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I meant to post this last week but…well you know.
Anyway, heading out in a little bit for Open Studios weekend, 12-5 both Sat and Sun, a great time to see a lot of great arts and crafts (and BUY some! Start your holiday shopping, guys!).
Mill No 5 is holding a special A Little Bazaar, “Wrong Brain,” which is a collaboration with an arts group out of the seacoast of New Hampshire. As noted on the Facebook page, “A Marketplace of Strange, Unconventional, Underground, and Alternative Goods!” Definitely on my must-do list today.
I’m also going to hit ALL and the ALL gallery as well. (Facebook page here.) Probably Appleton Mills, as well, just to see how they are doing.
I might even get active on my @leftinlowell Twitter account with pic and notes, so keep an eye out!
Also, last night was date night with the Mr., ending with a Luna show after a nice meal (and excellent drinks) at Tremonte. It was good because I was having a kind of rotten day (nothing specific, just little things) so the fact that we had great places to eat out and a great venue to see a movie was a real pick-me-up. We saw Magic in the Moonlight, a Woody Allen movie with Colin Firth and Emma Stone. The acting was great, but Stone totally shone the brightest. It’s a 1920s character study, about a skeptic and a purported psychic he’s trying to debunk. Great dialog (it’s Woody Allen after all). The trailer:
There’s a 5:05 showing tonight (perfectly timed for the end of today’s Open Studio hours!) and one tomorrow (Sunday) at 2:35.
Life After Beth also looks fun. If you are into romantic comedy zombie movies this is your flick! It’s playing this weekend and beyond (fitting, since Halloween is coming up). Since I’m a huge fan of Shawn of the Dead…well, I might have to go see it some time.
And finally, of course, at 10:05 tonight, the phenomenon which is the Rocky Horror Picture Show will be showing at Luna! I’ve never quite gotten into the cult aspect of this, but people love it and have a lot of fun with it. I can certainly respect that level of geekdom, so if it’s your thing, tonight’s your chance!
Luna’s got their full calendar for October up, and there are a bunch more movies on the list so go check them out!
School Committee Member Kim Duggan Scott posted on the Facebook Group Lowell Live Feed a summary of the South Lowell/ Sacred Heart neighborhood group meeting last Monday. Be sure to check the link to read the comments too.
The newly-organized South Lowell/ Sacred Heart neighborhood group met on Monday, September 15th at Primitive Methodist Church, 1193 Lawrence Street, in the heart of the neighborhood. A special thank you is extended to Reverend Allen for sharing the church space with the community.
A number of varied items were on the agenda. But we began the evening with Public Safety.
This weekend Lowell obtained a gem of a new old treasure. Although I could not make the opening this past weekend, I was already in love with Mill No 5’s new Luna Theatre. (Damn my cousin for being born this weekend which put a priority on visiting her mom at the hospital! Kidding…mostly.)
I got a second chance tonight though with a free, MRT-sponsored, cohosted by Lowell Film Collaborative showing of Julie Mallozzi’s 2004 local documentary, Monkey Dance. Yep, love at first sight as I walked down the hall and saw the big illuminated Luna sign! I had seen the pictures from this weekend, and the work-in-progress (I knew about the armchairs), but the experience is something else.
I hadn’t been able to make any previous showing of the documentary (shamefully), which follows three second-gen Cambodian teens who struggle with growing up, making choices, all in the context of trying to learn about their culture and being a part of the Angkor Dance Troupe (another thing I can’t say enough good things about). The movie was great, and afterwards we got to ask questions of the three teens, now young adults, from the movie. All of whom have moved back to Lowell after college, and all of whom are involved in one way or another with the troupe and with making a positive impact in Lowell. The MRT ran this screening, with another one next week of Still I Strive, because of their current stage production of Year Zero, a “comedic drama” about a Cambodian-American teen.
Phew! That was a mouthful of links to find. The event itself was great, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it was the atmosphere of the theatre itself which was the most exciting.
