EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 30, 2013

Mothers, daughters, this club's for you

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — KINGSTON — Start a reading tradition with your daughter with the Mother-Daughter Book Club at Kingston Community Library on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

This club is for girls (grades 4-8) and their mothers, and will meet at 6 p.m. in the Teen Room.

It’s based on the popular Mother-Daughter Book Club novels by Heather Vogel Fredrick. This meeting will be to discuss the book “City of Ember” by Jeanne DuPrau.

Refreshments will be served. Books for the February meeting will be available for pickup. Stop by the library to pick up a copy of “City of Ember.”

Visit kingston-library.org or call 642-3521.

Derry signseeks adoption

DERRY — A sign on the historic property belonging to the family of America’s first man in space, Alan B. Shepard Jr., needs some tender loving care.

A Shepard sign on the East Derry land needs some upgrades and improvements, according to Conservation Commission Chairman Margie Ives.

Ives said the sign has stood on the property for a long time and it’s getting extremely faded.

Ives said anyone with ideas on how to move forward with updating the sign, or a group of Scouts that might like to adopt the sign as a community service project, can contact her via the Conservation Commission at 434-6539.

Annual Turkey Brigade serves hundreds in need

LAWRENCE — More than 500 families in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire received a bountiful start to the holiday season with one of the biggest community service events in the region. Merrimack Valley Credit Union was proud to participate in the 20th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Brigade, hosted by Ocasio’s True Martial Arts of Haverhill. Together, the organizations and dozens of volunteers delivered complete turkey dinners to families in need.

Merrimack Valley contributed $2,500 toward the purchase of ingredients for the dinner baskets, along with a team of volunteers to deliver them on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The baskets contained a turkey, a pan to cook it in, potatoes, vegetables, gravy, stuffing, rolls and more.

“The Turkey Brigade is a wonderful tradition that helps those less fortunate,” said Jay Caldwell, who coordinated the Credit Union’s team of volunteers. “Merrimack Valley is proud to be part of making the holidays special for those who need it most.”

Spider-Man was a member of this year’s Turkey Brigade, much to the delight of the children and families who opened their doors to the superhero bearing Thanksgiving dinner. Photos and video are available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBSQfWvAh1c&feature=share.

Ocasio’s raises money all year long and collects donations of food for the Turkey Brigade baskets. For more information, visit www.ocasiostma.com.

Controversial movie screening with live music for MLK Day

NORTH ANDOVER — What if a movie was acclaimed as a masterpiece, but portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as heroes? What if a movie aimed to show the realities of life during the Civil War, and yet used white actors playing roles in blackface? What does it say if a movie was clearly racist, depicting blacks as an inferior sub-species to whites, but was still a box office smash?

Those are among the questions posed by ‘The Birth of a Nation’ (1915), the ground-breaking epic film from director D.W. Griffith, which continues to inspire controversy nearly a century after its initial release.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day this year, a restored print of the film will be screened with live music at the Rogers Center for the Arts, Merrimack College, 315 North Turnpike St. The screening, part of the Rogers Center’s silent film series, will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Admission to the screening is free and the public is welcome. The program will be accompanied live by silent film musician Jeff Rapsis.

Organizers of the Rogers Center’s film series specifically chose the occasion of Martin Luther King Day to screen ‘The Birth of a Nation,’ long regarded as a masterpiece of early cinema but tarnished by racism and prejudice.

“Although ‘The Birth of a Nation’ has been reviled for its blatant and pervasive racism, it was a huge hit in its day and was accepted as one of the landmarks of early cinema,” said Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist who will perform a live score for the movie.

“Screening this compromised classic to honor Martin Luther King Day is a chance for today’s audiences to appreciate how far we’ve come, and to also ponder how many of the prejudices on display in this film that we may still harbor, even unconsciously,” Rapsis said.

Even at the time of its release, the movie was regarded as monumentally insensitive to issues of race, depicting blacks as a sub-race inferior to whites and portraying Ku Klux Klan members as heroes. Conceived by Griffith, a native Southerner, as a saga of two families caught up in the Civil War and its aftermath, many viewers and critics regarded the film as a prolonged statement of cinematic bigotry.

Seen today, the film abounds with offensive racial comments and imagery both overt and implied. To complicate matters for contemporary audiences, Griffith had all leading roles of black characters played by white actors in blackface; black actors were kept in the background or used only for crowd scenes, which lends the film a surreal quality to modern viewers.

All movies in the Rogers Centers’s silent film series were popular when first released, but are rarely screened today in a way that allows them to be seen at their best. They were not made to be shown on television; to revive them, organizers aim to show the films at the Rogers Center as they were intended—in top quality restored prints, on a large screen, with live music, and with an audience.