Freelance Writer
Motorcycle Festival, A&E Feature Worcester Magazine
02.15.06 | No Comments
Category: General

Rev it Up
The Motorcycle Festival Comes to Worcester

In the summertime, Robert Gagney hops on his Hog and blasts down the highways to blow the cobwebs from his brain. To him, he says, that wind whipping through his head is as good as wind whipping through his soul.

The allure of the open road is a feeling, he says, that not only draws cyclists to the ride, but it draws them together even when they’re not on their bikes. Gagney, who owns Lonestar Leather on Millbury Street, has been promoting various events since 1984 and is headed into his fourth year with the Motorcycle Festival.

“I think when you ride a motorcycle,” says Gagney, “it just does something to you. It’s like riding a horse, only it’s an iron horse. You can’t describe the feeling. And it’s a fashion, and it’s a hot fashion right now. The bond comes from that. For example, the Firefighters Run, the first one they had – that was one of the most awesome things I have ever seen. We went riding for 40 miles in 15-degree weather, and there were a couple thousand bikers there. That comes within the being of a person and a biker – they got it.”

Gagney, as you might have guessed, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and says for him, ringleading a show to celebrate that is a natural extension of owning a leather shop. And having it in the winter gives cycle nuts a chance to get together and talk about bikes, even if they aren’t on their bikes. It’s also the prime opportunity for manufacturers to introduce their latest models.

“Well, we chose this time of year in particular because in the spring, the dealers don’t need us,” says Gagney. “They need exposure now. Plus, it gives the motorcyclists something to do. They can’t ride, but they can go see the new models, the new leather apparel and the fashion show.”

The festival features everything a biker would expect, and crave: antique showpieces on display, parts both old and new, hundreds of new models to check out, shows, custom bikes, leather goods, jewelry and more. Also, DJ Dan spins tunes and the trusty Time Capsule rocks through classic hits on the main stage. Bikemakers include Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph, Indian, Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Kawasaki and Honda.

“I would say we have about 40 custom bikes,” says Gagney,” and of course Sheldon’s will bring some antiques. We’ll be up around 23 different manufacturers there.”

A $60,000 production each year, it is among five events Gagney has produced at the Centrum so far, collectively resulting in a $35,000 loss for him. The cycle fest is about fun and spirit, but he would be happy not to walk away from it in the red.

“This is quite a risk,” says Gagney, “especially when you have weather like last weekend. If we get the right weather, we should have a spectacular show.”

DETAILS:
What:Wheels-A-Rama Motorcycle Festival
When:Saturday, Jan. 18, from 11a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where:Worcester’s Centrum Centre, 50 Foster St. Halls I and II
Cost:$10, kids under 12 free
For information, call 508-831-0184

Golf Trade Show Publication, Club Executive Magazine
02.15.06 | 4 Comments
Category: Trade Magazines

Who are the people at your booths?
Find out who’s here and what they’re showing

So many booths, and only three days to get to them all. For visitors, combing through a show like this can make you feel like a kid with a little brown bag in a candy mega-store. Everything from ovens to golf carts to Tiger Woods autographs can be found at the Sands Expo. To help you plot your journey, we checked in with a number of companies participating this year to find out a bit about their business and what they’ll be showing at their booths.

They call him Mr. Linen, and with good reason. Jeff Duglin of Connie Duglin Tablecloths will be showing off his specialty linen and chair cover rentals. The Duglin company handles anything from corporate galas to birthday parties, and will be displaying plenty of its wares. “Why buy this stuff when you can rent?” asks Duglin. “We’ll provide you with a linen book and we’ll have these little tables where we show our products. People can fill out info and we send out books to them for any corporate event.”

And if Duglin is Mr. Linen, then Fred Kenner could be “Mr. Clean.” His company, Arrow Magnolia Southwest, specializes in cart washing and ball washing products, as well as lake dyes and custom blending fertilizers. “We’ll be demonstrating how all these products work at our booth,” says Kenner. “People can even bring things to clean, but we’ll keep the golf balls. They can even drive their carts in if they want.” Kenner also says he’ll offer trade show visitors an opportunity to give their products a whirl on a trial basis just for getting in touch during the show.

