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From Mali with Hope

From Mali with Hope

 

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The Taste of Lexington! Join the Fun!

By Laurie Atwater

Each holiday season the downtown retailers knock themselves out trying to find ways to entice customers away from shopping on the internet and back to the shops and restaurants of Lexington.  While each year sees an up-tick in foot traffic, nothing so far has recaptured the excitement of Lexington holiday shopping events of the past, when the sidewalks were jammed with shoppers, diners, friends and neighbors enjoying the lights and magic along Massachusetts Avenue.

Well, that’s about to change!

This year, if all goes as planned, things may change. The Lexington Mavens in partnership with Lexington’s Chamber of Commerce and the Lexington Retailers Association are introducing The Taste of Lexington, a downtown celebration of local shopping, dining and old-fashioned fun!

The brainchild of Patrice Cleaves and Delilah Atkinson, founders of the Lexington Mavens, the Taste of Lexington is set for December 6th in Lexington Center from 5-9:30 PM!

You haven’t heard of the Mavens? That’s okay. It’s a Facebook group of about 2,200 Lexington women. Patrice says, “We’ve created this vibrant community of women. Delilah and I each handpicked 60 individual influencers across town—they were connectors, and they care about the community beyond their own footprint which was a big thing for me. We asked them to come on board and help us develop the Mavens.” In a short period of time, The Mavens has become quite a force in the community

Patrice and Delilah envisioned the Facebook site as a junction box where all kinds of people can make connections in a protected space. According to Delilah, “What our members love about the Mavens is the ability to go online, get conversations go

 

ing, receive feedback or advice, and feel involved. The aim is not to be commercial — we don’t make money from the platform — and keep it authentic.  The heart of the group is all about community. Friendships have formed, events have happened that have helped people feel a part of our town.”

The Taste of Lexington event is a logical extension of the Mavens brand. Getting outside the digital space expands and reinforces membership by providing in-person events where members can socialize and share their stories and ideas and get to know each other. “The Taste of Lexington is also based on our founding principles of getting out into the community, getting involved and taking part.  We wanted to create an event that would bring people down to the Center so they can get to know what’s right on their doorstep,” Delilah says.

The women reached out to the Lexington Retailers and the Chamber of Commerce to maximize the success of the event. “We want to create a big event that supports and involves the community and businesses,” Patrice says. “We want to show businesses that we can turn out in large numbers.”

Delilah acknowledges that the retail community has been affected by the shift to online shopping. “The world of click and shop has taken over,” she says, “and as much as we all love the ease and instant gratification, there is something to say for the in-store, restaurant and service experience.”

Eric Michelson, co-owner of Michelson’s Shoe and President of the Lexington Retailers Association, has high hopes for the Taste of Lexington. “The holiday season is so important to the success of our local businesses that we are excited to partner with the Lexington Mavens to promote what Lexington has to offer.”

In the past, the responsibility of coordinating community holiday events has fallen squarely on the shoulders of the Retailers Association and the Chamber. The Retailers organize Trick or Treat and Discovery Day. During the busy holiday shopping season, they are happy to have the help of the Mavens! Eric says, “The Taste of Lexington is a true community event, with local businesses offering discounts and promotions; we hope people will join us and see just how many great shops and businesses are located right here in town.”

The Lexington Chamber of Commerce is also throwing its resources behind Taste of Lexington and enthusiastically embracing The Mavens and LRA as partners. Jim Shaw, Colonial Times publisher and Chairman of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce says, “We are delighted and appreciative that the Lexington Mavens have stepped up to help local businesses this holiday season, and the businesses have responded with significant offers and savings!  This event will bring hundreds of Lexington residents to the Center for an evening of shopping and dining. Many shops are participating and creating their own festive in-store activities.  The restaurant selections are incredible—Lexington has become quite a destination for dining out. People will not be  disappointed.” Shaw stresses that they have also included businesses from outside of the Center. “There will be ‘pop-up’ locations (that will host other Lexington Businesses) like the Historical Society’s Depot Building and TD Bank lobby.

The entire community is invited to the first annual Taste of Lexington. Shops and restaurants are offering refreshments and significant discounts and promotional offers. There will be singing groups on the sidewalks and an incredible sense of holiday spirit up and down the avenue.

