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david sternScarsdale resident and former commissioner of the NBA David Stern passed away on Wednesday January 1, 2020 after suffering a brain hemorrhage on December 12, 2019.

Stern took over the NBA in 1984 and led the association for 30 years. According to current commissioner Adam Silver, Stern is credited with launching “groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world. Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand -- making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation."

Stern was a longtime Fox Meadow resident. According to a neighbor, “David and (his wife) Dianne were always out walking around Fox Meadow together. It was so sweet. They were regulars at Moscato. Also, they were committed to preserving the tree canopy.”

Scarsdale Mayor Marc Samwick offered the following, “We are saddened to hear of the passing of longtime Scarsdale resident, David Stern.  Mr. Stern had a tremendous impact on many people around the world as he transformed the NBA into a vibrant global entity.  His focus on community enhancement was a hallmark of his work and we thank him for all of his valuable contributions - locally, throughout the US and worldwide.”

MasarofA 1997 grad of Scarsdale High School has just released his first feature film. Michael Masarof both wrote and directed the film, First Love, which played for a week in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinelounge Hollywood and is also streaming online on Amazon Prime.

After graduating from the NYU film school five years ago, Masarof launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of his film, First Love. The 100-page script was shot in just 12 days entirely on location in Seal Beach, Venice Beach, and Echo Park, which Masarof calls “a truly miraculous feat that requires a real collaborative effort all the way down the line.”

The story line follows Rebecca, a notorious Hollywood actress, holed up in a seaside hotel, in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Her twin brother Matthew is a lapsed lawyer and failed family man, whose new career as a writer is on the verge of a major breakthrough. They haven’t seen each other in fifteen years. Matthew travels to Los Angeles, with his tell- all memoir in hand, and a plan to make it big. All he needs is his reclusive twin’s blessing. As the California sun gets ever hazier, can Rebecca and Matthew grow a new bond if the old one is severed?

Here is a statement about the film, from Director Michael Masarof:

"On the surface, the story of First Love is a story of twins. More specifically, the tale of a famous actress and her twin brother, who tries to exploit his sister’s fame for his own fortune. As we dig deeper we come to learn the story of First Love is a story of connection, of two people who are lost. It so happens: being lost is what connects them. What makes them found, so to speak is that they have a twin; an equal. Therefore, they are never really lost. They are united through life whether they like it or not. Family is the ultimate human connection. A connection we can’t shake even if we try to.

I set out to make a movie about disparate people connecting. Of people seeking meaning and coming up short. I like to joke that instead of making a coming of age film or a finding yourself film. I made a not finding yourself movie. The not coming of age story.

Why this movie, why now? Because there is a dearth of them. In the age of superhero laden tent poles we so rarely get a chance to see people be human and go through it on the big screen, like we do in our own lives. What if we just can watch someone as they really are with no judgement. An honest portrayal of humans, so that every line of dialog, every moment feels truthful and fully realized. Annie Heise as Rebecca and Aaron Costa Ganis as Matthew were able to create two broken characters that are genuinely hurting.FirstLove

In the making of this film, I cultivated my own voice and style. Intimate and thoughtful, mysterious and poetic. To continue a tradition of a long line of filmmakers who have come before me as keen observers of life: Antonioni, Akerman, Linklater, Reichardt, to name a few. That have set me on this great road of telling my story the way I want to tell it not how others expect it to be told. My mantra as a filmmaker can be best summed up by this Bob Dylan lyric: “And I’ll tell it, and speak it, and think it, and breathe it. But I’ll know my song well before I start singing.”

I am being given the opportunity to show my film to millions of people, and I hope to reflect the private moments of their lives in the public space, so to give those who are lost a picture, to let them know they are not alone.”

Asked about his memories of living in Scarsdale, Masarof said he was influenced and encouraged by his English teacher Seth Evans. He has fond memories of the “peacefulness of growing up in Scarsdale,” and says, “You were surrounded by woods and nature, and you could ride your bike freely on the streets. That memory was recreated for the film.”

Watch First Love on Amazon Prime here:

GageRachelle Gage, SHS’12 has just published her first book. She both wrote and illustrated “The Fantastic Pups,” a children’s book about three adorable pups each with their own unique traits, who ultimately work together to save the day. The charming story is paired with hand drawn characters and a dreamy pastel palette.

Rachelle graduated from Skidmore College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Design and has experience in drawing, photography, and graphic design.

According to Gage, “The book was sparked by a love for book design, from writing and illustrating numerous stories to redrawing book covers throughout childhood. I’ve always been passionate about art, which led to my design-oriented career.”

Asked about her experience at SHS, Gage said, “At Scarsdale High School I developed a love for printmaking and continued into the AP art class at Scarsdale High School. I was so happy to have more art incorporated into my school schedule and would even eat lunch in the art room to continue my projects. I am very grateful for the art department at Scarsdale, and that I was able to create a schedule catered to my passions.”

