Monday, March 31, 2008

The Beauty of The Symphony

Saturday night, My Beloved and I enjoyed the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra's Spring Concert, a surprisingly satisfying -- if short -- evening of Beethoven, Kabalevsky, Dvorak, seeing, and being seen at the Zeitz' house. As is the wont of any wordsmith, I immediately dove into the program to seek out spelling and grammar mistakes.pretty To my delight, I found none. Possibly because of the lighting, but not for lack of trying. MediumStudio and Reynolds DeWalt did their usual swell job, putting together a program worthy of as enthusiastic an ovation as the Symphony received. (Even though SouthCoast audiences tend to provide standing ovations with very little discretion. My neighbors stand and cry "Bravo!" at the drop of a baton.)
The beautiful cover of the program (above) was taken from a watercolor painted by Somersetter Lois Bogle, who receives a lovely curriculum vitae in the program.pretty nice
There's an inspiring piece of gushing promotional prose by the Symphony Board's President, David Prentiss.pretty impressive There's a sincere memoriam to the late past music Director of the NBSO, Josef Cobert, who was also a professor and Chair of the Music Department at our local University.pretty tribute And a page dedicated to conductor, educator, composer, and one of the nicest Musical Directors I've ever met, Doctor David MacKenzie.pretty smart
There are, of course, beautiful full-page ads for the sponsoring patrons and their businesses, tenderly crafted and imagined, with charming photographic representations of the usual "champagne glass on the piano" and "my logo over a violin." But on the page facing Dr. Mackenzie's bio, there lies this:
pretty gross
Vandal! This desperate affront is an insult to the Symphony's audience, an insult to me. I can only imagine some adolescent creep, slobbering and drooling over the proofs about how he's "#%&ing all them rich whine and cheese crowd" Symphony goers. I wish to remind this goon that "my community" is not a foul-mouthed unfunny scumbag. "My Symphony" is assuredly not a vile and pestilent retch of sickening bile. And that is NOT "my magazine." A compost-bin of rehashed libertarian talking points and megalomanic immodesty? The same unprofessional coterie that fools otherwise-intelligent businesspeople into funding the publication of logicless, vulgar, right-wing, and morally regressive screeds?
As long as "magazines" like this continue lowering the literary expectations of the area, they continue to perform a criminally unforgivable disservice to the community, no matter what Symphonies they sponsor or charities they support. This trash has no place in my community, and certainly has no place at my Symphony. The fact that it is provided free of charge only serves to illustrate the adage, "You get what you pay for."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Outpost

In an attempt to redefine the rules that govern republication in and on both newspapers and the Interwebs, I reprint the first OutPosts submission by David B. Boyce for the Standard-Times in over a year. OutPosts is David's consideration in the Liberal Media's Gay Agenda of othering straight people like me. He's also a friend. I have no idea if anyone would just click the link provided above, so I'm sharing this in full with the widest possible on-line cross-section of people interested in Fall River radio, popes who eat fish on Friday, old boats, and Alyson Hannigan. I also wish to point out his reliance on a "driving" conceit throughout the piece -- what "drove" him to the hospital, how he handles a "skid," and "steering clear of...dark places." While the rest of the edition has stories about break-ins and tips for car owners. Which I know he didn't plan, obviously proving the conspiracy mentioned earlier. Which just shows what a clever smartypants he is.
He writes :

Since my byline last appeared in these [Standard-Times] pages, my life has been quite an unexpected, yet intriguing adventure. At least that's the way I've chosen to regard it. I think if I'd elected to see it all in a negative light, which could have been done all too easily, I might not now be here writing this.
A year ago April 11, I was diagnosed with advanced, Stage 4 prostate cancer that had spread to my skeletal and lymph systems. What drove me into the hospital ER after a self-imposed, too-long delay was what I thought was sciatica, which turned out to be an enlarging tumor on my spine. Once it was surgically removed, the pain I had been suffering (and treating with an overabundance of acetaminophen and ibuprofen) disappeared, which was an enormous relief. I then had to deal with the realities of having an unusually aggressive cancer that is usually slow-growing.
After a week in the hospital, I was sent home with hands full of prescriptions and a rather uncomfortable catheter. Ailing in a hospital bed is easy compared to dealing with the same things at home, as good as it felt to be back in familiar surroundings. My first night in my own bed, after just a couple of hours of sleep, I awoke with a start into a surreal and horrifying night terror. I knew I was safe, but for the first time in my adult life I felt completely alone, without any control of anything, or on any firm ground. I was cold-sweat scared to the point of panic and tears.
As I slowly regained my spiraling senses, I thought, oddly enough, of the instructions in a driving manual that state, "When you go into a skid, turn in the direction of the skid." So that's what I did. I imagined confronting my terror head-on, as a three-dimensional beast, with color and shape, smell, taste and sound, and I pictured it and all those qualities shrinking and fading, until finally it disappeared.
My little demons tried the same thing the next night, but I'd already armed myself against such an attack, and was able to vanquish them quickly and with control. It was a good lesson to learn, as there are innumerable emotional pitfalls to receiving a terminal diagnosis. But with clear and positive thinking, a team of great doctors and advisers, and the loving support of family and friends, steering clear of those dark places is easier. And the Zoloft I was prescribed helps immeasurably.
Since my diagnosis, I have been on testosterone suppressant therapy, as the male hormone is a chief controller of prostate cancer. As a result, I've experienced many of the usual manifestations of female menopause, including mood swings, hot flashes and body hair loss. I'll have to continue this therapy for the rest of my life, but it has successfully kept my cancer under control.
One reaction my doctors warned me about was the possibility of this therapy causing a predisposition for forming blood clots, which happened at the beginning of February this year. I had two pulmonary emboli in my lower right lung, and a tiny heart attack, was hospitalized and treated with Heparin for a week, and now take daily doses of blood thinners and anticoagulants. That means, should I bruise or cut myself, I bleed freely and dangerously, so I'm careful not to have accidents of any kind. But my stamina is returning to normal and my attitude has been positive,thanks again to loving and supportive family and friends.
Needless to say, none of this has anything to do with my being gay, but I suspect that gay men deal with their bodies differently than do non-gay men, because we use our bodies differently. However, like most men, we delay going to a doctor because we think we know what's going on and that we have control. And there are free prostate cancer screenings available through a variety of regional organizations, whether or not you have insurance. Check out the Internet for those services.
Like the Chinese proverb that some read as a curse, "May you live in interesting times," my last year has been interesting, a series of true learning experiences, and a time of deep introspection about my mortality. I take life a bit easier now, and I'm more grateful and less glib about assuming things. I am truly humbled by the love and support I have received, and I am so glad to be back.
Thanks for reading. Take care until next time.

