Golden age for the silver screens

Beden Hardware at 95 Munroe St. was once Theatre Comique.


LYNN — With the 89th Academy Awards approaching, The Item is reeling back the history of the theatre in the city.

According to the Lynn Museum’s records, 24 theatres existed in the city between the turn of the century and the 1970s. Director Drew Russo said the last to close the curtain was the E.M. Loew’s Open Air Theater on the Lynnway in 1977.

The drive-up style cinema was opened in July 1937, just four years after the very first of its kind was launched in Camden, N.J.

“The theatre was once the primary source of entertainment — it got our grandparents through the great depression,” Russo said. “We had up to six theatres in the city at one time yet we haven’t had a movie theatre here in 40 years.”

Cinemas began dropping off in the early 1950s. The last freestanding theater closed in 1972. The Capital Theatre, originally called the Central Square Theatre, ran x-rated movies in the last years of its reign. It was located on Union Street near where the Capital Diner sits today.

The Strand Theatre opened at 287 Union St. in 1915 and showed Lynn’s first talking full length movie, “The Lion and the Mouse,” in August of 1928. In 1929, it was transformed into Warner Theater and in 1967, to E.M. Loew’s Theatre until it closed in 1971.

The vacant lot near Cal’s News, the neighborhood hub of lottery ticket sales, was once Olympia. The theatre drew crowds from 1908 to 1952. While touring the country, Helen Keller stopped to speak at Olympia.

Beden Hardware at 95 Munroe St. was once Theatre Comique. The name was  changed to The Mark Comique in 1908 and then The New Comique in 1940. It closed in 1943 and was razed in 1946, though remnants of the building’s facade and staging could seen decades later.

One street over was The Gem, Lynn’s only burlesque house, at 133 Oxford St.

Dreamland at 16 Andrew St. was condemned in 1929 and turned into a service station in 1934. The Lynn Auditorium was at 21 Andrew St.

Paramount Theatre at 169 Union St. opened in 1931 and closed in 1964. It shared the iconic design of many cinemas constructed in the 1930s and was nearly identical to Chicago’s Gateway Theatre.

An exhibit at the Lynn Museum showcases a row of seats comparable to what would be found in that era, and a car speaker from the Open Air Theatre that was donated by Jamie Marsh, the city’s community development director.

“We found it in the stage room at the auditorium (at City Hall),” he said. “I initially thought it was some sort of intercom system but it was one of the speakers that you would roll down your window and put on your door for the Open Air Theatre.”

Marsh said he and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy share a vision of making Lynn more of a destination for entertainment. Over the past year, The Lynn Auditorium has hosted about a dozen musicians, drawing in crowds of 2,000 on a regular basis, he said.

But the city was known for more than just its entertainment facilities. Stars have emerged from the city of sin, some collecting up to four Oscars.

Actor Walter Brennan won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor four times; In 1937 for his role in “Come and Get It,” 1939 for “Kentucky,” 1941 for “The Westerner” and 1942 “Sergeant York.”

Another Lynn native, Estelle Parsons, won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde in 1967. She was also nominated for Best Supporting Role in “Rachel, Rachel” in 1968.

While Telly Savalas was born in Long Island, N.Y., he later moved to Lynn and went to Lynn Public Schools. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1963 for his role in “Birdman of Alcatraz” but sadly, did not win. But he did champion the Cobbett Junior High School spelling bee in 1934. He didn’t receive his award until a 1991 Boston Herald article highlighted the oversight.

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Krause: Quick games are an exception


When the situation cries out for an intentional walk this summer during a Major League baseball game, pitchers will no longer be required to throw four obvious balls outside the strike zone.

Instead, the batter will proceed to first base.

If this is supposed to be the “shot heard ‘round the world” in the fight to streamline the game, it’s not quite the same as whatever happened on Lexington Green in 1775 … or even at the Polo Grounds in 1951. Not even close.

First of all, an intentional walk takes maybe 20 seconds. Second, it’s not as if there are a tremendous amount of intentional walks during the course of a game that would cause it to drag because of them.

So this is window dressing — a cynical way to delude the “baseball-games-take-too-long” crowd into thinking MLB is doing something about it.

