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With nod to 'Jumanji,' Keene history, businessman kicks off new shoe brand
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A lifelong resident of the Monadnock Region, Ted McGreer has left deep footprints in the area — often quite literally, as the owner of Ted’s Shoe & Sport in downtown Keene.

With his latest venture, a shoe company coming out with a limited-edition series, McGreer is paying homage to the city’s history of footwear manufacturing as well as its place in cinematic lore.

Parrish Shoes — named after the fictional shoe manufacturer in the 1995 adventure film “Jumanji,” parts of which were filmed in Keene — will offer 300 pairs that he designed over the past year. While that design uses the fictional company’s logo, which is also immortalized in a mural near Central Square, McGreer said the new brand is more of a nod to past shoe producers in the city, including Princess Shoe Co.

“My goal was to really celebrate our city and our heritage,” he said. “… I think it’s really cool that we have such a rich history of shoe manufacturing here in Keene.”

These shoes, though, are being produced at a small, independent factory in China, McGreer said.

With production limited due to high manufacturing costs, each of the 300 identical pairs from Parrish Shoes will have a unique identification number, according to McGreer.He said the shoes are meant to be leisure footwear and that the design is based on popular Nike and Adidas models from the late 1970s.

“It’s not bright and screaming,” he said. “It’s pretty simplistic.”

McGreer — who has consulted for New Balance’s design team for more than a decade — said his new company differs from large corporations because the shoe design is primarily functional rather than artistic, drawing on his 32 years of working with Ted’s Shoe & Sport customers.

“Shoe designers aren’t in the trenches every day,” he said. “I’ve seen so many 3-D feet.”

One of the biggest deficiencies of modern-day shoes is a lack of support, he said. As a result, McGreer is including an orthotic footbed insert that he designed for the Keene store in his entire Parrish Shoes line.

Production of the shoes, which he said are made from a water-resistant plant-based leather, began this week. McGreer said he expects to announce an online pre-sale in mid-June and to receive the full shipment by the end of July. (He declined to say what the limited-edition shoes may cost.)

They’ll be in adult sizes only.

McGreer said he will consider launching another round of production if the Parrish Shoes line proves popular and it would be financially feasible.

As for the nod to “Jumanji,” which starred Robin Williams, McGreer said the name came to him in a “lightbulb moment.”

In a side gag within the film, 1960s Parrish Shoe employee Carl Bentley (David Alan Grier) creates a visionary new concept — a modern basketball shoe — long before Michael Jordan made Nike and its competitors household names. But the prototype is accidentally destroyed and Carl loses his job.

“I just want to celebrate where I live,” he said. “… I was going to launch a shoe line either way, and I thought, ‘I’m not going to name it the Ted’s Shoe and Sport sneaker’.”

A female wood duck takes her brood out for a swim in a Swanzey pond.

Swimming lesson

Unlikely Israeli alliance may oust Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu, whose record-long grip on Israeli politics has faltered in the face of corruption charges and a polarized society, is on the brink of being unseated by the unlikeliest government in the country’s history.

In a development that looked far-fetched just weeks ago, opposition leader Yair Lapid notified President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday he had put together a diverse coalition of parties that set aside conflicting ideologies to oust the prime minister. If ratified by parliament the plan would topple Netanyahu, who’s been in power for 15 of the past 25 years, and could put an end to years of political turmoil linked to his legal woes.

Under the coalition agreement, Lapid, a centrist, is to share power with nationalist Naftali Bennett, who would be Netanyahu’s immediate replacement. And in a historic first, an Arab faction is to become part of an Israeli governing alliance.

“This government will work to serve all the citizens of Israel including those who aren’t members of it, will respect those who oppose it, and do everything in its power to unite all parts of Israeli society,” Lapid wrote to Rivlin.

The coalition, sewn up less than an hour before a midnight deadline and consisting of 61 of parliament’s 120 members, is to be brought before the legislature for ratification within the coming days. Worried that the Netanyahu camp will try to peel off defectors beforehand, it has formally petitioned to replace the current parliament speaker, an ally of the prime minister, so he can’t try to delay the ratification vote, Israeli media reported.