The hope is that, many many years from now, we'll all look back at this, laugh, and throw mashed peas at each other. I'm not reprinting all of your columns here, so: Get back to work, Boyce!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Soles'n'Bowls

  • From the land of Medb: This is the original link to the story, but I think it's either trashed or taken down or full of people trying to scrape their jaws off their keyboards. The truth is -- and one of the reasons why I'm glad I didn't get all "WOO-HOO! GreenBeer! Lick Me I'm Irish." last week is -- because a national survey in Ireland revealed that at least a quarter of those asked didn't know what the word 'rape' means.
  • And, they're killing witches in India. Well, good. I feel safer. I think. No. Killing bad. Beer good. Witches do good stuff.
  • Some do an empowering lemon bundt.
  • Dancing Dogs at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Tonight. New Bedford.
  • New Bedford Symphony Orchestra welcomes The Romance of Spring. Zeiterion. Tomorrow night. New Bedford.
  • Hey, Shipwreck is returning on April 14 with Season 2.
  • Hey, kids! Let's do another movie version of Frank Herbert's Dune ! C'mon, all the cool kids are doing it. Again.
  • Not for nothing, but let me explain local radio to the people who post at radio bimbo dot com. WSAR was built on an ancient Indian burial ground at the conflux of major negative energy waves, made worse by the strange configuration of towers along ancient astronautical transverse junctions. (Go on, you come up with a reason that doesn't insult everyone there.) WSAR will always have technical "glitches," cheap solutions to complex problems, complex excuses for simple issues, scheduling and network troubles, fill-in talent that is arrogantly unfamiliar with the station and the region, news readers with vocal quirks, and more promos than commercials. It's obvious that no one on air has ever been led, managed, edited, coached, or corrected. Mike "The Hurricane" Herren is not "new" to radio; he's worked for the owners' family since he played high school hoops, and as long as he's bringing ad revenue into the station and keeps the B.M.C. Durfee High School Glow of the Past lighting up the Spindle City's airwaves, he's an important team member and is probably being groomed for management, if he isn't already"Sports Director" or something. Somebody, probably not the PD, set co-host Ed Garcia up to "make the guy 'sound' better"; this is an example of those "simple solutions." Mike will do his "popular" sports talk show and the afternoon drive -- one body, two jobs. That saves money. Mike'll bring his night-time sports show callers -- and sponsors -- into afternoon drive, and since he's just smart enough to have an opinion about everything, he's perfect for locals that listen to radio to have someone else do the thinking for them. By complete accident, he's a local radio success story.
  • That said, I can now honestly say -- nay promise -- that I've said enough and all commentary about local radio here at H.M.S. Impossible is finished.
  • Out.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Beach Heads to The Polls

Next week, Dartmoutheteers (or whatever we call ourselves. Me 'n' my neighbors.) will be meeting each other at the polling station, laughing and friendly, delightedly standing at the polling shields to once again "send a message to the Select Board" by stabbing each other in the back and punishing the town's children.
Not that I plan to vote "No" on any of the 437 override menu items. (And a debt exclusion.) It was nice of the town to give me the opportunity to decide what I deem worth funding. At least I know I can choose. Even though I choose "YES." But the rest of the fahmahs, most of whom are all boots no tractor and don't really have a dog in the fight, don't care whose ox gets gored.
Or something like that.
They just know that someone told them that some guy named Fishkill McManagemen was on the Selectman Board and paid some guy twice and takes orders from some nameless guy and the Selectmonsters yell and scream at the nice people while the Board votes to give them stupid administrative assistant-vice-superinprincipals raise after secret raise after ransom check.
I swear, the worst thing this community does is stage an election.
Every ugly temperament and every damaging rhetorical device is unsheathed and flailed about until the argument means nothing and the reveal is ruinous -- clear distrust of one's neighbors.
Although the sentimental and rational merge in some (as in momof3npt, whose blog is an example of one altruistic and carefully-considered aspect of the Darkmouth zeitgeist), I'm sure the overwhelming sensibility of most swampers around me is displeasure at having to go out and vote twice in a presidential election year.
"If the damned Select Board can't run the town and has to keep asking us citizens to make up their minds for them, they obviously don't know how to do their job, so they're incompetent and we should insult them in the media and not do whatever they say. We'll bloody well show them!" is the sentiment that'll get their adses to the polls.
Last year, those same voters declined a sweet offer to raise the tax rate a bit more than the usual 2½% rate. A simple, one-time 2½ Override. Since, in reality, the cost of running Dartmoof goes up something like 9% a year, we're already 6% behind. Plus, apparently, somebody promised that taxes would go down every year until every resident receives a check for a million dollars every year until they die. But those are just numbers, and like most people who post about economics online, I'm just making shit up.
Except the 2½. Which was the amount demanded by a bunch called "Citizens for Limited Taxation" back last century, when Presidents Nixon and Reagan inspired Barbara Anderson during an objectivist gasconade. But they stepped right into then-Governor Mike Dukakis' brilliant snare. (He was going to raise costs 1% and taxes 1¼%, but fooled them into raising taxes the 2½%. Muhahahahaha.)
Shamed, they now complain about "crimigrants" on talk radio, still clinging to their logic-bereft slogan: “Every Tax is a Pay Cut ... A Tax Cut is a Pay Raise.” You can imagine where their blessedness takes them.
My little corner of The Beach has its own darling little experiment in groupthink, led by a cabineter who is defended by his followers at every misstep in the same way you'd defend the actions of an excitable puppy or highly-medicated fifth-grader. Their "Citizens for Something-or-other" group is just another excuse for sour pusses, and thus warrants no further discussion here.
This is not to say that the simple folk don't try to solve Dartmouth's fiscal crises. Why, just the other day, the damned wireless allowed one of the cognoscenti an unedited slog through stupid: "You know what I'd do?" it asked. And answered itself, "I'd take all that land trust land they got in trust and staht sellin' off land to the private sectah. That'd get a few million right there."
Well.
No.
Dartmouth's "Land Trust" isn't a bank we can draw from. In fact, The Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (of which I am a member) is here to "preserve and protect Dartmouth’s natural resources for people and nature, forever." And it is the "private sector." Perhaps one of the good things about Dartmouth. Except for the schools and libraries the CitizensForUntaxedAcronyms are so eager to pillage.
No, Jackhole, you can't just take a few acres and sell them and make a few extra bucks. Because then it's gone, and you can't sell it again next year, so you can't put it in the budget for next year, when you'll do something else that's stupid.
Now, what was that about "fiscal mismanagement?"