Are the games too long? Yes. This may not be so evident in the summer, when sitting at Fenway Park on a gorgeous evening for 3 1/2 hours would seem to be such a chore. But it’s exactly that during the postseason, especially toward the end of October, when you’re sitting in a ballpark in Cleveland or Chicago on a bone-chilling night. It is then you start wondering about ways to shorten the game. And the first thing you’d think of would not be to eliminate the four pitches in an intentional walk.

Baseball fans need to understand the game has evolved, which is one reason it’s taken longer to play. Some of that has to do with how the game is played in 2017 and some of it is beyond the players’ control — such as the extra 34 minutes it takes to complete a televised 9-inning game due to the between-innings commercials.

As one who has watched the game evolve into the something resembling Ken Burns’ baseball documentary in terms of the time it takes to play a game, I’d say the biggest reason for this is the constant cat-and-mouse between pitchers and batters. Who steps off. Who steps out. Who holds the ball. Who throws to first base four or five times between pitches.

Next are the incessant pitching changes in the late innings, something I find almost as irritating as foul-fests in the late stages of college basketball games (something the NBA has helped alleviate by awarding two free throws for all over-the-limit fouls instead of one-and-ones).  

I call this the “Tony LaRussa-ization” of baseball, because it’s LaRussa who, back in the 80s, decided that he had to resort to situational pitching: lefty vs. lefty, righty vs. righty. The next time you go to a close game, check out how many pitching changes there are in the late innings and keep track of all the time it takes for these guys to come in from the bullpen, warm up, and start pitching.

Third is the modern trend of “working the count.” This has its genus in the fact that pitchers love strikeouts today whereas there was an awful lot more pitching to contact 30 and 40 years ago. The objective is to get the hitter out. Who cares whether he strikes out or hits a ground ball to the shortstop?

But because at-bats involve more pitches now than they did in the 1960s and 70s, and because in so doing they nibble at the plate in an attempt to be too fine, hitters have become more selective, and also more adept at fouling off pitches. All of that takes up time.

My question is how are you going to eliminate any of this? The answer is you’re not. They have become necessary components in the game today because that’s where the game has taken us.

And this includes the two or three minutes between innings for commercials too. When I was growing up, weekend games were televised. Weekday/night games were not — unless, as was the case in 1967, it became necessary to do so.

Once the Red Sox signed a deal with Channel 38, though, that began to change. Now that they’re on cable, they’re all televised. If you think that’s going to change now, you’re delusional.

But if you think it’s any different anywhere else, the average NFL game is neatly squeezed into three-hour blocks during the regular season, but almost always goes over, especially when it’s close. This year’s Super Bowl lasted about 3:45 (granted, that included overtime).

College football games generally last longer. Quick games in all sports these days are the exception and not the rule.


Day without immigrants hits Lynn

Casa Antigua was one of many Lynn retailers to close Thursday for “A Day Without Immigrants.”


LYNN Jose Reyes didn’t go to work yesterday.

A Dominican Republic native, Reyes joined “A Day Without Immigrants,” a national movement by immigrants, who vowed to stay home Thursday and show how critical they are to the nation’s way of life.

“We are a nation of immigrants and we have to show everyone that we are the moving force of this country’s economy,” he said.

The broker for RE-Yes Real Estate is just one of hundreds of North Shore workers who stayed home in reaction to President Donald Trump.

“I understand the president is trying to protect the country, but his approach is wrong,” he said.  “Lots of people are responding to this protest. The rights of all people should be respected.”

The massive protest has sparked walk-outs in Lynn, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Houston, Chicago and New York. It comes in response to Trump, whose administration has pledged to increase the deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally. Trump campaigned on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and blamed high unemployment on immigration. As president, he’s called for a ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming into the U.S.

Frances Martinez, CEO of the North Shore Latino Business Association, said more than 150 of Latino businesses in Lynn, including barber shops, beauty salons, auto repair and markets, closed as a result of the work stoppage.  

“We are here and if we were not part of the economy it would harm this country,” she said.  

Gilcia Garcia, a manager at American Food Basket, a neighborhood supermarket on North Common Street, stayed home.

