Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oddubon

The City of New Bedford -- for want of a better term -- has a lot of really cool paintings.
Surprisingly, the New Bedford Art Museum does not (because it -- wisely -- is not collection-holding and is a private entity not in any way affiliated with The City). Nor does the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which also is not a City entity and may actually have the "New Bedford" appendage excised.
A moment of explanation: The reason that I exhibit such eagerness to insist on the "not affiliated with the city" status of certain organizations that have "New Bedford" in their business names is due to an overwhelming number of near-altercations I have experienced while working at those cultural institutions. Usually, some besotted angry-letter-to-the-editor-writing "community activist" tells me that he is a taxpayer and pays my salary. Then he'll make the leap to threatening to have me fired, because I have refused his stinking shmammered self entrance or permission to stand in the courtyard and yell about PCBs and the socialistic Clinton/Bush/Hussein administration.
All right, Whiny McFussbudget. If you want to be that way about it, then, by golly, the fact of the matter is that my stipends and exorbitant fees have been paid by the family of an actor with nothing officially to do with New Bedford because they live in the suburbs. Other individuals responsible for me earning my extraordinary dollarage, since I was not paid by the City of New Bedford:

  1. Emily Bourne, daughter of Nineteenth Century whaling mogul Jonathan Bourne;
  2. Irwin Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm;
  3. Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green, son of Hetty "The Witch of Wall Street" Green, (not the genocidal Star Trek nutbag character).
  4. Also: any member of the Olde Dartmouth Historical Society, thank you.
Where was I? Oh, of course, the City of New Bedford's collection of rare, unique, and priceless art... If one were to, say, make a discreet inquiry about such a collection, where would one direct this query? As previously declared, NBAM is non-collection-hoarding. So who else might have paintings and such available for perusal? Besides, that is, terrifically tasteful pals of mine?
Don't look to Johnny Cake Hill, Seeker. When I worked for the Whaling Museum, we were hanging, devising exhibits, rearranging, redevising exhibits, putting hands through paintings and dropping whalebones on priceless things every eighteen minutes or so, so it's probably not the best place to see "art" in its natural habitat. Except for in the lavishly-appointed galleries on special occasions every other day or so. (I was always glad to deinstall an exhibit because goodness knows that I get antsy around misspelt exhibit signage.)
The New Bedford Free Public Library -- although it doesn't have a cool granite header outside that says THE PEOPLE'S UNIVERSITY like the Fall River one -- curtains an incredible collection assembled with whaling lucre, and recently, they've dragged some of it across the street to NBAM in order to share it with the clamoring hordes of New Bedfidgians who, every decade or so, write angry letters to the editor wondering "whatever happened to all those beautiful bird pictures that we used to have on display in that shopping arcade?"
Dear Mr. Sure-To-Turn-Whatever-The-Answer-Is-Into-A-Reason-To-Bash-Liberals, that "shopping arcade" is the New Bedford Art Museum and those "bird pictures" are actual pages from the Brobdingnagian four-volume set, The Birds of America, that John James Audubon peddled to pal James Arnold, the original owner of the building that is now the Warm Supper Club. This was back when Audubon was selling the huge volumes door-to-door to pay off his Surly Illustrator school loans. Arnold gave the set (which features quadrupeds, in a peculiar 3-D section available only to adults with special glasses) to the New Bedford Free Public Library in 1866, having grown tired of lugging it around his drafty old manse and pestering the members who were there for the club's Whiskey and Suffragettes Night.
But modern viewers can stop by NBAM at 608 Pleasant Street and see these splendid pieces of two-dimensional taxidermy until May 24, in the exciting ellipsis-addled salon: "... Alive and Moving!" John James Audubon's The Birds of America, thanks to Janice Hodson and Louie Doherty, who have neither authorized nor been consulted about this journal entry.Here comes Peter Cottontail, indeed..

