- Why are so many online journals, sites, or "blogs" relatively quiet? Once upon a time, folk were nearly hourly keyboard-jockeying their link-filled and .jpg-attached way into the view of millions with Internet access. Now -- except in the case of some superior products -- an infrequent dab of benign personal observations suffice.
- Speaking for myself and this Journal, I derive satisfaction from the shortform of social media (see the Facebook widget on the port rail?) and I grew tired of mocking local broadcasters, publications, and websites whose owners and operators neglect standards and spelling and grammar. Pointing out examples of the SouthCoast aversion to quality is, in the admonition of the old saw, like teaching a pig to sing.
- It frustrates you and annoys the pig.
- Taking swats at the low-hanging fruit of wretched SouthCoastery is a frustrating practice since the stink is uncompromising. For every suggestion of a dictionary, there are three dozen who say that "speling dont mean shit." For each nod to widely-accepted higher principles, there are shuddering intimations of stultifying parochialism.
- This year, we discovered that people who Google™ themselves misread, misconstrue, and just misunderstand a post and subsequently connive some narcissistic masquerade. To no positive end.
- I made the same mistake in my online journalizing that maddeningly amateur board members and business owners of The SouthCoast make. You don't just make it up as you go, no matter how clever you are at self-invention or diligent you are at self-policing.
- Clumsy governance, inept fundraising, and slipshod marketing are not rendered any more legitimate by posting on your portico a smug handbill anouncing "That's the way it's done here." No amount of awkward excuses and contextless explanations will save your doomed idea.
- I no longer have the inclination to profile and analyze the individuals who comprise the low-balling, miscalculating, unlettered and unfettered SouthCoast powers that be (or the more widely manifest SouthCoast term, "powers to be").
- Putting an over privileged brat on a schooner in order to "instill confidence" only creates a confident overprivileged brat.
- I'll address, in the way that I can, the growing poverty rate that effects children in this country, rather than kowtowing to obviously well-fed brats.
- DONATE TO SAVE THE CHILDREN.
- Or maybe Planned Parenthood.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Longtime readers of The Journal are aware of the tradition of the day before Christmas Eve: Christmas Adam. This year, we start an Impossible Tradition™ and celebrate Christmas Adam with the Christmas episode of Adam-12. Consider it "Christmas Adam-12."
Brought to you as a public service by The War on Festivus.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
You know what it's like having a birthday around Christmas when you're a kid? My sister and I -- born after Christmas -- were always regaled with "If Santa doesn't bring it, you'll get it on your birthday." Observing that our birthday wishes hadn't been acknowledged, we were accustomed to a rejoinder, "Remember what treasures you were rewarded on Christmas morning!"
I wonder if Betty Grable had to put up with that sort of sophistry in reverse since her birthday was December 18.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
It's that time of year again. Hell, that time of year actually began about a month and a half ago, as the banausic bean counters rely on guilt-filled and pedestrian consumers to reconcile the corporate fourth quarter accountings.
As with any holiday, traditions abound. There's the turkey on Thanksgiving that we are are still eating remnants of as Advent starts. There's the Fourth of July Fireworks. There's the annual August Seventeenth mime competitions. And there's....
Monday, November 29, 2010
"Advent" -- the first month of the year in some "church" or other -- begins on the fourth Sunday before the day we know as "Christmas" or "The Day Before the Day When We Bring Back Socks." By canon, it must also begin on the Sunday closest to November 30. Shopkeepers will hope that this is the Sunday closest to Thanksgivening so that there will be a minimum of hangtime between two important commercial feedbags. Hanukkah starts on the 25th of of Kislev and Christmas starts sometime in September, but culminates on December 25, when most of the shops have the good taste to quit hustling junk for a few hours, and the radio stations have the good sense to stop inflicting that horrible music on listeners for at least nother nine months, when they play other horrible music that doesn't involve strained rhymes about unexpected snow or celebrating ethnic donkeys.
The last time that Christmas and Hanukkah were coincident was in 1978, a big year for the Red Sox, but not for DC Comics. This year, Hanukkah begins on December First, to get it all out of the way before the Christmas rush.
And that's why The Impossible Adventure Calendar will start ripping open the little windows and doors on the Julekalendar on the first day of December. Besides, that's when it's designed to commence. Traditionally a "countdown to Christmas," Yule Calendars only have capacity for 24 special cells, ignoring Christmas entirely. Thus, during the part of the year when the days get noticeably shorter, Yule or Advent is a surely pleasing celebration that should take your mind off the doom-like darkness and seasonal affective disorder.