“Most of our customers are immigrants, I am an immigrant and we are showing our solidarity,” she said. “Most immigrants come to the U.S. to work very hard because we don’t have opportunities in our home country that we have here.”

William Sanchez, co-owner of Casa Antigua in the downtown, which serves Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Mexican food, closed his restaurant to support the protest.

“Immigrants should not be portrayed badly by politicians,” he said. “We work every day and are here to have a better life for our children.”

Brian Murphy, distribution manager at Publishers Circulation Fulfillment on the Lynnway, said his newspaper delivery service is feeling the impact of the strike. Five carriers failed to report to work to on Thursday.

“They didn’t show and they didn’t call, we’re overwhelmed,” he said. “Five people may not seem like a lot, but it’s significant and spread my staff very thin.”

Associated Press contributed to this report. Thomas Grillo can be reached at

Two locals named Baker Award finalists

Mike Vecchione is one of two local college athletes who is up for the Hobey Baker Award.

Two Lynn-area college hockey players are among the initial list of Hobey Baker Award nominees — the first part of a four-step process that culminates at the NCAA Frozen Four final when the winner is revealed.

Saugus’ Mike Vecchione, a senior at Union College in New York, and Jake Kulevich of Colgate are both on a list of 66 players, who will be whittled down to 10 players by March 15.

Fans are encouraged to vote for their choices prior to March 5, and can vote once a day through March 5.

After March 15, a committee will choose three finalists, known as the “Hobey Hat Trick.” The winner will be announced during the weekend of the NCAA finals, which will be held this year April 6-8 at the United Center in Chicago.

Vecchione, who attended Malden Catholic, had committed to the University of New Hampshire, with the stipulation that he complete a year in junior hockey first. However, when UNH asked him to do another year, he decommitted and enrolled at Union. As a freshman, Vecchione helped the Dutchmen win a national championship.

Kulevich, grandson of former Marblehead athletic director Alex Kulevich, is Colgate’s captain. A defenseman, he has gathered 14 points on three goals and 11 assists. Kulevich’s 11 assists are tied for his career high, while his 14 are one shy of tying his career-high and his three goals are just two shy of tying his career-high. Also, his 11 assists are most on the time

Kulevich became the 29th defenseman in program history to record 50 points with an assist at Arizona State on Dec. 3.

President Obama says goodbye in tearful speech

President Barack Obama wipes away tears while speaking during his farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago.


CHICAGO — President Barack Obama bid farewell to the nation Tuesday night in an emotional speech that sought to comfort and encourage a country on edge over economic changes, persistent security threats and the election of Donald Trump.

Obama’s valedictory speech in his hometown of Chicago was a public meditation on the trials and triumphs, promises kept and promises broken that made up his eight years in the White House. Arguing his faith in America had been confirmed, Obama said he ends his tenure inspired by America’s “boundless capacity” for reinvention, and he declared: “The future should be ours.”

His delivery was forceful for the most part, but by the end he was wiping away tears as the crowd embraced him one last time. He and wife Malia hugged former aides and other audience members long after the speech ended.

Reflecting on the corrosive recent political campaign, Obama said America’s great “potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.”

He made only passing reference to Republican Donald Trump, who will replace him in just 10 days. But when he noted the imminence of that change and the crowd began booing, he responded, “No, no, no, no, no.” One of the nation’s great strengths, he said, “is the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next.”

Earlier, as the crowd of thousands chanted, “Four more years,” he simply smiled and said, “I can’t do that.”

‘Political payback’ in Swampscott?

Soon Obama and his family will exit the national stage, to be replaced by Trump, a man Obama had stridently argued poses a dire threat to the nation’s future. His near-apocalyptic warnings throughout the campaign have cast a continuing shadow over his post-election efforts to reassure Americans anxious about the future.

Indeed, much of what Obama accomplished over the past eight years — from health care overhaul and environmental regulations to his nuclear deal with Iran — could potentially be upended by Trump. So even as Obama seeks to define what his presidency meant for America, his legacy remains in question.

Even as Obama said farewell to the nation — in a televised speech of just under an hour — the anxiety felt by many Americans about the future was palpable, and not only in the Chicago convention center where he stood in front of a giant presidential seal. The political world was reeling from new revelations about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about Trump.

