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Dina Vargo, Author of “Wild Women of Boston: Mettle and Moxie in the Hub,” Will Talk About Her Illuminating Book Detailing a Parade of Reformers, Socialites, Criminals and Madams, at the South End Library on Tuesday, December 6, at 6:30 PM

2016 November 28
by marleen

dv-flyer-2Dina Vargo writes in her introduction to Wild Women of Boston that filling two or three volumes with the stories of Boston’s female firebrands is “almost a no-brainer.” A tour guide for the Boston By Foot, Vargo became interested in off-beat walking tours that revealed a hidden history of people and places which led her to the stories about women not so well known but revolutionary in their own right. An African-American abolitionist, Sarah Parker, refused to give up a seat in a play about a hundred years before Rosa Parks did. Harriet Hemenway and Minna Hall wild-womenhanded the Audubon Society leadership to men so as to not cross prevailing boundaries of female comity, but at the same time brought the fashion industry to its knees when they led a boycott against plumage in ladies clothing.  And then there was Rachel Wall, a pirate, and  Ann Hibbing, who dared to take on a contractor who she felt charged her too much. Both Wall and Hibbing were hanged. Fargo will tell you all about it, and more. Her books will be available for sale and signing.

The South End Writes is sponsored by the Friends of the South End Library. All the events are free. Books by the speakers will be available for borrowing, sale and signing by the author. The branch is fully handicapped accessible. We serve refreshments. Seating is limited.

This will be the final author talk of the 2016-17 season. 

+++++++++++++++++++++

The 2017-18 South End Writes series begins on Tuesday, January 10 when the 2008 Pulitzer-prize and National Book Critics Circle award-winning author and MIT professor, Junot Diaz, will be at the South End library. Recipient of the MacArthur Genius Fellowship, among many other honors, Diaz is known for his fiery, exuberant prose and empathetic descriptions of his characters (in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Drown, and This Is How You Lose Her) that are rooted in his early childhood in, and memories of, the Dominican Republic, where he was born, and New Jersey, where he grew up. He will be introduced by his friend and colleague, author and poet Pablo Medina, who read at the South End library in May 2014 from his novel, CuBop City Blues.

+++++++++++++++++++++

Also booked for the 2017/18 season are the following exciting authors:

Suspense writer Wendy Walker (with the widely praised All Is Not Forgotten) on Tuesday, February 7;

The outstanding foreign-policy journalist Stephen Kinzer (with his new book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire) March 14;

The celebrated author of Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Independent Self, Gish Jen (her latest book coming out in February is The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East West Culture Gap), March 28;

New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Saved Us, Jenna Blum (a collection of tales by well-known women writers, all set on one day in Grand Central Station, called Grand Central Station: Blum’s novella is called The Lucky One), April 4;

The acclaimed sociologist Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, another MacArthur Genius Fellow gracing the South End library, (with her recent Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers) April 18.

 

 

 

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Gordon Hamersley Tells His Admirers That Cambridge May Offer the Best Food Nowadays (“The South End is Full”) But Some Young Chefs, Lacking Enough Experience, May Be Opening Up Restaurants “Way Sooner Than They Should”

2016 November 27
by marleen
Gordon Hamersley taking about his experience as a restaurateur

Gordon Hamersley taking about his experience as a restaurateur. To the left, realtor and long-time friend, Ron Geddes, who introduced him.

Gordon Hamersley who, with his wife Fiona, put the South End on the map as a culinary destination at the dawn of the good-local-food revolution of the 1980s, told a packed room at the library that his many awards, honors and citations notwithstanding, the life of a celebrity chef was not for him. The tall, lean and voluble chef who now writes regularly about food for the Boston Globe, said that after more than two decades of a highly successful run of Hamersley’s Bistro, where his wife created a fabulous wine list, they found themselves thinking about the next phase of their lives. They liked to do “other things,” Hamersley said, like tying flies for trout fishing, training dogs, hunting grouse and woodcock, walking in the woods, writing, being a family. They had always agreed to wait for the other to be on the same page for any momentous decision about the Bistro. “Are you ready?” they asked each other one day in August 2014. “Totally,” they both said. From that moment until they closed the restaurant, two months later, they were sold out each night. It had been their best year ever, financially. “But my kid still refers to me as ‘my absentee father,'” joked Hamersley.

