In the past, May has been a month of winding down (at least somewhat) of activities at The Other Side; this year's the opposite.  Two new projects, the Big Conversation series and the At the Opera Talks are on the calendar, plus a major jazz happening that brings  Akiko Tsuruga & Joe Magnarelli back to town make May 2017 an unusually lively spring scene at The Other Side.  This being May 1 as I write, a date that has great resonance in the history of pro-labor activism and revolutionary spirit, I propose May as being a month of returning to ideals as basis for ordering and organizing our lives.  If not the traditional collective-style ideals, such as religion or socialism, though these can work fine, then ideals that originate with you, in your own deepest self, for which you have enthusiasm, passion, fervor, zeal.  These (i.e., ardor, fervor, zeal, etc.) are not bad words, though they've come to seem so as we too often adjust to just adjusting to the way things are.  At The Other Side we support arts and art-making (i.e., in monthly gallery exhibitions by local artists, launching our new At the Opera series of talks) because art is exactly about following individual passion and creative vision.  We love Jazz because it seems to us the quintessential expression of a vision of the community built out of and made for the whole and creative expression of its individual members.  We've invited two dedicated community activists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, knowing that they will approve and bless all of our initiatives to make a difference on behalf of the good for everyone, that is, they will appreciate our ideals.

Give your spirits a tune-up at The Other Side: Please join us this month for the arts, for the activism, for the dreams and for the community that needs each one of our positive idealism.  See the attached calendar for the complete schedule of May events.

Wednesday, May 3, 6:30 p.m.  marks the date the Herbal Study Group that meets monthly in our space throughout the cold part of the year, returns to it's natural environment, the out-of-doors. Meet at Old Path Farm, 9035 Grange Hill Road, to identify plants and talk about their health-benefiting properties.  Bring a notebook or a camera, whatever helps you remember!  The weather forecast is for a high of 55, low of 41; dress warmly and wear boots for tramping through possibly muddy fields.  For more information, contact Pete (

Friday, May 5, 5:30-7:30 pm  Include in your Cinco de Mayo plans a stop at the Opening Reception for Things Fall FLAT, an exhibition of ink drawings by Elise Incze, May 5-28.  Join us for the usual good food and drink, the chance to meet and chat with fellow art lovers, and to support local art!  Gallery hours continue through May on Thursdays, 5-7 and Saturdays 11-2.

Saturday, May 5, 9-5, Sunday, May 6, 9-2, Cheese man Mike Haritos returns with his mouth-watering array of imported cheeses and other imported food items.  The quality cannot be overstated: Mike's company, Isle de Formaggio is a supplier for major cheese retailers in NYC.  The selection he brings to Utica makes it the best such offering between NYC and Montreal, or from Albany to Buffalo.  Vending with him both days will be Judy Bach of Bach farms, with her exceptionally fine locally grown grass fed beef, lamb and pork.  On Saturday, Kneady Baker Joe Silberlicht brings his gorgeous, healthful artisanal breads to add to the temptations.

Yoga on Wednesdays: May 10, 17, 31, 5:45-6:45 p.m. Certified Yoga Instructor Deb Evans provides an uplifting, fun and supportive atmosphere for her class to which she brings her training in Bhakti yoga and in dance.  Call Deb at 315-724-0226 for more information.  Free and Open to all.

Coming the Following Week

Wednesday, May 11, 7:30 p.m.  At the Opera:  An Introduction to Madame Butterfly.  This series of "seriously irreverent talks" about opera is hosted by Lou Santacroce. It is meant to appeal to opera buffs and to those who want to acquaint themselves with this musical art form and are less familiar with it.   Of his choice to begin with Madame Butterfly (and follow with Lucia di Lammermoor in June), Lou says, "I chose Butterfly and Lucia for my initial talks because, during my time at NPR, I discovered that both operas are based on real people and actual events. This is not generally known, so I thought this may interest people who are less familiar with the opera art form. The real Butterfly did not commit suicide, but the real Trouble -- her child -- was appropriately named. He had nothing but trouble all of his life. I have unearthed pictures of the real Butterfly (her name was Kaga Maki) and son, which I intend to show during the presentation. Lucia's real name was Janet and, while I don't have a picture of her, I can tell you that the story of the opera is not much different from the real woman's tragedy as related by Sir Walter Scott in his novelization, "The Bride of Lammermoor."  Those who come out can expect an interesting and entertaining time. "

Admission: Free, with $5 suggested donation.

Lou Santacroce is the former producer and host of National Public Radio's "At the Opera (1998-2001). He has spoken about opera at venues as diverse as Baltimore Lyric Opera, Washington DC Opera, Sylvan Opera, Widner University, Lord and Taylor, Elder Hostel and Chelsea Opera.  He is the author of the novels, "Cracks" and "Heart Like Railroad Steel" and "Parsifal For Christians," an examination of Wagner's final opera. He lives in Utica, New York with his cat.

Later This Month:  Mark your Calendars and Reserve early

Fans of Jazz, Take Note!

Friday May 19, 8:00 p.m. Jazzin' It Up with the Akiko Tsuruga-Joe Magnarelli Quartet.  Also featuring Mike Dubaniewicz on sax and Mike Melito on drums. We frankly love these two NYC jazz artists - now a married couple! - and if you haven't seen them, you will too!  Akiko's organ playing never fails to delight her audience, and Joe is one of the finest trumpet players around, whom we've had the pleasure of hearing many times at TOS.  Tickets are just $15, $8 students.  To reserve, call 315-735-4825 or email or stop at the Cafe Domenico, 2011 Genesee St., and leave your name.

Wednesday, May 24, 7:30 p.m.  The Big Conversation, a series honoring Utica peace & social justice activist Sunithi Bajekal,  continues with Demand the Impossible, an evening with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.  Join us for a reading by Bill from his latest book, Demand the Impossible: A Radical Manifesto, and the discussion to follow.  The reputation of this famous couple precedes them of course, but be prepared to like these two wonderful, dedicated, unapologetic idealists very much, who are, besides being famous, very friendly!  Admission $10, students $5 (scholarship help available).  To reserve a seat, call 315-735-4825, or email or stop by at Cafe Domenico, 2017 Genesee St. and leave your name.

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