Now, I’m not the biggest movie buff…I like them, of course, but I’m more of a novel type of girl. Don’t ask me about my book collection - visible and invisible (on the Kindle). It’s not small, and moving is always a chore. But I adore the Lowell Film Collaborative and Suzzanne and Brett (and baby now of course!) and it’s so great that the Luna has given them a place to call home. And I love their enthusiasm for movies.
Mill No 5 is already just darned awesome, with its “Little Bazaar” events (if you haven’t gone to one, you have to go…next one is Saturday, Oct 4th), brand new coffee house Coffee and Cotton - from which I tried my first kombucha, a trendy drink which swept the west coast and has apparently landed in Lowell. Despite its weird description, it was pretty good. I don’t really go in for the health benefit claims (I’m always skeptical about that), but I’m all for classing up Lowell, so there you go. Also, it meant supporting this fab new coffee shop so, even better!
But the Luna Theatre really caps MN5, and makes it…well, THE COOLEST PLACE IN LOWELL. Hands down. No contest. Yes, I love the Brush and the Whistler House and MRT and ALL and downtown. But y’all just got bumped down a notch.
There is of course fresh made popcorn, soda, and candy for sale. (And, at reasonable prices I might add, not like the big box movie theatres). The vintage, glowing signage, the red armchairs and little side tables, the beautiful wood floors all polished and finished grandly…the whole thing works in concert to transform you into another era. If that doesn’t do it, the classic animated movie intros (buy Orange Crush!) or other commercials from your childhood will do it.
Luna also showed some of its Coming Attractions, and the movie selection is really cool…I very much want to catch Finding Vivian Maier, and Frank seems really fun and quirky. You might recognize the movie Snowpiercer. They run movies Thursday through Sunday, which surprised me - they have quite the ambitious schedule!
So even though I am not the biggest movie buff out there, I have to say, Luna Theatre might convert me. Access to independent movie-house films on a regular basis…is something Lowell greatly lacked. In fact, most communities lack it, unless you live in Boston or Cambridge. Lowell is lucky to have Luna…so let’s make sure Luna is successful beyond its wildest dreams.
Le vieux théâtre, renaître…the old theatre, reborn. Step back in time with some popcorn, and enjoy the show.
Let me be the first to say that my expectations of Kevin Murphy as City Manager were pretty low. I just knew too much about how these people (GOBs) operate to be that optimistic. However, I would have been ecstatic to be wrong…because I care more about the city than I do about being right. Saying “I told you so” here is sort of a Pyrrhic victory.
So, it is with some sadness that I say…I told you so. The parade of hangers on, losers of the last round of CM administrative decisions, and general all around insider hacks has been…if not like the Merrimack in a warm wet spring after a bad winter, maybe like the Concord in the same season.
Case in point: the admission this past week that Kevin Murphy didn’t bother to interview people for two prominent positions. Just read the title of that Column post: “Hirings of Murphy’s friends no surprise.”
McGovern will serve as assistant city manager, and Coughlin was hired as deputy director of the Department of Planning and Development. They will both make $87,000 and start Friday.
Murphy admits he did not actively search for any others to fill those two roles, as both positions were posted for a short time period and Murphy did not conduct any interviews.
Murphy said it would have been “a charade” to conduct interviews, but he posted the positions to comply with city requirements.
Yeah I’ll say this whole thing is a fucking charade. I can’t believe he’s being this blatant about it…though I suppose I ought to thank him for that. (By the way, by “short time period” they mean five days total.)
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE???
Never mind that I have heard from people who have had interface with, for instance, McGovern, who KMurph has hired to “market the city” in his new ACM position, who was the PR guy for the Greater Lowell Tech, and who failed miserably to push out news, especially positive stories, from the school…even when people were begging for it.
Never mind that apparently, there might have been some awesomely qualified people who put their names in for DPD deputy, or if they did not, it was because they knew the fix was in. People who would have been amazing at the DPD job. Never mind that the guy who got the DPD job is seriously lacking ACTUAL EXPERIENCE - especially compared to the potential interested parties! But hey, he’s a Friend of Kevin!
Being a Lowell citizen right now is like being severely bipolar. On the one hand, this weekend’s Folk Fest was amazing and I felt like it was wrapping its fascinating, diverse, and lively arms around me, and then you see this shit and wish you could sink into the ground from embarrassment. Damn, Kevin, are you a buzzkill.