Steeped in nostalgia, Obama’s return to Chicago was less a triumphant homecoming and more a bittersweet reunion bringing together Obama loyalists and loyal staffers, many of whom have long since left Obama’s service, moved on to new careers and started families. They came from across the country — some on Air Force One, others on their own — to be present for the last major moment of Obama’s presidency.

Seeking inspiration, Obama’s speechwriters spent weeks poring over Obama’s other momentous speeches, including his 2004 keynote at the Democratic National Convention and his 2008 speech after losing the New Hampshire primary to Hillary Clinton. They also revisited his 2015 address in Selma, Alabama, that both honored America’s exceptionalism and acknowledged its painful history on civil rights.

After returning to Washington, Obama will have less than two weeks before he accompanies Trump in the presidential limousine to the Capitol for the new president’s swearing-in. After nearly a decade in the spotlight, Obama will become a private citizen, an elder statesman at 55. He plans to take some time off, write a book — and immerse himself in a Democratic redistricting campaign.

Running a marathon in Swampscott

Water Stream organizers playing video games, from left, Stefano Hernandez, Shazivan Kordha and Tristan Smith.


SWAMPSCOTT — Five Swampscott natives and college students will host a live streaming video game marathon to combat the water crisis.

Stefano Hernandez, 20, a student at the University of Massachusetts, said the second annual Water Stream will be held at noon on May 14.

The 24-hour online charity event is intended to raise money for the Thirst Project, a youth-led nonprofit dedicated to providing clean water to the needy.

Shazivan Kordha, 19, and Tristan Smith, 20, students at Salem State University, Jesse Tuttle, 20, a student in Chicago, and Angel Sandoval, 21, comprise the other members of the team. Along with Hernandez, they will be join gamers to play a wide variety of video games, attempt challenges and create awareness about the need for clean water in the world.

“The Water Stream blends video games and philanthropy in an unprecedented way to combat the startling fact that 663 million people on the planet lack access to the most basic commodity of all — clean water,” Smith said in a statement.

Last year, they raised more than $3,000. This time, the team hopes to raise twice as much, or about half the amount needed to pay for a $12,000 water well. Hernandez said each well serves about 500 people. A $25 donation to the Water Stream gives one person clean water for life.

The donations will also go towards implementing wells and filtration systems so communities worldwide can access water. People in the U.S. don’t seem to know too much about the water crisis, he said. But they are becoming more aware as a result of the controversy in Flint, Mich., where dangerous lead levels were found in the water.

He said the idea for the event came from wanting to tap into the untouched market of video games for charity efforts. Hernandez said Smith initially found out about the Thirst Project and thought it was a good idea to play video games for awareness. Often, he said people have the perception that gamers are lazy.

“There are a lot of caring people who are into video games that can make a positive impact,” Hernandez said.

The Water Stream organizers have also joined the Thirst Project’s “Students for Swaziland” initiative, to rid that country of thirst by 2022.

Hernandez said people in the developing African country can’t go to school because they are walking miles to bring jugs of water back home daily.

Gamers participating in the stream will provide entertainment for people who can tune in for free at To donate to the Water Stream and learn more about the cause, visit

Gayla Cawley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Chicago rocked Lynn Auditorium Friday

Members of the band Chicago, Robert Lamm, left, and Lee Loughnane, share the stage at the Lynn Auditorium on Friday night.


LYNN — En route to being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in April, Chicago made a pit stop, after a stint in Asia, at the Lynn Auditorium on Friday night. Throughout their nearly two hour and forty-minute show, the nonet delivered, as expected,  to a packed crowd with their rock, jazz and Latin inspired hits that  covered some five plus decades.

The show opened with a few of their classics, including the soulful vocal, horn driven “Questions 67 & 68” and “Dialogue Part 1 & 2,” with lyrics calling for the need for change in the ‘70s and featured images of protests of police brutality , the Vietnam War and political icons of that era on the backdrop.

As the crowd settled back into the journey, trombonist James Pankow flexed his showmanship muscle by taunting the crowd and invoking the usual recognition of “Massachusetts, how we doing…?” After assuring the crowd they were in the right place to hear hit after hit, he let loose his stage antics and energy, menacing other band members with the arm of his trombone, as if a bull charging a matador throughout the night.