If Taste of Lexington is a success, it will be because of the enthusiasm and hard work of these three groups and their desire to make it an exciting evening to share the seasonal beauty of Lexington Center, support local businesses and have fun! Delilah says, “We don’t want Lexington to lose its charm, we want to help it come to life and get residents excited!”

 

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Notorious swindler Charles Ponzi once called Lexington his home

By Jim Shaw

The ghost of Charles Ponzi is alive and well and thrives in the greed of modern-day swindlers like Brad Bleidt and Bernard Madoff. And, for at least one Lexington resident who fell victim to Madoff’s $50 billion swindle, this is not an amusing story or a whimsical account of an interesting fellow who happened to live in Lexington. For this 85-year-old victim whom we have chosen not to identify, the pain is very real and his future is now uncertain

With the recent arrests of Massachusetts money manager and radio mogul Brad Bleidt and Wall Street billionaire Bernie Madoff, the “Ponzi scheme” has become the focus of national and international news coverage. It has also surfaced as dinnertime banter in homes across the country. But just who is Charles Ponzi, and why are people so fascinated with his story?

Here in Lexington, the name Ponzi holds a different connotation — neighbor. You see, the world’s most notorious swindler – Charles Ponzi – lived right here in Lexington in a beautiful estate on Slocum Road. At the height of his most infamous criminal enterprise, Ponzi called Lexington his hometown.

Ponzi first arrived in Boston by ship in 1903. He claimed to have only $2.50 when he first arrived. With no real luck securing gainful employment, Ponzi soon moved to Montreal, Quebec where he found work as an assistant teller at the newly opened Banco Zarossi. At the time, the bank was paying 6% interest on deposits, which was twice the average rate. This created a huge influx of new depositors. Soon, however, the bank’s real estate investments began to collapse causing economic chaos. In an effort to prevent a mass exodus of depositors, they began paying the interest with money from new deposits. Ponzi took notice of this and the seed was planted.

When the number new depositors drastically declined and they could no longer meet their obligations to existing depositors, the bank was shuttered and its owner fled to Mexico with much of the bank’s remaining cash.

Once again, penniless and unemployed, Ponzi went to visit one of the bank’s former clients. Finding no one there, Ponzi helped himself to the company’s checkbook and forged a check for over $400. He was caught and convicted and spent three years in a Quebec prison.

Ponzi returned to the US and quickly got caught up in an effort to bring illegal Italian immigrants into the country. He was convicted and spent two years in an Atlanta, Georgia prison.

After his release, Ponzi made his way back to Boston where he met and married Rose Gnecco. Ponzi made a lame attempt at honest employment, but his greed and the promise of great riches lured him towards what many consider to be the crime of the century.

One day while opening his mail, Ponzi happened across an International Reply Coupon (IRC). These coupons were intended to be sent overseas for the purpose of return postage. But Ponzi soon realized that there was a value differential. For instance, with the Italian post-war economy in a major decline, the cost of postage in Italy had decreased. So, theoretically, someone could buy IRC coupons in Italy and send them to the US where they could be sold for a higher value. Ponzi went to work and soon bragged that after all of his costs, he was realizing a profit of 400%.

Ponzi decided to bring in investors and promised them a 50% return within six months. His scheme immediately attracted hundreds of eager investors who blindly handed over tens of thousands of dollars. Overnight, Ponzi was a very wealthy man.

The Ponzi House

Ponzi was now part of high society and required all of the trappings of his great wealth. He lavished expensive gifts upon his wife and friends, and dined in the fanciest restaurants. The only thing left was a home appropriate to his stature. He settled on a beautiful estate on Slocum Road in Lexington.

I’m not certain if Ponzi had the home built or if it already existed, but the beautiful stucco mansion that was built in 1913 still stands today. For Ponzi, the home showcased his need to flaunt his new found success.

Now, there are several accounts of just how much money Ponzi had amassed and how many investors fell victim to his scheme. One account says that Ponzi duped over 10,000 individuals for $9.5 million. Another account places the number of victims at 40,000 with over $15 million invested with Ponzi. A quick calculation at www.measuringworth.com indicates that $9.5 million in 1920 dollars is worth over $1.5 billion in GDP value (yes, that’s billion with a “B”) in 2009.