Bagjob doesn’t even begin to describe this crap. It really doesn’t.
I know I’m just getting to this and it’s Friday, and I haven’t blogged much lately, and everything I want to write will make me sound like a broken record…because we have that kind of City Council…but I wanted to highlight one of the many violations of logic that our Council seems hell bent on committing.
This past Tuesday, one agenda item - a vote from the CM’s portion of the agenda, ” Vote-Authorize School Dept proceed under MGL c.30B for the lease of property for School Administration Offices” - provoked a long commentary from Belanger that defied sanity. Never mind that he’s in direct conflict of interest on this matter, since he’s hoping that maybe the relocated school dept employees eat in his ethnically-confused dive bar. But his hypocrisy was breathtaking. He was complaining (during a long, repetitive rant) because the school dept is also going to take one of the empty storefronts for their year-round parent interfacing office.
Wasn’t it this same city councilor who drove the push (I would say, unwisely tying the hands of the SD) to insist that the RFP for this relocation heavily favor a downtown location? Again, with the appearance of self interest, which I find blatant and gross (Franky D never did this crap when she was a Councilor). Wasn’t it he who, with his overly long speeches on the matter, made it clear that downtown was the only place acceptable to him?
Well he got his wish. The downtown location was chosen. Then on top of this, he’s been ranting about downtown vacancies (like this is a new thing) and closing businesses left and right? I get that we don’t want to fill dowtown with 100% nonprofit and government offices in its street level retail spaces. But for heaven’s sake, it’s not like a retail business trying to start downtown would find a dearth of spaces for rent.
I also find it ironic that, when it’s convenient or in his self interest, he’s fine with trying to find a way for the council to interfere with private business (the landlord, in this case). Oy.
Rules. Let’s pitch ‘em please. The number of times Rita suspended the rules for one reason or another on Tuesday night, it appears we don’t need them. And, can someone please, please tell me how it is the City Council can take a vote to support Arthur T Demoulas after a citizen petition in front of the council without an agenda item? I thought that was against the rules too. What should have happened (and correct me if I’m wrong please) is they should have put it on the agenda for two weeks from Tuesday. Do they think no one might want to speak on the issue given fair warning under Open Meeting Laws?
Now given the situation and its fluidity (the Market Basket board meets today) I suppose you could argue it was one of those “emergency responses” which is the end-around the OML. But was it? Was it really?
I stopped by Wish Project yesterday (as did some others) and we’re hearing that what is really needed is clothing for slight-framed men - sized 30 or 32 pants. Of course, women’s and children’s clothing (infant to teen) also welcome, as well as toys, non-perishable food and household goods.
One thing I brought yesterday were cheap rubbermaid bins. Think about it: these families will get a lot of goods from the Wish Project and other organizations, but where will they store them? If you have extra bins kicking around, or want to buy them (I got a couple for $9 each at a local dept store) bring them, especially if they are solid colored (not clear plastic), with lids. This will help protect the privacy of the families as they use the bins to move their goods around.
Another thing I thought of…hangers. Lots of them will be needed, again, because these families will be set up in hotels, then in apartments, and given clothing they will need to hang. Bring hangers!
Eventually, and pretty soon at that, these families will need pots, pans, kitchen utensils and other cooking and kitchen implements. The Wish Project also mentioned they were in need of small kitchen appliances - toasters and coffee makers etc. If you have extra, working counter appliances in your home that are sitting in your basement doing nothing, bring them in!
And of course, right now Wish Project is asking for food items these displaced residents can eat without a fridge or stove, as they will be in hotels for now. The list from the Wish Project (PDF) is a good place to start. I just wandered the food isles looking for stuff kids would want to eat, microwavable meals, snacks, and drinks they could keep without refrigeration and packed my cart full of store-brand items.
If you could find microwavable rice I’m certain that would be much appreciated, given many of the victims are Cambodian and rice is a staple food, as mentioned in this article.
