Friday, February 29, 2008

Soles'n'Bowls

Today's that day where, every four years, February gets an extra day. Leap Day or Sadie Hawkins Day or Intercalary Day. Which throws everything out of whack while attempting to correct for the Gregorian calendar's insistence that seconds don't matter. Until they do.

  • We in Dartmouth always get a line like "One out of every four jobs will be cut" or "You'll have to pay for trash pickup" when a Proposition 2½ Override Vote looms. This article has the smartest pro-Override slogan I've read yet: "Services will be cut." Which is the only thing that will make half of these selfish stingy hayseeds take notice.
  • The other half will still think they shouldn't support community schools, libraries, firefighters, children, employees... Because they don't have to.
  • And they'll complain that the House politicians (who supported a provision that would exempt many senior citizens from having to pay if a 2½ Override passes) are just pandering to a special interest. Yeah: The special interest group that they were hoping would go to the polls and vote against the 2½ Override.
  • I had a thing (or moderately atypical mole) removed off my gut. Well, the skin in the spot on the lower part of the side of my ribcage, which ensures that every single motion made tugs just a little bit at the sutures. Beautiful sutures by the way. I've got the best artisans carving me up. The scar will be very discreet.
  • See? I told you that you would get in trouble sailing around shirtless.
  • Oh. That was with girls. The mole thing is fine.
  • To forever shake off the Annual Month of Green Beer and Embarrassing Ethnic Stereotypes Festival, you could go see some the real Clancy Legacy Show, 8 pm Sunday at the Kinsale Inn, Mattapawpaw. Aoife, Robbie, and Donal will be avoiding all the "Kiss My Shamrocks I'm A Douchbag" dreck, so support.
  • Jess Cain died last week.
  • Stop by NBAM from 6 to 8 today, and get a look and a free membership and enjoy hanging around with everybody else who never goes to NBAM. It's a special event celebrating this extra day of our calendar.
  • Then go up to AccuBilliards New Bedford and Save The Simmons Brothers. The bestest most eclectist video store in the world parties all night with local performers.
  • Spend Saturday afternoon at NBAM and enjoy a tour of Skude (that's Norway) with Sig Haines.
  • And then there's this:

  • I missed Warren Zevon's birthday. By a month. Sorry.
  • Not only does the local paper want to continue the evolution vs dumbassness debate, it insists upon printing these Letters to the Editor.
  • Am I sick of the media around here?
  • Yup.
  • 23 years ago, I answered the ad and spent four hours talking to "Big" John Garabedian and Arnie "Woo-Woo" Ginsburg as though I were a professional "VJ." NOBODY was a professional Veejay yet, so that was my entrĂ©e. Didn't happen. However, theirs was the only personal and positive rejection letter I ever got from any New England television or radio station I bothered to audition or interview for. So V-66 will always have a special place in my heart, besides that place having been permanently defaced by the following:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mike No Longer In The Morning

I talk about working in radio and nobody gives a crap. Because my last on-air gig was reading cards that said "Mr. Furtado has a 5-horsepower Evinrude two-stroke and will trade it for a man's navy blue sportsjacket with a 52-inch chest. Or best offer. The weather on the bay, once the fog lifts, will be..."
Although you will hear brief exhalations of a broadcaster's past in an article, like this one, you can't really talk about your former position because nobody remembers it. In fact, this article forgets that Mike Moran has admirably held just about every job in radio one can hold, and is still a pleasant, brilliant, and especially kind individual.
It really isn't often that the local newspaper mentions someone's change of job. My guess is that somebody wanted to point out that the radio station is pulling something, like getting a syndicated morning show or getting two hosts who really don't pretend to like each other, rather than the two who actually do. I haven't listened. But now I'll make a point of not listening.
The easiest thing you can do at a Catholic high school dance is to keep the boys on one side of the gym and the girls on the other. As a matter of fact, you don't even plan that. They just go there naturally. Although you can take credit for it if you're weak-minded or desperate for recognition.
And that seems to be the approach of WSAR's "management" -- a term which, although variously applied to anyone who works there, never seems to stick to any one individual. Go ahead and read the article. The "general manager" blames "management." That's a problem with self-image. Or ability to take responsibility. Apparently, it's all loosey-goosey.
Plus, make your job easy. You can't be held to any standards if you don't have any standards.
Everything in radio nowadays is black-and-white. Three hours of mind-numbingly logic-bereft Neo-Con apologetics, three hours of smug corporatist left aggrandisement, an hour of John Burch without the Jesus, an hour of lawless libertarian left. Oh, and worthless callers who only agree and reiterate.
But Mike was different. Mike was old school. He is a moderator in every sense of the word. Where the rest of the station's line-up insists on pitting an ideology against another, Mike's one hour each day was simply a desperate plea for reason. Because Mike truly desires reason. He didn't want to be the winner of the argument -- that's Radio Ego. He wanted to show the flaws and the strengths of the argument and establish a reasonable perspective for all of us to live with or around the argument.
A good guy to not have on the air when the point is to alienate half the audience every show.
Thinking is complex, and that is why I am glad that I met and worked with Mike and why I'm glad to meet Mike Moran at a restaurant every so often.
Because he is thoughtful. And reasonable. And kind.
Rare indeed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Godspeed, Bill

Although I have my rare reclusive moments and can sometimes be obscure, I know that one thing unites me with all of the world: a healthy sense of hedonism.
Not epicurean excess. Not lazy high-living indulgence.
I'm talking about how a certain activity -- for instance, sailing -- can bring the highest sense of satisfaction -- a transcendent, mystical reminder of the fullness of all of life's joys.
When I am filled with this kind of joy (and rum is not always a requisite element), all the scenery around me hums with a calming and energizing glow.
And all about me are shipmates.
I think that you, gentle reader, having gotten this far on the page, are a shipmate. We can share that title with a welder in Gdansk. A Senator. A farmhand. A dancer. A former CIAgent/teevee star who went to Yale and wrote some books.
And enjoyed a good run on a beam reach.
I'm not talking about the guy who worked for Nixon. I'm not talking about the guy who defined "conservative" for most of the world for most of the Twentieth Century. I'm sure as Hell not talking about the the guy with the, frankly, weird views on white southerners. I'm not even talking about the guy who pissed off Ayn Rand, (which makes him a HERO with a capital H-E-R-O.)
I'm talking about the guy who stood at the helm with an eye to the telltales and a feel for the swells beneath him.
My friend Michael's dad ran a ship outfitter's in Honolulu, and is rumored to have outfitted Buckley's ship (NOT the Suzie Wong -- pj) for a big blue water cruise that required only "scotch to port and vodka to starboard." Buckley's awful sailing journal compilation book Racing Through Paradise is sort of the misinterpretable anti-Wanderer.
But I read it. And I still feel the camaraderie that is the sea.
Because the words don't matter when the sea is "boisterous" and the main needs mending.
And that's why I feel I need to say,

"'Bye, Bill."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Be Part of History!!1!"