It’s nice to be recognized. With more than 500 items in its 2002 gift and award catalog, Country Club Crystal, David Peterson says, is “a premier supplier of custom merchandise for tournament directors and golf professionals throughout the U.S.” Country Club Crystal, a division of Glass Graphics, Inc., has a lot for trade show folks to gaze upon. Peterson will be bringing samples of everything in his line, including crystal, glass, wood and marble recognition products, which can be engraved with club logos and any chosen verbiage. “We feel that the quality of our product is top-notch,” said another spokesperson, “and it is well worth people’s time to inspect the product. We also feel that we have an incredible customer service department and our ability to meet time frames and tournament dates is consistent and reliable.”

And along those same lines is the Terryberry Company, which helps clubs implement employee recognition service. “We help them develop the criteria for the program, and then supply personalized awards,” says president Mike Byam. Terryberry produces everything from lapel pins to plaques to clocks and pewter pieces. With 1,000 different award options, they won’t be carting samples of each to the show, but will have many of their bestsellers, as well as examples of what other clubs have developed that have been successful. Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Terryberry has 40 regional sales offices countrywide.

Over at the Crescent Systems booth, Mark Williams, VP of sales and marketing, will be demonstrating his company’s software product that runs and operates golf clubs of all levels. Since this past year Crescent has made about 20 different enhancements to the program, it’s a good chance to see a live demonstration of what this software has to offer. Some of the latest features are the ability to make gift cards, make multiple price point labels and archiving programs.

Dayva Industries will have you covered, literally, with its line of umbrellas and patio accessories. Based in Huntington Beach, CA, this company ships all over and its line includes all sorts of umbrellas, patio wood furniture, umbrella lights and much more. Patricia Bilotti will be bringing samples of all this merchandise to the show. “We have new products and a great chain of satisfied customers,” says Bilotti.

We needn’t tell you where the Brewmatic table is because your nose will draw you there. Showing off its coffee brewers, tea brewers and super automatics imported from Italy, Brewmatic will be making cups of cappuccino, lattes and coffee for visitors. “This certainly is a market that we’re very interested in,” says Cindi Watson, national sales manager. “We’re working with a few country clubs now. The timing is incredible. This is perfect. We can take care of all coffee needs from catering to smaller machines in the coffee shops.”

And all the way from Europe … Demarle, which is located in New Jersey, distributes a line of non-stick baking materials that are manufactured in France. Eliane Finer, sales and marketing manager, says your kitchen will rise to a new level with their products, which include a wide range of baking molds. “We have dozens and dozens of different shapes,” says Finer, “ and we’ll be showing all of our models. We’ll show people the possibilities of making life easier, healthier and to save money.” Not to mention, they’ll be handing out yummy food samples all day.

And have a seat … Drake and Rovergarden concentrates on showing off its chair line: folding chairs, stacking and rising chairs and chiavari (some people call them ballroom) chairs. Alida Maila will be bringing them all for display. Also, take a load off, and kick back in one of their chase loungers or sunbeds. Drake and Rovergarden produces a whole outdoor furniture line geared for country clubs, made with a high resistant material called resin. “People say plastic,” says Maiola, “and they think of cheap [before they see it]. But it’s high quality and high resistant material. It’s high class.”

Out of Houston, TX, Aspen Information Systems will be showing off its software, which is designed to manage country clubs. According to John Ullrich, the product can handle everything from the database to handicaps to proshop inventory. “We can help them find out what software to use,” says Ullrich. “We’ve got a whole myriad of software. Visit us to see what solutions we have to automate the facility.”

Say cheese. Elson-Alexandre from Buena Park, California, will be on hand to show samples of the executive portraiture they produce. With plenty of examples of its work, the company specializes in membership recognition, which basically means it goes into the county club and photographs the membership. With that, Elson-Alexandre either provides an album or the images in a directory. “We photographed Hilary Clinton,” says Lila Pesner, executive VP. “We’ll have a big picture of Jack Nicholson at our booth. We’re a national corporation, and we do the job and finish it. There are a lot of companies like ours who come in but don’t do the quality we do.”

Stakmore manufactures premium wood folding chairs with upholstered seats out of maple or ash wood, and it will be showing off a selection of these seats (about 16 different chair styles). “Our chairs offer an upscale permanent look, “ says Eric Niermeyer, “with the added flexibility of being able to fold and stored away.” Niermeyer says Stakmore will also show customers the three different finishes available, as well as a variety of upholstery choices.