I hate The Beach.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Flickers

Last Fall, I read an interesting bit of trivia about a group of Hollywood operatives who wanted to start a movie studio in Plymouth MA. Yes, that Plymouth. Or Plimoth. Whatever.

Perhaps the chilly weather made them revert to dormancy so we didn't see much of them during the Winter, but the crocuses are blooming and the Plimoth Producers seem to be pumping on ye olde Public Relations Bubbler.

They're very busy with their website. And their website. And the webpage for their reality teevee series, called The Series. And a bunch of "initiatives." Which include, apparently, mentioning "the Commonwealth" and "economic catalyst" about 800 times per sentence. I am delighted that thousands of people will be working at the ROCK, filming on the fourteen sound stages, producing and post-producing at the facilities, production and post-production facilities, which will provide "producers with the opportunity to shoot exterior scenes of their productions on site, on the streets of London, Rome, Los Angeles, Paris, New York and Beverly Hills."

And, they'll be green, too.

As an extra who knows about standing in line in a middle school parking lot, crawling into moldy-smelling trailers and handing in hastily-scrawled apps that claim I know how to speak Italian or ride a llama, the very existence of a real studio nearby is a very welcome bit of news. If only because I know that they'll have people sitting at desks telling the moms of tap-dancing seven-year olds that although the outfits are cute, they're only calling for edgy hair types. And none of the sides mention any edgy hair types who are seven and can tapdance. But we'll keep your headshot and resume just the same.

Many production companies have used locations in New Bedford for many years, going back to Elmer Clifton's 1922 "Down to the Sea In Ships." I'm sure there were others. But Clara Bow and the Quaker Meeting house down the way were in that one. I know of several instances where I had to alter plans because somebody wanted to film some historically-barely-accurate nonsense on the cobblestone streets behind my museum.

Or the times when I had to participate.

But those were larks. Larks that usually paid fifty bucks a day, a place in line at the cold cuts, and a warm bottle of water. I wasn't looking for the work.

Howbeit, if they had believed the part about the llama, I would have made "special talent" pay.

After jumping ship last century, I stowed my gear in Tiverton RI and my neighbor was a graphic designer who couldn't get work anywhere around here. Because there just weren't any jobs. But he went to L.A., rode an elevator with one of the Farrelly Brothers, and now he's a big exec on the Left Coast. Of course, he could have ridden an elevator with one of the Farrelly Brothers in Warwick RI, but fate works in these ways.

What I'm saying is that many of the area's best young minds have left for New York, Los Angeles, and other places where film-making, theater, hair design, and the like, thrive. Except for the utter nonperformers who "learn" community theater assistant-directing and 35mm film-editing and then get discouraged because they can't use an Avid and nobody hands them a million-dollar job and a free beach house. And you know whom I mean, little missy.

The SouthCoast -- long before it was known as "SouthCoast" -- has always been a one-industry town. Hell, the SouthCoast doesn't even understand the economic contribution of the arts in the SouthCoast. Unlike Los Angeles, which is also a one-industry town, local residents don't get the concept of "support industries." Can you imagine the costumers who worked in these mills? The restaurants, printers, historical consultants, writers with an insouciant but appreciative sense of the absurd?

John Fitzpatrick (in today's Standard-Times) seems to have read the same articles I've cited above, and John's spinnaker is full for the Plymouth ROCK project. I agree with John -- as I often do -- but I'm still only flying courses as we leave port.

I've watched local Film Companies fizzle while local Film Commissions publicize shows that are set locally but filmed in Canada. I remember when Joan Rivers was going to build a huge studio complex somewhere in Rhode Island. When Donald Trump was planning on doing so in Providence. You get the idea.

I'll believe it when we're taking lunch and developing a treatment at Sam Diego's on Main Street.

Monday, March 24, 2008

4000

NOW can we stop with the cheery mistaken exuberance?
The wrong-headed and simple-minded mistranslation of "patriotism"?
How did we acquire the skill of shrugging our shoulders and waving the flag at the same moment, in the same motion?
What logic switch gets toggled to allow us to say "Sure there's destruction, sure there's deaths, sure, there's some giving up of rights... IT'S A WAR!"

This perceived inevitability of death and mayhem leads us, as a people, to a field of moral bankruptcy, where we have abdicated the right to declare our nation's authority in anything.
Except our obvious, regressive, bestial, rapacious and insatiable lust for destruction.
"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war," wrote John Adams to his wife, 220 years ago. And we wonder who bothers to assume the guilt intrinsic to the current conflict.
I'm sure Adams will be quoted widely, wildly, and inaccurately (since Tom Hanks' HBO miniseries is getting raves), so let me start the parade. This is the same John Adams who wrote to his wife years earlier, "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."
Do not misinterpret Adams. Adams was not saying that he must start a war in order to give his sons the opportunity to go to war and learn about war and have their sons pay for war ad infinitum. The current war profiteers might use this quote as justification for generations of violence and bloodshed and destruction and fear. As proof of the inevitability of "necessary conflict. "
But that's what they always do.
Adams understood his duty to posterity in ways that "The Decider" does not. I wonder if W, like many Americans with cable, will sit and watch Paul "The Guy Who Doesn't Like Merlot" Giamatti's portrayal of our second president in much the same way they watched for that 4000: a faraway fiction with little effect or consequence. An entertainment to keep our minds off the price of gas and milk and mortgages. A reason we can both shrug our shoulders at and wave our flags.
It is very fitting that the Dalai Lama is also in the news these days, slandered and misrepresented as he is.
He calls war "unacceptable."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Exactly one year ago....

... I posted this:
How YOU Doin'? (Pseudacris crucifer)
The official heralds of Spring. The crocuses, the daffodils are waiting for that inevitable last snow before really making their move to bloom. The witch hazel, having shocked the grey landscape for the past few weeks, fades back to make way for the more overt forsythia. The ground softens and a few blades of new green disturb enough earth to freshen the atmosphere with a whisper: "Every morning will smell like this." And soon, an evening will smell like steaks on the grill, saltmarsh, and beer. Best wishes.
They say as you get older, you tend to repeat yourself.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Soles'n'Bowls