Look, Barry.

You don't mind if I call you "Barry"? Since you're e-mailing me three or four times a day for my money and vote, I figure I could call you "Myrtle," but I'm trying to not be rude, and Jon Stewart's namegame joke Oscar night stank to high Heaven, so rather than be rude or Jon Stewart, I'd like to know you as "Barry".
Incidentally, some of my best friends are named "Barry."
See what I did there?
It's about this "Be Part of History" thing you seem to be allowing your people to spread all over the begging letters and e-begs I get from your very enthusiastic campaign. I neither envy nor dislike their enthusiasm. At least they're not working for you-know-who. And, really, I'm a supporter.
"Gobama!"
See?
But as someone who (a) has re-enacted more history than most people have read about, (b) counts a funeral director in his immediate family, and (c) has a pretty Sacvan "Americanist" Bercovitch sense of every New Englander's importance to "history," I take issue with the implication that, were I not to take part in this election process -- by dissociating myself from your particular campaign -- I would not be "part of history."
I thought I was part of history when I went to LiveAid. Or watched it on teevee or something. And all those Olympics -- even the figure skating, that massive waste of hockey rink -- and the moon landing, and motoring around Newport harbor in a lobster boat on the Bicentennial, and driving around New York harbor on the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty, and the longest PawSox game ever, and sailing around New York harbor all those other times, and that guy with that thing he invented, and abiding Charlie "Mr M" Moran every election, and Cap getting shot, and that first woman what'sherface.
I have my memories.
They're hard to shake out, at times, but I know one thing: I, like everyone else, is part of history. Am. I am part of history. Like everyone else. Is. Part of history.
And maybe that's where today's civics lessons fall short.
(Besides the "not being there" part.)
Maybe if we all thought in terms like, "How will this influence future generations and their world?"
But maybe, Barry, I'm being too hard on you. And I know it's been hard lately, what with the turban photo and all, but maybe you're telling us all something.
Maybe your pushy little audacious campaign is really a wake-up call.
Besides the Hope thing.
Besides the Change thing.
Maybe it's about being conscious of being part of history.

And that I can do.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rubber Rodeo

It was sometime in the Summer.
Or maybe over Christmas Break.
I know I was back from college, hanging out with the usual motley gang of wharfrats I always found in Newport. The club was Harpo's "Jazz" Club. I had just been finagled there by the gal who painted the club's murals. I could make them out through the haze of various smokes -- unfiltered, menthol, clove, those French "chocorettes" that were popular, and of course, the sweet rancid ganj. And there were the Stooges, Marilyn, W.C. Fields, all of the Marx Brothers, Janis, and I seem to remember a Jimi, but that could be because the artist's upstairs neighbor claimed to be Hendrix's daughter.
Newport was that kind of town, so I never thought to question anyone's story. "Oh, you're a Cowsill too?" "Oh, you were a werewolf but you got better?" "Oh, you and your car were in The Great Gatsby?" "Oh, your sister's starting a band called Throwing Muses?" "Oh, you want me to stay overnight with you to wait for the ghost of The Mrs. Astor?"
The stage at Harpo's was about 5 inches off the floor, just high enough to trip over, and I think there was a drum riser, just a few inches higher. When The Dead Boys played there (a little before my time, so I can't verify this), Stiv threw his microphone cord over a pipe overhead and stood flatfooted with absolutely nowhere to go even though he had planned on pretending to hang himself.
Well, on the particular night in question, the stage was dressed like the set of a cartoon western, complete with a couple of barrels, a cardboard campfire and cactus. along with the band's equipment. Which included a farfisa organ and a pedal steel guitar.
So this is what a Rubber Rodeo show looks like, I thought. I was familiar with their single "Who's On Top" which I just thought nobody got. And it was overshadowed, at least at my college radio station, by Trish's cover of "Jolene." (Thanks to Armagideon Time for opening up those memory gates.)
The farfisa I could get. Newport was full of new-wavey coverbands, so they were plentiful. The pedal steel was an oddity. But, helmed by "Easy Mark" Tomeo (Eddie Stern was on the single) as the evening got going, you knew this was something unique.
Rock, by 1979, had sensibly done away with the showy guitar lead. Hair bands and others who had to show their prowess and training knew where they belonged.
But C/W has an entirely different climate. A guitar solo in the right Country-Western song is more than punctuation: it's another movement, another emotion swelling into the depths of the exposition. And a pedal steel incursion can be transcendent.
Even if you've got the goofiest bunch of urban cowboys and girl in their Melody Ranch outfits on stage urging the audience to swing their Whistling Lariats along with the theme from The Good The Bad and The Ugly. (I like bands that give toys, particularly streamers on a string attached to an annoying noise-making cylinder.)
In this video, they're wearing the same outfits they wore onstage, and being just as dry as that sandy soil. Sure doesn't look like Swansea.
By the end of the night, we were all pals.The bass player, Doug Allen -- the most famous cartoonist in the room, whose strip was in every free weekly on top of every cigarette machine in every club -- drew a Steven on something which I promptly lost, and Bob and Barc mentioned something about being descendants of Oliver Wendell Holmes, and we talked about our hockey hair and tennis and I promised that whenever they got to play a gig in Worcester, I'll work them up a promo in my (college radio station's production) studio if "y'all could slide me a few passes." And they did, and I learned Gary Leib was a cool visual artist as well as keyboarder.
Someday I'll post that clip. It's me doing my best Johnny Cash, telling listeners that if they're "missin' that high lonesome sound, they should hightail it on down ...." The music stabs are right on.

Today's word is "Green"

Green. Like the lichens on the north side of this damned gate

I know it doesn't appear to be Spring at first blush, but the signs are here.

Hearty green shoots are poking up in some gardens. Birds whose songs were missing just a week ago are back with a noisy vengeance. Skunk and raccoon carcasses dot the roadways. (Really: A sure sign of Spring is the corpses of just-hibernating animals who have awakened due to a warm spell and are too groggy to get out of the road before... But it's a damned welcome sight, that skunk. Means Spring's a-comin, dontcha know? Ayah.)

There's a fahmah down the way. Saw him talking at Town Meeting about not giving the Selectbawd another dime until we get rid of all o'them no-lose contracts. The fahmahs heah are gearing up for another NO OVERRIDE season, in order to make sure they don't have to pay taxes ever again. Yes, the Selectbawd is hoping -- again -- that citizens do the right thing and keep the town from going into receivership or martial law or state control or something. And the "citizens" want to punish the Selectbawd for being know-it-alls and doing things that the citizens can't comprehend. Like math or logic. The citizens' main talking point is that they aren't in on the inside, secretive, underhanded, unaccountable things that happen in contract negotiations they aren't at. "NO OVERRIDE UNTIL WE THE PEOPLE GET TO VOTE ON ALL TOWN CONTRACTS!" is a little long for the bumper stickers, but they'll spare no expense to not have to vote YES on taxes.

