This Memorial Day weekend, for the eighth year in a row, the streets of East Northport will be filled with joggers and walkers honoring the lives of fallen soldiers.
On May 23, the Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer memorial “I Did the Grid” four-mile competitive run, one-mile fun run and four-mile recreational run/walk honors the life of Chris Scherer and all men and women who gave their lives to serve the U.S. The run will begin at Pulaski Road Elementary in East Northport.
Scherer, who was a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, was born and raised in East Northport. He lost his life while serving in the province of Al Anbar in Iraq on July 21, 2007.
In his memory, the Scherer family started the Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer Semper Fi Fund, and on Memorial Day in 2008, held the first annual run to honor their son and all fallen warriors.
“Put your personal achievements away for the day and come to honor them [fallen soldiers] because it is Memorial Day weekend and that’s what we should be doing … take a little time to think about the men and women who have died serving our country and the families they left behind,” Scherer’s father Tim Scherer said.
Scherer said that his son was a great kid who loved life and wanted to help his fellow Marines. In their final phone call before his death, Scherer said his son asked him to send lighter boot socks that wouldn’t make him sweat as much. Just before he hung up, his son asked if he would be able to send socks for other Marines, too, because many didn’t have families.
Three individuals stood at the bar bouncing ideas off one another before the poetry slam began. Race. Sexuality. Religion. Love. Loss. Among them was the emcee for the night— a tall, young black man, over six feet tall, with a long, full beard and a yellow sweater. He talked jokingly with one of the poets—also a young man, though much shorter, with glasses, and a black, velvet yarmulke. And next to them stood another performer—a young female, Chauvet Bishop, with thick, curly hair, who later identified herself as a multi-racial lesbian.
Chauvet Bishop (center) and Jive Poetic (right)
Just like any other night at the Nuyorican Poets Café in the East Village, on this particular open-mic night in late April, difference was apparent; but all judgments, all reservations were left at the door. The night’s emcee, Jive Poetic, took the stage and introduced the evening’s poets.
Just an hour before that, the café also hosted All Out Arts’ Fresh Fruits Festival—New York’s Celebration of the LGBTQ Arts & Culture. Slam poetry, or spoken word, is a type of poetry through which a poet can express a personal story or struggle. The poems are emotional, powerful and moving; they incorporate not just voice, but movement as well.
With emotion at its core, slam poetry has become a platform for those who feel otherwise voiceless. “Art is for the oppressed,” Bishop said. “We have so much that we feel we can’t say, that we can’t get out; and the more oppressed you are, the more artistic you are. Because it’s either you make art, you laugh, you love or you die…that’s it. So this is just the way that we live, this is the only way that we can live happily; how many places can we be free, can we be ourselves, can we be applauded for being that?”
In 1987, the first slam poetry venue sprouted in Chicago; the Green Mill Tavern was founded by Marc Smith. Prior to the Tavern, Smith had started an open-mic night at the Get Me High lounge in Chicago in 1984. Dubbed founding father of the slam poetry movement, Smith’s nickname is “Slam Papi.” In an article from The Huffington Post from Dec. 2013, slam poetry is “considered an outlet for the socially and economically ‘oppressed’ – people of color, poor people, youth, etc. – spoken word poetry is a mixture of performance and activism and poets bring to light the socio-determinants that often affect the health of a people.” The origination of slam poetry, or spoken word, was greatly influenced by the Harlem Renaissance, blues music, and The Last Poets—a groups of poets and musicians who arose during the civil rights’ movement in the late 1960’s.
Today, spoken word continues to grow, connect people from all over the world, and shed light on many controversial topics, including race and sexuality; matters surrounding the LGBTQ community are especially prevalent in slam poetry. Daniel Gallant, executive director of the Nuyorican Poets Café, said that within the last five years, the café, and slam poetry in general, has seen an increase in the number of LGBTQ poets.
“Poetry slam at the café has always been a forum, a stage, and an arena that celebrates diversity of opinion, of lifestyle, of ethnicity, of interest,” he said. “I think we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of poets who feel comfortable, and in some cases feel driven to, bring to the stage work that addresses LGBTQ themes and LGBTQ subject matter. And audiences always, here at the café at least, seem responsive to that material.”
Bishop, who said she moved from North Carolina to New York City to escape the oppression of being a multi-racial, gay woman in the South, performed on stage first. She performed a powerful poem about her struggle with eating disorders.
“I’m a rape survivor; I’m somebody who dealt with an eating disorder; I’m somebody who deals with body issues; I’m somebody who’s oppressed as a woman, who’s oppressed as a lesbian, and so just me speaking, is people hearing my voice,” she said in an interview.