“We have the classic niche product,” says Davy Davidson, “but it’s one that these great clubs all over the country love.” Davidson is talking about Glo-Ice, manufactured by his company Engineered Plastics. Davidson says Glo-Ice, which is a line of buffet/salad bar serving pieces, will set up most of its products, and visitors can benefit from talking to the company about the various styles they can create out of Glo-Ice. “There are always buffet setups at clubs,” says Davidson, “and our trays are designed to hold salad bars, seafood bars, vegetables, fruits … our box combination is the centerpiece for a fancy buffet setup. We will have our whole setup there with a range of sizes. I’ve done a ton of these shows and what we’ve found is that with our product there are just so many creative ways it can be used. Our customers are way more creative than we are with it.” Engineered Plastics will offer a show discount of 25 percent to those who make a connection with them over the weekend, and subsequently order.

Fine country clubbers love fine tobacco, and Fuego Cubano offers the finest forms of it. The company specializes in gourmet tobacco, but its big burner is a premium cigar made of Dominican tobacco leaves in Indonesian wrappers. Fuego Cubano also markets smaller smokers called cigetes and single sweets, both of which will be passed out at the show, freshly rolled before the customer. But they’re most excited to introduce to the world their food division (so new that it doesn’t have a name yet), which includes fudge, gourmet coffee, hot chocolate and a Latin American-based beverage line called Fruchata. And yes, this means samples for you!

According to Laurie Schmidt, fitness kings Sports Solutions Inc. will be on hand offering customers plenty of specials, and a chance to familiarize themselves with the products.

Jani-King has a franchise in every one of the United States, and is one of the largest commercial cleaning companies around. They will pass out literature about their services, which cater to the hotel, resort and country club sect. “That’s one of our areas of expertise,” says Doug Hickfang, from his corporate office in Dallas. “In the last five years we’ve really been concentrating on it.”

And to help out the cleaning folks are the people who make the Clean-Step Floormat, commonly referred to as a sticky mat. ITW Alma will be on hand to demonstrate this mat, which picks up dust, dirt and grass clippings from shoes, holds it to the mat and the top layer can be disposed of when necessary. “It prevents wear and tear on solid floorings,” says product manager Sharon Lindusky. “It just prevents that abrasion. It was originally used for hospitals and the computer industry, but now it’s being promoted in the consumer market.” Lindusky says ITW Alma is sure to have some giveaways at her booth, as well (quite possibly a drawing for a free Clean-Step Floormat each day of the show).

Tiger Woods is a phenomenon, a hot commodity, and of course, a golfer – a perfect draw for a trade show geared toward country clubs. Unfortunately, Woods won’t actually be at the show, but sports memorabilia giant Upper Deck Authenticated will be putting the spotlight on him. Upper Deck is bringing the best of its Woods collection: autographed cards, memorabilia, unsigned collectibles, dolls, trading cards and more. “It should lend itself nice to this country club setting,” says Jason Taitano, product development and marketing manager. Upper Deck’s catalogue will also be available, with memorabilia on players such as Michael Jordan, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jack Nicklaus. “Our main focus is pushing Tiger,” says Taitano. “You can use these items not only for decoration, but as high end prizes, gifts to the board members, items at tournaments and that sort of thing. You can buy these things right at the show.”

Kane Graphical in Chicago has held the patent for an interchangeable number and lettering system, which for the last 20 years it used to service the banking industry (such as the rate boards you see in many banks). A year and a half ago, Kane took a look at the system, repackaged it and came out with a line called Concierge, which is tailored to the hospitality industry. “It was designed to replace the push pin menu boards and such,” says Dan Ottow, sales manager. “The secret of the patent is when you put the individual components together, the copy looks like one piece. This allows anyone who needs to change their info and event announcements quickly to do it.” Kane produces these units for Caesar’s in Vegas, St. Andrews Country Club and hundreds of hotels and banquet halls around the country. Samples, from tabletop units to the big ones, will be at the show. “This is new to the hospitality industry,” says Ottow. “There is no one else out there offering a similar one. I guarantee no one has seen this at a show before.”

Eurofours in France produces the Euroven, which is the most popular oven among chefs in Europe. In Arizona, Phillip Brothers distributes the Euroven, which he’ll be demonstrating at the show. A top of the line convection oven, Brothers says his company offers everything from smaller ovens to huge deck ovens similar to those seen in pizza parlors. He’ll be bringing the two-tray oven to show off at the Sands Expo, in which he “may have a fellow who will be baking.” We’re sure the smells will draw you there – that, and the fact that Brothers will offer a 30 percent discount off the list price for people who pick up the brochure at the show.

