Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Annual "Chamber of Horrors" Entry

As an economist, I have never been wrong .
The fact that I have never been noted as "an economist" because I am in no way an economist doesn't matter; after all, this is the Internet in its still-earliest days, before reason completely abandoned discourse and anyone could blather on incoherently and incorrectly about anything, cheapening any sensible argument and thereby nullifying it.
So, I have to disagree with Mike Moran regarding one point in his recent essay.
I do not disagree with my media colleague -- or with the copy editor who inked the header -- that "FRCA will be missed." I'm certain that the august waterfront festival will be missed. (I really really thought that some self-congratulating someone would have saved the day by now. But such heroes don't just step forward in Fall River if it's not an election year.)
Mike points out in his weekly opinion column in the Fall River The Herald News: "Perhaps we’ve taken FRCA for granted for too long because, for a generation, it’s always been there." Taken at or near FRCAI had some experience with Fall River Celebrates America, (although I wasn't Entertainment Chair like some people). Besides submitting to it while my house was berthed there, I knocked together and dithered into some ducttape-swathed equipment for that local radio station that I worked at. I got to see and work with the keen coterie that produced the event, and I also got to see the low-enders who indulged in it. There were carnival rides; the real carneys were the ones not on the rides.
A Fall River Area Chamber Foundation joint, FRCA was billed as "a family-friendly event," which meant that it was alcohol-free. If that arrangement didn't insult your maturity, you could enjoy the food court, which featured the best food on Earth. Because it was Fall River, where Portuguese chouri├žo and Greek souvlaki and Lebanese falafels and Coney Island hot dogs and all manner of carnival comestible live together in convivial cholesterol-laden concordance all the year through. And we have the heart disease statistics to prove it.
I am no fan of the National Chamber of Commerce and its stands against unions, a fair minimum wage and legal protections for workers. But I'm sure that none of the local members that I know are paying membership dues in order to help the National Chamber of Commerce commit $144,000,000 worth of lobbying to remind lawmakers to disregard workers and the environment because those concerns eat into profits. That's pretty rich for local blood. You see, local business success is measured in Lincolns -- the cars and the fives.
Fives and tens. Nickels and dimes. Local business has perfected this. Outsource work, lay off workers, move out of Fall River, close the mill. Jack up the rent. Skimp on portion size. Cut hours. Blame it all on the poor economy. Even in a good economy.
The Chamber, though, provides support. As a nonprofit business group, it awards local entrepreneurs who open knick-knack shops -- in this poor economy. The Chamber can mention the poor economy in a press release so that other, lazier "entrepreneurs" can glumly recite that "poor economy" mantra and shrug impotently when they close their knick-knack shop. This is "providing support."
So this is providing support for FRCA? (The Chamber's $50 fundraiser will be held at the waterfront, however, on July 23.)
Mike reminds the reader of the "agonizing" decision to stop the show, that the Chamberers "deserve our respect and gratitude for creating and sustaining Fall River Celebrates America for as long as they could."
Did anybody else hear "... in this poor economy?"
Mike is a terrific guy -- as I have attested elsewhere -- and a treasured friend to and advocate for Fall River, its businesses, and its people. Unfortunately, he's asking me to praise the Chamber for a complete and miserable failure.
Which I am loathe to do.
6:25... A New Bedford Update (heard before AHA! tonight) from The Standard-Times' Alexis Hauk:

Mayor Scott Lang announced Thursday that two companies had come forward to sponsor the city’s annual patriotic event, the fireworks spectacular: Hawthorn Medical LLC and DeMoulas Super Markets LLC.

“Fireworks are as American as Yankee Doodle, apple pie and spotted dogs,” Lang quipped during a press conference. “With the economic times that we have, it’s a tremendous contribution.”

The fireworks display will be held July 4 at 10 p.m.

But that’s not the only thing that will draw crowds over the holiday weekend. The 15th annual Summerfest will take place downtown from July 2-4, with international folk music and arts events galore.
Try to overlook the "spotted dog" bit. Spotted Dog is actually a traditional raisin-afflicted Irish soda bread.


Andrew Weiss said...

Good on DeMoulas, where the prices are 2/3rds of their competitors and the ambiance is slightly more rambunctious than the mosh pit at that one Exploited show I attended at the Channel back in 1991!

PJ said...

I think that I read somewhere that Agnostic Front is playing the opening of the new Market Basket.