There will be a fundraiser on Sunday in the Glory Buddhist Temple on Cambridge Street at 5:30 p.m. The Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association also has a GoFundMe page for survivors, and you can also donate to the Branch Street Fire Victims Relief Fund, at any branch of the Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, or send money to the bank at P.O. Box 1238, Lowell, MA 01853.
I’m certain the Wish Project, CTI or other organizations could use some help from volunteers, especially the Wish Project as a lot of donations are coming in and need to be sorted. I bet they’d be tickled if you brought them pizza and drinks today to help feed the volunteers that are there today. You can call them to see what they are in need of or to check if something you have is something they take: 978-441-9474.
Please pipe up in comments with any more news or information. Thanks!
I’d posted a Facebook thread on Lowell Live Feed this morning, and people have been filling in information about where and how to donate money, clothing, and other goods to the survivors of the fire which claimed seven lives, three of them children, on the corner of Branch St and Queen St in the early hours this morning. I wanted to put all of that into one post for people to refer to. Most of this has been gathered from Twitter where people were covering the press conference this morning.
A fund has been set up for monetary donations:
Branch Street Fire Victims Relief Fund
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union
P.O. Box 1238
Lowell, MA 01853
UPDATE: The Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association has also set up a GoFundMe page.
Today, the Red Cross is collecting clothing and food donations for the victims at the Senior Center where they are staging their operations. However, that might be overwhelmed pretty quickly, so you can also wait until tomorrow and donate such things to the Wish Project, along with any other goods on their list, such as furniture, bedding, and home goods. I suspect home goods and clothing will be top of the list for needs in the short term. The Wish Project says: “Not sure if we can take it? We reserve the right of refusal, so please call at 978-441-9474 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure it will be accepted.” So be sure to take a careful look at the list so as not to bring things they cannot take. The Wish Project address is 1A Foundry St. in Lowell.
UPDATE: The Wish Project has a web page specifically listing the needs of the Branch Street fire victims. Worth a look.
[UPDATE] FOOD ITEMS: The Wish Project has a way for you to donate food boxes to the recently-homeless fire victims. There is going to be a huge need for immediate food items that can be consumed without the use of a kitchen or fridge. Via the MV End Homelessness blog.
I am not sure where personal items can be donated, such as toothbrushes and other personal hygiene products, but I’ll update when I find out. Over 40 people were displaced with this fire so the demand will be great. [UPDATE]: see link to Wish Project’s web page listing immediate needs.
Also, there was mention of a fundraiser at the Buddhist temple on Cambridge this Sunday, with details TBA. I’ll update when I know more.
Add what you know in comments, please, and I’ll update.
Lately the talk on City Council has been about marketing the city. Because, you know, we’ve never really done that before, ever. It’s not like an organization called COOL, or any other entity in the city, has ever done any sort of advertising, campaign rollout, or viral marketing.
Of course, a lot of this silliness comes from the mouth of one Corey Belanger, who, besides his customary 2,340 average uses of the phrase “quite frankly” on a given Tuesday night (followed closely by “I’d like to inform my colleagues” like they don’t know anything, which, granted, for many of them is true), has noticed that his poor dive bar downtown is quite empty. How do I know? I, and others I know personally, have walked by that place at prime time for bars and have witnessed it for ourselves.
You see, there must be something the city can do for Corey to help his business - why else would he be a Councilor? If it’s not the parking fee enforcement preventing patrons from his otherwise worthy establishment, it’s panhandlers, teenagers from the high school, the tagline being supposedly dropped (Lot to Like…) or any other number of bugaboos.
Right now (as of last night) he’s on an anti-affordable-housing kick, cuz, you know, there’s so few market rate apartments within stumbling distance from Wicked Major’s Pub or whatever the hell he’s calling it this month, except, of course, if you go around the corner to Fuse, Tremonte’s, Centro, El Potro, The Old Court, Cobblestones, Blue Taleh, etc etc and see how packed those places are. And they are, I know from experience…as a DINK couple again, Chris and I are enjoying spreading the wealth to many downtown establishments. We love downtown…parking fees, panhandlers, and affordable housing notwithstanding. But we don’t hit Major’s Wicked Empty Bar.