Nearly as fast as his meteoric rise in wealth and influence, came his precipitous downfall. You see, like any pyramid scheme – the basis of Ponzi’s big idea – success only thrives as long as there are new investors to pay back original investors. When the pool of new investors dried up, the jig was up for Ponzi.

In a story printed in the Boston Post in July of 1920, Ponzi’s character, and business acumen was called into question. Most of Ponzi’s early investors stuck with him because they had experienced tremendous profits. Ponzi was forced to hire a publicity person who eventually turned on him as well. The PR guy, William McMasters, quickly determined that Ponzi was a fraud and later stated, “The man is a financial idiot. He can hardly add…He sits with his feet on the desk smoking expensive cigars in a diamond holder and talking complete gibberish about postal coupons.”

Postal regulators soon raided Ponzi’s Boston office and found to their amazement that Ponzi actually had very few of the postal coupons that had fueled the frenzy of his multi-million dollar empire. It was all a complete fraud. Because Ponzi had used the U.S. Postal Service to communicate with his investors, he faced serious mail fraud charges. In all, he was charged with 86 counts of federal mail fraud in two separate indictments. In return for a lighter sentence, Ponzi pled guilty to one of the charges and served five years in prison. After about 3 years, he was released to face state charges for swindling investors. While awaiting trial, Ponzi jumped bail and fled to Florida where he was eventually captured and went on to serve another nine years in prison.

After his release, Ponzi was deported to Italy and eventually traveled to Brazil where he died in 1949 penniless and alone.

Wikipedia refers to Ponzi as “one of the greatest swindlers in American history.” I have a little trouble with that because I associate the word great with people who have had a profoundly positive impact on society. I’m happy that Wikipedia allows people to edit it’s content because I think I’ll go back and correct it so it more accurately reflects who Ponzi was: “one of the most notorious swindlers in American history.”

That would be more appropriate. And, I think our 85-year-old neighbor who was victimized by Bernie Madoff would agree.

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How Using ‘QPR’ Can Prevent Suicides Ask a Question and Save a Life

By David Susman Ph.D.

Originally published by Psychology Today

USED BY PERMISSION

 

Chances are you’re familiar with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), a well-established emergency procedure used to save lives when a person is in cardiac arrest. But have you ever heard of QPR? QPR stands for “Question, Persuade, Refer,” and it’s used to intervene to prevent suicide.

Recently I was given the opportunity to attend a comprehensive training program to learn about QPR. What’s really interesting about this approach is that you don’t have to be a mental health professional to use it. In fact, QPR is designed to train anyone how to offer hope and take action when they are concerned that someone may be at risk for suicide.

The term “gatekeeper” refers to anyone who may benefit from learning how to use QPR to intervene to stop a suicide. Gatekeepers are people who may be in a position to recognize warning signs of suicide and that someone is considering taking their own life.

Gatekeepers can include school and college personnel, clergy, law enforcement, correctional staff, work supervisors, community volunteers, health care providers, family, and friends. In other words, virtually everyone can benefit from learning QPR.

Over the past 20 years, more than 2,500 communities and organizations have implemented the QPR Gatekeeper training program. Over 8,500 instructors have been certified, who have delivered the QPR intervention to more than one million people throughout the US and several other countries.

Having worked with many persons who were at risk for suicide, I was already quite familiar with many of the statistics on this issue. Nonetheless, some of the facts and figures are staggering and bear repeating:

More deaths occur by suicide in the US each year than by homicide or automobile accidents.

In 2013, over 41,000 Americans took their own lives or about 113 per day.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and the second leading cause among ages 15-24.

For each death by suicide, about 25 people around them experience a major life disruption.

Firearms remain the leading method for suicide, followed by poisoning and suffocation.

More Vietnam War veterans have subsequently died by suicide than were killed in the conflict itself.

Currently, it’s estimated that 22 veterans die by suicide each day.

It’s also important to understand that about 90% of people in a suicidal crisis will give some kind of warning to those around them. Warning signs can include previous suicide attempts, alcohol and drug abuse, statements revealing or suggesting a desire to die, sudden behavior changes, depression, giving away personal belongings, and purchasing a gun or stockpiling pills.

Although we can’t predict suicide for any one individual, we can prevent a suicide if someone reveals their plans and we can intervene quickly and effectively. This is where QPR comes into play.