"Green" in the SouthCoast is a loaded word. In most cities throughout the world, "Green" means recycled paper and resource-conscious politics. In the SouthCoast, "Green" is short for greenhorn, the local pejorative term for immigrants of Azorean or Portuguese origin. While I was growing up here, it meant old ladies in black shawls who didn't speak English, made arcane hand signals, and smelled like kale soup. And their kids, who didn't wear the shawls.

So, anyone from anything called The Green Party is immediately suspect.

Which is why only a coupla people in all of the SouthCoast are supporting Ralph Nader in his narcissistic ego-driven boondoggle for the Presidency. In this Draft Nader list, there's two from New Bedford, none from Fall River. And what would appear to be the entire population of Burlington, Vermont.

And Nader's 73. A year older than John McCain. Who's not green by any measure.

Looking a little more and more like that skunk.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Soles'n'Bowls

  • I had a whole bunch of great stuff written here but Blogger disappeared it. Believe me when I say it was brilliant.
  • "Men Who Cook" -- invented back in the 1980's when it was funny to make fun of men because they were only supposed to drink -- has been called off due to state and federal laws about food cooked in unprofessional kitchens. An extremely popular event which annually raises $20K for the NB Women's Center, is suddenly coming up against the Twenty-First Century's Bold Plan: Doing nice things legally. You don't have to suspend health department rules just to make money for a good cause, and you don't have to call someone a spoilsport when they suggest doing it legally. How about some of these self-important chefs donate their kitchens?
  • I've always really always loved my country.
  • I wish terms like "got in bed with" and "had an affair with" weren't interchangeable. I understand when a senator is in bed with a lobbyist. It's worse than him having an affair with a lobbyist. Because he's been unfaithful to us and his wife.Jaime's the one who can smile even if you're not Chairman of the Telecom Commission Even if the lobbyist looks like Jaime Pressly after spinning around a dozen times.
  • "Just as one swallow doesn't make a summer, so one month of falling audiences doesn't spell the decline of Facebook or social networking," Mr Burmaster said. Burmaster is European internet analyst for Nielsen, who has discovered that some people left Facebook, the social-networking site that I recently joined and left. It's funny because I got the feeling, after reading that quote, that Ol' Burmy was actually working for Facebook. Quotes like the above make me feel the same way Facebook made me feel: Like I had walked into the wrong meeting of the High-falutin' Quote Club.
  • Over at MySpace of course, everybody can can understand the significance of lines that include "swallow" and "Summer."
  • An e-mail: "blahblahblah Your living room could be the place where Barack Obama clinches the Democratic nomination for president blahblahblah 125,000 progressive MoveOn members in Texas blahblahblah don't know blahblahblah unusual primary-plus-caucus system in Texas,blahblahblah March 2, blahblahblahblah living rooms across the nation as folks come armed with cell phones waitaminnit. You want me to hold a party where people will use their cell phones to call voters in Texas to get them to vote for Barack Obama? Sure, but everyone will have to stand out at the end of the driveway to get two bars of signal. One of the reasons why I actually do like it here on The Beach.
  • One of the reasons I don't like it here is the insistence that the Town of Dartmouth should provide every service without asking for money from the people who live there. The usual argument is "The Town don't know what it's doing and it's sneaky about doing it, wasting money paying all them teachers and town employees and we still have to pay for trash pickup. So NO Override. Ever. Let them figure out a way to face the mess they made by them not forcing us to pay taxes right. Then when we're completely bankrupt, we can stand around and say 'I tol' ya so.'"
  • If people in New Bedford are put out by erotic art, how do you think the citizens of Bankside who twisted their ankles on Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth at Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London. It is literally and simply a huge crack in the floor.
  • And a special lunch-time log-roll to two fellow travelers who climb aboard H.M.S. Impossible: James at Dr. Momentum's Aces Full of Links and bitterandrew at Armagideon Time. They've gone and shown everybody our dot on the chart. Thanks!
  • So crew, "Look Busy!"
  • And, as Luck would have it, alongside Thor and Ernest Hemingway -- albeit unintentionally.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Celeb Death Cult

made you look She's curvy, sometimes a redhead, and displays a smoldering mischievousness that -- when she puts her mind to it and doesn't do the vacant-eye mouthbreather thing -- can be construed as genuinely attractive. To me. But the unimaginative death cult over at New York Magazine has decided that this 21 year-old needed to re-create 36 year-old Marilyn's photo shoot from 1962. Monroe died six weeks later, further fueling America's inexcusable fascination with dead nude celebrities.

In the eerily technically-accurate recreation of Marilyn's final photoshoot, the pictures do give a sense of Marilyn's "In your face, you coy and priggish phony Camelot, these are my breasts!" manner. I always found that particular set of pictures eerie because I knew she was dead, so that might corrupt my analysis. But all of that is contaminated by forty-five years of crappy speculation. Or, guesswork. Or fantasy.
Ashley Judd Before NASCAR Guy got to recreate familiar scenes, but she had a whole movie and Mira Sorvino to help her.
Hello? Bobby who?
Never mind that the gal who is not Marilyn (but is posed in Marilyn's pictures) has been through a lot in the few years of her post-adolescent adolescence. Every day since she signed with Disney, we've been treated to stories of sex addiction and drug use and drinking and nipple slips and arrests and rehab and crotch shots and bad movie roles.
Sure, everybody has some fun in their twenties.
I, for one, wouldn't repeat those years. Except to send more 'thank you' cards and perhaps hold one job longer than I did and not take the other one. Because now, I would be Prime Minister of Latveria. But I digress.
At 21, I had been fired from my favorite band gig (because I "wasn't a musician" -- as if that had been a problem for the other three), graduated from the crack-the-books-and-a-beer life I had enjoyed for four years, and settled into working with a bunch of creepy forsaken old pariahs at an AM radio station, dried out and never got near a boat, skislope, or skateboard. Yeah, just what I had imagined my twenties would be.
I had, at 21, hit rock bottom. I was sure that every day for the rest of my life, I would drive a ten year-old American-made duct-tape-and-coat-hanger beater to a shack in a cowfield or a studio on the third floor of a real estate office or seed dealership where my co-workers, former middle-market radio "personalities" who were wanted for indecent exposure and fraud and child support, made lousy radio. I feared that for the rest of life, my evenings would consist of a cheap ham steak and tater tots washed down with a Tab in the one-room apartment upstairs from some indeterminate drug dealer. And then back to work because the station owners were too cheap to hire a reliable overnight guy.
Of course, to keep from going completely mad, I took a job working in theater. Guerilla street theater. One time, I played a thinly-veiled burlesque of the much-loved mayor of a major East Coast city impersonating Elvis singing a very clever musical number which ended with a (not-so-funny-for-me) half-striptease.
This so-called "guerilla theater" gig was actually fun and great preparation for my future, but the pay wasn't a check on Friday. Our pay was whatever ended up in the hat. Biggest night: fifteen bucks. Split three ways. We were supposedly getting a stipend from a grant by a fly-by-night "arts" group. But the grant ended up getting split six ways, the lion's share going to the sneaky broad who wrote the grant application and her boyfriend, who ended up taking all the money and flying to St. Lucia.
And I got my chest hair rubbed by strange middle-aged ladies -- and stranger men --who gave me a dollar. It was indeed preparation for other acting gigs, with all the stage fighting and stage dying, slapstick and uninhibited buffoonery, improvisation, and "staying in the moment." I know that all of that experience has informed all of my decisions. (Yeah. Even The CianciDance. I am SO glad YouTube didn't exist back then.)
I believe that those experiences have nourished me. So, I wonder if that hope informs real celebrities who take challenging roles or make sometimes-puzzling choices.
Maybe Lindsay, by channeling the sexually confident Marilyn, can exorcise a body- or self-image demon that's been seducing her to the seedier lifestyle options open to celebrities.
"Will this make me stronger? It sure hasn't killed me."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Celebrating Preznit's Day