I cherish the season because it doesn't over-stay its welcome much after the Solstice. Advent over, the planet is already nudging back to its proper axial tilt and light comes back to the northern hemisphere.
So, applaud that we begin on the first day of Hanukkah, the first Wednesday of Advent, Richard Pryor's birthday, and the First Day of December.
It'll all be over soon.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
In the light of yesterday's Standard-Times' Editor's Letter from the Editor About Letters to the Editor, I'm throwing caution to the wind and posting gathered chunks of discarded journal entries about the Buttonwood Park Zoo NONtroversy. Before proceeding, I explicitly profess that the following is presented WITHOUT any demonstrable or conclusive research on my part. As is often the case here since I don't feel obligated to make phone calls or to carefully research my own diary because I happen to know some stuff from in my head already, regardless of you armchair editors and your
demands suggestions. You will notice -- and likely ignore -- links that I provide to substantiate my remarks .
- The Buttonwood Park Zoo is a popular tourist and educational attraction located within the borders of Buttonwood Park, both of which are owned and operated by the City of New Bedford. The Zoo currently displays local New England wildlife like coyotes, brown bears,
mountain lions, cougars, and turkey vultures and features a petting zoo-quality historical farm exhibit with heritage domesticated animals like goats, hogs, and horses. It is quaint, if shopworn, but praised by the American Zoological Association as "one of the finest small zoos in the country."
- The Zoo has been home to two well-treated superannuated Asian elephants. It is The Zoo's hope to expand Ruth and Emily's quarters in order to better portray the elephants' ancestral domain and add other Asian flora and fauna, including a possible third elephant, in accordance with AZA rules. A new exhibit is understood to renew the Zoo's attendance numbers and likely ensure its continued accreditation.
- At this moment, the community's only paper, the Standard-Times is running headlines like: "SHOCKING ZOO EXPANSION DISRUPTS VERY FABRIC OF REALITY ITSELF!"
- It's a pitched -- if one-sided -- battle waged on the limp and porous battlefield of the Op-Ed page, with salvos fired by annoying out-of-town elephant activists (who always act as their Google™Alerts and The Voices dictate) and some residents of the greenest city on the SouthCoast who fear that the "megazoo themepark expansion" will destroy huge swaths of Buttonwood Park's pristine wilderness, displacing thousands of rare and endangered plant and animal species.
- There is no point in placing blame for any perceived "controversy." There isn't one. A few clever citizens MicrosoftOfficeWord98™ed up a few incendiary handouts and later backpedalled, admitting that they were "only trying get more people to take part in their city and show up at the meeting." Following the Tea Party playbook, they were excessive and inappropriate and ultimately off-putting.
- Because they were wrong. They did not seem to know what the expansion entailed or what the Zoo was actually planning, or how their polite and constructive input would be worked into The Zoo's fully amendable draft plan. None of those passionate people were at the informational meeting that I attended in September, except for the President of the Friends of Buttonwood Park, who politely waited through the entire PowerPoint presentation and then read a letter of obstreperous opposition which had been written before the meeting had ever started.
- The Anti-Zooers possess a proud SouthCoast character trait that enables them to admit that they "couldn't find any meeting notice" and "can't read that Zoo Master Plan" because it's "in Adobe and too big" or "hard to find on the city's website" or "you have to be an engineer to understand it." This trait (called "dumb") is related to the common SouthCoast paranoia known as "Suspecting that Something is Going on Behind the Scenes" because one is unaware of conventions, standards, or practices outside of one's ken.
- The Friends of Buttonwood Park Incorporated was "founded in 1991" and have an address in Mattapoisett, according to their page on Guidestar, but was "established in 1986 in acordance with a recommendation of the Massachusetts DCA's 1986 Olmsted Master Plan for the Renewal of Buttonwood Park," according to their own website.
- The Friends' dedication to maintaining the park grounds, educating, engaging and involving the public, city youth and other area organizations is obvious and sincere, so one can exonerate a few unreasonably disproportionate ownership issues, especially considering that New Bedford has three dozen or more parks, commons, playgrounds, tot lots, and beaches.
- Lately, though, somebody has been posting photographs of park greenery on Facebook with arch captions full of inaccuracies, devoting themselves to circulating petitions to preserve untended land for future generations of litterers, and arguing that all of Buttonwood Park is sacred because of...