(not available as depicted)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Peekaboo Jesus" exposed as mere publicity stunt

1,2,3... RED LIGHT!The speculation is over for the throngs who have assembled outside Premier Video on Ashley Boulevard in New Bedford. The playful figure of religious icon Jesus The Christ has been revealed as the work of self-identified "street artist" Mark Carvalho, whose one-man show at Gallery X (Where they sell artwork. Unlike a museum. Which doesn't.) opens in May.
Ignoring a rarely-observed Biblical injunction against graven images (The Second Commandment), Carvalho's paint-on-paper-stuck-on-wall-with-wheat-paste image has attracted at least a dozen curious amateur art critics and close friends of Jesus The Christ who seemed to know full well what He was doing on the wall. All of whom have added to the superstitious melodrama and rancorous self-righteousness featured every day in the utterly irrelevent "comments" section of the local newspaper's online presence.

"Art is subjective to the viewer," he [Carvalho] said. "I liken it to an ink blot test. It's going to tell us something about that individual as well as the artist's message." (SouthCoastToday.com)
Some have suggested that The Artist Formerly Known as Anonymous should turn his considerable illustration talents to other depictions of other obvious and hard to misinterpret icons which cause interpretation dust-ups among the feeble-witted. Some suggestions included: an atomic mushroom cloud, a unicorn, or skull-and-crossed bones.
As we sense the cooldown of this manufactured and contrived fervor, the indignant backlash against The Artist Formerly Known as Anonymous should heat up just in time for his (indoor) Gallery show. So, here's a picture -- taken this morning in my sun room -- of another beautiful epiphyte, often misreckoned as living on dead stuff but still eliciting oohs and aahs:Saint Phalaenopsis beat MidTown Xavier in hoops

Friday, March 27, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Just as I was regretting not filling page after page of this journal daily, another local whose on-again-off-again affair with sharing Dartmouth politicking online has returned to the seasonal blogosphere. momof3npt always promises a fair-minded and even-handed discussion. In fact, I look forward to her musings on or explanation of/instruction at being fair-minded and even-handed, particularly when the going gets rough, like when she explains the need for quality public education to local illiterates who think paying taxes is for rubes.
  • Although, as a general rule, I tend to shy from vocal fans of Dennis Miller.
  • Another on-again-off-again voice here on The Beach was "SouthCoast Blogger," who promised to "'blog' about "all things SouthCoast" on her "blog," which she called "a blog" way back in 2007.
  • After two months or so of what promised to be insightful -- if not particularly spell- or fact-checked -- "blogging," the "blog" stopped. I do understand that her business, or cottage industry (darrrrrling Sarah Palin T-shirts for kids -- "outselling Obama and McCain 5 to 1") may have taken off due to her "blogging," and thus she had to let the toobz cool for a while. And no longer "blog" there.
  • It would be nice, however, if she surrendered the "SouthCoast Blogger" monicker so that someone who might actually blog about all things SouthCoast -- or anything, for that matter -- might actually blog about all things SouthCoast and use a blog title like "SouthCoast Blogger."
  • Although it is my belief that the interweb-savvy mom of 2 was surreptitiously sewing up the title to keep "whack job bloggahs" from ruining public discussion of issues of relevance to the literate or civically-active.
  • Although I may have mentioned at some time in the past that,
    like anyone else with ties to Fall River (I was born there, at Saint Anne's, in
    a ward that's now a parking lot
    ), I can appreciate the Lizzie Borden story.
    Friends of mine have made a living by researching, writing about, and telling
    that story. I feel, however, that she is a very small, morbid part of Fall
    River's rich history. A history that cannot be adequately told with gory parlor scenes...
    I must thank My Friend Sue for a delightful tour of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum last night in -- where else? -- Fall River. Good friends -- old and new -- plus good food at Apsara, who does not have a flattering website. (I just wish that the Apsara menu weren't so maddeningly diverse in scope and choice. Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, You could spend hours just reading it, never mind deciding what to enjoy.)
  • The auction of the Central Congregational/Abbey Grill? Postponed until May. That should give you time to shake off that silly recession and put together the capital to save the place.
  • I'm always heartened to remember that the beginning of Spring corresponds to a boyhood chum's birthday. Have a nice weekend, Steve.
  • Spring is late this year. Officially. Because for the past two years, on March 23, I published this:
  • (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.