While I went to high school in Fall River, I learned about civility. Well, the Fall River kind.
One thing about civility was that if you are civil, you're "putting on airs." Nothing offends a former mill town's settlers more than a bunch of that etiquette stuff. You will be punished, called all manner of names, abused physically, and ostracized. According to Fall River custom, a true blue collar worker NEVER knows which fork to use. It's often a surprise that there is a fork. And whoever has set the table with more than one -- regardless of whether they put the fork on the right or left -- is "putting on airs."
Fall Riverites live for Judgment Day. The day when God comes and checks if you still have the ashes on your forehead and haven't seen any so-called art. Manners are not mandatory on Judgment Day. The Blessed Virgin Mary and a couple of lesser-known saints handle all the manners stuff, so you can concentrate on getting a good seat to watch everyone else get thrown into the burning ever-boiling pit of maggots. And it serves them right. Putting on airs.
This of course, gives Fall Riverites special rights. Rights that are in the Constitution but nobody else can see them. Certain Amendments to the United States Constitution have singular, Fall River-only addenda. Like the First Amendment; for many years (since 1791 in most cases) the First Amendment has read:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

(I'm a big fan of the "peaceably assemble" part, which means that our Constitution guarantees us and reminds us of a measure of civility in discourse so that we can assemble or discourse peacefully. Which is why talk radio is actually Unconstitutional.) But Fall River, where complex amending of amendments is the way cheap pols keep their jobs, has a special addendum which reads: "Never mind that. Freedom of speech means you can say any damn thing you want. You got rights! Expecially when you wanna say something stupid."
And so, this Presidents' Day, as we celebrate Benjamin Franklin, the only President of The United States who was never President of The United States, we tip our hat to (metaphorically, of course because we wouldn't want to be accused of putting on airs) Fall River's greatest Constitutional scholar, Daniel "Danny" Robillard.
Now I am absolutely certain that there are members of the Fall River disabled community who see Danny as a tireless advocate, and not as a self-involved whiner who generally portrays himself not as a champion, but as a victim of those who won't listen to him. You are a cruel and thoughtless person, bad, bad member of the non-disabled non-Danny community!
From a smoke-free restaurant controversy in 2000:

Daniel Robillard, a city resident, supported those arguments. "Let the free market decide," he said. "Let the public decide if they want to eat smoke-free or not." Robillard said fried foods are also a health risk. Does that mean that fast-food chains specializing in that line of food should be closed? Of course not, he answered. "We don't need more regulations," he said. "We need more freedom." (January 20 2000, Fall River Herald News, Sean Flynn reporting, found on this Cigar Distributor site.)

So you see his brave concern for the other guy. Or at least concern for himself as he is an "other guy" to somebody. Danny is a freedom guy. He wants us to be free. Ayn Rand free. If you turned on the radio, you could hear him barking about socialist agendas in community groups, the freedom-hating character of political correctness, or the evil communist machinations of Democrats who deviously plot to subvert our his freedoms.

I'll be corrected, but I am pretty sure his story goes something like: He raised such a stink about not being able to get into the City Council chambers that the City made the chambers handicapped-accessible and he was regarded as a hero. What other public places could he raise a stink about? Before he could write too many letters to the Editor or call the talk shows, former Mayor Ed Lambert gave him a seat (!) on something euphemistically and awkwardly called The Fall River Commission on Disability. The Coimmission on Disability "advises and assists city officials in ensuring compliance with federal and state disability laws, such as identifying and removing architectural barriers around the city. The commission is specifically interested in barriers along public ways — sidewalks and streets — and in public buildings." The perfect place for a hypercritical bellyacher hero to the disabled community.

Until, exercising the legitimate Fall River post-election right to rub the other guys face in it ("the Sore Winner Privilege"), Danny's integrity and swagger got the better of him during the "nyeahnyeah" phone call. Identifying himself as calling from the Commish on Dis, he slipped into an excoriating, red-baiting diatribe obviously meant to insult and provoke the State Representative who had lost the run for Mayor. He didn't actually talk to the Rep, but he was brave enough to leave a message.

Robillard argues, however, that his dismissal over the message is a violation of his right to free speech.“This is bigger than a seat on the commission. It’s a freedom of speech issue,” Robillard said.He contends that regardless of his self-identification as a commission member on the message, he is entitled to voice his opinion. Robillard said examples of such actions include his running a print advertisement in a local paper endorsing Correia for mayor that included him noting his position on the commission. Robillard added that when appointed to the commission by former Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr., he first made sure the position would not force him to stop his practice of civic involvement, including making comments at public meetings, calling talk radio shows or running for political office.Robillard admits the mocking message left for Sullivan was deprecating in nature, including a critique of his mayoral campaign and state representative term.“Was the message critical? Absolutely. Was it harsh? Absolutely. Was if insulting? Absolutely. I intended it to be that way,” Robillard said. “But the mayor is making a big deal out of me introducing myself as a member of the commission.”Despite the admittedly harsh comments, Robillard maintains he did nothing wrong.“In no way did I violate the oath of office,” Robillard said. “I made the call from the privacy of my own home to criticize a public official. This is an infringement of my rights as a citizen.”(from Herald News February 15, 2008)

The other thing Fall River taught me about civility is that if you are uncivil -- and you have every right to be -- as long as you say that you know you're being an asshole, all will be forgiven. Because you have every right to be.
And you can still claim that your rights are being violated if anyone else complains.
It's a win-win.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Soles'n'Bowls

no animals or union Hallmark workers were harmed in the making of this 'card'