- "The Olmsted Fallacy." Which goes a little something like this:
- Nineteenth Century Mount Olympus landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted probably never saw the land now known as Buttonwood Park and was likely familiar with New Bedford because of the city's reputation in abolitionist circles years earlier. Olmsted's associate Charles Eliot --
or someone in Eliot's office since Eliot was dying in 1897I now have it on impeccable authority that Eliot did, indeed draw this. But Olmsted was still senile -- drew this: Which resembles the current configuration only in its roughly quadrilateral appearance.
- Note that there is a residential neighborhood in the northeast -- lower right -- corner and that Eliot's central water feature is currently a traffic rotary. Neither detail conforms to Olmsted's vision of a rich natural setting shielding visitors from the stresses of city life. But The Friends of Buttonwood Park have consulted with experts who have written books about Olmsted so that they can protect this resource better.
- In the words of their President and former Buttonwood Park Zoo Director (seriously: WTF?) the Friends of Buttonwood Park are "the designated stewards of the Park ... mandated by the 1987 Master Plan to protect the historic vision for the Park which calls for a pastoral, naturalistic, and democratic setting where the urban population can enjoy both passive and active recreation unencumbered by barriers and fences." (from that "obstreperous objection" that I mentioned earlier)
- "Active recreation" includes motoring. My automobile was once struck rather forcefully by a speeding hit and run driver blowing through the stop sign at Court Street and Rockdale. I guess the serenity was too bucolic for that particular park visitor.
- Charles Eliot died of spinal meningitis in 1897. New Bedford -- although once eager to consider some plan for the land -- cooled its fervor for both whaling and gardening and "shelved" the plan, forgetting about arbors and such.
- Until the 1980s, when someone in New Bedford put the names "Olmsted" and "Buttonwood Park" together and state grant money suddenly appeared. Customary inordinate SouthCoast Catholic-style guilt demands that we insist on the fiction loudly at every opportunity. So everyone sort of believes the fanciful story of Olmsted's alleged relationship to The Whaling City that was concocted by someone eager to squeeze a few shekels out of a vague connection. (Although I suspect that I know the individual's identity, largely based on one particular citizen's excessively hysterical reactions at public discussions of the Zoo's master plan.)
- In the Nineties when I first enjoyed its convenient pastorality, I was under the impression that Buttonwood Park had been laid out by the guy who designed Central Park. Because everybody else said so. (Unfortunately, I also thought that the landscaper was Andrew Jackson Downing, until I was informed that it was Olmsted. Which it wasn't.)
- On a (recently removed) website promoting a New Bedford bed and breakfast, Buttonwood Park was described as "the largest and most visited public park in New Bedford is often referred to as the 'Crown Jewel' of the New Bedford Park System ." The b&b also touted its location as near "the newly renovated Zoo in Buttonwood Park, designed and planted by Frederick Law Olmsted." So it's just treated as common knowledge, and it's on the Internet, so it must be true. (The "largest" park in New Bedford is actually Brooklawn Park.)
- "Whaddaya you people want, TREES and ROCKS?" barked a famous local developer a few years back when he proposed some stripmall or other in Tiverton on land that somebody considered green, public, and protected. I was outraged by the developer's neon urban sprawl scheming. "Yes," I smugly retorted, "yes, I DO want trees and rocks." But I also remember his "rocks don't pay taxes" line.
- The Buttonwood Park Zoo and its associated Society contribute payroll and sales taxes to the state and federal governments. Although the city of New Bedford subsidizes the Zoo's operational budget, the municipal contribution would be less with a new exhibit raising both membership and attendance.
- Because a better-looking, more successful Zoo would make more money.
- Because the cursed SouthCoast always sets its sights on the shabby, it matters not that the Zoo lose its signature pachyderm attractions, forfeit its accreditation, sacrifice the substantial funding opportunities that are associated with professional recognition, and emerge finally as a pretty swell petting zoo.
- So, of course, The Friends of Buttonwood Park But Not Of The Zoo -- encouraged by the newspaper's manufactured "Zoo versus Park" nonsense -- will further demonize the Zoo in their ill-advised absurd campaign of misinformation and bad sportsmanship.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
from The New Bedford Evening Navigator, August 3, 1916...
The Associated Acquaintances of Native Animals Not Accustomed to Cages readers may recognize as having been rebuffed and scourged after its members benefitted monetarily when they arranged a philanthropic ball to bring aid to the area's squirrels. Upon closer inspection of those particular squirrels, it was discovered that the squirrels were actually rats with pinecones attached to their tails.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
To borrow the fundamental empty-headed line of thinking from this season's spoiler third party of bargain-basement sophists, I don't think that the Founding Fathers of Radio had in mind whatever it is that my local broadcasters do.