With a majority of just 61 of parliament’s 120 lawmakers, the coalition hypothetically could be derailed by a single rebel, allowing Netanyahu to cling to power for the time being but potentially triggering a fifth snap election down the line.

Yet even if the coalition is ratified, its slim parliamentary majority, and the preponderance of so many disparate parties under one tent mean its survival could prove to be a day-to-day challenge.

“The different parties share little besides a desire to unseat Netanyahu — and to keep him from returning,” Eurasia Group senior analyst Henry Rome said.

The coalition is an amalgam of religious, secular, nationalist, leftist, centrist and Arab parties. The 49-year-old Bennett, a former defense minister who opposes Palestinian statehood and takes a hard line on Iran, is to serve as prime minister for the first two years. Lapid, 57, a former finance minister whose political career has focused on economic and social issues, is to take the reins the following two.

Lapid was assigned to try to piece together a government after Netanyahu failed following the March 23 election, the country’s fourth in two years.

The political upheaval was catalyzed by multiple accusations of influence peddling against Netanyahu that have landed him in a Jerusalem courtroom. It would also plunge Netanyahu, who says he’s innocent of any wrongdoing, into an even deeper legal nightmare by quashing the possibility he could halt his trial with legislation shielding a sitting leader from prosecution.

Such legislation has been a major impetus behind his efforts to stay in power.

Politically, a new government would end an era that spanned decades of transformation. Since his first term beginning in 1996, Netanyahu — Israel’s longest-serving leader — pulled the country sharply to the right on security and peacemaking, while dismantling much of the socialist legacy of Israel’s founders.

On the international stage, he opposed world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which he sees as a threat to global peace, and disavowed the “land for peace” approach to peacemaking with the Palestinians, which he says compromises Israel’s security. Iran’s nuclear ambitions and mounting influence in the Middle East helped Netanyahu to engineer detente with Saudi Arabia and normalize ties with Muslim-majority states in the Persian Gulf and Africa.

Israel’s recent conflict with militants in the Gaza Strip, however, undercut his argument that concessions to the Palestinians needn’t be a prerequisite to regional peace efforts. The fighting stirred up popular discontent against the accords with Israel in Gulf Arab states and elsewhere, making it clear that the Palestinian statehood cause can’t be sidelined indefinitely.

Netanyahu’s successors, with their disparate agendas, are expected to leave contentious issues like relations with the Palestinians to the future. Instead, their immediate focus may be on urgent matters such as drafting a national budget for the first time in three years to accelerate Israel’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Just weeks ago, the new coalition’s formation had looked doomed by the conflict in Gaza, when Bennett pulled out of negotiations with prospective partners already outside his comfort zone. But the former defense minister, who had pledged to do the utmost to avoid a fifth election, threw his lot in with the anti-Netanyahu bloc on Sunday, after having concluded there was no way to form a right-wing government under the current circumstances.

The governing alliance, however, could be just one crisis away from falling apart. Bennett’s hawkish and predominantly religious Yamina party seeks to strengthen the state’s Jewish character and annex West Bank land the Palestinians claim for a future state.

Lapid takes a more moderate approach to peacemaking with the Palestinians, though diplomatic and security matters have not been at the center of his attention. Their alliance will also have to cope with the demands of left-wing parties that advocate sweeping territorial concessions to the Palestinians in exchange for peace, and those of the United Arab List, the first Arab faction in government in Israel’s 73-year history.

“It will be hard to work in this government,” said Meir Rubin, executive director at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum. “You don’t see the politicians saying they’ll carry out flagship reforms because that would require cooperation between ministries.”

Ainge out, Stevens up; but that may not be enough to restore Celtics' pride

The Boston Celtics needed major surgery.

Instead, they took some Robitussin and slapped a Band-Aid on their woes.

Danny Ainge’s decision to walk away as president of basketball operations was the first step in the radical transformation this franchise required to contend for a second championship since the first Bush administration.

Bumping Brad Stevens upstairs to take Ainge’s job? Not so much.

Team owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca called Wednesday a “bittersweet” day. Both equated the move of Stevens to the front office as “sweet.” It’s clear someone on the Celtics masthead soured on Stevens as the team’s coach in recent months.

Any near-term damage caused by Stevens as head of basketball operations will be limited by the salary cap and draft, neither of which looks particularly promising as far as the Celtics are concerned.