  • What? You didn't get one?
  • My former senator, Rhode Island "Republican" Linc Chafee's new book, Against the Tide: How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President, has the unfortunate publishment date of April 1. When volunteering at Save The Bay, I met and "worked" with him and his dad (Sen. John), and damn! I could have registered as a Republican. Of course this was back in the day when some Republicans actually were treehuggers, and didn't berate environmentalists by calling them "treehuggers." Lincoln Chafee endorses Barack Obama.
  • (I just wanted to type that. "Lincoln endorses Obama.")
  • Sure, the dweebs in the SouthCoast get all jittery about peepees and boobies, but kids in Rhode Island have another take. Go on, you know you want to click.
  • So, if the telecoms can peer into my inbox and internet history (heheheh), maybe I can peer right back... Hmmm... Looks like more Deathstar operatives gave to Democrats and most of those who donated to Republicans unfortunately tossed their money away on Rudy 9iu11iani. Looking forward to this Fall, let's see who's already dropped a bundle on his or her favorite candidate... The HuffingtonPost's Fundrace2008 is a really ugly outlet for your ugly political voyeurism. It's all public information, sure, but there's something yicky about knowing who your neighbors are giving money to. See who's the "faithful Democrat" in Fall River or New Bedford. Or your neighborhood. Ewww
  • Schoolkids in England, under what's being called The Childrens' Plan, will have the opportunity to experience "top quality" cultural activities five hours per week. We could do that in America, but none of that ballet or opera or symphony stuff. We have our high-quality Original New Bedford Hip Hop Club Team.
  • I know there must be another site somewhere with information about this, but can someone please advise me, as a former mate: WTF is Bounty doing toodling around the Caribbean off the coast of Cuba? I thought they were supposed to be circumnavigating or going to Tahiti or Dubai or Not Cuba...
  • Maybe they're just laying low while this whole "We're not the computer-generated Black Pearl even when we said we were just to get your £5" thing blows over. Or the fact that they actually hired "actors" dressed as Bligh and Christian to give tours. AND they've got one of those kids' party Jack Sparrows! (There's some lovely improv in that.) As you can see by the "My Photo" above, they used to let the crew dress up and play.
  • So I've got an inspiration from the Gallery X "controversy." I'm going on the offensive, and I'll be flooding talk radio stations and online forums and newspaper comments sections with scandal in order to get NBAM some publicity. I know just how to get the immoderate tongues a-wagging:
  • Just call WBSM and drop one of these beauties. And make sure you say NBAM a lot!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

You Want Flowers For Valentine's Day?
Here's Your &%#!n Flowers

Sargon awakens A couple of weeks ago, the two phalenopsis plants Hammurabi arisesI rescued from a dark museum corridor last year decided that it was time to unleash their genitalia on an expectant sunroom.Ashurbanipal animates What better day than The Feast of Saint Valentine to share with you the wonders of orchid culture...Soddin' Gilgamesh
I've been dousing them with potassium-rich formulae, carefully tending their flower spikes, encouraging the buds, and now both plants have inaugurated a "bursting forth" process of so-called "moth orchid" blooms. If you've ever watched a june bug or similar Volkswagen-like insect open its wings, you'll have an idea of what that miracle is like when an orchid does it. Only much more slowerly. The three pics you see here took a whole day. Which is why I stopped. Orchids take their own sweet time, which is why I admire them, and I'm sure Doctor MacFlask (who taught me much about these things) will take one look and scream, "There's too much light and not enough water and it must be too cold and why is there a jacket hanging on the door and is that red thing a mezuzah ?" (No it's not. Stop with the inside-lintel Judaica. See what I did there? See how I brought you in? And still no comments.)
These are not typical Winter-blooming orchids. They're currently Nearly-Spring blooming orchids and I didn't force them this go-round. My guess is that they are actually Summer bloomers that got viciously forced by some swishy interiorizer for some FABULOUS effect two seasons ago and will revert to their Summer blooming ways. In a few years. If I don't stuff them in the new composter I'm installing come Spring. I have no idea what their background or nomenclature is. "Phal." is as close as I get. As close as one needs. Again, MacFlask will probably know every patented and non-patented hybridization denomination of its genus, and he probably knows the guy who registered it and has some bitchy things to say about him. "From a florist? A FLORIST?" he'll snarl. "What the %#&! does A FLORIST know about ORCHIDS!?!"
Someday, when we're all a little older and Homeland Security learns to appreciate the art of driving when you're high, I'll have everybody over and we can banana about the wacky comments made by the guy who was moving the WNBC anchorman's stuff the day I opened up Doctor MacFlask's big van in Midtown, revealing cattleyas and paphiopedilum for sale to a NooYawk City boot-and-curio shop. At the time, I didn't think there were that many ways to equate orchids and genitals. (Enjoy the Monologues, BTW. If anyone's doing them anymore.)
And if I didn't wreck The Feast of Saint Valentine for you enough, here's what happens when it rains around here:

That'll learn ya to build a road anywhere! Saith Apponogansett Bay.

That used to be a backyard. (Yes, the road experienced brief pitching and yawing.) Which is why I'm lovin' the exotic flowers in my own home thing. Just wait for the cereus...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yes, I bought some "Sex at the X"

If I address negative comments about talk radio assentingly, somebody calls me a "disgruntled ex-employee." If I admire a host or am interested in a topic, I am branded an apologist or defender of bad things.
Yes, I used to work at radio stations in Florida and Southeastern New England. Back when a kid could get pretty far up the corporate ladder with a clear speaking voice and an English degree. But not too far if the ladder only has four rungs and you're the fifth guy hired. (Here: Learn where the best deals are on the coffee, and get a car that works in the snow. There.)
It's been fifteen years since I've been on the air, and the last time I saw anyone from the last station I worked at, the old guy had me confused with another guy who left the station at around the same time I left. Unfortunately, the old guy had me confused with a felon.
So much for a job reference.