Gordon Hamersley's description of hosting President Obama at the Bistro

Gordon Hamersley’s description of hosting President Obama at the Bistro: “Snipers on the roof, a woman with an AK47 in the basement..”

The financial pitfalls of opening a restaurant are many, and Hamersley credits the “Scottish blood” that runs in the veins of his wife, who also was  his business partner, for avoiding them. “Today, the South End is full,” said Hamersley. “The best food by young chefs now is found in Cambridge.” He cited Giulia’s, run by another husband-and-wife team, Michael Pagliarini and Pamela Ralston, as a good example. Responding to complaints from a library audience member about so many mediocre meals served in newly opened restaurants nowadays, Hamersley commented that today’s chefs start their own place as soon as they can, perhaps too soon. “I had ten years of experience before I opened Hamersley’s, he said. “I am a big believer in experience. How many roast chickens I have done: I know how to mingle the flavors because of that experience. The culinary schools are remiss by not allowing for that. You have to teach cooking as you teach law: it requires experience. A culinary school can’t mimick the experience of a Saturday night at Hamersley’s when a cook doesn’t do so well at four but somehow by seven is on top of his game.”

Gordon Hamersley signing copies of his (out-of-print) book, Bistro Cooking at Home.

Gordon Hamersley signing copies of his (out-of-print) book, “Bistro Cooking at Home.”

Those hectic but exhilarating Saturday nights at the Bistro is what he still misses, Hamersley says, but other than that he has no regrets. He never took the awards and honors he received too seriously, and dismissed the authority bestowed on him by some in the media to comment on a variety of subjects merely because he was an award- winning chef. “What do I know about the meal tax?” he asked, “or what the best knife is?” Hamersley’s philosophy was to prepare good-quality but simple food in a casual setting, which was different from the traditional chef’s role in the 1980s where the chef always stayed in the back. Hamersley was enthralled by the South End’s diversity. “I stood on Tremont Street and watched what was going on, felt the vibe, and decided I was going to be comfortable for us there,” he said. “We wanted the restaurant to be a reflection of us, Fiona and I, as if you would ‘come into our house,’” he added. Their approach to running a restaurant was based on the old European chef’s notion that they were part of the community. “This is what we wanted it to be,” Hamersley said. “We fulfilled our dream.”

 

 

 

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Gordon Hamersley Will Be at the South End Library on November 22, at 6:30 PM, to Talk About Good Food, His Much-missed Iconic Bistro, the Personal Commitment It Took to Do It All So Well for So Long, AND, What’s On His Thanksgiving Menu?

2016 November 13
by marleen

gordon-hWhen Gordon Hamersley closed the beloved Hamersley’s Bistro in 2015 after twenty-seven years of culinary prowess and pleasure, it was the end of the best roast chicken to be found in the South End and environs. That is, the bird that was marinaded in a shallot-mustard-herb concoction, lovingly roasted with fresh lemon slices and lusciously garnished with melt-in-your-mouth onion, garlic and potato wedges. It was the chicken that Julia Child loved and would order over and over again. Hamersley will be at the South End library on November 22nd at 6:30 PM to talk about it all. He will be introduced by longtime South End realtor Ron Geddes, his good friend.

After working with culinary luminaries like the Austrian-born chef Wolfgang Puck and Julia Child, both of whom he met while in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, Hamersley and his wife Fiona –his wine advisor– departed for the south of France where they lived and cooked in a local bistro in Nice for a year in the early 1980s, and then returned to the US. Hamersley cooked for a while with another star chef, Lydia Shire, at the Boston Hotel and, in 1987, opened Hamersley’s Bistro on Tremont Street. He won the James Beard Best Chef Northeast Award in 1995, after having been nominated for it five years in a row before that, an honor that was followed by the Hall of Fame Award from Boston Magazine in 1996, and the prestigious four-star rating from the Boston Globe in 1997, among his many other national accolades. gordon-cookbook