Just because it’s a uniform, doesn’t mean it can’t be in fashion. NewChef Fashion from Los Angeles will be on hand to show off its line of superior garments that range from the culinary industry to engineering uniforms. “Anything that covers the front of the house, or the back of the house, we have,” says sales manager Suzanne Sirof. “Our specialty, besides the culinary market, is to take existing programs that may have been discontinued with other companies and continue on with the same program on an equivalent or better price point.” Anything that isn’t at the booth can be found in one of their catalogues, and Sirof stresses that a great thing about NewChef is they have low minimums and no fabric commitments (“a lot of programs, you have to commit to a certain amount of yards.”)

Norex is all aglow. Since 1999, when it was patented, the Smartlight has been a hit with the country club market, according to Norex Enterprises VP of sales Adrienne Hegyi. The Smartlight is a flickering electronic candle that resembles a real one – without the hassles of fire, melting wax or smoke. From votives to the 30-hour tall version, Smartlights fit into standard size holders or come with custom made holders from Norex. “We will be showing off all of these,” says Hegyi, “along with our other banquet ware (which includes chafers, trays, bowls, dessert servware, stands, knives and beverage servware. And any orders that we write during this trade show will be charged at case quantity prices, which means our unit price, our lowest price. That’s a substantial savings.”

“Well, we have a lot of new products,” says Roger Sullivan, “and that’s a great reason for anyone to visit our booth.” Sullivan is the GM for Regal International, which produces a broad product line for outdoor events such as weddings or bah mitzvahs. Wooden folding chairs, tables, glasses, flatware, stemware, copper serving piece, Mexican pewter, porcelain from the Orient – all are available from Regal. “We have brand new chair system,” says Sullivan, “that includes a metal frame with replaceable cloth backs. It’s more heavy duty, and produced by our sister company Regal Rents.” If that’s not enough, Regal also sells a waterless germicidal cleaner with an automatic dispensing system (works like an automatic flush toilet), as well as a full line of coolers and tabletop butane stoves. No live demos on the stove, but Sullivan says they will be handing out mints with the Web site on them (even though he prefers the chocolate macadamia nuts).

Oasis Outsourcing, headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, helps country clubs increase their efficiency and profitability, while reducing workforce costs and employer liability. Specializing in country clubs, Oasis takes care of payroll, benefits administration, workers compensation, risk management and human resource compensation. VP of sales and marketing Mike Viola will be manning the booth to talk about how this can help your company.

St. Paul Fire and Muster will be talking about its Eagle 3 product, which is insurance designed specifically for golf facilities. As one of the largest insurers of golf clubs, they are one of only five companies in the country that have a special product designed for the industry. “We’ve been doing this a lot longer than the others,” says Tom Duggins, “we feel like we have the premier coverage. We’re a sound company with a quality product.”

Sundrella Casual Furniture is ecstatic about its Wilshire Collection, a brand new line made of all aluminum. “I don’t believe there’s another one out there like this,” says marketing manager Anne Carr. “We’ve only shown this at one other trade show, so this is such a good opportunity to exhibit it for the clubs because that’s who it is designed for.”

With 6.0 horsepower, the new Z series treadmill by True Fitness is an amazing piece of fitness equipment. At its booth, check out this workout machinery that boasts the “largest running surface of any treadmill,” according to John Sarver, director of design for hotels, resorts and country clubs. Sarver says True Fitness will be showing its elliptical cross training machines, strength products and multi-gyms and benches. These products are so new that trade show visitors will be the first to see the line. “They are the new platinum gray color,” he adds, “It’s really sharp. We’re offering freight incentives for orders placed at the show, too.”

Gary Parker of Von Schrader finds that most country clubs and resorts prefer taking care of their own cleaning, so his company will show their line of cleaning systems for carpet and upholstery. Von Schrader also has equipment used on ceiling tiles and walls. “We’ll be showing and demonstrating equipment all day,” says Parker. “It’ll be good to see how cost effective it is to do it yourself.”

Out in northern New York and Vermont, Telescope Casuals maintains its own forest and sawmill, cutting down its own trees (and replanting them) to build a high quality set of furniture. Richard Parker, an independent contractor for the company who markets under the company name New Horizons, says Telescope’s claim to fame is its director’s chair and that all the furniture is designed specifically for commercial use. The products are usually found at high-end pool and patio shops, but this is the first trade show of its kind that Telescope has decided to take part in. “We’re gearing our efforts toward this industry,” says Parker, “and I’m hoping to meet a lot of people and pick up some leads.”