Talk of Stevens’ replacement filled the air waves and social sphere Wednesday. Depending on where your eyes or ears were fixed — Sam Cassell, Kara Lawson, Becky Hammon, Jason Kidd, Lloyd Pierce, Jay Larranaga and Chauncey Billups were all offered as serious candidates.

The Celtics were the first organization in the NBA to hire a Black head coach. It would be fitting in a historic context if they hired the first woman head coach. Lawson was an assistant in Boston before she left to coach the Duke women’s basketball team in 2020.

The next coach of the Celtics — race and gender notwithstanding — needs to be the anti-Stevens in terms of demeanor, relating to players and commanding their attention throughout the season.

In short: an unrelenting son-of-a-(expletive) with street cred and a winning past.

Stevens, 44 and now a self-professed “Masshole,” could become another embodiment of “Peter Principle.” Created by author Lawrence Peter in 1969, the eponymous norm states that people in any hierarchical structure are eventually promoted to their “level of incompetence.”

In the case of Stevens, it may also be argued that he was promoted out of his “level of incompetence” given how inconsistent the Celtics played and how deeply those players who were not injured tuned out their coach.

Given the money the Celtics owe Stevens — signed as coach through the 2025-26 season — Boston had no real choice when it came to naming Ainge’s replacement. We don’t know how much money Stevens is making these days, but he had been making $3.6 million per year before his contract was extended in 2020. The Celtics are not going to pay two executives top-tier-major-league money. No coach will be making more than Stevens.

Tatum is signed for as long as Stevens while Brown, who injured his wrist before the playoffs, is locked up through 2023-24. We’ve seen in the past couple of years how little contracts matter when top-tier players regardless of league (Aaron Rodgers) demand a trade. Players have alternative income streams and are much wiser with their money in the 21st century. If Tatum wakes up one day and wants to join the latest Super Team, he will inevitably get his wish.

Stevens faces a steep learning curve and a tight calendar as director of basketball operations.

The Celtics were demolished by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs, which mercifully concluded Tuesday night. Those three conference final appearances in four years might as well have happened during the 1970s. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden smothered the kids who once were a threat to reach the NBA Finals.

Then there were hugs all around following the Game 5 loss just two days after Kyrie desecrated Lucky.

These Celtics demonstrated neither grit nor balls.

Irving killed the Celtics in 2021.

Just as he had done as a player for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 and ’17, and after the team traded for him four years ago.

Move over, Tom Brady and the Bambino — there’s a new Curse in town.

But Irving and the moron who allegedly threw a water bottle in his direction the other night at TD Garden quickly disappeared from the digital landscape and social media feeds once word of Ainge’s departure and the promotion of Stevens were made official.

It is clear Ainge’s time had expired. He is to be lauded and thanked for his 18 years of service to the Celtics in the front office, the title he engineered in 2008, and his role on the great Celtics teams of the 1980s. Ainge, 62, noted during Wednesday’s press conference that he’s been involved in pro sports for 44-straight years. He doesn’t look a day over 50. But two cardiac scares accelerated his timetable to exit the Celtics.

A lack of wokeness and unwillingness to fall in line with the current political and cultural climes of the NBA may have eventually led to Ainge’s cancellation, anyway.

Ainge fleeced the Nets in 2013 and didn’t need an assist from Kevin McHale to do so. Brown and Tatum are in Boston because of that deal. But simply their presence — when both healthy — is not enough to form the nucleus of a championship contender.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Grousbeck told us he and Stevens have committed “to win Banner 18, or die trying.”

Be careful what you wish for, fellas.

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Monadnock schools
'Divisive-concepts'-inspired proposals to prompt policy review within MRSD
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The Monadnock Regional School Board’s policy committee at its next meeting on July 7 will continue to discuss a proposal based on the controversial “divisive concepts” bill being considered at the Statehouse.

But first, the group decided Wednesday night, they need to comb through the district’s existing policies to see whether any already address the issues board member Dan LeClair raised in the pair of motions he introduced last month.