This year, I heard the first of 'em on March 25.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Recognizing Sterling Hayden's Birthday

In general, I have found few spirits who share my admiration and respect for the work of Sterling Relyea Walter. Here and there, I have waxed heroisodic about a New Englander who, after a youth of privileged knocking about in prep school and such, took to an entertainment medium and achieved some level of success which he may or may not have deserved, according to wags, accomplices, and colleagues.
But I learned to grow from that experience. And to appreciate the unclouded wisdom of the man who co-starred with, married, and then sensibly divorced Madeleine Carroll.Leo G. Carroll. Madeleine Carroll as some chick named 'Carol.' The Carrollpalooza of 1941

Really. If I had a bigger studio publicity shot of a scene that never occurred in the film Bahama Passage, I would show you the gosh-awful swellness of the two filmstars I've mentioned. However, a man sometimes has to resort to other means, embracing and capitalizing on a certain animus: the quality that provokes and sustains. Something that says: "Hey you! Feeble clock-watching rube! Wouldn't it be nice to bend those awkward minutes into a hard dose of indiscrimnate slugs coughed insouciantly into some brown-shoed square's waistcoat?"
"A man -- or, in some men's cases, a woman -- has gotta do something. You know. No matter how generic, neutral, or non-conditional. You go ahead and try to transport that boat on that warter like I did that time in that movie or film or indeterminate period in an offspring's upbringing."When you realize that some day, the sum total of a man's life work is either flashed on the screen at an awards show as the eighty-three seconds he spent as the uniformed heavy in a crappy over-rated fantasy movie about imaginary ethnic low-ballers and bottom-feeders or the anguished minutes he spent trying to steal a movie from Peter Sellers, why wouldn't you give him the opportunity to pop a live round into something while filming?
All of the violence and actual action in Stanley Kubrick's 1956 movie (based on the classic pulp-noir Clean Break by Lionel White) is available for view in the above trailer. Except for this sequence, featuring the terpsichorean adroitness of chess enthusist Nicholas "Kola" Kwariani:
In what I can only describe as a Celtic knot of logic, Hayden was rarely considered a "comfortable" actor. He was, however, often thought of as "a natural," a man's man who was acting because, well, somebody had to play the men. Today, we would watch his every move on the screen because his ease with somewhat wooden delivery makes him look unpolished, and thus honest.
And I guess that's the point. But certinly not his.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire: March 25, 1911


Many of the images in this above photo-documentary could very well be of workers in Fall River or any other of the great textile cities of the Northeastern United States. This guy has a great take on it.