Seems that’s what a lot of these folks will be doing. Check it all out for yourself.

The Snow Chair Story, Worcester Magazine Cover Feature
02.15.06 | No Comments

You Shovel It, You Own It
In Worcester, When it Snows, Respect The Chair

Take a short drive around Worcester’s neighborhoods in the winter, and you’ll see more chairs and furniture in the street than lighters at a Skynyrd concert.

In just a leisurely two hour cruise in town, Worcester Magazine spotted at least 30 snow chairs, or other snow marking devices – baby strollers, buckets, cones, ironing boards.

Up off of Shrewsbury Street, two folding chairs and a plastic green tipped one claim spots on Ellsmere. At the corner of Marshall and Chilmark, a red three-decker’s got some propped against the house, ready to unfold at the next storm. Around the corner, there’s a light birch-colored beauty dangling from a branch, camouflaged in the trees. It’ll hide there until its captain calls it in for duty. Across town, on Wyman Street, as with many roads that finger off Main, lots of chairs and a crate with a box on it save spaces.

In the winter in Worcester, neighbors can become as bitter as the air around them, and it’s all over a place to park. The city is one of three-deckers, and as anyone knows, very rarely do the number of spaces attached to these multi-families match the number of cars that go with it. That leaves the street, and a lot of fighting, to go with it. And using a chair, or a recycling bin, or barrel of cement, is more substantial and respectful than peeing.

“[Putting out a chair] is the kind of thing that in normal circumstances, you’d never think of doing,” says Robert J. Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television and trustee professor of TV and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. “But when these big snowstorms come in, I believe an old economic theory kicks in – one that goes back to the 17th or 18th century, which is that labor equals ownership.”

A black, wire one and two chunky wood numbers mark the territory at the corner of Cohasset and Plantation streets. When Gwen Stiles moved there from Marlboro three years ago, she didn’t expect such competition to put her car where she lived.

“I got towed I don’t know how many times,” says Stiles. “I didn’t experience this in Marlboro. I had an idea of what they were doing with the chairs, and I don’t blame them. You just have so many people and so many cars and no place to park. I didn’t have a chair. I just came home and hoped there was a place. Most of the time, I was left without one. I have a friend who lives in Shrewsbury, and I used to park my car over there and have her drive me here.”

Stiles, who recently earned rights to a driveway because of seniority, doesn’t sound bitter, and thinks the City does an excellent job of snow removal. All these neighborhoods that cluster near Rice Square along Plantation Street are a hotbed of chair activity. It’s the neighborhood photographers Donna Dufault and husband Scott Erb chose to move to from Rochester, NY in ‘98. It’s the neighborhood that unknowingly inspired the idea for the “Chairs of Worcester” poster.

Dufault and her husband learned the hard way about the locals’ approach to the winter parking ban, which dictates that, when in effect, cars can only be parked on odd-numbered sides of the streets. At first, they didn’t even understand why the chairs were there, and would just move them out of the way to park in front of their house. They’ve had their cars egged and battered.

“We’ve had all kinds of confrontations and issues with our neighbors,” says Dufault. “The first year, the windows were broken. Last year, I had my window broken again and also had a screaming fight with my neighbor because he was putting snow on top of my van because there was nowhere else to put the snow. It ended pretty well and we apologized to each other and helped each other out.”

“I think these kind of disputes are responsible for a whole lot of ruined days and bad feelings,” says Thompson. “I think there’s a whole subculture of urban winter parking.”

Many, in fact most, we talked to in the city insisted on being anonymous. It is surely for fear of retaliation about speaking up about the chair. One of Dufault’s neighbors demanded we not use his name: “I haven’t put a chair out in a long time. But, it’s like, once you shovel it, it’s yours. And it’s not only the shoveling, but the fact that there isn’t another one. It’s not like, ‘oh, it’s no big deal, let’s just pull over there.’ I’ve been known to park where CVS is on Grafton Street. I don’t really know if it’s a Massachusetts thing. It sounds logical to me that whoever lives in an area with limited parking spots, you’re going to do that. I don’t have a problem with it. I have never taken another person’s spot. I can honestly say that.”