The newsreaders who employ unsettlingly random phrasing and can't pronounce "posthumously." The host who insists that he is neutral, but whose knee-jerk reactions to comments are so partisan as to embarrass even the most imprudent callers. The ill-timed and always badly-introduced commercial breaks that sometimes include several spots playing at once; spots that defy simple priciples of presentation and confound listeners' skills at perceiving information. If acted out by gifted gymnasts with awe-inspiring delivery -- or produced as a, say, cartoon -- a bemused audience member might be influenced to seek more intelligible details from more lucid sources. For instance, the business itself.Of course, that would be if the contact information weren't obscured by some annoying crapwit's stab at cleverness. Or the obtuse and hamfisted producer's (same guy, usually) choice of music bed and sound effects.
But today, since any benighted twerp with AOL access can "review" a book that he has neither read nor understood and inform other shoppers that "it sux," we are left with the rampant Tyranny of the Amateur, and that's local radio's bulwark against criticism.
So, yes. Since I trained and worked in actual professional broadcasting (oh, sure, yes, that was decades ago, so the "you're old and bitter" argument is somewhat valid, except that I am actually "older and better"), I hate local radio. Even though it was my first love and I shall always hold whatever it is that I remember of it in high esteem -- whatever it was that I thought was sexy way back when.But I cannot avoid the monstrous ether when it broadcasts some semblance of description of our easily-etched ballot numerations each election night.
It dutifully provides muttering time for the more self-important on staff, who mumble numbers from local precincts that were available elsewhere long moments prior and mutter some long-seasoned cant with lyrics including "anti-incumbent sentiment" and "voter apathy/anxiety." Or whatever.
And Massachusetts is relatively unscathed by the ill-disposed Tea Party panic that has warped the national politic and discourse.
Although the brunt of so many jokes from latitudinally-challenged others, Southeastern New England -- the true geographical birthplace of American dissent and revolution -- re-elected the people who should fix things, elected reasonable folk who might fix things, and ignored specious jerks who were of no damn consequence.
Except that the latter are the most fun if you're getting substandard pay at some overlooked waste of broadcast space.
Let's hope for better days.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
- Come then. You've been given the opportunity to elect characters who are nothing like the careful rhetoricians and statesmen of yesteryear. It's time now to cast your vote for lowbrow morons whose understanding of politics is summed up as: "The other guy's a jerk and is wrong."
- Never mind that the hopeful folks on your local ballot are bankrolled by special interests from other states and other countries. These are exciting times, so the guy whom you elect to "represent" you can be from anywhere and be beholden to anyone.
- That fellow who's been employed for most of his life by defense contractors? Totally sincere when he says he wants smaller gubmint. As long as he remains employed by it, it can consist of him and the guy who hands him his check and the one who maintains his health insurance and pension.
- He wants to work for you. "Work for you" also translates as "get paid by you."
- I recall when this Journal's longtime ommentor "Anonymous" insisted that "the amateur campaign works beautifully in the Southcoast."
- The Barney Frank campaign should do very well according to that stupefyingly salient marketing insight.
- I suspect that "Anonymous" has already congratulated Barney Frank on the success of the latter's half-hearted campaign of awkward mailers filled with unattractive imagery, typographical indolence, grammatical sluggishness, and cacographic fontwork.
- Since stereotypes are in vogue these days and minorities are derided with impunity once more, it's probably not a good idea for a gay man to be too particular or fastidious with the layout of his campaign material.
- As always, Andrew at Armagideon Time says it best.
- As ever, here's coverage of tonight's election results:
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Celebrate this Hallowe'en Week with favorite images of Ann Miller. Never mind the relentless profit-motive nattering and mendacious claptrap of corporate "citizens" and foreign governments demanding that you vote for their lackeys! For any chorus boy who's ever lost an eye because of an errant bobbypin dislodged during a dance bit, ANN MILLER is scary... real scary!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The educated elite ("NYTimes readers," in knuckle-dragger parlance) are all atwitter about Maureen Dowd noticing that politics is full of celebrated dimwits this season, and that these flaming avatars of the absurd appear about to ascend to authority. Well, that's what you get when you've created a political environment that rewards cloddish amateurs who, while appealing to the common folk, appease the indubitable imperators.
You struggle to name Supreme Court cases, newspapers you read and even founding fathers you admire? No problem. You endorse a candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat who is the nominee in West Virginia? Oh, well. At least you're not one of those "spineless" elites with an Ivy League education, like President Barack Obama, who can't feel anything.