The QPR approach has three steps:

Q = Question

If you believe someone is considering suicide, ask them directly “Are you thinking about suicide or wanting to kill yourself?” Don’t say “Do you want to hurt yourself?” as self-harm can be non-lethal and it’s not the same as wanting to die. Also remember that if you ask someone if they want to kill themselves, this does NOT drive them toward that action. That’s a myth that’s not accurate. Don’t be afraid to ask the question.

2) P = Persuade

Persuade the person to allow you to assist them in getting help right now. Say “Will you go with me to get help?” or “Will you let me assist you to get help?” Another option can be to enlist their promise not to kill themselves until you’ve arranged help for them. If persuasion doesn’t work, call a local mental health center, crisis hotline or emergency services.

3) R = Refer

Refer the person to an appropriate resource for assistance. It’s ideal if you can personally escort them to see a health care professional. Next best would be to assist in making arrangements for help and getting their agreement to follow through on this plan. Less preferable is to provide referral resources and have them seek one of the options on their own.

An excellent crisis intervention resource in the US is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. To access the lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This same number also connects military personnel to the Veterans Crisis Line, a hotline providing confidential help to veterans or service members and their families.

In the QPR training, it was stated that if, as a result of learning QPR, just one person uses the approach, and that person saves one single life, then the training will have been worth it, and then some!

So, what can you do to make a difference? Attend a QPR training, particularly if you fit one of the “gatekeeper” categories or you believe you may come into contact with people who may be considering suicide.

Just as CPR prepares you for stepping in to assist with a cardiac emergency, QPR will give you the skills and knowledge to intervene to possibly prevent a suicide. Remember: if you ask the question, you may just save a life.

 

David Susman, Ph.D.

About the Author:
David Susman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, and Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky.

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Transportation News

There are numerous events related to transportation happening this fall! Whether you are unsure of what modes of transportation can get you or your loved ones to/from work, after school, or other activities, or you have suggestions for how to improve transportation, there is an event (and a survey) for you! Lexpress has also made some changes to its service.

Lexpress Schedule & Route Changes
Lexpress starts its fall schedule the last week of August. NEW this year is the addition of a 7:30AM route year-round. “We hope the addition of bus service at 7:30AM will allow people who need to commute to work a better time for making transit connections, whether they work in Lexington, Burlington, connect to The REV or to MBTA buses. Taking Lexpress this time of day may also be a good option for middle and high school students who miss their school bus,” said Susan Barrett, Transportation Manager.

The new Lexpress schedule also includes a pull-in to Emerson Gardens during the 10AM-2PM routes. Lexpress schedules and maps can be found at www.lexpress.us. Want real-time arrival information? Download the free RideSystems app for your smartphone or visit http://tracker.lexpress.us

FREE Special Saturday Lexpress Bus Service
Saturday, September 20th, 9:30AM-5:25PM
In honor of World Car Free Day, and in order to allow people of all mobility levels to attend transportation and other events on this day, there will be a special FREE Saturday, Lexpress bus service. The buses will operate on their usual schedule and routes, but with the first route leaving the Depot at 9:30AM and the last route starting from the Depot at 4:55pm and wrapping up just before 5:30PM. For more info on Lexpress call 781-861-1210 or visit www.lexpress.us

Transportation Open House
Saturday, September 20th, 10AM-Noon
Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Road
Come talk with staff from the MBTA Better Bus Project, Lexpress & Lexington Transportation Services, The REV Alewife shuttle, and bike and pedestrian groups. This is a great one-stop-shop event to find out more about how to commute, whether you are trying to get to work in another town, the grocery store, or home from after school activities! No sign-up required.
Please note that LEXPRESS will operate a special FREE Saturday service on this day between the hours of 9:30AM-5:25PM. Routes 1 & 2 travel to the Community Center door. The MBTA operates a combined 62/76 bus on Saturdays with a stop near Marrett Road on Massachusetts Avenue.