Last year’s string of storms caused the most heated situations within Dufault’s neighborhood. A pretty “closed” group, there are about six different sets of neighbors, all equally upset about the parking situation in the winter. One night, Erb came home late from work and found people who have driveway privileges with their cars out on the street – the driveway vacant. Tempers flared.

“There was no place to park at this point,” says Dufault. “We felt it was extremely rude. They have proceeded to park on the street since, so we have no place to park. It got really ugly during the winter of 2003.”

In fact, last winter, she and her husband came close to returning to Rochester. “Now there’s a town that knows how to deal with snow,” she says. “You’re only allowed to park in the same place on the weekends, so Monday through Friday, you have to switch to every other side. So what happens is both sides of the street get cleaned and nobody is allowed to save their spot because they clean the street. They would just get rid of a chair there.”

She hasn’t used it yet, but Dufault’s got her chair on standby. Actually, two – one of those medical seats that people use in the shower and a backup green-and-white striped beach lounger. Dufault and her husband are ready to claim their spot with it on the street as soon as the next flakes begin to fall. Hopefully they get home from work in time.

“While the media is obsessed with winter weather coverage,” says Thompson, “things like these chairs often fall under its radar. I think they tend to be the kind of things that you don’t read about because the disputes don’t come to gunplay.”

They would if snow fell in Texas, said Peggy, who grew up in Worcester and was home from the Lone Star State visiting her mom, who lives on the tail end of Wall Street – another not a stranger to chair claiming.

For the past five years, Dufault and Erb resisted succumbing to the ways of the chair, but had to take a can’t-beat ‘em join ‘em attitude when they realized not only do locals respect it, but essentially the City does, too.

“This is one of the reasons that laws of the jungle are more contentious than actual laws,” says Thompson. “The people who cleared those spaces feel they have a God-given right to keep them. At the same time, people who are desperately looking for a space are enraged by this.”

The city’s man in charge when it snows is Department of Public Works Commissioner Robert Moylan. He takes a laissez-faire attitude toward snow chairs.

“If it doesn’t interfere with what we’re doing then we’re OK with it,” he says. “On the flip side, if it’s snowing, and we’re plowing snow then their chairs are going to get plowed away.”

Moylan, a multi-decade veteran city employee, says people have been putting out chairs “Forever. At least as far back as I can remember.”

The ritual of marking your territory with a cone, chair or other piece of furniture isn’t special to Worcester, but does seem to be rampant in Massachusetts. It even prompted Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino to implement a new policy last month for the DPW to remove any materials used to save parking spots 48 hours after a storm.

But it doesn’t appear as if Worcester will follow suit with any such policy. The arms-length approach to the tradition of chair saving continues in terms of DPW’s enforcement capacity. The department does not ticket cars or offer any response, really, to citizens’ complaints about the chairs, says Moylan. “We’ve had people call and complain. But the facts are it’s a public street and people are to park wherever they want,” he says. “Isn’t that the 11th commandment? Thou shalt not take my parking space? It’s a historical phenomenon of Worcester that if you shovel out your spot and mark it with something it’s yours.”

“The funny thing,” says Dufault, “is that everyone acts as if nothing happened in the summer. I know everybody’s name, but in the winter nobody looks at each other. You don’t look at each other in the eye.”

SIDEBAR ONE:

The city, the chairs, the poster

People who have seen popular posters like The Doors of Dublin get it. But the people who live in Worcester, or any city like it, get it even more.

When photographers Donna Dufault, Mark Doyle and Scott Erb unveiled their first “Chairs of Worcester” poster at the stART on the Street Festival last fall, they got a lot of knowing nods and comments. In grid fashion, the poster salutes the best of last year’s crop of chairs.

“I think people relate to this poster,” says Dufault, “because they spend four hours shoveling out their parking spot, and then watch as they’re pulling away and someone is pulling into it. The City doesn’t really help you clean that side of the street, so you get really frustrated.

“I think whether you hate having your chair or not – and there are plenty of people who think that it’s ridiculous – I think they get this poster either way.”

It strikes of chord. These chairs are a code of honor – a silently stern law of the land that claims territory to that coveted patch of asphalt.

Doyle, who owns and operates AutumnColor Digital Imaging on Webster Street, where Dufault works, first suggested the idea of the poster when Dufault vented to him about her own predicament. On their way to lunch one day, Dufault said she couldn’t take it anymore. As they drove, Doyle started to take notice of the chairs that lined just about every street. He’s out in Leominster, where there’s plenty of parking, so as an onlooker, he finds this whole marker system amusing.