It's news to Christine O'Donnell that the Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. It's news to Joe Miller, whose security guards handcuffed a journalist, and to Carl Paladino, who threatened The New York Post's Fred Dicker, that the First Amendment exists, even in tea party land. Michele Bachmann calls Smoot-Hawley Hoot-Smalley.
Sharron Angle sank to new lows of obliviousness when she told a classroom of Hispanic kids in Las Vegas: "Some of you look a little more Asian to me."
As Ms. Palin tweeted in July about her own special language: " 'Refudiate,' 'misunderestimate,' 'wee-wee'd up.' English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!"
Considered a cumbersome luxury by most SouthCoasters, books were available at three outlets when I was young: The public library, a PaperBack BookSmith at the Harbor Mall, and at some used bookstaores that were filled with tuberculosis and tobacco stains.
At one of the latter establishments, I was asked by the kobold sulking behind the counter, "Whaddaya do with alla them books?"
Ignorance? It's not some new trendy thing around here, Maureen Dowd. We've been doing it for decades!
From the sideways looks that a bowtie earns to the shocking physical violence that accompanied a door held open out of courtesy, the SouthCoast has made manifest this "Ignorance Paradigm." Discourtesy is customary in a borough that rolls its eyes at expressions of gratitude. Rules that are matter of course elsewhere are seen as foreign and incongruous. Language is debased. "Industry standards?"
The salesman whose motto in business is "Ignore and avoid." The advertising executive who chirps that "any monkey can write copy." The boss who doesn't provide performance reviews or workplace guidelines but stamps and screams at staff. The winking forced surprise at a woman's accusations of harassment, violence, sexual malfeasance. The business whose doors open only whenever the help decides to shuffle in.
The politician who "don't care nothin about what no paper says."
The guise of populism enables the amateurish, eventually presenting as a demand for the shoddy, and the indignant and often unintelligible extenuation and excuses that come with it. There are board members and trustees and staff who are more skilled at denying failure than at actually succeeding.
And the blue collar folks -- who distrust the suits and ties and fancypants -- will loudly defend those boardroom bugbears. Because the rabble have been brought up to venerate the seatwarmers for their cleverness. And that "cleverness" is primarily the SouthCoast leadership's widespread ignorance of real-world business models and protocols -- starting with mere courtesy.
"No foul," they claim. "We don't need no outsiders tellin us what to do."
As many local politicians will publicly attest, the local voters "do not know how things work." So keeping the reality of juggling compromise ("politics") out of the public eye is key to a lifelong politician's long life in politics.
Unfortunately, any citizen can serve as an elected representative of his or her neighbors, no matter what intellect or skills he or she lacks.
And we've got that.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
This week, we reconvened the United States Supreme Court and got down to deciding who dances best with the stars or something. The rest of the government disregards such Constitutional niceties this time of year to indulge in the quibbling and gobbledygook that is election-year campaigning. Whether one believes in the fellow who has overseen much of the economic success and distress of the past thirty years or whether one favors the anti-choice unknown naif who excites the tiresome vulgus, it matters not one whit to the otters and buzzards at the Buttonwood Park Zoo.
Because if wildlife lose the source of their foodstuff, they can fly or swim to another domain.
I stopped by an informative meeting last week at The Zoo, and was assured by Zoo insiders that if I cough up $12 million, we can start immediately sending out RFPs in order to give The Zoo's signature resident
Pigeon Elephant Sisters, Ruth and Emily, fresher digs in an Asian-themed exhibit area featuring those Asian elephants and tigers and water features and macaques and red pandas and, I imagine, bamboo.
This above visual and many others were shown at the gathering and as promised, this one almost instantly appeared on the Buttonwood Park Zoo's "Master Plan" drop-down on the "About The Zoo" tab. On their website. Because they don't dick around like some other SouthCoasters who so enthusiastically cherish the half-assed.
The earnest goodwill of the Zoo's representatives and their consultants was palpably sincere. Especially in their exposition that any zoo that doesn't periodically change its exhibits loses visitors, members, and revenue. Most Zoos do so every three years; The Buttonwood Park Zoo hasn't changed anything since the First Gulf War. Ah the sweet smell of sane fiscal sensibility: "financial self-sufficiency," "capital improvements," and "community input." (The term "for the kids" was not over-mentioned.)
For two forthright hours, the people who take care of the animals and the facilities and the maintenance and the planning for the zoo gave a solid presentation to the dozens of us who had assembled.