Lexington Tri-Town Transit Study
1st Community Meeting
Saturday, September 20th, 1:30PM-3PM
Cary Library, Large Meeting Room
The towns of Bedford, Burlington, and Lexington are currently evaluating the effectiveness of the transportation services operating in the three communities.  The Tri-Town Efficiency and Regionalization Transit Study is a joint effort to assess the overall mobility needs of the three towns and identify possible coordination opportunities that could enhance transit service and efficiencies through shared resources. You are encouraged to attend this public meeting to learn more about the study and to share your views. No sign-up required. Please note that LEXPRESS will operate a special FREE Saturday service on this day between the hours of 9:30AM-5:25PM. All six routes start and end at Depot Square, across from the library. The MBTA operates a combined 62/76 bus on Saturday which stops in Lexington Center.

SAVE THE DATE: You can save the date for the 2nd Community Meeting pertaining to this transit study in which the public can review and comment on recommendations for improving transportation. That event will take place on Monday, October 22nd from 7-8:30PM in Cary Hall. For any questions about the study or transportation, contact Lexington Transportation at transportation@lexingtonma.gov or 781-698-4820.

Please take the Transit Study Survey! If you live and/or work in Lexington, please take the transit survey. Input is welcome from people of all ages – students, seniors, adults. https://www.lexingtonma.gov/transit-survey

Senior Transportation Workshop
Wednesday, September 26th, 9:30AM-11AM
Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Road
This workshop is geared towards senior citizens or caregivers who are helping senior citizens consider options for transportation. We will have representatives available from different organizations to discuss travel training, MBTA, Lexpress, Lex-Connect, Uber/Lyft and more. Even if you have used one or more of these service, you are welcome to attend to learn about the full array of options! Light refreshments provided. Please sign up for this event in person or by phone at 781-698-4840.

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Hancock Church Launches New Year With Climate Sunday and Celebration

Rev. Mariama White-Hammond at MIT

Hancock Church
Sunday, September 9th
Climate Justice Service
10 AM
Climate Justice Conversation 11 AM
1912 Massachusetts Avenue
Lexington, MA

All are welcome!

Rev. Mariama White-Hammond serves as the Minister for Ecological Justice at Bethel AME Church in Boston and as a fellow with the Green Justice Coalition, a partnership of environmental justice groups. Recently, she served as master of ceremonies for the Boston Women’s March, which was attended by over 175,000 people.

Rev. Mariama is an inspiring speaker who is active in the fight against climate change.

She asks the questions “What kind of people are we? What kind of people do we want to be?”

And affirms what is possible, “We are so much better than who we are being right now.”

She asks us to consider how our addiction to fossil fuels might be affecting the health of our society, in the same way an addict might deny they have a problem, while destroying everything of value in their lives. She has suggested that perhaps we need to approach this problem as we would in helping someone with an addiction… and that both faith and healing are required.

Rev. Mariama works to help people of color and white folks get to know each other so they can begin working together on the intersecting issues of climate and environmental justice.

Recent studies have found that communities of color in Massachusetts averaged 7.5 times as many hazardous waste sites and 10 times the toxic chemical exposure as white communities. That pollution hurts Black and Hispanic children in Boston who are suffering 4 to 6 times higher rates of hospitalization for asthma than white children.

“People are hungry for spiritual homes that reflect what they are feeling in this moment,” Rev. Mariama says. If you are hungry, if you are feeling it is time to begin working together on both climate and justice, please come to Hancock Church on September 9th at 10AM.

 

 

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Rev. Liz Walker to Moderate Panel on Raising Anti-Racist Children

Liz Walker, broadcast journalist, member of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame, former anchor of WBZ-TV evening newscasts for almost 20 years.

 

How does one talk to children about racism? What kinds of conversation benefit children at what ages? Do you avoid the topic because you worry about getting it wrong? What are the consequences of not talking about racism?

Coaches, teachers, librarians, parents, grandparents, guardians—really, everyone—play a role in shaping children’s understanding. The Rev. Liz Walker will moderate a panel discussion, “Raising Anti-Racist Children: Strategies for Success,” to shed light on these questions and more, on Sunday, October 21, from 2 to 4 pm. The full complement of panel members and the location are yet to be determined at press time.

Liz Walker is a minister, communications specialist, and activist who has traveled the world to promote cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue. She has been the pastor of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church since 2014, following studies at the Harvard Divinity School. Prior to that, she was the first Black woman to co-anchor an evening newscast in Boston, at WBZ-TV.