  • It's Spring. So why am I still fighting with the heating system? We're supposed to be lounging on the lido in shorts and caiparinhas.
  • Oh that's right. We're not in college.
  • At sea, the wireless serves a purpose. A very specific purpose as a source of information. Correct and reliable and appropriate information. Commercial entertainment radio is not that device that tells me the weather and allows me to call the harbormaster.
  • Keri Rodrigues, Program Director at WSAR, correctly claimed here that radio "evolves." The other correct term -- for PDs who try to change things in a static market, for instance -- is "innovate," and anyone who can breath any life into the calcified and putrefied fossil that is that AM in the A.M. radio must be appreciated. She's going to work the mornings.
  • I do not envy her.
  • Particularly since everybody's whining about how national radio revenues have been down every month since last Spring. (That's our national. Foreign language radio, like Spanish and British are doing just fine.)
  • And I wish she'd just destroy that racist piece of crap "AH-SO Red Sox!" promo. But you know what Burgess Meredith says about wishes.
  • Now, Mike Moran. You know, the bass player? Irish guy. Face for radio. Mike now writes a column in Fall River's Herald News, in what has to be the dumbest, most cynical move a media outlet has made since Rush Limbaugh got a teevee show.
  • The economic answer is that Mike will draw a Fall River-savvy, smarter demographic to a paper that is essentially a handle with which old timers hold the Irish sports pages.
  • The reason anybody listened to Mike on the radio was to hear his cleverly scrappy rejoinders, wise ripostes, nuanced nostalgia, and to see if he wouldn't bore the local illiterates with all his smarts. Entertaining enough, considering the thin material and deadweight "partner" he had to work with.
  • The charm of Mike's solo one-hour show was in his ability to "establish a reasonable perspective." During the lively and thoughtful conversation. Sometimes you could hear him change his position slightly, and then amend his position entirely. Something you never hear talk radio hosts do.
  • Decent columnists don't do that either. Columns cannot evolve. Once published, they are static, finished. You cannot amend them along with your reader. In a newspaper column, musing along with your reader is a hackneyed convention.
  • What made Mike an entertaining diversion on-air will make him, in black-and-white, a smug, pedantic expositor who thinks and writes better than the current Herald jackhole who writes low-brow columns to appeal to that demographic.
  • Plus all those nit-picking idiots who listened and sniffed rabidly at his every word to find some crumb of discrepancy to call on and relentlessly savage will be able to write nit-picking, smug, pedantic Letters to the Editor criminating Mike as an equivocating fraud.
  • Once there was a guy at WSAR named John Greenwood. You hear a lot of rumors about John, like how he's living on a ranch in Montana. That he took a picture of the Andrea Doria sinking. (But not the famous one.) Or that he's Bruce Campbell's cousin. Or that he would ask City Councillors questions out of a high school history book, just to show what morons they are. He left radio and ran a little local publication.
  • I don't know if John and Mike got along. Because Mike "doesn't hide his light under a bushel," and John was raised Quaker, so he says things like that.
  • According to Captain Wallbank's Almanack: "On Good Friday, we participate in the Stations of the Crosstrees and prepare the local rabbit warren for the appearance of their Savior, the Easter Bunny. Who, if he sees his shadow, forecasts six more months of baseball."
  • Peace.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy AmericIraq Day!

It's never too soon to start marketing a brand.
What do you think?
How should we celebrate the decision to lead a prosperous and safe nation on a deadly and illegal waste of its resources and citizens' lives and patience?
Will there be picnics?
How do you revere the accompanying loss of trust in governance, media, and markets?
Televised parades?
How can we remember this one day as the anniversary of the day that removed all civility from public discourse?
How about a nice card?
How do we exalt our new American national trademark: Institutionalized Fear?
Maybe we should observe quietly at home, behind closed doors.
Silently and somberly memorialize our nation's losses.
Civil rights.
Human rights.
Dignity.


Peace.

Monday, March 17, 2008

from Wallbank's Book O'Saints

Certainly, the pride one can still show in patron Saints is one of the "miracles" of modern living. For hundreds of years, pious folk (and those wishing to walk very far and write big long Middle English anthology books) have gone on what were called "pilgrimages," journeys of miles and months to honor and gain the favour of Sainted Patrons and of the hottie they were walking next to.
Today, we just drink, march clumsily a few blocks in parades, and buy stupid cards.
On the Seventeenth of March, celebrants commemorate (loudly and drunkenly) the Feast Day of the First Archbishop of Armagh. His O'Excellency had to be the First, since there wasn't an Armagh to be even Mayor of until he founded it, somewhere around the improbable date of 444 A.D. (or 444 C.E., according to your calendrical prejudice). That "driving the snakes out of Ireland" claim is as much good ballyhoo as the one about keeping the "terrorists" at bay. Because there weren't any snakes to begin with, you see. A few words in the right ears to the boys at the FOX Printing Press, and there you are.
Our Saint is not sleeping. She's pretending not to notice the rodent climbing up her iconography.
The Seventeenth of March is, in truth, the Feast Day of Gertrude of Nivelles. You know, the one depicted in (the above) iconography as the Saint with the Slow Lorus on her walking stick. Bet you didn't know that Belgium even had Saints. Or Slow Loruses. (Not Lori. "Saint Lori" is someone else entirely.) That's why you're reading this. That, and your Mom makes you. Why, of course Belgium has Saints. And darn swell ones, at that, what with being Flemish Walloonish and all. And the thing on the stick is a mouse. Or rat. Gertrude of Nivelles is sometimes known as the Patroness of Fear of Rodents.
Let me explain...
Gertrude of Nivelles was descended from Austrasian Frankish nobility. But don't let that give you the false notion that any old Austrasian Frankish nobility in your genealogy will get you into the Hall of March Saints. No. In Gertrude's case, she had to use her family's considerable resources to feed and provide drink to Irish missionaries and to weary travellers (one assumes, because it's usually the case with these things) and to repel vermin. Yes, "repel vermin." Not necessarily the Irish missionaries. It was drinks for the Irish missionaries. And that's where the drinking on Saint Patrick's Day comes from. A misreckoning of the holy hospitality of the Real Seventeenth of March Saint.
So now you can tell everyone.
A draught from "Saint Gertrude's Cup" is how a Belgian who knows of such things will send you off on your way.
"One for the road," I like to say.
And do.
Often.
Gertrude, while she was Abbess of some Belgian priory that she had built with her own money hands, would have none of the locals' tolerance of rodents. Not Our Gert. She shooed the varmints off and installed cats in their steads. Which is why we venerate Gertrude of Nivelles as Patroness of Cats.
And especially so on the Seventeenth of March.

Maybelline and No Longer Giant Tuki

more green beer please



Captain Wallbank’s Book O'Saints (a special publication from the people who bring you Captain Wallbank's Almanack) is not intended to be used as reference material for school projects, masters theses, papal encyclicals, magazine and newspaper articles, partisan hack radio talk shows, diocesan newsletters, commencement addresses, valedictory speeches, catechism classes, or, especially, as an authorized authority for bets involving someone buying someone a drink.