But, like in so many other positive endeavors in the SouthCoast, a guy from the Buttonwood Park Pessimists' Club or other read a letter that had been penned sometime last century saying, "No" because it would mean buying three acres of real estate in Asia, at least according to the above map. This left a sour pall over the rest of the assembled curious who were worried mostly about traffic and tigers.
I found the objection -- however graciously offered and pragmatically contrived -- distasteful in its timing. Call your own meeting to pooh-pooh The Zoo's hopes and aspirations, won't you.
This knee-jerk opposition reminds me of how some folk ape the current crop of babbling nitwits on the national stage. Without indication of having assessed the situation fully or even anticipating a harmonious accord, they simply forge an animosity which entirely obviates affiliation.
Or at least that's what I got out of it as the cheery PowerPoint show concluded. And because my blood glucose level had hit single digits. (I should remember to eat dinner before these things.)
I do recall, through the delusions of hypoglycemia:
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
It is not particularly propitious to title a Journal entry thus. In deference to Baron de Montesquieu -- the Enlightenment inventor of "separation of powers" -- all one need do is to get a little wordy and one's cognitive capacity is called forever into question. Just keep in mind that I didn't write a chunk of it. That part in the middle. In the other font. Not me.
I was curious as to whether the media could yank itself away from the Angry Imbeciles Jamboree that is national politics under the tinpot tyranny of the Tea Party Coup long enough to report the latest proposal to prepare to undertake some sort of future consideration of a "Master Plan" at New Bedford's Buttonwood Park Zoo.
As long-time readers of this Journal know, I have been, on occasion, philanthropically-inclined -- although I could care less about whatever ponyrodeo some busybody concocts to amuse the edacious juvenile demographic. (Any community with residents who have habitually intoned the mantra "I wish we had this we we were kids" for more than two generations should take a long look at its social and intellectual infrastructure.)
Like, uh, its radio station.
I made a colossal misjudgment, and listened for some interesting constituent input concerning the ambitions of the SouthCoast's largest attraction. I could make out on the crystal set some discernible particles of ether from the local noise pollution outlet (the New Bedford one that denies the existence of a Fall River, not the Fall River one that denies the existence of a New Bedford).
As expected, I was treated to the usual unrehearsed monotonal "rip-and-read" from some uncredited source, breathy outrage at some fanciful misapprehension of administration policy, and complaints about the media's left-wing bias -- with no hint of irony. Their internationally-known teevee pundit and Conservative Blogger afternoon and afternoon drive host mispronounced satirist Stephen Colbert's name ("cole burt" instead of "cole-bare") while also making a point of clearly and politically-correctly delivering the Persian enunciation of "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." Which put me in mind of the horrible Saturday Night Live skit about news announcers' risible use of affected foreign place pronunciations that shocked American ears when Canadian Peter Jennings started doing it in the Eighties. Here's a short transcript. Which I have found on some NBC website and edited for length because SNL skits are mere annoying prattle after the amusing premise is established and then beaten to death within the first thirty seconds.
It goes on and on ... Which is what the radio guy did. He repeated the mispronunciation an uncomfortable number of times. He had "never heard" of this insignificant "Colbert."
"NBC News Employees"
Robin Fletcher.....Julia Sweeney
Executive #1.....Dana Carvey
Executive #2.....Mike Myers
Antonio Mendoza.....Jimmy Smits
[ open on live footage of Robin Fletcher delivering news report ]
Robin Fletcher: The fighting, for now, is over. But, for the people of Nicauragua, that is small consideration. This is Robin Fletcher for NBC News, reporting from Managua, Nicaragua. [ TV is turned off, zoom out to reveal NBC News employees watching with interest ]
Kathy: What do you think?
Dan: Well, it's a nice report.. but is this the week to cover.. [ thick-accented ] ..Neek-o-rah-gwa?
Kathy: Well.. I think Neek-o-rah-gwa is important. But not just Neek-o-rah-gwa but, also.. Han-der-us! And, especially.. El Salv-uh-door!
Executive #1: But wasn't the big story the defeat of Hor-tay-ga! And.. the fall of the san-duh-nees-tahs!
Executive #2: Excuse me, everybody, I'd like you to meet our new Economics correspondent.. Han-toe-nee-o Man-dos-ah!
Antonio Mendoza: Or.. Antonio Mendoza.
SouthCoasters have been mispronouncing names for hundreds of years. At first, settlers mispronounced native Wampanoag words in order to demonstrate settlers' proprietary rights over the land and its quahogs. Then, it was anglicizing one's name so that the other guys on the ship or in the mill wouldn't think that you were a stinking immigrant and deny you a job, raise, promotion, bunk, or meal.