“The green chair in the middle of the poster,” says Doyle. “That’s what gave me the idea. I said ‘We should do a Doors of Dublin type poster. Why don’t you and Scott and myself take some shots and make one?’ None of the chairs are set up. They weren’t even moved. At night, should you move it, a little old Italian lady is going to come and get you.”

It offered not only a chance to capture some art – hey, there are some beautiful, distinct and downright hilarious chairs out there – but a way for Erb and Dufault to turn their frustration into something productive.

With more than 100 chairs that didn’t make the cut, and an overwhelming response to the poster, Doyle copyrighted the idea and the name – including the title of other major New England cities. The three are going to produce Worcester posters every year, and are planning a shoot soon in Boston (which may not pan out now that the city is plowing away their chairs). They’ve sold over 100 posters so far, without even trying. Now available at a couple of art galleries, at festivals and through their Web site (autumncolor.com), they are available on photo paper but will eventually be reproduced on poster paper.

“No, I haven’t shown my neighbors yet,” laughs Dufault.

The Needle and the Damage Done, a Little Tattoo on Everyone
02.15.06 | No Comments
Category: A&E

Worcester Magazine
A&E Feature

Don’t ever get a tattoo when you’re drunk, too young or blindly in love.

Don’t you know these things are permanent (unless, of course, you consider the costly laser removal surgery a sufficient corrective)? It may seem brilliantly cool to brand “Mary, My Muse” on your ass today, but it might cause some tension between you and your next girlfriend. And statistics support that you most likely will have a next girlfriend. Oh, the needle and the damage done.

Those are a few things frowned upon by Scott Alderman, one of the founders of the second annual Massachusetts Tattoo Festival, which inks up the Centrum this weekend. But done right, and with some thought, he considers the tattoo one of the most interesting art mediums. There’s a lot more out there than anchors and “mom” these days.

“We’re not about giving people their first tattoos,” says Alderman. “This is to see what a good shop looks like, what good artists are all about and to educate people so if they get one they’ll be informed. If some 18-year-old comes to our show to get his hand tattooed, it won’t happen. It’s not something you should rush into.”

Alderman himself, who is not an artist but a self-proclaimed aficionado of the tat, didn’t succumb to the needle until he was 30, and sober. He now boasts 30 on his body. “My left arm is just about done,” says Alderman. “I got my first one in 1990. I went to graduate school in Berkeley and I met all these really freaky people out there. I was from New York, and I had thought I had seen freaky people, but San Francisco was really over the top.”

His friends out there chided him about having no tattoos, and jokingly gave him a copy of the book Modern Primitive, in which Alderman was struck by a tribal design out of the Philippines. That became his first tattoo. “It wasn’t to commemorate anything,” says Alderman. “In ’98 in a hotel room in Berlin is when it got out of control. I was up to the upper bicep by then, but that’s when it started to go down the arm. No, I don’t regret them. It’s almost like, if you regret one, you have to regret them all.”

And he doesn’t regret starting the Massachusetts Tattoo Festival in Worcester. Debuting last year, to coincide with the legalization of tattooing in the state, he and Paul Booth (who is an artist sitting in the upper echelon in his field, his work recently celebrated in Rolling Stone) organized it on the heels of their tour called “Tattoo the Earth,” which visited 18 cities. “That was really a heavy metal tour with a few tattoo artists,” says Alderman. “That’s not what we wanted.” Now that the Massachusetts show was so successful, they consider it a template for other similar ones, which were already held in Chicago and Oakland this summer.

“Hell yeah, I regret a lot of mine,” says Corey Kruger, and adds with a chuckle, “Hopefully you get something you can live with. Everyone gets the tattoo they deserve.” Kruger’s barely got an inch of blank slate to work with, but says that he’ll probably lighten up a few of his regrets with laser surgery so he can add some new stuff. He’s also an artist, who works at a tattoo parlor in Clinton called What It Is, and has been involved with Alderman and Booth’s festival since it was the Tattoo the Earth tour.