 Hamersley is the author of the beautifully written and illustrated Bistro Cooking at Home (2003), with Joanne McAllister Smart, and is currently a contributing editor to the Boston Globe’s Wednesday Food Section. Recent articles included mouthwatering instructions for roasted Belgian endives and Meyer lemons; how to make simple but great Moong dal; and the alchemy of flour, eggs and olive oil on their way to become handmade tagliatelle with spring pea sauce.  Why did he close Hamersley’s to begin with when his last year of operating it was the best one ever? Will he write another cookbook? Or a culinary memoir? You can ask him yourself on November 22. A limited number of  copies of his cookbook (now out of print) are available for sale and signing.

The South End Writes is sponsored by the Friends of the South End Library. All the events are free. The branch is fully handicapped accessible. We serve refreshments. Seating is limited, so come early if you really want the best experience.

COMING UP NEXT IN THE SOUTH END WRITES SERIES:

Tuesday, December 6 at 6:30 PM:

Dina Vargo

Dina Vargo

Dina Vargo, a local tour guide for Boston By Foot, will tell you about her amazing discoveries of Boston’s “secret” history and of some of Boston’s unorthodox female characters, stories of which she compiled in her debut work of non-fiction, Wild Women of Boston.wild-women Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing, as well as for borrowing from the library.

This will be the final talk of the 2015/16 season.

The 2017-18 South End Writes series begins on Tuesday, January 10, when the 2008 Pulitzer-prize and National Book Critics Circle award-winning author and MIT professor, Junot Diaz, will be at the South End library. Recipient of the MacArthur Genius Fellowship, among many other honors, Diaz is known for his fiery, exuberant prose and empathetic descriptions of his characters (in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Drown, and This Is How You Lose Her) that are rooted in his early childhood in, and memories of, the Dominican Republic, where he was born. He will be introduced by his friend and colleague, author and poet Pablo Medina, who read at the South End library in May 2014 from his novel, CuBop City Blues.

Also booked for the 2017/18 season are the following exciting authors: 

Suspense writer Wendy Walker (with the widely praised All Is Not Forgotten) on Tuesday, February 7; the outstanding foreign-policy journalist Stephen Kinzer (with his new book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire) March 14; the celebrated author of Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Independent Self, Gish Jen (her latest book coming out in February is The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East West Culture Gap), March 28; New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Saved Us, Jenna Blum (a collection of tales by well-known women writers,  all set on one day in Grand Central Station, called Grand Central Station: Blum’s novella is called The Lucky One), April 4; and the acclaimed sociologist Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, another MacArthur Genius Fellow gracing the South End library, (with her recent Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers) April 18.

 

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A Record Crowd Came to Hear Nine Poets Whose Portraits Are on Display in the South End Library’s Windows and Who Described Their Unique View of Contemporary Life With Mesmerizing Performances of Poems and HipHop

2016 November 7
by marleen
John Pinkham

John Pinkham

Last month’s LocalFocus installation in the South End library’s windows of Gregory Jundanian’s Poet Portraits brought in a large crowd on October 6, when the poets featured in the display treated the audience to their exciting, sometimes raw, but always original take on contemporary culture. Jundanian,  an emerging artist and frequenter of Boston area poetry slams, described his photography series as a “visual open mike” where poets transcribe words on the photographs taken in places that were of significance to them.

Greg Jundanian's Poet Portraits installation in the SE library's window

Greg Jundanian’s Poet Portraits installation in the SE library’s Tremont Street window

Jundanian introduced each poet by pointing to their pictures pinned up on the community room wall, and encouraged the audience to attend poetry events by saying how much fun the slams were. He singled out the “house slams” at Haley House Cafe in Dudley Square every other Friday as a place “where people bare their souls” about sexuality, abuse, poverty, race, and mental illness. “The poetry, good and bad, is accepted and supported,” he added.

Krysten Hill

Krysten Hill

Before he turned to photography, Jundanian was a cab driver, a bonds salesman, firefighter and glassblower. He is currently founder and president of Three Squares New England, an organization raises funds to combat hunger in Massachusetts.