I can still remember the smell of a burning factory -- long shut down -- and the stories of old-timers who remembered the days of children who swabbed the factory floor with oil to keep the cotton dust down and out of the machinated looms. Imagine being told by one of those old-timers: "We all left the room in case of a fire, and they slam these big metal doors. They don't open 'em 'til it burns itself all out. Sometimes one of the kids wouldn't get out. The rest of the mill would keep right on spinning or weaving or whatever. Salvage what equipment they could, get back making in that shop in a week."
The old-timer who shared that insight with me was actually repeating what he had heard from a representative of the generation before him, because he had obviously worked after the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Maybe everyone tells the "walking uphill both ways in the snow" stories to toughen up the new kids.
As late as twenty or twenty-five years ago, there were still shifts assembling sweaters or embroidering belts. I often chuckled over "the Reagan Eighties"with the owners of a childrens' clothing manufactury. They didn't chuckle, however, at "union talk." They considered it not only un-American, but also, frankly, very passé, part of the olden days they were trying both to avoid and to deny. The only people who sought out union shops for their brochures were Democrats who were running for something. Plus: you got breaks, you got lunch, you got bonuses, you got sick days. "The only thing a union would do," they would quip, "is take your dues."
I worked in a mill, serving breakfast and lunch in a privately-owned cafe to customers -- the folks who worked at the machines up the hall, and on the floor above. Every so often, we would hear about a shop closing down or laying off ten or twelve people -- most of their staff. The rest of our clientele were bus trip bargain hunters who completely bought the brochures' selling points of the "factory outlet" myth, that they were buying products made right there in the very factory they shopped in.
When I worked in one of the clothing stores (an "ultra-hip upscale urban specialty retailer" that sold samples grabbed off the racks at industry shows), I never knew where the clothing was assembled. Indonesia or Tennessee, but not down the hall. Because that was an overstock book wholesaler.
Me? I made bacon-egg sandwiches and tuna melts, then went to my other job.
And I always felt a little queasy whenever I heard a fire alarm.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Yes, it is true that I went to Fairhaven to celebrate the Leaving of the Mayflower, a local annual sign of Spring as the replica leaves its makeup chair to get nudged by tug back to its place on the Plymouth MA waterfront (and open for tours tomorrow). Yes, today is the First Day of Spring. No, I did not shmooze my way aboard Mayflower II this year because, well, I didn't show up on time. The working waterfront remained, however, unimpressed.Plus, it's a tub. And my expertise is Eighteenth Century veseels. Antiques...
  • Although: Not bad for 50.
  • Nary a week goes by in the ol' e-mail inbox that doesn't include some ludicrous take on Moby-Dick. This week is no exception.
  • For me, learning of a "brave new interpretation" just makes me feel as if someone has decided to put all the wet heavy snowdrifts of the past three months into a bag of frigid northerlies and scraped a big fat lead pencil over the Sun and wrote another sure-to-be-heavily-funded-but-not-meant-to-be-consumed children's theater project with it. And then they confused matters even worse by addending it to the usually-held-on-the-last-Friday-of-the-month soiree under the bones in the New Bedford Whaling Museum Cetacean Holocaust Memorial Gallery, to be held inexplicably tonight.
  • From the recent hawker from NBWM:
    Mixed Magic Theatre's Production of Moby-Dick: Then and Now Friday 8:00 p.m. and Saturday 8:00 p.m. Museum Theater Tickets: General Admission $15. Students andSeniors with ID $10. Moby-Dick: Then and Now tells two interlocking tales: the quest of Herman Melville's Captain Ahab and his diverse crew to find and kill the white whale that wounded Ahab; and the voyage through the city of a crew of inner-city youth, led by a young girl, to track down and kill WhiteThing - theembodiment of the power of cocaine and the drug culture surrounding it. Ahab and his crew speak the language of Melville's novel, while the urban crew speaks a blend of hip-hop and street slang, carrying the actions and motivations of Melville's dramatic and colorful characters into our modern world. Call (508)997-0046 ext. 100 to reserve tickets.[sic]
  • Will they also spend ten chapters with a raging moralizing interior monologue while the young girl comes to terms with her own toxic megalomania and loss of her soul in a self-serving and devestatingly destructive quest for revenge? Which isn't even a significant part of the story?
  • There. I just did exactly what bothers me about "modern" interpretations. Of anything.
  • Moby-Dick is like that proverbial onion. You can carfefully peel back a layer and reassemble it nearby, but it's just a hollow reminder of the true work. You can spin it to fit any semiotic you choose. Is it a bildungsroman? Is it an allegory? Is it a buddy story? Is it a vengeance tale? Is it a studious piece of historical fiction? Is it humorous? Is it merely tragic? Is it an indictment or a celebration?
  • Yes.
  • But I prefer to think that it is not a hip-hop urban ghetto drug tale where the hero is a disaffected gang leader on a delusional journey after some "White Thing" called cocaine. I'm not sure if I can make it tonight, but if anyone else does, please let me know if they pull it off. Or if it's just high school kids trying to be profound.
  • The Whaling Museum is also sponsoring trips to the Wadsworth Atheneum and the New York Yacht Club, so there's that.
  • We all know that dolphins are way smarter than we. In fact, it might be time to start coming up with something truly unique to amuse our coming alien overlords...


Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Forty Celebrations of Lent Continue...