The “Follen Responds to Racism” team from Follen Church (Unitarian Universalist) in Lexington is planning the event in collaboration with other community groups. Interested in being involved? Contact Nancy Alloway at frr@follen.org.

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Quite The Spectacle!

 

THE TEMPTATIONS. Courtesy Photo

CARY HALL IN LEXINGTON, A 90-YEAR-OLD LANDMARK, HAS BECOME A PREMIER VENUE FOR MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT THANKS TO THE INSPIRED PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE TOWN AND SPECTACLE MANAGEMENT.

 

By Andrew Cook


Peter Lally is a busy man.

Busy is the name of the game when you’re managing Lexington’s Cary Hall and a slew of similar other venues spread throughout the New England region as president of Spectacle Management, the Lexington-based organization that books, markets, tickets and promotes a gamut of live events. On top of that, it’s summertime, and from the days of Elvis’ first shoreline shimmies, that also means it’s music season. Venues like the TD Garden and Gillette Stadium boast summer lineups this year that are reaching new heights and speeds with their ticket sales – and with superstar acts like U2, Harry Styles, and Kenny Chesney representing just a fraction of the A-listers who have bought (or will be bringing) their sold-out acts to the area for multiple-night-stands as the thermometer outside rises this summer, those sales numbers come as no surprise.

But Lally and his team at Spectacle Management have no interest in Ed Sheeran’s ticket sales; they give no thought to the astronomical crowds Jay-Z & Beyoncé will be drawing into the area come August. Their eyes are focused much closer to home.

Pete Lally in his Lexington office.

“The vast majority of this business is at smaller, more intimate venues,” says Lally, “stadiums can hold 60,000 people at a time, but most people are seeking a more personal experience. Our focus is giving audiences what I think is a much better experience than going to a stadium show. People who are going to see Taylor Swift or U2 or whoever at Gillette Stadium… to me, that’s like the worst possible way to go see a show. I mean, I know it can be fun, especially if it’s something like a big summer show where you can go tailgating, but what’s your musical experience going to be like there?”

Many heads will nod in knowing agreement to Lally’s argument: it’s one thing to listen to a favorite song in what can be intensely personal and private situations – the darkness of your teenage bedroom, for instance, while a formative album plays to you and only you via a pair of well-worn headphones – and another thing entirely to hear that same song blasted through building-sized speakers across football fields. And then, once the laser shows have faded and the mosh pits have emptied out, even the greatest concert in the world can be ruined by the experience of sitting for three hours in a line to simply make it out of the parking lot, knowing you still face an additional hour’s drive (or more) back to your driveway after that.

“It’s something we always hear the converse side of in Lexington,” says Lally, “where it’s like, “Oh wow, this is great! I can be home in ten minutes!’ A lot of our audience includes people who don’t want to sit in those Gillette Stadium parking lot lines for two hours after the show just to get out of there.” With every act Lally draws in closer to home, there’s also a tangible spike in the hosting community’s economic development as a result of concert-goers’ garage and parking lot fares, restaurant tabs at local eateries, and sales at local small businesses; it’s a more convenient, holistic, and most importantly, local alternative to the stadium show experience Spectacle Management has steered clear of.  Jim Shaw who publishes Lexington’s Colonial Times and serves as chairman of the board of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce agrees.  He says, “There is clear evidence that the Spectacle shows are having a profound impact on the local economy.  Several of Lexington’s restaurateurs have reported significant increases in business on the evenings where performances are taking place at Cary Hall.  In fact, Il Casale has told me that they often have three full seatings on a performance night rather than their normal two seatings.”

These are things the average music fan might not be planning for when hitting that knee-jerk “purchase” button on the ticket vendor site of their choice… but Lally’s mind seems to have been naturally geared towards this more logistical side of the creative business right from the very beginning. A founding member of an informal after-school band with his friends in the fourth grade, Lally remembers that, “even in that little band, all through middle school and high school, I was always the one who had the greatest interest trying to find us gigs, trying to book us somewhere, and who wanted to work out the logistics side of it to get us performance opportunities. The other members were too, but I was always the most upfront about wanting to be involved in that piece of it.”

