Jenny Pacillo

Photos by Desdemona Kusi

“Growing up there were a lot of images around the house,” Worcester based artist Claudio Eshun aka Don Claude begins, “always taking pictures and I think it just subconsciously resonated with me. I was kind of more raised with my mom, so I wasaround her more. She’s more of a hairdresser, so I saw magazines, it was something that I gravitated towards.” Eshun’s accomplishments are impressive, from his many exhibits throughout the state, his 2022 MassArt MFA Fellowship Award to his work as an educator at Harvard University. He is also a featured Central Massachusetts Artist Initiative Artist at the Worcester Art Museum, where his work will be on display through May 5th.

Eshun’s exhibit at WAM explores the intricacies of identity, his family’s journey from Ghana to Italy to the United States, and the challenges of reconstructing one’s life. His work unfolds through a series of compelling pieces, each weaving a unique tale of personal and cultural significance. “I started combining my immigration backlog documents with my archival images and kind of created this photo montage. And then, as I continue experimenting with photos, as I call myself a photo based artist, I not only make images, I collect and manipulate images in the real world, but also in the digital space.”

Aspects of Eshun’s exhibit delve into his exploration of feminine and masculine energies, influenced by his upbringing under the guidance of his mother and occasional male mentors. This introspective journey is manifested through screen printing, a process that challenges the conventions of traditional photography. “There have been certain moments when men will come into my life and kind of try to share some form of mentorship and guidance,” Eshun explains, “And then I started kind of venturing into like, screen printing and things and as those are photo languages. I see myself using my work, screen printing specifically, as it’s a process where you’re using a digital negative, some kind of going from digital back to film in a sense with screen printing. That’s kind of how I am challenged in the medium of photography in a gallery sense or museum sense, but then going in and being a little loose with it just to kind of show the process and not really be too clean and perfect. That’s the quality of screen printing I like, it removes the pristineness of the fine art of putting your print all framed up in a museum with museum glass and such hardware.”

Eshun’s exhibit takes a profound turn with his archival piece, a blend of immigration backlog documents and nostalgic images. Eshun dives in, explaining that he’s, “Not really holding back and feeling like I’m a target while I’m trying to become a citizen or a US permanent resident. And like this notion of your identity, being stripped from you or taken away from you and talking about how I feel alienated sometimes. Also in my work, I talk about constructing and reconstructing our lives. So the four quadrants it’s like a way of reconstructing my life and they’re not reconstructed perfectly, because life is not perfect.” This photo montage becomes a reflection of his personal narrative, a testament to the complexities of identity and the immigration process.

Eshun’s art transcends the gallery walls, becoming a narrative of migration, identity construction, and the ongoing process of self-discovery. Through his lens, we witness the beauty of imperfection, the power of cultural symbols, and the resilience required to navigate the complexities of life. Eshun’s potential is endless and his art serves as a poignant reflection


Eat Beat

Paul Giorgio

Worcester Restaurant Week is Back:  WRW kicks off the last week of February and continues into the first week of March. Close to 30 Restaurants are participating in the twice a year event that’s just $29.24 for a 3-course meal. Sponsors include Pepsi, Wormtown Brewery & Discover Central Mass. Media sponsors include Pulse Magazine, CMPride and Radio Worcester. Check out Facebook and the web for more information.

Time to Eat the Donuts: Donut Homies in the Worcester Public Market was recently picked as one of the  Five Massachusetts doughnut shops that are worth a drive to by  Eater Boston. They were part of an article titled “New England Doughnuts Worth the Drive.”

More Dumplings:  Every culture has some form of dumpling. For Italians it’s the ravioli and the Chinese have Peking ravioli A Nepalese dumpling shop Momo Palace recently opened on Worcester’s Highland Street after being a smash hit in the Public Market 

Changing it Up:  UxLoca located at 510 West Hartford Ave in Uxbridge, recently changed its concept. They are now offering smaller plates of Italian style eating that is not rushed, they have lowered the prices and you can order meals from first course to dessert and cheese.