Oscar Melendez, 19, from Brooklyn, came to the Nuyorican Poets Café to watch and listen with his friend. Melendez, who is gay, said he has always loved poetry, and that spoken word is just another way of expressing ones true self.
“I like this type of scenery because in here it’s not judgmental, it’s just about the spoken word; it’s not about who is here, how you dress or anything like that,” he said. “There’s no judgment…. Here there are no boundaries, outside there are boundaries.”
All Out Arts’ Fresh Fruits Festival’s Artistic Director, Liz Thaler, said that visibility is the key to fighting homophobia. “The arts is one of the best ways to show people other experiences…your life would be so much less rich,” she said. “And because LGBT people are themselves so diverse, we have so much to learn from each other. So showing these stories, giving people a platform, where there’s no fear, that’s a really important step to bringing acceptance and actual harmony to the arts and beyond.”
Shira Erlichman, an Israeli born songwriter, producer, visual artist, and poet, who now lives in Brooklyn and identifies as queer, said that the LGBTQ community is helping society to become more compassionate and honest. “It is a human need to connect and be seen; slam provides an immediate platform for personal narrative and political opinion,” she said. “If slam is truly reflective of the people, it would have to show the hearts and minds of the LGBTQ community. Slam, at its best, is a space where people can brave themselves open, share their ‘truthiest’ truths, and invent wildernesses for us to walk through.”
Originally from Village Beacon Record, TBR News media
By Julianne Cuba
May 11, 2015
Miller Place is getting some extra love this spring with the opening of Long Island native Amanda Stein’s reLove shop and paint boutique.
The store, located at 87 North Country Road in Miller Place, held its grand opening on April 11 and features Stein’s own refurbished and painted furniture, along with home décor and homemade jewelry from other local artists, as well as CeCe Caldwell’s Paints, an eco-friendly line of natural chalk and clay paints.
Miller Place residents may recognize Stein’s work from Facebook, as the wife and mother, started posting pictures of her original furniture and custom-painted signs on the social media site about a year ago.
Stein, who has lived in Miller Place for about a year and a half, said her love of interior design stems from her grandmother, who collected antiques, and that she began painting furniture after she moved out of her parents’ house.
After leaving her career in real estate to look after her two children — Ella, 5, and Adam Jr., 4 — Stein said she wanted to take her passion and turn it into a business.
“It was one year ago that I started reLove from my house as a stay at home mom,” she said. “I always painted furniture for years and years, and all my friends kept telling me I should sell it. So I started with a Facebook page. It was literally overnight [that] it took off.”
Stein said she started the page with just seven pieces of furniture, but that number quickly grew as she began marketing all over social media.
Originally from Times of Middle Country, TBR News Media
By Julianne Cuba
May 8, 2015
Each morning before caring for her 12 children, Long Island native Erin Henderson sets out for her daily run, which can cover anywhere from 10 to 20-plus miles. These days, part of Henderson’s training includes preparing for Suffolk County’s inaugural marathon on Sept. 13, 2015.
“Every marathon means a lot to me because they all represent weeks and months of hard training, commitment and dedication,” she said. “Getting to race through my home town and having friends and family there will make it that much more special.”
Henderson, who grew up in Selden, moved to Afton, Wyoming, with her husband, Josh, and their three biological sons in 2000.
Two years after settling in Afton, the Henderson clan began growing. Since 2002, Henderson and her husband have adopted nine children — five girls and four boys. Three of the kids were “older child adoptions” and five were “special needs adoptions.”
A horseback riding accident left Henderson unable to have any more kids. But with three boys the couple decided to adopt because they wanted a girl.
“Our motivation was all pretty much what we wanted, and then when we got over [to Vietnam] we saw so many kids who didn’t have families, and it kind of flip-flopped,” she said. “And it’s cliché to say it’s life changing, but it just was, to see all these kids without parents. We never set out to have 12 kids; it was all one at a time. We just saw a kid that was waiting and they were meant to be with us.”
The Hendersons’ youngest child, Noah, is from Ethiopia and has cerebral palsy. When Noah first joined the family at nine months old, the Hendersons were told he would never sit up on his own.
“He’s a miracle … now he climbs, and goes to school and doing really well,” she said. “He gets into everything. He knows some words and he does some science.”
When she’s not spending time with family, Henderson is either training for marathons herself or training others as a Road Runners Club of America certified running coach and a USA Track & Field certified coach.