The passive-aggressive discourtesy of not calling someone by their preferred name or by its preferred pronunciation is just one charming tool in the SouthCoast social skillset. It's pretty common around here.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Longtime devotees will remember the days when I was all crazy boatniky and whenever anything maritime crossed my bow, I would send up flags and flares and such and you would be treated to exhaustingly forced attempts at pertinance. Since there are so many others who do that -- generally in cloyingly cynical attempts to score more gear for their Port-A-Potty 28 -- The Impossible Journal no longer chases down each online instance of boaty merchandise or coastal cleverness.
On the other hand, I do enjoy dispensing good news about former neighborhood familiars.
Kevin P. O'Connor, of The Fall River The Herald News asssures us that the Borden Flats Lighthouse in the Taunton River has been purchased by a genuine lighthouse restorer who IS NOT the bankrupt self-promoting joker who wanted it to house a gimmicky brewhouse.
What we learn about Nick Korstead of Portland, Oregon, is that...
...Korstead, who lives in Portland, Ore., bought the lighthouse with his parents Craig and Cindy Korstead through the business they operate, US Lighthouse Establishment. The group has bought and renovated lighthouses in the past. It maintains a website chronicling lighthouse renovations and selling commemorative maritime and lighthouse gear.And: “It is a lighthouse,” he said. “That’s what I want it to be.”
Korstead said he has never seen the lighthouse or set foot in Fall River. He plans to come to Fall River next month to see his new purchase.
Farewell, then, to the fanciful tale of the Nevada lawyer and his delusion of producing "40 barrels" of novelty beer a week from the water collected in the lighthouse's cistern -- and selling those "barrels" in an already saturated indie beer market in order "to pay for the upkeep of the building."
And that website that the Korsteads operate -- U.S. Light House Establishment -- is a great find.(I handled, packed, cataloged, and shlepped maritime artifacts last century, so the site cues my memories of dusty greasy whale oil lamp wicktrimmers and lighthouse lenses that had been used as ashtrays. Plus: when you buy that genuine sou'wester, you help save a lighthouse. Or at least keep the Korsteads busy.)
I'd advise shipmates to go to the Keeper's Locker page (available by clicking on the words "Keeper's Locker").
Oh, and there's this:
Friday, September 17, 2010
- On a quiet street where old ghosts meet, I see her walking now away from me...
- It's Halfway to Saint Patrick's Day, that utterly commercialized confoundment of ethnic slurs that makes me cringe every Spring. Plastic green bowlers and garish bowties and immense fluorescent lime clovers, impish stereotypes fashioned with no awareness of the brutal racist assaults inflicted upon Irish immigrants in the middle of the Nineteenth Century by American businesses, media, and citizens.
- Of course, today's Irish-Americans are past all of that. Or in utter denial. Or completely ignorant of that. As you well know, I can still eat -- and enjoy -- corned beef, without picturing distant relations sloshing around a fetid discarded barrel searching for scraps of brined horseflesh.
- I will not be attending the "Halfway to Saint Paddy's Day" festivities at Fall River's Corky Row Club.
- I have always had a conflicted remembrance of that neighborhood social establishment. On one hand, my family has been involved from its very founding right up to this very day, and it's an actual commercial business. Once, the Club awarded me a modest academic prize. On the other hand, I have as much in common with today's members as I have in common with any native of Ireland who still speaks Gaelic. And the Club did award me that scholarship, ensuring that I would forever be saddled with the moniker "smartypants."
- I hope it's a swell time.
- But, it seems that each one of their press releases goes on about the Club's near-death experience. Sure, they mention its Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, but somebody keeps throwing in that "what seemed like certain death" line. Kinda self-defeating, if not downright ghoulish.
- All I can say is: "Celebrate the fact that somebody picked up the baton, not that somebody dropped it."
- The SouthCoast demonstrates that sort of thing all the time, a kind of bragging without being prideful. Because pride is a sin.
- But when you fail altogether, you get to blame something. Like when New Bedford's second Guardian Angels franchise won its big goodbye halo.
- The inevitable wrap of the latest local volunteer vigilante attempt reminds me of the one common difficulty that beleaguers all such outfits, commercial and non-profit. You may have read Brian Fraga's bit in the Standard-Times, but here's the part I find most telling: "All three leaders said personal commitments and apathy from the community led them to decide to quit the group. "
- The pesky bedeviller that curses so many non-profits is, simply: real life.
- In the random haphazard of the SouthCoast -- fertile with well-intentioned dilettantes but also rife with slapdash schemes from self-serving busybodies -- the very forces of society work against the organizers.