She continued, “I have worked in the graphic design department of a fashion company for a little over three years. On the side, I attend figure drawing sessions and photograph nature, two of my other passions. I’ve had the idea for my book for many years, and after a book project back in college, decided to revisit my Fantastic Pups idea. When my 3 dogs, who were the inspiration for the book, passed away after 14 years I pulled out my book and began to focus on it. The initial story began to evolve as I created the illustrations. I wanted to combine my fine arts and design backgrounds. My hand drawing style is more about the marks and sketchiness, while my graphic design is more pop art and about color. I used a hand drawn outline look for the characters, applied over a cleaner graphic background. I tested printing the final draft with various self publishing companies, and eventually moved forward with IngramSpark.”

The book can be purchased through various retailers, including Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Walmart. Purchase your own copy of “The Fantastic Pups” on Amazon here

MarchIn an age when many are snapping spontaneous photos on our phones, Scarsdale resident Michael Chayes practices serious photography and has compiled an impressive portfolio of his work over a lifetime of honing his talent. Many of the photos have political undertones or are a visual comment on societal norms and happenings.

We asked Chayes to tell us something about himself – and to share some of his photos with our readers. Take a look at these arresting images and see more on his website at michaelchayesphotography.com.

Michael Chayes:

"I’m a native of Manhattan but I’ve made my home in Scarsdale for the last 28 years. I first made a serious commitment to photography when I worked for my college newspaper and had the opportunity to document the upheavals and dramatic cultural changes of the late 1960’s. From that early experience to the present day I remain struck by how the still image, in stopping the rush of time, can capture something evocative and meaningful about human experience. Every photograph has the potential to capture some wordless truth about its subject. 

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From an early interest in photojournalism, I’ve also done travel and landscape photography, and more recently cityscapes and images that reflect on our place within our built environment.  I have photographed in both color and black and white and for last couple of years I’ve been exploring more exclusively the graphic, compositional potential of black and white.

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I was an early convert to digital photography because of the opportunity it offered for a level of creative control and expression that is much harder to realize with traditional materials. As a fine art photographer, my goal is the fully realized photographic print.  The image capture is only the first step of a creative process that doesn’t reach fruition until I produce a print that achieves the necessary technical excellence and reflects my personal vision for the work. I photograph with Fujifilm mirrorless cameras and my printing is done on professional inkjet printers.

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In terms of the current state of photography, the advent of high-quality cameras in smartphones, with their powerful software tools, has created the potential for any user to do sophisticated image creation. However, the speed and ease of use can be seductive. While many more people in general can create more pleasing images, like with every art form, becoming a serious photographer still means mastering the disciplines that have always been part of the visual arts.

I have been fortunate to have my work shown in a number of exhibitions and to have it represented in a number of corporate collections as well as in private collections in the U.S. and Europe. The website for my work is michaelchayesphotography.com."

Follow Chayes on Instagram at at michaelchayesphoto.


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Eleanor Diane1Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Diane Greenwald and Brette McSweeneyWestchester Democrats have been known to show up to march, volunteer, vote, and run, and on Sunday, November 17, over 100 gathered in Scarsdale to celebrate one Westchester woman who has made a difference, Diane Greenwald of Scarsdale. Presented by Eleanor’s Legacy, the pro-choice Democratic women’s organization, the Westchester Women Making a Difference reception honored Diane Greenwald for her contributions to Scarsdale’s vibrant civic life.

Special guest speakers included Attorney General Tish James, Congressman Eliot Engel and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin hosted the reception at her home. Also in attendance were State Senators Alessandra Biaggi and Shelley Mayer, Assemblyman David Buchwald, and Westchester County District Attorney Tony Scarpino.

“Around the state and around the country for the past three years, women have been turning out in historic numbers to volunteer, march, vote, and run for office,” said Eleanor’s Legacy President Brette McSweeney. “But Westchester has always been defined by passionate civic engagement. Westchester is home to the first chapter of the League of Women Voters and the first woman to lead the New York State Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Diane Greenwald’s contributions to Scarsdale’s schools, library, and vibrant civic life continue this legacy of active participation and leadership of Westchester women. We are thrilled Diane accepted our invitation to honor her and we thank her.”

Past recipients of the Westchester Women Making a Difference Award include Geri Shapiro, longtime aide to then-Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cheryl Brannan, founder of Sister to Sister International, Inc. and Brannan Solutions Group, a consulting firm specializing in eliminating health disparities in communities of color.

Founded in 2001 by Judith Hope, the first woman to chair the New York State Democratic Committee and the first woman elected a town supervisor on Long Island, Eleanor’s Legacy recruits, trains, and fund pro-choice Democratic women for state and local office. In the 2019 local election cycle Eleanor’s Legacy endorsed and provided campaign grants to 191 women candidates in 29 counties across the state. Of the 25 candidates Eleanor’s Legacy endorsed in Westchester, 21 won.

In her acceptance speech, Greenwald expressed her gratitude for being acknowledged for supporting women who achieve their goals for political leadership, and explained, "12 years ago, I met Kirsten Gillibrand and have been her supporter ever since. In 2009 she became my senator, a woman who is about my age, with two growing sons, who often talked about issues that mattered to me. It made me consider what it means to be represented. I am lucky to be represented by two more women in this district – my Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and my State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate Majority Leader, who all lead with compassion and integrity and pass legislation on topics that impact families, children, safety and equality. They are known as collaborative, cooperative, tenacious, brave and smart. In other words,” Greenwald joked, "they lead like women!"
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