“I think our role here is just to see if, in [LeClair’s] motions, if our current policies already cover his concerns,” policy committee Chairwoman Kristen Noonan of Fitzwilliam said during the meeting, which was held via Zoom. “… I don’t think it’s our place to decide anything else other than, ‘Are these things already covered in our current policy book?’ “

During the May 18 board meeting where LeClair introduced the motions, Noonan said this was the likely next step for the proposals. But at the committee meeting Wednesday, she and board Chairman Scott Peters of Troy also expressed concern that the board could be getting ahead of statewide legislation.

LeClair, a Swanzey resident who has twice run unsuccessfully as a Republican for N.H. Senate, said he adapted the language for his proposals from House Bill 544, versions of which have now been included in the House’s budget proposal and the budget bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

LeClair’s first proposal would restrict any Monadnock staff member from teaching anything “that instills any form of race, gender [or] sex stereotyping,” including that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” His second motion would prohibit staff members from “[influencing] students by informing them of what their political ideology is” and require teachers to provide “positive and negative arguments to all topic assignments.”

The bill before the N.H. Legislature that LeClair used to craft his motions would cut off state funding for any school, business or organization that spreads “divisive concepts” about topics such as racism and sexism. The N.H. House incorporated this language in its state budget proposal, and the N.H. Senate Finance Committee last week added similar language to its version of the budget bill, according to reporting from the New Hampshire Bulletin. The full Senate is set to vote on the budget proposal today.

At Monadnock’s policy committee meeting Wednesday, Peters said the group could wait to take up LeClair’s motions until state officials sort out the proposal in Concord. Gov. Chris Sununu has said previously that he would veto the House’s version of the divisive concepts bill but has not commented on the Senate’s addition to the budget proposal, the N.H. Bulletin reported.

“It’s unwise for any school district to try to adopt a policy ahead of an RSA or ahead of any [N.H. Department of Education] changes, because in the debate of those individual laws or regulations, some part of it could be changed or wordsmithed differently, and then we’d be already behind, even though we thought we were ahead,” Peters said.

Normally, the N.H. School Boards Association issues guidance to districts after changes in state law that require school boards to adopt new policies or alter existing ones. Boards like Monadnock’s typically then vote on those policy recommendations individually.

“All of these NHSBA policies are vetted by attorneys,” Noonan said. “For us to do it on our own is a little bit of a risk.”

Ultimately, the committee decided it will spend most of its July 7 meeting going line by line through LeClair’s two motions and determining what, if any, existing district policies relate to the issues he raised.

“Then, if say, one policy individually disagrees with what Dan has presented, that should then be debated on its own merit, not all wrapped up like one big burrito,” Peters said.

Although the group did not delve into the specifics of LeClair’s motions Wednesday night, a district parent, Ed Sheldon of Swanzey, did speak against the proposals.

“For me as a parent, I think this is a terrible idea,” said Sheldon, who added that he has a daughter in 1st grade. “I’m really hoping that the policy committee, and ultimately the school board, decides to turn down this proposal.”

Sheldon said he is concerned LeClair’s proposals would harm the quality of education in the district — which covers Fitzwilliam, Gilsum, Richmond, Roxbury, Swanzey and Troy.

“If we spend time trying to hide students away from concepts that we feel are going to hurt their feelings, or we try to keep the realities of the world away from them, that’s only going to leave them ill-informed and unprepared for going out into the real world after graduation, which is really the point,” he said.

LeClair, who is not on the policy committee, said during the May 18 board meeting that he introduced the two motions after several conversations with parents and students in the district. These students, he said, have changed what they have written in assignments for fear that a teacher would look unfavorably upon them based on their arguments and don’t express their opinions in class because they believe their peers will harass them.

The legislation that LeClair used to craft his motions has drawn criticism from educators and businesses statewide. On the same night the Monadnock board began discussing LeClair’s policy proposals, the Keene Board of Education voted to approve a resolution opposing the so-called “divisive concepts” bill.

Critics of the state-level legislation have said they fear it could limit important classroom conversations on topics like race and gender. Several local educators told The Sentinel they have never seen educators indoctrinate students with their personal ideologies, which backers of the bill have warned is a problem in New Hampshire.

Supporters of the state proposal have expressed concern over the teaching of critical race theory, a scholarly framework that approaches the study of the United States through a lens of race and power and holds that systemic racism is a part of American culture.