- According to a recent comment in these very pages, "perhaps the amateur campaign works beautifully in the Southcoast." Yes: The SouthCoast dislikes the painstaking professional, the suit-and-tie. After a century of resenting the wealthy, the Mill Town Class War presents as a middle class filled with resentment. After decades of "rich people are no better than us," it became "rich people are worse than us" which devolved into "rich people go to fancy schools, smart people are bad, books are dumb, fancy clothes are ..."
- You get the idea. Too much polishing wrecks the apple, I guess.
- The Guardian Angels never stood a chance.
- When the angel woos the clay He'll lose his wings at the dawn of day.
Friday, September 10, 2010
"Tolerance" is a loaded word, one which I do not wish to further burden with further loaded interpretation. Let's just say that when I have my oratory on, I usually defer to High School Latin class for insight into words' meanings. I've always defined tolerate as "to permit," rather than the more testy "to put up with." "To permit" also looked better in the exam book.
As luck would have it, that Latin class was taught by a jocular Jesuit philosopher whose breezy comfort with reality almost convinced me to surrender the smirks and scowls of my typical bratty teenhood.
Father Foley was the faculty moderator for the "satire magazine" that my chums and I produced. Foley even conferred his name to the pamphlet, Foliage. We kids scoffed at the office overlords' ready capitulation to our smartassery, assuming they presumed that we would tire of producing the fully-sanctioned subversive sheet after about two issues.
They were right.
They were being tolerant.
I quoted the title of a favorite album at the time. Give Em Enough Rope.
Which is how I feel about the frightened people who see every other person's freedom as an infringement upon their own. You know the ones. They are the momentary embarrassing glitch in the arc of American civilization, whose ignorance only serves as an example for the rest of us. Now you know how not to act in our country. Y'see, we have freedoms that are ensured by book-learning, not by book-burning.
Back last century, I took advantage of a company-funded membership in a festering Petri dish of sweat, stink, and pathogens in a metal building known as -- ironically -- a "health club."
In the locker area once, while avoiding the middle-aged wheezer who had apparently stripped his porcine bulk in order to practice his own personal podiatry, I noticed one devout practitioner of Islam.
Behind some rows of rarely used lockers, "Aariz" quietly performed salah.
I was familiar with the ritual because of an animated explanation by an avuncular high school teacher who had taught (I assume) at a private Catholic school in Saudi Arabia back when one could do that. The old Jesuit posited that of all Arab contributions to civilization in mathematics, science, medicine, architecture, and music, his favorite was that "cleanliness is next to godliness." Which was his way of saying that "Arabs" (he meant "Muslims") were fastidious in their prayerfulness as well as in their personal hygiene, which he advised us boys to emulate. Particularly those of us in his class after gym.
He was also quick to advise us to read the books in the library about it. Few of us did, but we enjoyed his reminiscences and occasional sartorial forays into keffiyeh and bisht and thobe.
The idea of whether Muslims were "of the devil" was never discussed. I am fully cognizant of how fortunate I was to have been in that classroom.
But in that dressing room that 1998 day, Piggy McGruntensweat, having noticing that I had courteously moved away from the benediction, said, "Pretty disgusting, that towelhead, huh?"
I stared dumbly at the piles of clippings and toejam left scattered about the floor, shook my head, grabbed my gear, and departed.
I wasn't sure whether I was offended by the "towelhead" rejoinder -- for which I would surely be tagged derisively as that dreadable "PC" -- or was I simply disappointed in my fellow American's lack of simple courtesy?
Years later, Aariz and I exchange pleasantries at gallery openings or other community and cultural events.
I have never seen that other guy anywhere.
I guess we just move in different circles.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
To the devoted Historians of The Future -- those prepared with reading comprehension sacks and irony detectors, that is -- I feel obligated to explain a thing. At this moment in time and social upheaval, one is required to navigate a delicate and confrontational tangle in order to say anything without either offending someone or causing someone else to call you "socialist" because you're pussy-footing around with wording.
The carefree and the careless make no attempt at either:
It was enough of a challenge to change the term "whaling" to "whale-hunting." Now, we're back at the "whaleman/whaler" controversy. Assuredly, this new Gallery at the SouthCoast Whale-Hunting Multimedia Gallery and Gift Shop probably won't include any paintings or photographs of Azorean women wielding harpoons or flensing eubalaena glacialis.
Also of revulsive consideration: Members only get an hour without having to rub elbows with the commoners. Good thing that it's after Labor Day; one can wear the tweed with the patches to avoid such.