So how are we marketing the city and getting Lowell in the news? Is it for our upcoming Folk Fest, which I’ve been talking up to work colleagues and anyone else that will listen? Is it the art venues or the theatre? The great restaurants?
Oh no, no, and no again. It’s something MUCH grander! The City Council, in its utter idiocy, got Lowell in the news today for…wanting to go back to an enforced teenage curfew. Drawing attention in the meantime to some of the high profile shootings that have happened. A work colleague today, not prompted by anything, asked me, “What’s with that curfew thing in Lowell??”
Maybe this City Council is practicing the Reverse Psychology school of marketing…hoping that by getting all the negative stuff in the New England news market, people will think good things?
Let’s set aside for a moment that this curfew idea is a worthless, knee-jerk reaction to a problem that it will have nothing to do with solving. Let’s pretend that the shootings which have occurred are not mostly older 20- and 30-something ex-cons getting out of jail and causing trouble. Let’s imagine that Rita Mercier did NOT blanket accuse our kids of drug dealing on bikes (does that make our bike lanes “drug lanes”?).
Let us also ignore the fact, temporarily, that the SJC ruled that a good portion of the 1994 ordinance that is still on the books is unconstitutional. Despite Rita’s call to jail those hooligans, the only thing that can be enforced is a minor fine.
And the ugly anti-teenage rants from the old white people on the City Council are also besides the point…with real gems from the likes of Rita Mercier, Corey Belanger, and “mayor” Elliot, who can’t seem to relate to anyone under 55. And when I say it was ugly, I mean it. Flinch-worthy. It’s online and you should go watch. The curfew discussion starts just after 125 minutes, but if you want the full effect of stupid, please watch from 113 minutes to catch the affordable housing debacle, where any educated viewer will notice the plethora of misinformation.
No, what really makes this special is that, instead of talking about the imminent Folk Fest and other summer activities in Lowell, we once again have reinforced the notion that Lowell is a scary place not to visit, despite the general drop in crime rates. That it’s a place where irrelevant solutions to real problems are the only ones that the brain trust that is our Mayor and his cronies on City Council can come up with. That filling Corey Belanger’s bar is the main reason the Council exists.
Sure, the city has problems, and the shootings are not a good trend and we should be doing everything (that is USEful) to curb the violence…but seriously. Perception is reality, and the perception of Lowell just got a good rolled-up-newspaper whack on its wet nose. By our own “leaders,” no less, who are supposed to be in the position to do something about it, but who are tiptoeing like mice around the real issues. Scratch that, I like mice and hate to insult them like that.
This whole disgusting episode of “As the City Council Panders” doesn’t sound like good marketing to me. Though, I have only over 14 years experience in print and web marketing and design, so what do I know?
It’s like watching ping pong, only at one end of the table is the not very classy personality of Kevin Hayhurst (his facebook comments alone are enough to make you cringe, never mind the alleged assaults) and the other end is the city of Lowell.
So a temporary stay was issued today on the Hayhurst License Commission ruling by a superior court judge on a technicality. The problem? A bill got signed into law literally yesterday during the day, and the LC hearing was held after that, at night. That bill requires License Commissions to have five members, rendering our current-2-member LC not a quorum, and therefore its vote last night invalid.
Personally, I think the timing on this is fishy. Hayhurst’s lawyer had asked for a postponement on this hearing until yesterday…and right before the rescheduled hearing, on the same day, a bill gets signed into law which renders our 2-member License Commission a non-compliant board? Coincidences like that make me nervous.
But the real issue here is…I thought we were supposed to get a Beacon Hill insider when we hired Kevin Murphy? Someone who could sail in the seas of state laws and practices? Someone who would have seen this coming, especially since he is listed as the sponsor of this bill in the state House??
Even worse, this board went down to two members because Kevin Murphy’s own nephew had to step down since his uncle became the CM.
So let’s put this clearly: a board with KMurph’s own nephew predictably became a two person board when he took the City Manager job. He has failed thus far to appoint anyone to replace his nephew, which is bad enough by itself because two members could easily become one member, or someone might not be able to make a meeting due to an illness or something, and make the board a non-compliant board just as is. BUT! On top of that, a bill Kevin Murphy sponsored renders the two member board noncompliant. Clearly Murphy knew it had been passed, he might have had the fecking wherewithal to follow up on when it’d be signed.
