple layers of meaning.  He even offers a deconstruction of the normal reaction to a pun: the groan.

In discussing the derision that puns often elicit today, he offers this perspective:

"To many people, such antipathy is no surprise.  Because just as most of us know a few people who cannot resist making puns, we also know others who can't stand them no matter what.  Historically speaking,however, such antipathy and its cloak of intellectual respectability constitute a relatively new development in Western civilization.  In fact, for thousands of years, the pun actually enjoyed a privileged status in Western philosophy, art and religion - a status that far transcended that which it often suffers today." (Page 57)

"But simply disliking puns is insufficient to make them disappear.  Even Joseph Addison, who some three centuries ago managed to tarnish the pun's reputation so badly, once conceded that 'the seeds of Punning are in the minds of all men, and tho' they may be subdued by Reason, Reflection, and good Sense, they will be very apt to shoot up in the greatest Genius, that is not broken and cultivated by the rules of Art.'" (Page 145)

Pollack cites Google as a current example of regular employment of puns:

"The top of Google's search page provides a steady parade of visual puns, too. Colloquially known as Google Doodles, these visual puns tweak the familiar Google logo to play off current events, historic anniversaries and popular holidays, swapping out the Os for visually similar symbols such as Olympic rings, Christmas wreaths o even half-even pierogies.

Google's name itself  is a play on the word 'googol,' which denotes the number 10 [to the 100th power]." (pages 147-8)

This worthy volume is pun-blished by Gotham Books.  Buy it and enjoy!


Saturday, June 02, 2012

A Stunning Literary Debut - "The Colonel's Mistake" by Dan Mayland

Dan Mayland is a new voice in the world of espionage thrillers, and he has spoken loudly with "The Colonel's Mistake."  As a fan of Alan Furst, John LeCarre and Ludlum, I acknowledge that it takes quite a bit for an author to live up to those standards.  Mayland has done so with aplomb.

The plot twists and deep knowledge of espionage and counter-terrorism make this book a thrilling read.  There is dealing, double-dealing, betrayal and assassinations galore.  The story revolves around Mark Sava, former CIA Station Chief in Baku and Daria, one of his former officers who has been framed for a heinous crime.  The complex intrigues involve not only the CIA and the White House, but Iran, China and Azerbaijan.

I could not put the book down until I learned what happened to Daria, Mark and the plot to steal enriched uranium.

This is an exciting literary debut.



Friday, June 01, 2012

Dillon Coleman - An Inspiring Story of a Gordon College Baseball Player Who Refuses to Believe in Limitations

These days, there are a large number of exciting things happening at Gordon College.  College President, Micheal Lindsay just shared in an e-mail this link to the story of Dillon Coleman.

I quote from President Lindsay's message:

"Dillon Coleman could hold a baseball before he could walk. Now the senior from Cromwell, Connecticut, is a star on the Gordon College baseball team—a remarkable feat for someone who plays, literally, with one hand.
His inspiring story is a testament to the power of faith and determination in overcoming physical obstacles and persevering in the face of significant challenges.

Yesterday, a video about Dillon (produced for was featured on CNN’s website, and I’d like to share it with you. You can access the story by clicking on the image to the left."

Enjoy!  Watching this video, you will experience exultation and tears.


FYI - Watch this Blog next week for a review of Dr. Lindsay's classic book, "Faith in the Halls of Power."