It's a weird avocation as a former employee of a talk radio station to discuss talk radio. But I do so with anyone who'll listen. I admit it makes me unpleasant to some. Others appreciate my insights. But this isn't about you and me.
Newspapers like the Standard-Times or Herald have it worse than ex-employees of radio stations. If a newspaper mentions the local radio station, the claws automatically come out and inapproriate weapons are drawn. And it's always funny to hear people who are obviously both illiterate and dyslexic calling the radio station to decry the paper's liberal bias and right-wing slant. Then, there are the numerous oddball internet "forums" established by creepy psych-cases who have nothing better to do while the unemployment checks are still rolling in. They go right to the newspaper's own online presence, register with the newspaper, and then proceed to bash the living daylights out of every article, opinion, or letter in the paper. Right there, on the newspaper's own site. Now, that's a classy bunch.
And so, when a bunch of my friends stage an art exhibition at a privately-funded gallery in Downtown New Bedford and the kooks come out to insist they shouldn't, I take it personally. Gallery X is an artist collaborative, Executively Directed by a friend. And according to this recent article, is a welcome addition to New Bedford. I should start waving my defiance at the "uneducated and artless."
The talk radio crowd will be quick to point out that big companies won't come to the SouthCoast because we don't have a good educational or cultural scene. They will also scream and stamp their feet about paying teachers and "allowing" art they "don't get" in galleries they think their tax dollars control. They also think guards and signs and walls should keep children "under 18" from seeing the show. Sorry. Wrong. On all counts.
Because this little "controversy" keeps repeating, whenever the subject of art or sex education or honest language in film or theater is mentioned, I'll repeat myself: You do not have to like art. In a lot of cases, that's the point. And such is the case with "Sex At The X."
In a big squeamish Catholic and Calvinist community of people who've never seen themselves naked, you're bound to offend somebody when you put up an image of a penis. Whether it's a painting, a photograph, a sculpture, or a puppet in a turtleneck sweater. That looks like a penis.
It would be easy to say that "Sex At The X" is a nose-thumbing at stodgy mores, that it's a big mutinous middle finger of rebellion. But it's not. It is simply the most honest art show I've been to in a long long time. Imagine that you're living in a world of honest artists looking at sexuality, gender, nudity, and using the lexicon of artistry to encourage the debate. The strength of erotica is its honesty. If you're expecting to walk into a dimly- but tastefully-lit gallery full of photographs of demure models and strategically-hidden genitalia you might be offended.
Art is not always easy, and art that pulls back a curtain or flings open a door or looks under a bed (or on top of a bed) can be unsettling. Or funny. Or calming. Or infuriating.
But an erotic art show should not be controversial, per se. The only controversy about erotica is its definition, since the term "erotica" can illustrate so many different concepts. The discussion is what matters. At the artists' reception Saturday night, I had the opportunity to talk to a number of artists about the difference between art, erotica, and pornography.
The reception was way too short.
Yes, Mike painted a headless guy handing his skull to a nude reclining woman. The irony, and the pun, was not lost. Yes, Ellen mounted and framed merkins. Yes, Milton depicted a detailed strip club, with locally recognizable patrons. Roger's was a huge and obscene OTC ("over the couch") cartoon. Nik's tiny, detailed, intmate scenes held people's rapt attention.
I was thrilled. (No, not like that.) As a purebred SouthCoast prude with brief gusts into skinny-dipping and "frank" sex talks with hot chicks, I was glad to see the works there boldly lit and unashamed.
Too bad the show will only be up for a few more weeks, but Gallery X has a schedule, and the Tenth Anniversary High School Select show goes up March 11.
Let's hope the honest discussion continues. Especially about those high school kids...

Monday, February 11, 2008

One Big Onion

Saturday morning, Patric M. Verrone (President, WGAW) & Michael Winship (President, WGAE) sent a statement to WGA members that included the following:

Less than six months ago, the AMPTP wanted to enact profit-based residuals, defer all Internet compensation in favor of a study,forever eliminate "distributor's gross" valuations, and enforce 39 pages of rollbacks to compensation, pension and health benefits, reacquisition, and separated rights. Today, thanks to three months of physical resolve,determination, and perseverance, we have a contract that includes WGA jurisdiction and separated rights in new media, residuals for Internet reuse,enforcement and auditing tools, expansion of fair market value and distributor's gross language, improvements to other traditional elements of the MBA, and no rollbacks. Over these three difficult months, we shut down production of nearly all scripted content in TV and film and had a serious impact on the business of our employers in ways they did not expect and were hard pressed to deflect. Nevertheless, an ongoing struggle against seven multinational media conglomerates, no matter how successful, is exhausting, taking an enormous personal toll on our members and countless others. As such, we believe that continuing to strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike. Most important, however, is to continue to use the new collective power we have generated for our collective
benefit. More than ever, now and beyond, we are all in this together.

(emphasis I did)
It's that "nearly all scripted content in TV and film" part that's been bugging me through this whole thing. This strike has ultimately become an example of what happens when the Ox of Labor collides with the big Diesel of Capitalism: Somebody gets a dent and somebody limps home to die. Except the workers got what they wanted to get -- PAID! -- and the owners got to pay them. Which shouldn't have been a problem to begin with.
No, this time Labor (big L) took it on the chin.
For all the unity and solidarity WGA workers and concerned celebrities showed, there really was no way the strike would have lasted much longer. ("The Oscars are coming, the Oscars are coming!") The WGA Presidents had said just that. (Not the Oscars part) Now we'll just go back to a slightly more attractive status quo, demonizing the writers the way the Conservatives demonize Al Gore. I can hear the wags' remarks. "How can you have a work stoppage by stopping doing something that looks like you've already stopped working?" Har har...
So now Membership votes. If the new deal isn't ratified, we'll just see hundreds of "special" deals cut by individual writers with their bosses to get work for the shows wealthy enough to cut the deals. You know, like the Leno thing. Using very clever disingenuity to dodge the definition of "strike." I can walk through the line because I'm not in that particular Union... I can buy my way out... screw the Guild... new paradigm...etc...
The point is, if you can get a good deal for you and your employer and your family, you're doing the right thing by Capitalist standards, and to Hell with the guy who isn't smart enough or quick enough or clever enough to help himself the way that you did. Let the dumb guy suffer, I got mine. That mindset doesn't make Labor particularly strong.
How many Tennessee coal miners cut their own special deals with mine owners and went back to work? That many? But they were known as scabs and were not heroes. If more of them had turned and become goons and scabs, the meager advances made by some union miners would never have happened and the line between life and death for some would have been precariously blurred.
The effect a striking coal miner in Tennessee had on an iron miner in Minnesota, had on a steel worker in Pittsburgh, was clear: My job depends on your job and your working conditions are my concern because if your health and happiness are insured, I can benefit because the whole economy benefits, not just because I get my ton of coal. That particular aspect of the Writers Guild Strike was barely given lip service, except when we were shown the glamorous soon-to-be "out-of-work" actors joining the line and interviews with spoiled Americans wondering aloud how they'll ever survive without fresh teevee distractions.
The notion of "collective" doesn't sit well with the Cult of the Individual. "One person speaking for many? Impossible! How will I get my demands heard?" is the neo-Labor mantra. A free market, apparently, means everybody's free to hope everybody else gets less than you do.
I'm glad this is turning out differently. I'm glad friends and people I admire are getting back to work, with fair remuneration. Congratulations to WGA East and West.
I do, however, wish the Labor Movement had benefitted as well.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Correction

In an earlier post, I used an unfortunate term to describe the people I thought I would encounter there.
The event I referred to, The Ninth Annual Frederick Douglass Read-A-Thon, did not employ the usual cast of "self-important attention hounds." New Bedford has its share of people who show up at events in order to be seen, make incongruous remarks, and vanish when the cameras get put away. They know who they are, and I dreaded their usual crass opportunism..
However, I ended up enjoying an afternoon with a bunch of people who care about the history of my city. And by "history," I mean past, present, and future.
Maybe it was the Quaker Meetinghouse atmosphere, or the singleness of purpose and intent among those gathered there, I saw only people inspired by the words of Frederick Douglass.
It is hard to stand before a congregation and not feel a need to emote a little when you read a line (written in 1870) like