Though he hates to pigeonhole himself, Kruger says he performs custom work with a lot of Asian influences, and high-energy modern approaches. When we spoke, he had just finished stringing Hindu-style rib panels from the top of a guy’s knees to his armpit – on both sides. Makes you wonder if there’s a limit. “Well, I won’t tattoo anybody’s face,” he says, “or if I think it will impact their lives negatively, I won’t do that. Like, ‘white power’ or something … “

Kruger will be one of 200 artists, from more than 20 different countries, setting up shop at the show. Attendees can choose from a variety of styles, from traditional hand tattooing from Borneo or Japan to henna. Last year, Alderman estimates that about 10,000 attended, and artists punctured the skin of a couple thousand throughout the weekend. But, he emphasizes that the event is for everyone, even those who choose to keep all of their skin plain.

“It’s bigger than Gladiator,” says Alderman. “It’s a show that basically incorporates all the things that are associated with tattoo culture. That includes, obviously, tattooing, but we also have an art gallery, photography, film and music. There are bands playing over at the Palladium and a film festival at the Bijou. Just everything that’s emblematic of the culture. Even if people have a parenthetical interest, they will find something interesting.”

There will also be lectures, piercing booths, performance art, collaborative tattooing and more.

“There’s a certain preconception people have about tattoo art,” he continues. “A lot of people who have never been to this show said they had no idea of the diversity of the audience, the diversity of the artwork and the levels. They’re blown away.”

SIDEBAR:

Tit for tat: some quickies on Scott Alderman:

Favorite tune on The Stones’ Tattoo You: “Start Me Up”
Among his 30 tattoos: The Stones’ “tongue,” which is the only logo included in his ensemble
How he’ll feel about his tattoos when he’s 80: “When I’m 80, nobody should be looking at me anyway. I won’t even look at it. I’ll remove my mirrors. I won’t even go to the beach.”
The only letters found on his body: ”Show me” on his right wrist.
Rule of thumb: “If you insist on tattooing someone’s name, you should do it in a foreign language so people won’t know.”

DETAILS BOX:
What:Massachusetts Tattoo Festival
When:Saturday, Oct. 12 through Monday, Oct. 14.
Where:Worcester’s Centrum Centre (still known as The Centrum to people who live here)
Cost:$17.50 per day, $45 three-day pass
Visit www.masstattoofestival.com for schedule.

Eat Beat I, Worcester Magazine
02.15.06 | No Comments

Section: A&E / Dining
eat beat
By Charlene Arsenault

Bigger, better and booze: Al Fresco Trattoria and Café, which moved to its present location at 680 Main Street in Holden two years ago, has expanded. Since owner Nicola Viapiano was unable to buy any of the units located in this strip mall, he did the next best thing: he expanded forward toward the parking lot. Now with a full bar (it was BYOB) with hand picked wines and a martini list, the restaurant has also added an intimate dining section and a larger menu. The chef is Matthew Sciabarrasi, but manager Tonya Zinno says that many ideas for the menu items also come from Viapiano, who is from Italy, as well as customer suggestions. “We’ve added a lot more seafood and beef options,” says Zinno. “[Viapiano] does a lot of dishes that you don’t see that he brings from his home.”

Hours: Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4-9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4-10 p.m.; 4-9 p.m. Sundays. The bar is open later. Call 508-829-3008 for reservations.

Not only Italian on Shrewsbury Street: The Red Lantern is moving into 235 Shrewsbury St. (where the former Volvo dealership was), projected to open during the first week of November, according to Mike Revelli, the attorney facilitating the deal. Owned by Dan Ha and his sister Lan Qu Seow, the Red Lantern will feature Chinese, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. “It’ll be open seven days a week,” says Revelli. “It’s going to be fashioned very similarly to Chum Lee’s in Shrewsbury. Dan worked there a long time. It’ll be about a 66 seating plus bar place. It’ll be pretty nice. They have a bunch of money into it already. It’ll be kind of upscale and bring a bit of diversification to Shrewsbury Street, especially with Coral Seafood moving in next door. It’ll be great.”

Decorate your sweet house: For the last 27 years, the Publick House has been building a 10-foot gingerbread house. But this year, you’ll have a chance to decorate your own. On Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to noon guests can make a 10-inch tall house while enjoying cookies, cider, games and Christmas movies. The reason we tell you about this now is you have to reserve your spot by Nov. 16. Call 800-PUBLICK.

Wine tastings? New chef? New menu items? Opening a new place? Expanding? Eat something good? Eat something bad? Did your mom win a pie recipe contest? If it’s directly or indirectly related to food and drink, we want to hear about it. Direct any and all of your juicy foodish news and tidbits to Charlene at Charlenea@worcestermag.com, or call 508-755-8004, ext. 245.