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What Did You Do Last Week?

By Kerri Provost

May 06, 2012

I am often asked about what is going on, as if I am some kind of walking database. My response is usually a suggestion that people read what I have already written. It frees up my brain, allowing me to puzzle over things like the energy given to repealing one of Connecticut’s blue laws and decision to build a shopping mall — which has yet to be filled — in downtown. Likewise, rather than talk about what I spent this past week doing, I have documented my outside-of-work activities, if for no other reason than to once again let the “there’s nothing to do in Hartford” folks know they are totally wrong.

Last weekend was crammed with activities– most of them pertaining to my employment. I did sneak away from grading essays long enough to watch a call for gender equity, observe a house of worship for a future Hartford Pew Review, view art made from oil barrels, and attend the vegetarian festival at the convention center.


I stopped there on Saturday and Sunday. When I arrived earlier in the day, there were many more samples to be had. There was a strong turnout, especially considering it was in its first year and was not promoted well.

The one disappointment was the lack of vegetarian restaurants with a presence. The event seemed most useful for someone just starting down a vegetarian or vegan path, or maybe for someone stuck in a food rut who needs access to cookbooks and recipe ideas. I did, for the first time ever, get to try seitan prepared in a way that did not make me gag.

Okay, the other disappointment is more related to all the ridiculous regulations installed in the name of “food safety,” most of which require the creation of waste through use of plastic cups, lots of toothpicks, and plates when such items are unnecessary. Please. Can we all just return to the rule of “you touch it, you take it?!”

While going to the Board of Education meeting would have been the least self-serving thing for me to spend my Tuesday evening on, this is the period of time known as End of Semester Madness for me. This translates to putting my intellectual energy into student work. There is little energy remaining for similarly demanding things until final grades are posted to the system. What this really means is that I had a legitimate excuse for going to the Grand Opening of the Bicycle Racks at La Paloma Sabanera. The feature of this celebration: a free screening of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. It doesn’t get much less intellectual than that. I remember very little of this experience, but “I remember…I remember…the Alamo!”

On Wednesday, I stopped off at the Burns to hear what candidates for principal would bring to that school. Candidates told the School Governance Council, parents, and the community about themselves and their visions. Four prepared questions were asked of each candidate. Following this, the three groups met to discuss which candidates they would like to hear more from. Four of the five will be invited back for another round of questioning; which one has not been invited back is not public information yet.

To counteract the seriousness of this early evening activity, I walked to the civic center to catch Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour.

Days later, I am still experiencing the effects of sensory overload.

I never had the opportunity to see Michael Jackson in concert, so in that sense, I have no gauge for this. In an interview with members of Cirque du Soleil, I was told that Jackson was an absolute perfectionist about performances– something that Cirque du Soleil has embraced by ensuring that dancers don’t just sort of do the moonwalk…they actually need to do it right.

The “Dangerous” act was an obvious crowd-pleaser. A woman in a gussied up bra and panty set walked along the center stage. She received predictable cheers for that. Then, she defied gravity and expectations by doing a pole dance number, way up in the air. There were moments when her ability to hold herself horizontal seemed impossible.

Less dangerous, but equally fantastic, was “Dancing Machine.” At one point, there were so many different types of dance happening on stage at the same time that I lost count– ballet, break dancing, the robot, and more. And it worked.

Simpler in a lot of ways, the tribute to the Jackson 5 was enjoyable. Watching the figures on stage transported the audience back to the 70’s. Looking at the giant screens showing the dancers, however, reminded the audience that we really were not watching the real thing.

Days later, I’m thinking in moments: giant bats, the “Thriller” dance, an indoor fireworks show, robot soldiers, graffiti on buildings and trains, and an aerial tango.

And, if attendance at this high-priced event tells us anything, it’s that after several years of economic malaise, people are loosening the grip on their wallets. The show was sold out.

Compared to Cirque du Soleil, Art After Hours on Thursday seemed downright quiet. It really wasn’t. The capoeira demonstrations captivated, with fluid and almost dangerous moves. Having a South American-themed party was a nice change of pace from the multitude of Cinco de Mayo festivities. Mariachi is fun, but I prefer Andean music. More panflute!

On Friday I was able to stop by the opening of “As It Ever Was” at ATOM space on Pratt Street. This exhibit, running through May 26th, features works by nine artists.

A giant paper mâché head created by artist Anne Cubberly looks out toward Pratt Street.

Carol Padberg created a series of patches representing community garden spaces around Hartford; nearby, information is provided about the locations of those sites and how to start a community garden.

A silent video featuring a dog (Narcissus O.C.D. by Gene Gort) was a favorite. Is it art? Who cares. It’s fun to watch.

The digital videos by Dave Sinaguglia were equally fun; I only watched both once because I did not want to be rude to others waiting their turn.

Other artists with work in this exhibit include Howard el-Yasin, Nina Salazar, Patrick Schmidt, Barbara Hocker, and Gil Scullion. This space is open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from noon until 5pm; other times, the gallery can be opened up by making an appointment: (860) 944-1665.

Yesterday, there was no participation from me in the roughly ten thousand public events happening all at once in Hartford. Instead, I more than busied myself with work, a meeting, and going to a private Kentucky Derby party.

Bored in Hartford? It’s not Hartford that’s boring.

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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