That’s a Lock:  Ed Russo has recently sold Lock 50 on Worcester’s Water Street.  The upscale eatery was a hit. People especially liked their dollar oyster night and their outdoor dining in both summer and winter. He was the first one to come up with the igloo concept in the area. He still owns Russo’s which is across the street.

Let the Good Times Roll: NOLA recently opened its second location in the old Fairlawn Plaza on Route 9 in Shrewsbury. They have great Cajun food and will be neighbors with EggHolie, who also recently opened in the same plaza. The franchise based in Chicago specializes in Indian street food.

Kenmore  Diner Changes Hands: Jimmy and Pauline Yantsides, longtime owners of  Worcester’s Kenmore Diner have sold the business to a new owner. They will continue to own the property and enjoy their retirement.

Thank God it’s Not Friday-TGIF, or Fridays, has closed down a local location in the Solomon Pond Mall, but the Millbury location at the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley remains open. 

It’s a Union Thing:  Worcester’s Union Station has a new eatery. The 961 Restaurant and Lounge recently opened. The restaurant will feature  Lebanese food.

Roll Out the Barrel: The Fix Burger Bar, a Niche Hospitality restaurant with multiple locations will be hosting a beer dinner on Feb 7th  at their Worcester Grove Street location.  The four-course meal which is priced at $75 is in celebration of the partnership between Niche and Redemption Rock Brewery. They recently partnered with a house beer, Grass Fed, at the Fix restaurants.

On Broadway: Our Canal District spies tell us that Worcester’s Broadway restaurant on Water Street is for sale. This has been a mainstay in the neighborhood for over 50 years.

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Kool Aid George is Crushing It 

LuAnn Thibodeau

George Annan is an artist who captures the world through the lens of a camera. George hails from Worcester and said that photography has not always been something that he did. But that changed when some college friends introduced him to their love of photography, and it was magical. 

George has done a lot of great commission work for nationally known companies like Puma and Converse, but his deep love for urban agriculture and his family roots in the country of Ghana led him to become very involved with Worcester Environmental Council (REC), and 2Gether We Eat, two Worcester organizations that are focused on ways to cease food insecurity while also providing education and employment opportunities in the city. 

From late summer of 2022 through September of 2023, George became involved in the inaugural Black Artist Residency program at the Fitchburg Art Museum (FAM), something that he says has been a wonderful experience for which he is very grateful. He said that he owes a great deal of thanks to FAM, whose staff was absolutely amazing in their help and support of him. His photo series part of this program is entitled “From Seed to Plates”, focusing on black farming. This is part of the current exhibit- “Dialogues, Diasporas, and Detours Through Africa”- at FAM, and is on display through January 14, 2024.


Among honors that George has received are being named an Outstanding Alumnus at Worcester State University and being featured a couple of years ago in Pulse as one of the People to Watch. 

When I asked George about the differences or similarities between the United States and Ghana, he said that he hadn’t been to Ghana since he was 11 years old, but he remembers it as being such an expressive land. He also feels that way about the US and is thankful for his friends who showed him the beauty of the world of photography. 

So, my next logical question was- what’s the next step, what’s next for George? He said that he moved to the Boston area in February of this year, so he is exploring the region and getting a taste of what it has to offer. He says he’s very curious, and loves the good energy around it. 

And while he thought back, in sort of a flashback way, his photography he “spoke into existence” and “it’s not a finished product yet”. “There are still many dreams and goals, and the sky is the limit”. Well, I must say that if anyone can reach their goals, realize their dreams, and go to the limits of the sky, George Annan is the one who will do it. He’s an amazing, dynamic young man, whose future looks blazingly bright and brilliant. 

To see more of George’s work, check him out on Instagram at koolaidgeorge, and also see his display at the Fitchburg Art Museum. Now if I may borrow a phrase from a famous movie, to George I say, “May the force be with you”, as you continue to rise above the moon and stars. 