Friday, March 14, 2008

Can you repeat that?

Something called "Newsmax Magazine" (yes, the same gang that insists there is no global warming and publishes this sort of thing) has reported online that somebody on Pumpkinhead Ted's crew is apparently a Peckerhead. But may not necessarily still be aboard. (Some will know specifically to whom I refer, and the rest of us can just wonder what salty tar could ever get hisself around the undeniably swishy "Whatever.") To whit... Ted Kennedy Dumps Fuel into Nantucket Sound
Friday, March 14, 2008 9:14 AM

Ted Kennedy has called Nantucket Sound near his Massachusetts estate “a national treasure” — but that didn’t stop the senator from having oil dumped from his yacht into its waters. A local photographer spotted an oil slick coming from Kennedy’s yacht Mya as Kennedy and his guests left the vessel in a launch following a race that ended in Hyannis, the Cape Cod Today newspaper reported.
The lensman was so shocked that he rowed his dinghy out to question the crew member left aboard the yacht. He asked the crewman, “What the hell are you doing?”
The crewman said that diesel fuel had gotten into the bilge and he was told to dump it.
When the photographer pointed out that the yacht was moored in coastal waters near shellfish beds and people swimming, the crewman replied, “Whatever.”


The article is -- surprise surprise -- a little arch and the doctored photograph is damned sophomoric ("shocked" lensman. Yeah, right), but Mya's a pretty boat (a 50-ft Concordia built in Duxbury in 1940), and her owner is an experienced sailor. This report seems irregular. I mean, "diesel fuel had gotten into the bilge" ? (Remember that a pint of oil can cover an acre of harbor. Diesel fuel is much lighter. How much was that again?) And the part about "people swimming." I mean, it's 43°! And the water's a little cooler.
So, dig a little deeper and find that somebody wrote the same article in 2002. Which reads:
The photographer was so shocked as the scene unfolded on the day that the 2002 Figawi Race ended in Hyannis, that he put his dingy into the water and rowed out to question the crew member left aboard Mya that May day.
After he approached the yacht the diesel slick coming from Mya was clear and spreading. He asked the crewman "what the hell are you doing?"
The crewman told him that diesel had gotten into the bilge and he was
ordered to dump it.
When told that he was moored in coastal waters near shellfish beds and people swimming, the man replied, "whatever."



And I gotta go.
As a public service, H.M.S. Impossible reminds everyone that : "You must immediately notify the U.S. Coast Guard if your vessel discharges oil or hazardous substances in the water. Call toll-free 800-424-8802 and report the following information:

  • location
  • source
  • size
  • color
  • substances
  • time observed"

(from the U.S. Coast Guard database of such things)

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Big pretty new jib. And semantic search technology. Enjoy your stay.
  • Sure, Bayside Expo Center and your Rhapsody in Green weekend. I've got enough going on in my sun room. With my phalænopsis Yep. Six weeks. Should bring us right into Summer.and cereus (which has another week before a big stinky outburst. Another week and the allergies kick in And outside, the witch hazel is as yellow as the forsythia soon will be. Not the kind in the bottle, the kind outside Have a swell weekend.
  • The following are "high crimes" which warrant impeachment: (1) Starting a "war of aggression" (2) torture (3) arbitrary detention (4) war crimes (5) warrantless wiretapping (6) signing statements (7) election fraud (8) outing a covert CIA operative (9) the "unitary executive" --which the current executive doesn't get (10) gross negligence during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and hamstringing federal bureaus and laws concerning environmental safety, contributing to a poisonous environment and global warming.
  • These are not: (1)hooking up with an intern (2) hooking up with a sex worker.
  • So Buffy and Satsu wake up in bed. But Creator Joss Whedon says The Buffster's not gay. She's experimenting. Because that's what young people do. They like cheese, have stuffed piggies named Mr. Gordo, and love Ice Capades without the irony.
  • For all the subtlety, lingering artwork, moody coloring and -- duh -- narration, a comic is like music, or watercolor, or poetry, all at once. It is a medium with some restrictions that must be stretched, challenged, impugned. Two dimensions only go so far, but the ingredients can be so specially mixed, so intricately integrated that they manipulate that dimension to represent, convincingly, another.
  • But they still have to hold the modesty sheet.
  • When you see the "new" picture of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan, do you get the feeling, all things being equal, that she was given a great deal of attention because Helen was so darned cute?
My aunt, who is legally blind, attended the Perkins School for the Blind, as did Keller and many other brave, smart, and inspiring folk.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"It has to go somewhere"

Yeah, the radio again. Without actually coming out and saying it, and very possibly not knowing that it's doing it, it's trying to get a strip club in the former Troy. An acquaintance of a restaurant owner is on the air every day insisting that -- although he's not "a stripclub kinda guy" (whatever that means) -- he thinks that this particular location is a good one. And everybody else is saying, "Well it has to go somewhere." The simpletons can't get the difference between "offering reasonable opportunities for a business" and "being obligated to locate a business."

There is no law saying that every city has to have a tittie bar. But the only thing I hear is this unreasonable insistence, based on misunderstanding what Paul Viveros ostensibly "proved" in his lawsuit, that "it has to go somewhere." From talk hosts to news stories to station editorials, which I assume must represent the station's owners and management.