Lakiyra (Oompa) Williams

Lakiyra (Oompa) Williams

Among those reading were DiDi Delgado, currently a host of the SOUPed Up Poetry Slam at the Dudley Cafe and recipient of the 2015 Jack Powers Stone Soup Savor award. She was joined by  Krysten Hill, who is a recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist award; Valerie Loveland, Lakiyra (Oompa) Williams, a Roxbury hip-hop artist and member of Flatline Poetry; April Penn, John Pinkham, Salem poet Oliver Prato, Allegra Thaler, and Tim Velsor.

Oliver Prato

Oliver Prato

Jundanian’s photo exhibit, which will end this week, is the fifth in the South End library’s Local Focus series which connects local artists, creative entrepreneurs and non-profits to the South End community by means of window installations. Jundanian’s photos are available for sale; a portion of the proceeds will be used for the library’s programming.

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Louise Miller, Pastry Chef and Author, Will Present Her Debut Novel, “The City’s Baker’s Guide to Country Living,” at the South End Library on Tuesday, October 25 at 6:30 PM

2016 October 17
by marleen
Poster design by Mary Owens

Poster design by Mary Owens

The South End Writes fall speaker season continues  with pastry chef and debut novelist Louise Miller who will talk about her work of fiction, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living on Tuesday, October 25. Miller received a scholarship in 2012 to attend GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, a year-long workshop. Her novel, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, was picked up quickly for publication by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking this past summer. The story begins when its main character, a thirty-something pastry chef carrying a flambé dessert, accidentally sets fire to the swank private club in Boston where she works. She flees north to Vermont where she becomes enmeshed in a small town’s intrigues.

Miller grew up in the Boston area and attended Portland School of Art where she studied photography. She started her first baking job in 1994, at a little bakery in Cambridge, MA, where her baking mentor talked her into staying on by offering to teach her the art of pastry.  For the last twenty years Miller has been a baker/pastry chef, currently at The Union Club of Boston.

The South End Writes is sponsored by the Friends of the South End Library. All the events are free. Books by the speakers will be available for borrowing, sale and signing by the author. The branch is fully handicapped accessible. We serve refreshments. Seating is limited, so come early if you really want the best experience.

AUTHORS/SPEAKERS COMING UP NEXT:

Gordon Hamersley

Gordon Hamersley

In the spirit of the season’s culinary edge, Louise Miller will be followed by winner of the 1995 James Beard “Best Chef Northeast” Award, former restaurateur and current Boston Globe contributor to its Wednesday Food section, Gordon Hamersley, on Tuesday, November 22nd at 6:30 PM.

Dina Vargo

Dina Vargo

The last author of the season, Dina Vargo, a tour guide of the Boston By Foot  non-profit tour company, will be at the library on Tuesday, December 6, at 6:30 PM, and tell us about the many unorthodox female characters whose stories she has unearthed from Boston’s history, as described in her tome, Wild Women of Boston.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The 2017-18 South End Writes series begins on Tuesday, January 10, when the Pulitzer-prize and National Book Critics Circle award-winning author and MIT professor, Junot Diaz, will be at the South End library. Recipient of the MacArthur Genius Fellowship, among many other honors, Diaz is known for his fiery, exuberant prose and empathetic descriptions of his characters (in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her) that are rooted in his early childhood in, and memories of, the Dominican Republic, where he was born. He will be introduced by his friend and colleague, author and poet Pablo Medina, who read at the South End library in May 2014 from his novel,  CuBop City Blues.

Booked after that are:

Suspense writer WendyWalker (with the widely praised All Is Not Forgotten) on Tuesday, February 7; the outstanding foreign-policy journalist Stephen Kinzer (with his new book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire) March 14; the celebrated author of Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Independent Self, Gish Jen (her latest coming out in February is The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East West Culture Gap), March 28; New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Saved Us, Jenna Blum (a collection of tales taking place on one day in Grand Central Station, called Grand Central Station: Blum’s is called The Lucky One), April 4; and the acclaimed sociologist Sara Lawrence Lightfoot , another MacArthur Fellow, (with her recent Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers) April 18.

 

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