Lally played with this same band all through middle and high school, and later had his first taste of the sheer event a large-scale live show can be at a Van Halen performance at the Worcester Centrum in the mid-1980s. Encouraged by his parents, one a teacher and the other an accountant, to pursue this untraditional (many parents will read: risky) career path, Lally then moved from his native Southborough to the sunny shores of Miami for a degree in music business from the University of Miami, where he also earned a subsequent Masters in communications.

Judy Collins. PHOTO BY JIM SHAW

Peter Yarrow & Noel Paul Stookey. PHOTO BY JIM SHAW

“I had this realization [during that time] that a promoter is sort of the overarching figure behind all live gigs who makes it all happen, and I had a moment of ‘oh, that’s what I want to do. I want to be that person who does that.’” Armed with this new clarifying epiphany for his career ambitions and a headful of business acumen gained between afternoons on Miami’s hottest beaches to make it happen, Lally came back to Massachusetts’ colder shores, where he soon landed at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium as a marketing director. As one of the Merrimack Valley’s larger and more historic venues, the Lowell Auditorium was a better place for Lally to learn the ropes than he may have initially been expecting. “It was just a matter of me being very lucky and the timing working out perfectly. I jumped onboard over there thinking ‘alright, this is a relatively easy commute and I can just do a good job for the little while I’m here, while I figure out what I want to do in the next year or so.’ Fourteen years later, I was still there. I loved it.”

At the end of those fourteen years, however, and with the Auditorium’s future up in the air between new potential contract buyers, Lally’s entrepreneurial itch caused him to strike out on his own in 2013 and create Spectacle Management. Originally comprised of just Lally and a laptop out of his home bedroom, Spectacle Management now presides over eight local venues… including, most recently, a full-circle return to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.  Lally explains, “ I moved the business to Lexington because we were excited to be part of Cary Hall and the community around it. Great shops and restaurants―it was a complete experience. We had to be there.”

“I moved the business to Lexington because we were excited to be part of Cary Hall and the community around it. Great shops and restaurants―it was a complete experience. We had to be there.”    -Pete Lally

Pete doesn’t take his responsibilities lightly. When he first arrived in Lexington he spoke to several organizations including the Rotary Club. He signed up at the Chamber of Commerce and quickly joined their board of directors. He was soon asked to sit on the chamber’s executive committee where many of the chamber’s initiatives begin. Pete is also a long-time member and vice-chair of the board for the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (GMVCVB). Shaw explains that he was impressed with Lally from the outset.  Shaw says, “I first met Pete when I joined the GMVCVB board. I knew quickly that Pete and I would become fast friends―we had so much in common―we both were committed to being involved in the community, and particularly interested in the impact of tourism and events on economic development. Pete first mentioned to me his idea about coming to Cary Hall, and being a Lexington Native I was excited. The idea of bringing these types of acts to Lexington was something that I had only dreamed about. But, Pete and his team from spectacle management actually made it happen. On more than one occasion I have jokingly said the arrival of Spectacle Management at Cary Hall is the ‘greatest thing since the American Revolution.’”

Lally receiving an award from the Lexington Chamber of Commerce. PHOTO BY JIM SHAW

One of the reasons that Pete’s able to book so many great shows is that he works with multiple agencies, and spends time in New York meeting with talent representatives. He has a keen insight into the process and knows that he has to keep the interest of his audience in order to expand his base. He explains, “Every show we learn more about what audiences like and dislike. We talked with a lot of agents who act as advisors for us. They let us know what talent is available, and when and what type of experience the artist is looking for. The challenge in New England is that there are lots of great venues to choose from.  From the beginning, our challenge was ‘what do we have to do to get Cary Hall to be a viable consideration when artists are choosing where to perform in Greater Boston Market?’”

Soon after the successful launch of Spectacle at Cary Hall, the shows were shut down for about 18 months while Cary Hall went under a $10 million renovation. Cary Hall is the home of the Lexington Symphony, and would now serve as a venue for world-class talent. The acoustical upgrades were an important part of the plan for helping to draw the kind of talent that Spectacle Management has been able to bring to Lexington.

Spectacle Management under Pete’s leadership has grown to include multiple venues. Beginning at Cary Hall, his list of venues has grown to include the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, the Lowell Auditorium, Plymouth Memorial Hall, and he now runs the “Spotlight Series” on Cape Cod including venues such as the Tilden Arts Center, the Barnstable Performing Arts Center, the Whaling Church, and the Walker Auditorium on Nantucket.