War, slavery, injustice, and oppression, and the idea that might makes right, have been uppermost in all such governments; and the weak, for whose protection governments are ostensibly created, have had practically no rights which the strong have felt bound to respect. The slayers of thousands have been exalted into heroes, and the worship of mere physical force has been considered glorious. Nations have been and still are but armed camps, expending their wealth and strength and ingenuity in forging weapons of destruction against each other...
More inspiring when you hear school kids reading them. (It was fun to be reminded that Douglass learned how to write by copying the writing that the ships' carpenters at Durgin and Bailey's shipyard scrawled to mark "that part of the ship for which it was intended.") About the only negative comment all afternoon was heard in the room set up for refreshments. A man I do not know turned to a woman, whom I assume was his wife, and said: "I'm hearing some of this for the first time. I wonder how Don Imus or the rest o'them can even talk into a microphone."
New Bedford continues to surprise.

What I Do On My Sunday Off

This afternoon, a bunch of us self-important attention hounds will be standing in the Historic Friends Meeting House on Spring Street in New Bedford to read aloud the words of Frederick Douglass, a giant on whose shoulders we dwarves totter.
There is very little about "activism" today that equates to the the kind of activism that Abolitionism was. Or Women's Suffrage. Or even the Civil Rights movement of forty years ago. And that's not because the Green Movement, or LGBT Equality, or Animal Ethics are not worthy causes, worthy of every bit of blood, sweat, tears, and breath.
Impassioned speeches, deeply and honestly delivered. I don't think Douglass ever used flowcharts, PowerPoint, or other visual aids. Oratory didn't rely upon snide expressions or snarky wordplay or scare quotes or eye-rolling or cutesy good-ol-boy soundbites or any of the other cheap contemporary tricks.
We've tech-ed ourselves out of the game. If paragraphs (or words) are too big and they don't fit on an iPhone screen, they get deleted without a thought. If the music isn't an immediate wall of deafeningness, there's no point in paying cover. If the images don't come at 1/1,000,000,000th of-a-second MyFaceTubeBook-approvable flashes, it's all too slow to keep anybody's attention or interest. And there has to be a laugh or a disemboweling every 1/1000th of a second or face the wrath of the bored and disappointed livebloggers.
Douglass stood up in front of people, faced down institutionalized and traditional hatred and ignorance and violence and murder.
With words.
Do Douglass' words have any impact today?
We'll see.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Now that the only people who talked about the environment have left the presidential race, I wondered where Obamary Clinbama stood on eco-issues. I'm sure we'll go back and forth all Summer on this, but here's a fun piece put together by kirk Murphy at firedoglake. If any Anthropocenic life gives a crap about the Antropocene Epoch.
  • Big Moromonon Narcissaur Mitt Romney was prattling on about something (obviously trying to get everyone's mind off the fact that he's a loser and quitter) and he said that "dependency is a poison." If "depending" is poisonous, then I would imagine that "providing" is also poisonous, since one cannot depend if nobody provides. So conservatives dislike The Providing as much as The Depending, or probably moreso because The Providing costs more than The Depending, except in the pride and dignity department. So, if Mitt wants everybody to stop depending, he must be encouraging someone to stop giving. So don't give any money to to conservatives. They don't want it because it will make them dependent. Which is bad. They say.
  • I'm so glad conservatism is eating itself.
  • I think I understand the rationale behind the 'Yes we DO waterboard" announcements that keep coming from that place. It's tough talk. We'll go right on torturing, no matter how unreasonable, inhumane, and worthless torture is. The problem is, we haven't taught the rest of the world to appreciate out thirst-for-vengeance-village-for-an-eye-bring-a-warhead-to-a-knife-fight way..
  • It worked for Torquemada. See: There are no longer heretics or Jews or pagans.
  • "The streets are crazy," said the victim (possibly perpetrator) of a gang-related crime. Sure, if all you see is The Crazy. Perhaps a broader scope...
  • I heard a lady from Fall River complaining on Super Tuesday that she didn't get a ride to the polls. When asked how she got to the polls for the mayoral election, she said that the guy who was elected mayor was giving out rides, but he wasn't giving out rides for the primary. Then she said she had no reason to vote for any of the candidates this primary because nobody offered to give her a ride. What? So, a candidate's altruism extends only as far as the ballots have his name on them. Should tell you something.
  • Not for nothin', but remember when I was all "hey, like, what's up with the SiteMeter saying that everybody's Googling™ looking for 'Mesopotamia' on my blog ONLINE JOURNAL, back in 1386 and then I referred to that in October '07 ? It was Norouz. Well, dude, how dumb was I? Big They Might Be Giants fan didn't put II and Two together to make ...

    Oh, and Happy Chinese New Year.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dartmouth's University of MASSachusetts

For those who like their acronyms clearly manifested:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

$uper Fat Tuesday!

WASHINGTON — President Bush submitted a federal budget of $3.1 trillion on Monday, declaring that the spending plan would keep the United States safe and prosperous and, despite the astronomical numbers, adhere to his principle of letting Americans keep as much of their own money as possible.

When I submit my household budget to the cats every fiscal year, I'm careful to let them know that, even though some expenditures may seem like extravagant luxuries ("You wanna give HOW MUCH to the Buttonwood Zoo? Let them hunt for their own food. They're outside, aren't they?"), not a penny is wasted.
Our new "lock the door" policy has kept the transient vineyard workers from raiding the paint locker, so there's one expenditure assuredly diminished, also saving on transportation costs for the housekeeping staff's now-unnecessary packy runs. Also: installing a little money-saver like passive solar heating (Leave a cat in a window and then let her sit on your lap. Can't get more passive than that. -Al Gore). I've even toyed with the idea of installing geothermal power since I have actually gotten so damned angry at the current administration that at times I become an oscillating drill bit.
Of course, the United States budget is an entirely different, complex matter, since it can rely upon money garnered from completely non-existant sources. Unlike the Massachusetts budget, which includes moneys from yet-to-be-built casinos. Or the Fall River budget, which included moneys from yet-to-be-built breweries. That never get built.
Well, the U.S. Budget money doesn't come from nowhere. It comes from crazy. By way of China. Funny though... U.S. Americans get most of our consumer goods from China, so we pay them for that stuff now. And then at some point, as a nation, we'll have to pay back the money we, as a nation, are "borrowing" from them. So, as long as your grandchildren don't shop at WalMart, your family will only be paying the people who have destroyed our economy once for the privelege of buying cheap child-labor-made socks, three pairs to a bag.
Which eventually your grandchildren will be employed manufacturing in some sweatshop in New Bedford. See how we'll come out just fine? It's the Trickle All Over Your Leg thing ol' Mother Reagan used to prattle on about as he transitioned from Rand-inspired evil to dementia. But at least he established the now-honored American tradition of letting us keep our own money.
In the meantime, I urge everyone to practice for the upcoming fiscal challenge opportunities by "enjoying" every possible drop of Mardi Gras, and especially rehearse exposing yourself to get worthless baubles.
Unless you do that anyway.
Go vote. Where applicable.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hi$tori¢a££¥ Important Architecture

Earlier, I started another journal entry by noting that my little slice of The Beach is referred to as "The Country." I may not have said "by Beachdwellers who like to go vroomvroomvroom on their post-1998 Harley-compatible motorcycles or pre-1998 Oldsmobuicks."