Last century, I was on BigBlueBoat™ and traveled to many ports, and enjoyed the hospitality of whatever nearby pubs, taverns, and other establishments who generally made shipmates' presence at their bar secure and welcome by offering neighborly discounts and other acts of munificence. And I am a gracious guest -- ask any maitre d' -- and not just because I represent my vessel with pride and good will.
Sometimes just having a cheery disposition, a multitool, and shorts can get you some pretty special treatment.
Favorite memories -- not all from my BigBlueBoat™ days -- tumble forth from victualers in Charleston SC, Key West and Saint Petersburg FL, Norwalk CT, Boston MA, Wilmington NC, Portland ME. Savannah GA, Baltimore MD, and I apologize if I've forgotten anyone. I've probably forgotten the fine treatment I received because of the effects of the fine treatment I received.
However, when The Big Blue Boat™ was stuck on the bottom in our FallRiffic homeport (which the crew referred to as "homepork," or, more commonly, "Hell") See? Fall River. Says so. Right there the Commonwealth provided a swell berth within walking distance of Battleship Cove and within stumbling distance of a place called The Regatta, which I remembered from high school as being called The Gangplank, whose unfortunate and sort of rhymy nickname was well-known.
I recall the place strictly enforcing a polyester-and-hairspray dress code well into the Nineties, but during the Summer, things were different. Out on the splintery deck, drunkenly gazing upon the Battleship Massachusetts, the green and orange-rust-primered Braga Bridge, through the smoky clouds from the coal-fired power plant across the river, if one squinted a little and listened closely to the sizzling of "clam" cakes in the fryolater, over the Muzak version of Margaritaville, while chugging BudLights and shooting SoCo, one might feel that the Taunton River would be a fine enough place to drop the hook -- briefly -- and catch one's breath, consult one's charts, and prove, once and for all, to the second mate that no, you'd actually motored up the east side of Aquidneck Island and this is FALL RIVER, not NEWPORT! you stupid ex-Jarhead...
Everybody knew it was a meat market. And not a particularly hygienic one. It terrified the crew. When your next-door neighbors -- drinkers and good-timers, well-known as frequenters of fisherman's bars, dockside watering holes and waterfront dives -- avoid your establishment, you know you've done something wrong.
Now, the Fall River City Council is saying they must decide where to put a strip club. Tittie bar. Gentleman's club. Whatever. Essentially stating that it cannot discuss letting that cursed piece of waterfront real estate succumb to its expected ultimate fate. Just like this guy keeps threatening to do at the farcical "industrial" park, usually under some awkward "freedom of speech" make-believe.
Limiting a prime waterfront location like that to one peculiar activity -- whether a club or a restaurant or a Dunkin' Donuts -- is just plain bad business. (But the owners are willing to ask and answer their own questions, so they must be sincere. What is it about jerks doing that? Is it pervasive? Of course it is. Is it annoying? Of course it is! Is it a really funny bit if you read the article? Of course it is.) But hear me out:
A strip club -- located anywhere -- gives creepy old guys somewhere to go to complain. Usually about how the new lapdancers ignore them and aren't like the old burlesque girls. Plus the creepy old guys who don't go there can blame the place for all the drugs, prostitution, "bad element," outsiders, perverts, crime, and immigrants. It might even keep them off the talk shows. Although not every guy takes advantage of the opportunity, every guy has been presented some reason for doing so: a dare, curiosity, a bachelor party, a guy's night out got out of hand... But it still doesn't mean he has to go.
And that does not mean that every city must have one.
(Oh, and this "Arts Overlay District" crap is insulting to Arts. It is inane, insincere, and insufficient and disingenuous. It forbids "adult entertainment," but what happens when the Narrows Center for the Arts, inspired by the success of Gallery X in New Bedford, decides to have an erotic art show, for adults only? Any provisions for that? And the minute a real estate office sets up shop in an "Arts District," oooh, I'll give them such a slap... Really, I don't want a city that doesn't have an art museum defining what is "Art." )
The ThirdMate Navigates you through:
Get the gentleman's club there by offering the owners a TIF. Since Fall River Celebrates America is on hold, they won't be disturbed by kids wanting to use the restrooms. Tell the Regatta owners that they don't have to pay any property taxes for two years. Let them build up the property, prettify the exterior, enhance the interior, bring the kitchen up to code, provide jobs to locals, and encourage the new owners to improve the marina...
And then remove the TIF.
No more tax breaks. Then, the "ReGarter" shuts down (like all the restaurants in Dartmouth have), the city takes it back by eminent domain (or, in Fall River, "immanent domain"). A fresh coat of paint, et voila! The Fall River Municipal Marina, collecting taxes, providing cushy jobs to political hacks, and doing what Fall River does best -- gets someone else to pay.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

If Music be the distraction, play on!

Even though many actual musicians had made sure that Eliot Spitzer and Torture Guy and FISA Guy would dominate the mainstream press and we'd probably never heard about it, the Rock AND Roll Hall of Fame inducted more big capriciously-chosen names to its bloating popularity contest, WalMart-best-selling, and easy to recognize ranks last night.
I am not a fan of any organization that counts record release dates, poster or T-shirt sales as criteria for membership, and then has a big splashy party to celebrate their members' ability to throw big splashy parties. (Did you know that for $250, you too can be an inductee? Well, "Family Inductee," and they give you a card and free passes and free parking and a 10% discount on purchases.) The Hall >is a

nonprofit organization that exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music. It carries out this mission both through its operation of a world-class museum that collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets this art form and through its library and archives as well as its educational programs. From free events and programs to fun educational opportunities for students and teachers...


So last night, Madonna gets in. You remember: She rolled around on the floor in a wedding dress singing about whatever, and made that big overpriced over-produced naked craptography book, and did a couple of awful movies, all in the guise of "reinventing herself" or"stretching the boundaries of Pop" or some malarkey? The press loved her, she was an instant icon, the people loved her, the press hated her, the people ignored her, and now she's ... In the Rock AND Roll Hall of Fame. At least she dragged Iggy Pop to the show, but he's still not a member. (Full disclosure: Madonna made me money, when some whitecap at the bar kept slipping me fives to get a look at the cover of what he called "That Madonner" and for me to play "Holiday." So, sure: Hall of Fame material.)

Why do we have to wait the arbitrary 25 years after their "first recording" to induct musicians into the Hall? I mean, twenty-five years ago was, um, 1983. Looking down 1983 in Music on Wikipedia (as if that's a valid source): What about Bananarama? Ministry? Metallica! Suicidal Tendencies! Violent Femmes! Warren Zevon! (Who should've been in ten years ago. Sign the petition here.)
But, hey, the NYTimes goes on to mention (after gushing about that "blonde")

John Mellencamp, the Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen, the instrumental band the Ventures, from Tacoma, Wash., and the British Invasion band the Dave Clark Five, whose lead singer, Mike Smith, died on Feb. 28. The Louisiana-born blues harmonica player Little Walter, a major figure in Chicago blues, was inducted as an influence on rock ’n’ roll. The songwriters and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, whose Philadelphia International label was a 1970s soul powerhouse, were named as nonperformers...


I'm not sure why "nonperformer" is the title of an actual category, because I can think of plenty of rockers who've been "nonperforming" since 1983. And isn't naming a producer "nonperformer" kind of redundant? But, Hall of Fame lists Allen Touissant as "nonperformer," so let's just stop the speculation now. Just watch:
You've seen him perform, and he should have a lot more respect, Cleveland. But, we should all get some kind of credit. Speaking of credit: The Ventures are more than "an instrumental band," they're an instrumental band.
On the other hand, there's Leonard Cohen. I can't say more about my respect for this man, his poetry, his voice, his music, his spiritual life. Rock AND Roll? Maybe in the same way Barry White is. Transcendent, affecting, influential and made of the stuff that is truly Rock and Roll: indisputable, effective, and manifestly self-styled.
Gee, maybe I should look at that paragraph about Madonna again.
Or maybe we should just relish in Leonard Cohen's very Rock'n'Roll statement about his induction, full of Cohen's trademark sly irony:


"It is not a distinction that I coveted or even dared dream about."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Congratulations to the Place I was Born. erm, the building where I w... The company who owns the parking lot where I was born.