(being a preparation for next year's actual 40 Celebrations Celebration) from the celebrated Wallbank's Celebration of Celebrations:
Certainly, every ship's carpenter knows that today is Saint Joseph's Day, the anniversary of the day when Saint Joseph -- without an aspirin, even a children's aspirin -- saved the island of Sicily from a terrible drought and famine. The people of Sicily, skilled laborers all, had built tiered altars in a final desperate bid to entreat heathen and pagan deities, so desperate were they. Scoffers will insist that the people of Sicily, once in that prayerful and contemplative mindset, were better equipped to deal with climatic anomalies and then remembered that this was the time of year when the rains came after a long dry spell, and so they planted fava beans and the rains came and they had a big banquet, which was at that time very similar to "Chianti Nite" at the Olive Garden. Except with those hard-ass gennetti cookies that taste like anise. Not zeppoli, the other ones.
The citizens of San Juan Capistrano welcome back their warm-weather feathered accompanists on this day. Your Captain doesn't particularly care for birds annoying and noisy, so the less said about this celebration of migratory patterns, the better.
Of course, today is the day which commemorates the way Americans look at their governance: on cable television with drinking games involving legislators uttering a certain common word or phrase. Like "Take a Long Draw on Your Hoegaarden Every Time Barney Frank Says, 'Well, now look...'" It's the Thirtieth Anniversary of C-SPAN! So, crank up the ol' RCA Victor over by the conversation pit and make sure that you watch some Senators yell at some CEOs, bankers, or insurance industry operatives while everything else goes to hell. Celebrate C-SPAN
!

30 is old

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Important Day

In case, dear anonymous possible seeker of Pope Gregory, you also may be, like many of us, seeking some sort of excuse to celebrate something -- anything -- during this, the last week of The Winter That Refused to Die, H.M.S. Impossible presents a few choices for your possible jubilance:
Let's see, it's Lesley-Anne Down's birthday... Without makeup, wardrobe, and such, she's just another mere pretty mortal... It's Kurt Russell's birthday, as well as that of bass player Gary Sinise, both of whom you can find on this little list.
Wish Christian Clemenson a Happy Birthday... As Socrates Poole, the greatest side-kick everAnd Danny Ainge... Not playing baseball here.and it's also drummer Caroline Corr's BIRTHDAY! Now, which beautiful, talented, Irish kid are you again? Funny story: I was in New York City, delivering some exotic and expensive plants or other, and my way was blocked by what appeared to be a film crew setting up for some newsbody's stand-up in front of some building. I dropped the plants off at their intended destination, got a coffee, and wandered back. Imagine my surprise -- if you will, and if you have any capacity for empathy -- when I turned the corner and saw The Corrs, the Adult-ContempoPop sensation from Ireland! Playing lovely music right there on the street. The four stopped playing rather abruptly and -- calling upon my background in sound engineering -- I could tell that they were just sound-checking for what appeared to be a live bit on some morning chat show. The youngest sister (an absolute dazzler at seven in the morning) pointed what was either her lovely finger or her tin whistle and shouted, "Hey! Can you come over, listen to us?" Of course, when I turned the corner, there was a small crowd already there, and we all stood and appreciatively listened to "Forgiven, Not Forgotten" from their debut disc Forgiven, Not Forgotten. Afterwards, I got to meet the band, except for the drummer. Who, as it turns out, is Caroline.
So, "Happy Birthday!" to her.
But there's something about her nationality and that "Celtic" green uniform that suggests some other thing. I mean, besides Evacuation Day...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Rush who now? I can't imagine discussing a joke radio character in any serious fashion. And I knew Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf.
  • Whenever anyone calls my landline on their digital phone and it's picking up the ambient conversations as clearly as the person who is calling, I always yell. That'll show you how old I am.
  • Or, how much I'd rather just text.
  • If you're at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy -- and if you want a job on a ship, you should be -- you'll be learning how to fire guns and handle risk management since the public's love affair with peg-legged, hook-handed, eyepatched parrot tenders has led to a general tolerance for people who identify themselves with the P-Word. Thanks to Mass Maritime, the rest of us can feel a little safer knowing that some idiot won't think that Johnny Depp is climbing up the hull when somebody yells "PIRATE!"
  • A few years ago, a friend of mine pressed me and another friend into an escapade involving acting and dancing that was her presentation for her Master's Degree at Emerson's College of Oratory.
  • She succeeded wildly, of course -- choice of play and participants notwithstanding -- and I'll always remember hopping down to the corner tavern for awful chicken wings and loud tourons calling their waitress "Carla."
  • It was the old Bull and Finch Pub, Back Bay's most recognizable ... what? Wrought iron railing recreated by Hollywood union set fabricators for brief weather-establishing business, usually involving a guy named Norm?
  • Back in the days before the InterToobz, people found out about location shooting by word of mouth, and the news of an actual bar that might possibly could have something to do with teevee folk brought a number of people out to seek T-shirts and shot glasses that had the pre-established comfy logo of Cheers on them.
  • Speaking of teevee and bars, the NYTimes has a swell bit on some places around NYNY where they don't have any. First time that we up at this end of The Beach have been ahead of the curve. I cannot name one bah that doesn't have at least three screens hollering some gibberish at me while I ... But I digress...
  • Eddie Doyle was the senior bartender at The Bull and Finch, with thirty-five years of experience being patient and pleasant, drawing one after another for the folks who wanted a piece of the star that he shone under. He's another guy who is being tossed to the wharf because the dogs who own his rig can't figure out a way to keep both his and their own tidy share of the take.
  • Eddie Doyle was the real deal. He wasn't a womanizer. He wasn't a hotdogger flipping bottles over his head and inventing horrible concoctions with smutty names. He enjoyed his work, and did it at the same place for thirty-five years. (I envy anyone who's had the same job for more than thirty-five days.)
  • They finally figured out that the reason that I have diabetes (the juvenile-onset one, not the hipster one that everybody gets just to be cool) is, according to a Glaswegian smartypants, the fault of a little enterovirus plus some unfortunately-placed genetic factors that enabled an autoimmune disorder to destroy insulin-producing cells in my pancreas.
  • I will thank everyone to NOT TELL MY MOTHER!! Who will automatically assume that it was her fault. I assure her now -- as I always have -- that she is in no way culpable, (because she never is, dammit) since she kept an immaculate house and kept me pretty much boiled and disinfected and well-groomed throughout my early formative years. And terrifically well-dressed, also.
  • But I do suspect those nuns. No matter what dental hygiene products...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Two Things I Like About Fall River This Week