As tenement-denizens, cityfolk are assured that it is their birthright to enjoy a drive through the natty neighborhoods and sometimes stop at a roadside stand for a bag of turnips, in season. "Assured?" By whom?

By the Swampers who need them around in order to have somebody to grumble about.

That's what's called a symbiotic relationship. The cityfolk can envy the countryfolk their simple ways and big yards, and the countryfolk can complain about the cityfolk.

Nature is, indeed, perfect.

Recently though, a new and different invasive species has brought credit-enhanced and self-indulgent anthropogenic changes to South Dartmouth. Changes that are not met with cheer. Because the changes made are permanent and caused by the kind of cityfolk that don't bring Dunkin' Donuts and Burger King lunches.

"Monstrous." "Ludicrous, ridiculous." "A horror story." Just some of the noises emanating from locals reacting to what's usually done to chunks of American history down here.

The Dartmouth "martini glass" aid to navigation went down after James and Connie B spent $8.5 million to buy the land around it, plus a rumored $180,000 to "try" to "save" it. Well, at least they made an effort.





Edward and Dale M, of Washington D.C. (which already made them suspect), paid $6 million for (according to their lawyer, a "leaning, twisty, funky 42-room warren") they didn't want anyway. Two buildable lots, 25 acres. BostonGlobe photo of what was leftWhen they sought to demolish the old building, an outcry caused them to look into ways to preserve some of the history; there were rumors that they would keep the facade and rebuild inside, leaving at least the image of 300 years of history intact. Tales of John James Audubon and George Patton and champion Quansett Farm horsebreeding and other significant historical moments were shared throughout the media and at meetings. Surely feeling assailed by the family of the original owners, neighbors, historians, local, regional, and national preservation groups, the new owners did the only thing newbuilders can do: They waited the required period of time, spent what looked like a reasonable amount of money on a contractor who claimed mold damage and prohibitive costs, nodded and smiled, shook their heads gravely, and then tore it down and built their Tuscan villa or whatever the hell.BostonGlobe photo of what ended up(I, for one, am thrilled that directors of big private equity firms and multinational Trilateral-types are living near me. Because these guys usually know something about safe places to be for Amageddon and such.)

Long-time residents and those who appreciate historically significant structures usually float the following lifering: Buy the house, move it to a location far from the philistines, restore it on your own sweet timetable, and, erm, uh, I'm not sure what happens next. Because I know of two that were torn down before the option was ever seriously played and the one that actually did move, well, nothing much has happened to that place in two years. I live next door to it and, yes, I am aware of the grumbling about how the owner hasn't done anything and it all looks like crap.

This from people who can't pick up the tires off their own lawn.

The Tuckerman Farm (another award-winning-horse farm also known as Little Sunswick Farm) in Westport went down. The St. James Convent in Tiverton (the Church Estate I mentioned here) didn't even get that much thought before it went down.

And don't start with the "They bought the place, they can do what they want." "Private property is none of your business. It's private," or "It's unAmerican to deny someone the right to do with their stuff whatever they want, this isn't Communism, you know." Even the "Their house will be historically significant, too, some day."
I don't buy it.

But then again, I can't buy it.

It's usually a little out of my price range.

n.b. -- The Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust, Inc. (DHPT) will "protect and preserve architecturally and historically significant structures and sites located in Dartmouth and surrounding communities, through the acquisition of such structures and sites, and easement interests therein, through providing financial and technical assistance in connection with the preservation and restoration of such structures and sites, and through education and advocacy." So there's that.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Soles'N'Bowls

"A meat market for sex offenders"
-- radio hostess describing the New Bedford Public Library.
  • There was a foul and heinous crime committed there by a foul and heinous person. The radio hostess was doing what she's supposed to do: Irresponsibly generate hysteria. The radio station generally provides a cheery simple-minded celebration of parochialism with brief but meaningless forays into bitchy partisan political name-calling and foot-stomping. But, yesterday afternoon, serving up the "Public's Need To Know" canard with a side of "I'm Here To Protect You," the hostess crossed the line into sensationalistic irresponsibility while capitalizing on the sordid nature of the crime. I didn't need to hear the salacious private details of the crime repeated obsessively while unrelated obscene rumors and prurient gossip were voiced by callers, not challenged or even questioned.
  • I've heard very young children call that station, which leads me to believe young children may be listening. I'm sure their parents aren't as irresponsible. "Where are our children safe?" she asked. Certainly not listening to the radio.
  • I was going to say something about strawboogeymen and the culture of fear perpetuated by media's frightened old terrorist ladies, but you know what I say: Remain Unafraid.
  • With apologies to Rousseau, Fear is not the Natural State of Man. Stop embarrasing me.
  • The City of New Bedford and D-UMass (Dartmouth's University of Massachusetts) have set up a bus service to bring students Downtown for shopping, entertainment, and cultural events. There. Now how hard was that?
  • A pal of mine once ran for Town Council merely in order to garner publicity for his law practice. He said he'd heard somewhere that the best thing a lawyer could do was run for political office -- and lose. It's a lose-win, since the publicity would put your name (but not your loss) into the minds of the voters, who would remember you when they need you. I'm sure 9iu11ani, inc should be doing pretty well. (Don't tell anyone I have good friends who are lawyers.)
  • So now, lessee... The important MainstremeTeeVeeTopics in the 2008 PreznitRace so far are: (1) Is America Ready4WeepyGirlyPrez?, (2) UFOs, (3)MoslimIslomMuslem, (4) Haircuts, (5) HugNotHug, (6) WossaMormon, (7)The Demise & Return of BucWheats Cereal (8) RonaldReagan/MartinLutherKingJr, (9) , and (10) CommiesCommiesCommies.
  • Avoiding Bill Murray mentions.
  • Gotcher Krewe all caught fer Fat Tuesday? And yes, Googlers™, here's the Wallbank's Compendium answer to your "pope fish Friday" queries. (Not intended to be used as reference material for school projects, masters theses, magazine and newspaper articles, partisan hack radio talk shows, commencement addresses, valedictory speeches, catechism classes, or, especially, as an authorized authority for bets involving someone buying someone a drink. )
  • So, The Cultivator Bones (I'm sure that was a Barbara Kingsolver book) have been sort of identified. I still think cows have more to add to the story...