I was born at Saint Anne's Hospital, Fall River MA.

Born there.
That means they had a maternity ward and a bunch of doctors and nurses who assisted in birthing, and probably gave advice about babies. I have papers and stuff somewhere that proves it. I was born right there on the corner, in what would be considered the shadow of Saint Anne's Cathedral. What was that about creating a desert and calling it civilization?
Sort of explains a few things, dunnit?
Although the actual wing I was born in is now a parking lot.
Saint Anne's Hospital doesn't do that OB/GYN thing anymore. It was explained to me, by a health care professional, that they couldn't do that anymore "because it would be difficult to reconcile some gynecological procedures with current Catholic Church and Caritas Christi (the owner-operator) dogma."
As a matter of fact, their website has a funny link you should see if you ever wonder what the Catholic Church thinks of Gynecology, and women in general. Go ahead, click this.
Wow!
Now, knowing Fall River's widely-regarded progressive and liberal reputation, you would imagine that citizens would avoid a regressive Church-controlled misogynistic antiquary. [Except for the special generous God-fearing citizens who pour gobs of money into it at splashy fundraisers so they can get their name in the paper, on a door, and go straight to Heaven after they die (at Saint Anne's).]
You would think that people would just choose to go to Charlton, the other hospital in town, part of the SouthCoast Hospitals Group, a swell bunch of great mates who have helped me in several ways during the renal failure and Lyme disease episodes of last season. You would think Saint Anne's would be struggling like the other Caritas Christi facilities throughout the Commonwealth.
Even better than Caritas Christi's Saint Elizabeth's in Brighton, the basis for the teevee series St. Elsewhere.
(I was thinking of reviving the franchise as "Saint Analog" or "Saint Antique" and set it right there on South Main and Middle. We all know how that series ends. Only this time, it'll have to be one of Fall River's frightened funders who is dreaming. )

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday Papers

The Senate voted to strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Commission by, among other promises, funding enforcement of laws already on the books and hiring people to work there to do stuff.
Just in time for The Preznit to veto a bill that would make him not be known for the rest of all eternity as Torture Guy. So now The Preznit can be known forever as Torture Guy, or Waterboard Boy, but the CPSC can enforce stricter codes on the manufacturers of torture devices.

So now we Americans can be assured of the safest, quality-tested, lead-free instruments of interrogation.

American Pride!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"You're Not Irish
You Can't Be Irish
You Don't Sing
'Danny Boy'"

(click on the headline to read the story of the owner of the only pub I'll visit over this month)

When first I came to the U.S.A. with my guitar in hand,
I was told that I could get a job singing songs from Ireland.
So I headed up to Boston , I was sure to be alright
But the very first night I got on the stage, I was in for a big surprise
they said: You're not Irish, you can't be Irish, you don't know Danny Boy
Or Toora Loora Loora, or even Irish Eyes
You've got the hell of a nerve to say you came from Ireland
so cut out all the nonsense and sing MacNamaras Band!
To tell the truth I got quite a shock and I didn't know what to say
So I sang a song in Gaelic I thought might win the day
But they looked at me suspiciously and I didn't know what was wrong
Then all of a sudden they started to shout, "Now sing a real Irish song!"
Robbie O'Connell, voicing my greatest concern exactly correctly in this autobiographical whimsy . Maybe I'll just keep reminiscing about my halcyon days in radio. If I had had any. Don't get me wrong: I know when I stank and how I stank and how I was stank upon. But I have first-hand knowledge, the kind that when you start to share, when you get that look, the bartender suddenly has to count cigarette butts on the other side of the room and your wheelchair mates are drawn to Dance Dance Revolution.
I had nothing to do with the day-to-day programming of radio station WHTB. That was the job of a handful of dried-up old has-beens, monstrously fragile egos, a couple of doughy pantloads, and a cokehead. In order to fulfill a dream of doing radio in my old hometown, I had demoted myself from network teevee producer to board-op for Fallriffic political hacks who couldn't turn on their own microphones or remember the call letters. At a party the day before the station went online, one of the owners told me that my "professional broadcasting experience would be a great asset" and that he would be seeking my "input." Too bad he never spoke to me except to insult my tie or my hair or my family.
But on Sundays, the place was mine. I ran prerecorded tapes of French easy-listening or surprisingly enjoyable Polkas in the ethnic ghetto that included my show. The Celtic Corner.
That was the name of the show, and I ran it from 1989 to 1993. I got to play brand-new traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, the Canadian Maritimes, and anywhere else fiddles and guitars met. I got to build relationships with record labels and bands, and yes, I kept the CDs. I got to promote my own DJ gigs. I got to promote my theater work. I got to meet and create friendships with very important mates.
(If there is a heaven, it has a studio full of my albums, a seat for Barbara Carns, a seat for Johnny Cunningham, an open hour of airtime, and a reasonable recreation of Fall River's Ukrainian Club nearby.)
I got a lot of love letters from octogenariennes, but I got complaints too. "And what were those complaints," you ask. See above. Hardly a Tommy Makem would go by without someone calling in and screaming that it wasn't Bing Crosby, and what was I doing on the air anyway? "Carroll ain't no Irish name."
Although I bit the bullet and played Frank Patterson or Andy Cooney or Paddy Noonan, I preferred and played more Altan or De Danann or Cherish The Ladies. I vowed that I would play the latter until the local audience understood what "Celtic"meant. I gave short history lessons, pronunciation guides, genealogical information, football scores, all in hopes of reaching the Fall River Irish community that I knew wasn't just the French and Polish guys at Fall River's traditional Irish neighborhood bar, the Corky Row Club.
I'd spent plenty of time there as a kid, learning how to be Irish from my Dad, who was very good at it. I wasn't very good, since I was underage and obviously Welsh because of the size of my head.
The Fawrivvah Irish-American Renaissance never took off, or at least nobody ever told me about it, so I ended up doing live shows with folkies from Rhode Island and eventually New Bedford, where you don't have to wear green on March 17.
And you don't have to sing Danny Boy.
Ever.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Can't Get Enough

For the brief unpleasant time I lived in California, although nobody else there was a native, and many had degrees from prestigious East Coast schools, I never visited a home where I saw a bookcase with more than three shelves.
And if there were one, at least two of the shelves held knick-knacks, drug paraphernalia as art, stereo componants, or CDs.
But every house around me here on The SouthCoast has a library. There are even libraries on-line. I got that Lifetime Membership at LibraryThing. You can see random books from the few I've input over there to the right. (Funny how I can share books with Ernest Hemingway and Sylvia Plath without even the slightest urge to finish writing a book or to kill myself. Isn't it?)
So, here in The SouthCoast, I'm always happy when one of my friends decides to do something with a favorite book. Usually it's someone who says "I'm working on a stage adaptation of Perfect Storm we can do at the Working Waterfront Festival."
or "Wouldn't it be great to make a movie about H.P. Lovecraft and Henry David Thoreau having coffee at a diner with some girls from Fall River?" or ...


