Top 10 Life-Wire News Service Stories of 2016

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Life-Wire News Service had a spectacular first full year.  Here are our most popular stories of 2016.

1- Koko Gets Her PBS Close-Up

 Our crew reviewed the PBS/BBC documentary Koko: The Gorilla Who Talks.  Koko lives at the Gorilla Foundation with Penny Patterson, who taught her sign language. -Anthony Pabon

2- Living with Down Syndrome: Eric Schwake

Eric’s video helps people understand what it is like to live with Down Syndrome. We are all the same inside.  -Joseph Padalino

Eric Schwacke. Photo: Sam Villalobos for Life-Wire News Service.

3- Inclusion in Fashion II: FTL Moda Runway Show

People with disabilities can do anything, even in fashion.  I photographed model Madeline Stewart – she is so sweet. Because I’m short, the other photographers let me move to the front row. At the runway show, I stayed in one spot right in front and didn’t move.  I also met model Shaholly Ayers and singer Meredith O’Connor – I loved the dress she was wearing. -Meredith Arout, photographer.

Meredith O’Connor

4- Hamilton’s America Shines on PBS

History comes alive in Great Performances’ Hamilton’s America on PBS. You get to see all the actors and actresses put their heart into it in behind-the-scenes interviews. We reviewed the documentary, and our colleagues Larry Oliveri and Meredith Arout covered the premiere. Check out their interviews with star of the show. Lin Manuel-Miranda, Ron Chernow and many others. -Salvatore DiBenedetto, reviewer.

Lin-Manuel Miranda. Photo: Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News Service.

5- 59th New York Emmy® Awards

I remember how tired I was and how my feet hurt.  It was different.  I never thought I’d cover the Emmys, but I did it. Please check out my photos. -Meredith Arout

She did a magnificent job. I hope to work closely with Meredith in the near future. -Joseph Padalino


6- Mandela Future Leaders Visit Staten Island

It was an experience for me. I got to interview people from all over Africa and I enjoyed it. -Anthony Kefalinos

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The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Photo: Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News Service.

7- Willowbrook Mile Ribbon Cutting

It got really bad when I lived at Willowbrook.  I hope it never comes back. Geraldo’s interview tells us how things are better now.  Never again. -Anthony Buscarello

Photo: Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News Service.

8- Sen. Lanza Responds to SIDDC Rally

I think this video inspires everyone to help people with disabilities find housing. Don’t give up the fight. Watch this video and learn hat you can do. -Joseph Padalino

Andrew Lanza. Photo: Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News Service.

9- Holy Week Procession in Ferrol, Spain

This is a Catholic parade for Good Friday in Ferrol, Spain. I found it interesting and some people find it unfamiliar.

NWN Photo

10- S.I. MakerSpace: Making Dreams

MakerSpace is an interesting place to work.  They have tools and machines you can use to build all kinds of interesting things.  When I was there, I met a guy making a replica of rhythmicon, an instrument that only two exist in the world.  -Anthony DiFato

Scott Van Campen (left) with Eric Schwake. Photo: Aeneas Jenkins for Life-Wire News Service.

An ‘Eary’ Van Gogh Mystery at Arles on PBS’ Secrets of the Dead

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In Secrets of the Dead: Van Gogh’s Ear, Researcher Bernadette Murphy travels back in time to learn the truth about Vincent Van Gogh. Premiering December 14, 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), the program explores if the infamous story of Van Gogh cutting off his own ear on December 23, 1888.

Reviewer Joseph Padalino watching PBS’ Secrets of the Dead: Van Gogh’s Ear.  Photo by Anthony Buscarello for Life-Wire News Service.

Van Gogh’s Ear will give you insight into the life of the artist. The documentary is a really intriguing mystery of his days in Arles, answering the questions – was the story of his ear a fake, and who was the mystery girl ‘Rachel’ who they say received his gory gift?

  • By Joseph Padalino, edited by Edward Gregory.



Watch a Preview at Secrets of the Dead Online


Hamilton’s America Shines on PBS

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Hamilton’s America is revolutionary documentary that tells how Lin-Manuel Miranda and his collaborators made a hit Broadway musical. Premiering Friday, October 21 on PBS’ Great Performances (9 p.m. Eastern – check local listings), the documentary, three years in the making, is a before-and-after look at the making of Hamilton, the hottest show on Broadway.

Miranda read Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow’s book about the man and his life-long conflict with Aaron Burr. He imagined the characters speaking and he wrote a rap song. Then he kept adding more until he had a full musical. We follow Lin and his collaborators through the tag-team process all the way to the show’s Broadway opening.

In Hamilton’s America, we meet the Chernow and filmmaker Alex Horwitz, who made the film for Great Performances. We also meet presidents Barack Obama and George Bush, and other national leaders along with musical theater luminaries Stephen Sondhiem and John Weidman, late night host Jimmy Fallon, and musicians Questlove, Black Thought, and Nas.