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Now Streaming: January 2024

Joshua Lyford

As a disgusting, ancient creature fueled by cheap beer and tawdry, broken things, I am thrilled to leave 2023 in the rear-view and perform a tire-squealing getaway into the new year. Let the trash remain where it lie, I say.

Like a lost can of Busch rolled behind an expired tub of spinach, rising like a phoenix from the ashes: there are a few things from the tail-end of 2023 that deserve revisiting. In this case, we are talking straight up aural, baby.

Worcester’s own Clock Out released their “No Control” EP in late September and it rips, hard. The riffs are mean, the vocals are meaner and, if you haven’t caught them yet, it’s time to right your wrong. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the next generation of hardcore kids doing their thing.

At the time of this writing, I have been unable to view what I’m about to gleefully discuss [Editor’s note: get your stories in on time and I’ll grant you more time to watch videos], but Wisdom & War, who toured extensively through the last year, have released a music video for their single “Painting your Hell.” I don’t want to blow up their spot too hard here, but Central MA music aficionados will likely get a kick out of the video’s shooting locale and you should hop into the algorithm to catch it for yourself.

Speaking of getting after it, The Mass of the Oracle, who themselves returned from a UK run late November, have released a split EP with Reign A.D. The Oracle rides in their own lane, so it’s especially interesting to hear them in this setting. Again, if you haven’t caught The Oracle, you really should. I can promise that you haven’t seen anything like it.

The new year ought to be an interesting one. Central Massachusetts hardcore is as alive as it’s been in years with talented new bands going off and some of the old dogs shaking the cobwebs off to jump back in the ring. I see this as a net positive for everyone, specifically sales for affordable tall cans and Uber rides to strange basements.  


New Year, New Cheers: LGBTQ Festivities in Central Massachusetts this January

Charles O’Donnell

As the winter chill settles in, Central Massachusetts comes alive with a vibrant array of events that promise to warm the hearts of the LGBTQ community and its allies. From dazzling drag shows to thought-provoking art exhibits and delightful dining experiences, January sets the stage for a month of celebration, connection, and community engagement. Let’s explore some exciting activities that encourage shared experiences with family and friends.

Central Massachusetts is glittered with spectacular drag shows every month. This January, prepare for a night of glitz, glamor, and fabulous performances at “Baked & Backwards” hosted by the incomparable Lana Backwards at The Summit Lounge, “Harley’s Funhouse” featuring the dynamic Harley Queen at Ralph’s Diner, and “Throat Punch” hosted by the fierce DaishaDore Famouz at Blackstone Herb & Martini Bar. These events not only showcase the immense talent within the LGBTQ community but also create a welcoming space for everyone to enjoy.

Gather your friends and family for a night out filled with laughter, entertainment, and a celebration of self-expression. Drag shows are a unique form of art that transcends gender norms, promoting acceptance and diversity. Attendees are encouraged to engage with the performers, showing appreciation for their craft and fostering connections within the LGBTQ community.

January isn’t just about visual and performing arts—it’s also a time to savor the diverse flavors of Central Massachusetts. Explore LGBTQ-friendly dining experiences in the area, where local businesses embrace and celebrate the community. Share a meal with loved ones at establishments that prioritize inclusivity, turning a simple dining experience into a celebration of diversity. Some of these amazing restaurants include, The Woo Bar & Grill, Deadhorse Hill, and Jack’s Abby. Take part in supporting LGBTQ-owned or LGBTQ-friendly restaurants by sharing your culinary adventures on social media, using platforms like Instagram or Facebook to spread the word and celebrate the inclusive spirit of Central Massachusetts.