That's right: "Like."

One: Elin Noble's textiles exhibition at The Narrows Center for the Arts. And not just because I love Elin like a friend (and I do), or that I love itajime scarves, which I don't. They certainly don't discharge any of the practical functions of sails, and don't even provide terribly vibrant or legible burgees, since their designs are so often ephemeral and intricate. But if that's the worst thing that I can say about the show, you know that it's pretty damned good.
There's a lot of emotional weight in these lighter-than-air pieces of gossamer framed and hanging loosely in the old warehouse on Anawan Street. You can lose yourself in the patterns that never repeat quite exactly, the colors that aren't colors at all but are many colors at once, the madly intricate quilting that calls to mind drops of water, grains of sand, and elegant calligraphy.
This descendant of Fall River workers was struck by Layered Affinities: QUILTS AND HAND-DYED CLOTH BY ELIN NOBLE because it brings a dye and textile genius' beautiful examples of contemporary textiles to the city of Fall River. The city that was, arguably, the busiest and richest textile producer in the world for at least a week or two during the Nineteenth Century.

Two: Fall River Herald News comments. I've often detailed my displeasure with the New Bedford Standard-Times (SouthCoastToday) and their daily dose of amateur "writer-editor" buffoonery at the bottoms of the stories as set online. It has now become apparent that these personality-disordered dingbats are only mocking the newspaper organization by obsessively and witlessly attacking news writers, editors, and each other. There is no effort by the paper to stop this vulgarity or offense.
I had once thought that a local staffer wrote inflammatory opening jeers to get the ball rolling, but that just can't be. Instead, four or five socially-disturbed anonymous characters who seem not to read the articles -- or the other comments -- log in, pick an empty box in which to type, and then grouse and gripe, selfishly and childishly, about something. Liberals, the Mayor, local businesses, crime are favorite topics for derision, but the commentarazzi have no discernible knowledge or obvious experience with politics, leadership, business, or law.
Would that the paper just allowed one to read the news without the possibility of letting one's eyes drift down below the fold and see the vile excrescence that these damaged wags wallow in day after day. A foul stench that the newspaper emits for no other reason than: to stink.
This said, I am often thrilled and pleased to read the conversations on the Herald News site. I enjoy the sustained sharing of information between usually-genial interlocutors. There are, certainly, some negative and unpleasant goons whose only purpose is to disrupt the flow and showcase their own supposed cleverness, but those are largely ignored, corrected, or castigated, and the discourse continues, on-topic and informative. If someone complains about the Mayor, there are facts and historical precedents exhibited. These comment-sharers may be just as obsessive as the above miscreants, but they certainly have more integrity and discretion, and I thank them for exhibiting it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • The media outlets around here have no real competition. I mean, they compete, but not among like entities. I mean, they don't have any source of intra-industry engagement. (Except if you count the malcontents and morons who type in the comments sections or call the talk shows, but they're usually just plotting treasonous activities, hoping for the President to fail, spreading recklessly incorrect rumors, and badmouthing liberals).
  • Which is why the newspaper and the radio station nearby are going after each other. The "no real competition" thing, I mean. In real cities, a few radio stations fight it out to see who's better. By being better.
  • The local stations on this stretch of The Beach don't care about being better.
  • I suppose I would have to side with the paper because its output is written down and passed around (for now) so it has to be somewhat accurate and conform to some print media industry standards, understand the market, provide dependable service, be generally editorially consistent, and exhibit a certain degree of journalistic integrity.