"The commonwealth of Massachusetts deserves a whale of a book as its official epic, and Moby-Dick is that book.
This Friday, people are invited to the Whaling Museum from 9-2 for a public hearing on legislation to make
Moby-Dick
our official state book.
Moby-Dick is already the 'unofficial' New Bedford book. Even though Melville wrote his masterpiece in Pittsfield,
Moby-Dick tastes of codfish, clam chowder and salt spray."

Laurie. Laurie. Doctor Roberston-Lorant.
You know that I love to take part in the Frederick Douglass ReadAThon and support all the stuff you and Ben and Tem do with those hip-hop kids. (Except for the X-Men names. It's a heritage pride thing. Oh, and it's New Bedford. Not "New Be." Or "Secret City." New Bedford.)
And I really need you to never again let the words "whale of a book" come within 20,000 leagues of "Moby-Dick."
And EVERYBODY knows that the only OFFICIAL Massachusetts State Book can only be The Ultimate Red Sox Companion.
I have bought at least five copies of Moby-Dick. The Classics Illustrated version with the weird picture of Gregory Peck on the cover. The paperback that I read from time to time. The weird generic brown-covered book I got at the Moby-Dick Marathon and left there. Whatever "abridged" thing I had as a child, which I gave to a college roommate. And a kewl pop-up book I leave out on the coffee table to occupy visitors.
My Beloved and I share a painting done by George Klauba (part of his "Avis Transformata" series) entitled He declared that a whale must be near, inspired by that damn book.
It's all over the place around here, anyway. Streets are named after the book's locations. Places in the book are just over there. Dogs are named after characters. Children are named after chapters. Food is named after footnotes.
Do we have to indulge it, encourage it more?

Monday, March 3, 2008

FCC Peels Alyson Hannigan's Onion


FCC Okays Nudity On TV If It's Alyson Hannigan

Sure, sure: "radio" this "WSAR" that... But you know what? Screw Nietzsche. Life would be a mistake without redheads.

So. How was your weekend?

I don't like to spend any time online on the weekends.

I do log on, but I don't like it. Work week. Week end. Work end.

But yesterday, the Comments Section broke the TEN mark! (And not just because I had accidentally posted the same HTML-challenged comment 16 times.)Thanks to Keri, Lefty, and Pete. Climb aboard anytime. The comment glass ceiling shattered and it was all thanks to ...

the gorram local radio station.

Nothing lights up the phone lines like immigration, and nothing fills the Comments like local radio. Go ahead, ask the Standard-Times. Sure, now it's all WBSM, but ten years ago, SouthCoast Response, the New Bedford Standard-Times online forum, existed only to piss and moan about WSAR, Hec, Mike, Margaret, Charlie, the Herrens, the Karams, the signal, the commercials, the bump music, everything. EVERYTHING.

And the posters weren't just coming up with stuff on the fly; these were studied, researched treatises about the owner and the Program Director before this one and the General Manager and office staff and the custodial staff and the families of the talk hosts and the day that so-and-so said this about that and...

It seemed that a lot of the commenters were former employees. As a former employee, I knew that you'd have to be a former employee to say some of the things these guys said. I know that, as a former employee, I am privy to some details of some people's unfortunate lives. And I know that audiences -- particularly SouthCoast audiences -- relish gossip. Because it means a walk of shame, seeing one of the bigshots taken down. I also knew that as a former employee, the kindest thing I could do is stop reading the crap.

Or maybe... these people were just obsessive listeners. People who, although in no way officially part of the station, knew more about the station's operations than the station's current staff.

Which is the SouthEastern New England Radio Neurosis. No other region (except possibly Mississippi in the 1930s) has such a discordant relationship with its broadcasters.

Keri mentioned that radio "evolves." True. But...

Radio in Fall River/New Bedford has never been "radio that evolves." Like so many other businesses in this backwater, it has denied industry standards and practices until it has created a mutation that, although healthy here, would never survive outside of its quagmire of origin. It is radio that flounders haphazardly, sometimes triumphantly, lurching forward clumsily technologically and emotionally, always a stumble away from masterpiece or dire consequence.

This is in no way a reflection on the radio professionals in the SouthCoast, who generally stay too long as midwives to the abomination that AM radio always threatens to become. SouthCoast Radio is cursed, and I blame Col. Green and his radome. Unnatural forces were loosed upon the ether last century, and poor Keri and the rest can only keep bailing and correcting course to keep the compromised vessel off the shoals.

My experience with local radio goes back to before I was born. My mother was host (or, as they said back then, "hostess") of a Durfee High chat show in the Fifties, when Fall River radio was a diverse, lucrative, and imaginative industry. When the other brothers who owned a station, the Sissons, broadcast from their kitchen. There were no tired-eyed account executives who flashed numbers from "ratings books," there was no constant baseless and breathless self-promotion, and it was considered bad form to denigrate the print media or mock the station across town. "Everybody listens to WALE" or "Everybody listens to WSAR." Because everybody listened to the radio.

But at some point, news/talk radio became an exclusive club. Maybe because there were more choices, more music stations, more televisions, more movies and other options. The talk radio audience was catered to like never before. Listeners were begged, catered to, patronized, and bribed. T-shirts were handed out, radios were given away, bumperstickers, everything to show a commitment to the only community that cared about SouthEastern Massachusetts radio: SouthEastern Massachusetts. The Callers' Club knew their responsibility.

And they took over gladly, eagerly, and you can hear them still today. They are conversant in the jargon, and they know about traffic management. Little tidbits of broadcasting trivia filled their minds with ersatzia and their hearts with a false sense of ownership. These are not people who just turn on the radio for background noise on the way to work. They are the true hobbyists, and they are obsessed. And they are territorial in the same way any wild animal would be. And will strike with as much force when threatened.

They know WSAR --"Their WSAR" -- better than anyone who ever worked in the GM's or PD's office. And they will always insist that they are entitled to grasp every opportunity to share their opinions about the station, on-air, on-line, on the street.

After all, they have been told that it is their station by every talk show host who ever solicited a call.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hey Hillary!