I don’t think it’d be too much to ask for him to have addressed this in the five weeks he’s been at the helm of the city? Given that it was a predictable problem on BOTH fronts? It should have been one of the first things on his plate. He didn’t see that this might be a major issue facing the city? It’s not like he’s working solo - he’s foisting a ton of budgeting stuff onto temporary guru Healey, so…what the hell?? What is he waiting for? And if he, for some wackadoodle reason, had no way to make the appointment in the last few weeks, why didn’t he see the problem with the bill he sponsored in the House coming into effect and at least warn his Law Dept and License Commission, at the very least, so they could have postponed the entire meeting last night until such a time as they are compliant with the new law?
Bottom line: Kevin Murphy left his License Commissioners and Law Dept high and dry due to his neglecting the appointments he needs to be making. Now another hearing will have to be held once the Commission is more fully seated, wasting the prep time that both the LC and law dept very obviously engaged in ahead of last night.
And make no mistake, I think Kayhurst only got a temporary reprieve. The guy’s got two criminal cases pending against him as far as I know, and it’s obvious his people do NOT run a tight ship out there, given the ridiculous things they said in front of the Commission last night. But god, this makes the city look bad. Hayhurst is crowing all over facebook (and some of his supporters or employees or whatever are saying that people talking about the suspension can “go fucking die”). Murphy better fix this, fast. You just had your glitch for this mission. Now it’s time to do your job.
So, if you did not watch the License Commission tonight, you missed an entertaining meeting. The ever-shrinking License Commission was holding a hearing on the license of Finn’s Pub downtown, because Kevin Hayhurst allegedly assaulted a patron (who wound up in the ER with a fractured nose). Allegedly this is the second time this has happened in the last year or so…
Former Commission member Ray Weicker (whom I would never hire as attorney, he was terrible) was there on behalf of Hayhurst. The testimony included character assassination by proxy (Weicker repeatedly attacked the victim’s stepfather, calling him a felon and stating that the stepson was following in his footsteps), and accusations of blackmail (which never, it appears, made it to a police report, strangely…) where Hayhurst claims the young man and his stepfather tried to extort $20,000 from him to not press charges. Hayhurst had a whole couch-and-water story about how he wasn’t even there. Apparently, written testimony and police interviews with the witnesses who are not employees of Hayhurst state otherwise. They didn’t make it to the meeting though (due to work commitments etc). Weicker tried to pretend that this meant their testimony was not useable because he couldn’t cross examine said persons. I think he missed the part where this wasn’t a court of law?
Anywho, super fun. And you won’t really see this in the Sun since I hear that the media table was empty tonight. Luckily, LTC will have it archived soon and you can see it yourself, because it really is worth the viewing. Just think - all your shows are wrapping up their seasons…you need something good to watch!
So the kicker is the penalties imposed. My understanding is that it’s rare that a long suspension is enacted. I suppose that makes sense, since even losing a week’s worth of revenue is pretty devastating.
Finn’s Pub got a full 30 days. What’s more, Brian’s Ivy Hall is also closed…because the License Commission also removed Kevin Hayhurst as Manager of Record of both bars, and you can’t run a liquor establishment without one. In order to reopen, Brian’s Ivy Hall needs to bring another Manager of Record for approval to the License Commission. That means a minimum of a three weeks since the LC doesn’t meet again until June 12th. That’s if they can find someone willing to put their name to the responsibility…
Thirdly, the LC put in its motion to suspend Hayhurst from managing both places, that he be removed as a corporate officer in the companies. This was after they wanted to force him to divest from both companies but the assistant city attorney’s opinion was rendered that that was not within the LC’s purview.
There is still criminal charges pending against Hayhurst, so his penalties might not be over with…but I think we can safely say that there’s a good chance one or both of these places might be gone in the next year or so. Good riddance, as they are the some of big offenders of attracting unwanted types to our downtown late into the night.
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