-Written as a group, including Salvatore DiBenedetto, Joseph Jones, Joseph Padalino, Meredith Arout, Gregory Perosi, and others, edited by Edward Gregory using their content and PBS press materials.

Life-Wire News Service was on hand at Great Performances’ Hamilton’s America preview on October 17 at the United Palace in Washington Heights.  Lawrence Oliveri interviewed the stars in the following video and Meredith Arout captured the red carpet event in photos below:

Photos: Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News Service.

Learn about Great Performances’ Hamilton’s America documentary film on PBS here.

Check out more about WNET’s Hamilton’s America preview at Washington Height’s United Palace Theatre here.

To use Great Performance’s Hamilton’s America in your classroom, check out the resource page on PBS Learning Media here.

Find out more about Ron Chernow’s book, Alexander Hamilton, that inspired the musical here, on Good Reads.

Willowbrook Mile Opening Day

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The memory of the infamous Willowbrook State School will not be forgotten with the opening of the Willowbrook Mile on the grounds of what is today the College of Staten Island and various agencies that still serve people with developmental disabilities.  Our crew was on-hand to cover the opening of this memorial self-guided walk with Geraldo Rivera, who was preeminent among the reporters who broke the story, and others who made this day possible.

See our full coverage, including photographs at: Willowbrook Mile Ribbon Cutting.

Wavertree/Peking: Tale of Two Tall Ships

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Those were not pirate ships in New York Harbor, this September. Those are the two tall ships from South Street Seaport – The Peking and Wavertree, both taking their turns at Caddell Dry Dock for repairs. One ship is done the other one is being repaired.  One has returned to South Street the other is taking a long voyage.  

Here are their stories in a list of comparisons:

1.The Wavertree was named after a district of Liverpool, England and the Peking was named after a city in China.

2. The Wavertree has been restored and is now at South Street Seaport, service as it’s main attraction; The Peking is currently at Caddell, and when it’s restored it will be donated to Germany, where it will remain at Stiftung Hamburg Maritim, a maritime museum.

3.The Wavertree was made of wrought iron in 1885, making it one of the largest surviving wrought iron ships afloat.  The Peking is a steel-hulled ship, a barque with four masts. It was one of the last of the windjammers.

Peking. Photo by Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News Service.

4.The Peking came to South Street in 1975. The Wavertree arrived in New York in 1969.

Today is the first day that the Wavertree is open to the public in its new berth.  South Street Seaport Museum is open 7 days a week in Lower Manhattan.  Visit the Seaport’s website for details.

  • Steven Filoramo, Andrew Moszenberg, and Gregory Perosi with Edward Gregory.


Wavertree photos: 

Peking photos:

Read more at the following links:

New York Times: Seaworthy and Ready for an Early Unveiling.

Staten Island Live: Wavertree Returns to South Street Seaport Museum.

DNA Info: Historic Wavertree Ship Returning to South Street Seaport.

The Gothamist: German Ship Peking Will Leave the South Street Seaport After 40 Years.

Old Salt Blog: Windjammer Peking Returning to Hamburg.

Seven Facts about the Fireboat Fire Fighter

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By Anthony Pabon and Edward Gregory

1-  The Fire Fighter is the first fireboat of the Fire Department, City of New York (FDNY) with a diesel-electric propulsion system, making it the most powerful fireboat of its day. It could deliver 20,000 gallons of water per minute.

2-  Originally berthed in Manhattan, the Fire Fighter was stationed in Brooklyn at the Bush Terminals for a time before being relocated to Staten Island in 1967.

3-  The Fire Fighter took part in extinguishing the fires aboard the USS Normandy on Pier 88 on Manhattan’s west side on February 9, 1942.

4-  On June 2, 1973 the Fire Fighter responded to an enormous fire in the Narrows when the Sea Witch collided with the SS Euro Brussels.  28 crewmen were saved from the deck of the burning Sea Witch.

5-  The long career of the Fire Fighter stretched from 1938 to 2010, fighting more than 50 fires in those years.

6-  The Fire Fighter is currently a museum vessel, located in the marina of the Village of Greenport in Suffolk County, NY.

7-  On December 7, 2010, The Firefighter was replaced by the FDNY’s Fire Fighter II, which is quartered at the Staten Island Homeport in Stapleton.

This article is based on information at Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum as well as Wikipedia’s Fire Fighter (fireboat) and Fire Fighter II pages.


Photo: Fire Fighter II by Anthony Pabon for Life-Wire News Service

Memorial Day Services

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Published on Jun 1, 2015
St. Adalbert’s and Lifestyles for the Disabled honored all veterans this past memorial day. Our reporters interviewed the parents of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis about the Ollis Freedom Foundation in honor of his memory, WWII vet and former POW Theodore Khoury and more.