Amidst the vibrant LGBTQ-friendly experiences in Central Massachusetts, Canal District Wines stands out as a gem for those seeking a delightful social escapade. This lesbian owned and operated spot is located in the Worcester Marketplace and is more than just a wine shop; it’s a destination that encapsulates a passion for fine wines and community engagement. Their carefully curated selection encapsulates an array of options to suit every palate, from exquisite reds and whites to unique blends that beckon connoisseurs and newcomers alike.Immerse yourself in the expertise of their knowledgeable staff, who are dedicated to providing a personalized and enjoyable experience. Share your Canal District Wines experience on social media, inviting others to join in the celebration of diversity and community spirit that defines Central Massachusetts in January

As we navigate the winter months, let’s come together to celebrate the richness of diversity in Central Massachusetts. Whether attending drag shows, art exhibits, or wine dine experiences, January offers a myriad of opportunities to engage with and support the LGBTQ community. By fostering a sense of belonging and understanding, we can make our region a more inclusive and welcoming place for all. Cheers to a dazzling and inclusive winter celebration! In the spirit of community, consider participating in volunteer activities or joining local LGBTQ support groups to further strengthen the bonds that make Central Massachusetts a beacon of inclusivity. Engaging with community initiatives not only enriches individual lives but contributes to building a more united and compassionate society for everyone.


Now Streaming November 2023

Jason Savio

One More Time

Blink 182

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s almost gone,” sings Mark Hoppus on “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got” off Blink 182’s One More Time. The three punk/pop veterans are back, this time with Tom DeLonge rejoining the band. Their newest effort delivers an album that shows an older and wiser Blink. 

The nostalgia factor is big on One More Time, and it seems Hoppus, DeLonge, and drummer Travis Barker have put their differences aside to take stock in what they’ve created together over the years and truly appreciate it and each other. Many of the songs tap into their past, mistakes and all. Take the piano-led ballad title track, when Hoppus makes reference to his battle with cancer and Barker’s near-death plane crash: “I wish they told us/It shouldn’t take a sickness or airplanes falling out the sky,” he sings about making amends, with DeLonge adding, “Do I have to die to hear you miss me?/Do I have to die to hear you say goodbye?” It feels weird to hear coming from the perennial young pop punkers, but the guys in Blink 182 are older now, and they don’t shy away from facing aging and death, nor the fact that they’re lucky to have the chance to play together again. “And I know that next time ain’t always gonna happen/I gotta say I love you while we’re here,” both Hoppus and DeLonge sing together in the title track.

In between the heavier-themed songs are fast, upbeat and catchy tunes, like “Dance with Me” and “Turn This Off!,” that old school fans will enjoy. Blink 182 can still have fun, but they’ve grown up and it shows in their music. They’ve survived near-death experiences and have managed to find each other to make music once again. Hopefully One More Time isn’t their last time. But, if it is, it’s a good note to go out on. 

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Dying Fetus

Make Them Beg for Death

Controlled chaos is what comes to mind when listening to Dying Fetus’ new album Make Them Beg for Death. The death metal band from Maryland lives up to their genre, delivering a relentless barrage of fury from beginning to end that will leave your head spinning and wondering what just happened. 

Many of the songs on Make Them Beg for Death twist and turn, sweeping you up into the eye of a mad cyclone. “Compulsion for Cruelty” is a masterclass in how to show technical precision with your instrument while somehow making it all seem like it could combust at any second. Really, the whole album feels like that. It’s dangerous. Numerous breakdowns abound, often resulting in super heavy swings weighty enough to crush concrete. But it’s not just unabashed noise—Make Them Beg for Death is groove oriented. “Feast of Ashes,” “Undulating Carnage” and “Throw Them in the Van” bop, and aren’t only thrashing mayhem. The same can be said for “Unbridled Fury.” Everything can seem all over the place one second and magically come together the very next. The guys in Dying Fetus always land on their feet and find new grooves and melodies to sink their teeth into.

And the lyrics? Let’s just say no one is safe, including people obsessed with their phones in “When the Trend Ends,” as John Gallagher sings, “Imposters, posing puppets, human waste to rot away/Swarming and conforming, their phones never leave their face/Drag them to the altar of punishment/Spill their guts and left to abandonment.” In other words, get off your phone!

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