  • The radio station insults the community every day, not serving that community while constantly saying that it does, and will encourage you to shut it off or buy your own if you don't like it.
  • Let's say that you've come up with an odiously lame-brained publicity stunt. You are incapable of discerning that your little scheme has a huge hole in its logic.
  • This plays out as a classic half-cocked ruse that clearly demonstartes the madness at play at that radio station..
  • "Send me your shirt and we'll send it to the State House to show them you won't let them take the shirt off your back!" says the news-anchor-who-is-also-a-whiny-bitch-of-a-right-wing-talk-host. On the same station.
  • So, let me get this straight: You want to send a message to the legislators (or the governor or something -- he wasn't clear and just got louder, rather than more lucid) by sending elected officials our shirts. In order to tell them that they can't take the shirts off our backs. So some bewildered listeners send them in anyway.
  • I can't wait to see the headlines: Obama wears blue tie. Dow up. Blue ties fly off racks. No issues with 'causality' here.
  • That no one pointed out the folly of this endeavor to this poor on-air idiot is unconscionable. A simple "Hey, maybe we should think this through. You know, the logic" would suffice. Either nobody is paying attention (highly likely) or nobody cares (also an option). Either way, I wouldn't advertise there. Because I would hate to have my business associated with a dumbass baffling flummox dreamed up by specious delusional frightened miscast narcissists. Who don't talk to each other.
  • But I tend to overthink things. (I learned that when I worked in real radio.)
  • So, here's this:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Crispus Attucks

"Come on you rascals, you bloody backs, you lobster scoundrels, fire if you dare, God damn you, fire and be damned, we know you dare not."
Whether he actually composed and delivered that poetical line on that March 5 in 1770 is hard to say. We do know that a bunch of guys were getting pretty fed up with the destruction of their economy by a monarch they considered a faraway tyrant with no local sovereignty. These were men whose livelihoods were based on the maritime industries in and around Boston. For six years, the bromide "taxation without representation" colored every business transaction, hung in every tavern, tagged every ship and ropemakers' walk and sailmaker's loft.
It would have been pretty simple for guys like Crispus Attucks -- who was a sailor on a whaling ship (and no longer thought of as merely a runaway slave who had skipped out on his plantation gig in Framingham). If the King sent soldiers to enforce zany taxes and strange quartering acts, so what? The soldiers had guns and took colonists' jobs and pressed their shipmates into service. Attucks -- and the other men shot and killed that day : Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, and Patrick Carr -- weren't lawyers or landowners or businessmen or clever pamphleteers. They knew that they would be cannon fodder and target practice in some war, nameless tools of another kind of tyrant. If there was an Adams to immediately praise their bravery and make them martyrs, there was an Adams who would defame them in court, defending the men who had fired on them that March 5.
Clearly, each has a point. And for everyone who looks upon the Boston Massacre as the very provocation to sail for Revolution, there are still those who believe that it was only another fall of the dog, another turn on the capstan that merely hauls a yard.
In the anger of a rabble, Crispus Attucks found a voice. He raised that voice and raised his fist because he knew what it was like to be enslaved. And he knew -- unquestionably -- what freedom felt like.
For he had sailed.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

As high as the topsail yard...

Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings. -- Victor Hugo... because the deck is still covered with snow.