The rest of the nearly one hour and fifteen-minute first half saw the band playing plenty of their love songs, including acoustic-driven, “If You Leave Me Now.’’ They also played several upbeat songs, including “Now” from their most recent album, “Now  Chicago XXXVI”, which featured a tight groove by bassist Jason Scheff, along with strong vocal performances by him, guitarist Keith Howland and  keyboardists’ Robert Lamma and Lou Pardini.

Perhaps the most exciting moment of this half, which helped break up a building monotonous trend, was a wild, Latin-inspired jam, morphing from “I’ve Been Searching So Long”. Pankow climbed up to the percussion rig and whaled on timbales, leaving saxophonist Walter Parazaider and  trumpeter Lee Loughnane to steer the melody. Loughnane also featured a screaming trumpet solo, channeling his inner Arturo Sandoval.

Following their progressive, tempo shifting “Make Me Smile” and rock-waltz “Color my World,” the first set of the show ended.

After a 15 minute intermission, the second half began with the band remembering their roots by playing their “Old Days,” where pictures of current and former members appeared in the background. Following that was one of their longest tenured songs, the jazzy, big band-sounding “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

The band also sprinkled in some of their rocking treasures, which got people on their feet cheering and singing, such as “Saturday in the Park” and “I’m a Man”. This  featured, under dancing strobe lights, an electrifying Latin-inspired drum break by percussionist Walfredo Reyes, Jr. and drummer Tris Imboden.

Chicago concluded the carnival of hit parade songs with “25 to 6 to 4”, arguably their heaviest guitar driven song. But,  be it up against curfew or the sound man pulling the plug to begin breaking down equipment, the heavy intro of guitar was barely audible. Additionally, the percussion sound seemed to collapse, as well. Only when the horn section joined in, did the sound seem to return to a balance, even though the guitar remained muffled throughout.

Make no mistake, this is a horn-driven band—at least that was the presentation, and they continue to do it very well. Finally, for a band that has long shared a bill with contemporaries Earth,Wind and Fire, one could be left to wonder why there was no memorable mention or tribute to the recent passing of EWFs founder, Maurice White.


Swampscott native sells sports website

This screengrab from shows a press conference on Thursday in New York City announcing the sale of the website to the Chernin Group.


NEW YORK–The controversial Boston-based website has been sold to an outside media group.

Swampscott native Dave Portnoy, the former majority owner of Barstool Sports, sold his shares of the website to the Chernin Group.

“About six months ago negotiations started taking place,” said Portnoy. “We were approached by a friend of former Kentucky Wildcat quarterback Ja­red Lorenzen who was interested in investing in Barstool.”

Quickly after this initial approach, Portnoy met with Mike Kerns, who is the Chernin Group president and former head of social media at Yahoo. The pair met in Boston, where Kerns pushed for the investment.

Barstool has been ap­proached about investment many times throughout the last five years. Portnoy, or as he’s known to the website’s loyal readers, El Presidente, was worried that the site would change its tone and content if an outside investment came in.

“I would not have done the deal if I was even .0001 percent worried that the site was going to change,” said Portnoy. “The reason they’re attracted to us is they love our voice, and their No. 1 concern was keeping the brand the same.”

Portnoy always had confidence that the Chernin Group would have the best vision for Barstool.

“The first time we met them I thought these could be the people that were going to buy us.”

Barstool Sports has bloggers all throughout the Northeast, with verticals in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, The Baltimore-Washington metro area, Iowa and one site focusing on colleges.

With the new investment, the majority of Barstool employees will relocate to New York City. Portnoy and The Chernin Group believe that having all of the employees in a central office will produce better content.

Although Portnoy will no longer have total control, he along with his team at Barstool will remain in control of their content. The website, which is popular with young men between the ages of 18-34, focuses on sports, girls, gambling and viral videos.

Portnoy, who lives in Boston with his wife Renee, will be making the move to New York with his employees. The avid sports and horse gambler is excited to be living close to Belmont Park.

Saratoga is about as far away from New York as it is Boston, but I will definitely be making it to Belmont,” said Portnoy.