Pete Lally speaking to the Rotary Club of Lexington. PHOTO BY JIM SHAW

“What we’ve done is build up a roster of venues that we can offer to agents,” explains Lally, “so we can see which ones would best match their artists. Rockport [the Shalin Liu Performance Center] seats 300, Cary Hall is over 800, Lowell seats 2800, and we’ve got pretty much the entire spectrum in-between. So if agents have an act where they come to us and say ‘hey, I’m bringing so-and-so into the Northeast, do you have a building that would work?’ we have a sort of menu we can offer them and say ‘alright, let’s find the best fit.’”

With his growing empire Pete is committed to staying in Lexington. Much of a staff has moved to offices at the Lowell Auditorium, however, he chooses to remain in Lexington where he feels he can get a better look at the overall landscape of producing these types of shows in the Greater Boston area. We talked about his first series in 2013. When he first proposed a series of concerts of Cary Hall, the list of artists included some heady names. Artists such as Judy Collins, The Canadian Brass, Manhattan Transfer, The Irish Rovers, and the legendary Mavis Staples. Pete referred to it as a “kind of a proof-of-concept” for himself and for the town. Pete said, “The town was curious as to how this would work and so was I. As it turned out the first five shows were very successful. The shows were popular in the community, and we knew it was just the beginning.”

Spectacle staff working the event on the night of the Cowboy Junkies concert. From left to right: Bailey Cabrera, Sophia Willinger, Dan Berube, Phil Campra, John Higgins, Eric Raneo and Susan and Ray Shay. Below, selling refreshments and merchandise as concertgoers mingle.   PHOTO BY JIM SHAW

With acts like Dennis DeYoung of STYX, Nils Lofgren (of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band fame), and Air Supply all making stops at Lexington’s Cary Hall over the next few months, and with other performances from the likes of Art Garfunkel and the Lexington Symphony making regular appearances, times are definitely good for Lally and his Spectacle team. He’ll readily admit, however (with a refreshing amount of honesty and frankness), that such is not always the case. “It’s not a great paid lifestyle,” he chuckles, “or CERTAINLY not at first, anyway. If this, or any art, becomes your chosen field and you’re right out of college, don’t ask your engineering or computer science friends what their paychecks are like compared to yours. You get there eventually if your luck holds, but it’s tough, y’know? In a lot of cases, it’s worth it to say to someone ‘Look, go take that engineering job you were offered and then play in a band on the weekend or something. Throwing yourself wholeheartedly into a lifestyle spent in dedication to music or any other art isn’t the only way you can scratch that inner itch for it. You can love music and not have to give up your life to it. Otherwise, you have to make a lot of sacrifices and compromise… you’re going to have to work a lot of weekends and holidays, and spend a lot of time away from where you normally would be otherwise if you’re starting or raising a family… and you never want it to be where that love of the thing that you started out with gets extinguished by all that. So it takes a bit of asking yourself what kind of balance you need, at a very early stage, before you get into it all. There’s no one right answer.”

 

 

Pete Lally with Livingston Taylor backstage at Cary Hall. PHOTO BY JIM SHAW

Perhaps not. Lally himself, at least, seems to have found his own right answer. As Spectacle grows its venue selection and capacity, celebrity clientele, and local prestige, family priorities still haven’t been swept aside. Far from it: Spectacle’s finance director is none other than Lally’s own father, who he says is the biggest kid on staff. Striking this delicate balance means that, no matter how demanding a touring act may be – Lally chuckles acknowledgement that there’s been a few celebrities of the “I only want green M&Ms in my dressing room!” variety over the years – or how many increasing logistical feats his expanding empire demands, he still retains the same love for the industry as he did when booking his fifth grade talent show all those years ago. “After 20 years of doing this, I’m still looking forward to the shows (and everything around them),” he says. “The artists get more zeroes in their paychecks, which is something I didn’t have in the fifth grade, but what keeps me around is that I still get that same thrill. It’s fun.”

 

Email:  Info@SpectacleManagement.net

Box Office: (877) 973-9613

Group Ticketing: (617) 531-1257 x2

https://www.spectaclepresents.com/cary-memorial-hall

 

Spectacle Management
4 Muzzey St
Lexington, MA 02421
 
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