Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
The jokes write themselves. Did you know the city once had a zoo at Fort Hill? You can read about it on Jen Myer’s blog.
It’s filled with tidbits like this:
Two weeks later another 5-year-old Buck was rescued from the Western Canal by 17-year-old Raymond Donovan of Middlesex Street, treated by Dr. Harold N. Eames for “frozen ears,” treated to “a few shots of good whiskey” and taken to the zoo.
While watching today’s City Council meeting, I just learned that Tom Byrne passed away.
Most people in LiL nation do not know him but in some ways he was a lot like us, he loved Lowell politics. He belonged to a certain “clan” and did not travel in my circles both socially and certainly ideologically. However, we agreed that civic participation is key to a healthy and prosperous community.
I got to know him when on occasion I was invited on the Saturday morning WCAP talk show. He always treated me with respect, on and off the air.
Now that some of the dust has settled, I wanted to express my views on the events that occurred this past week. I am referring to GLTHS Mary Jo Santoro filing a police complaint on my LiL colleague Lynne. This is not how I wanted or expected to spend my Thanksgiving week but if you enter the public arena, you should be ready for unexpected and unpleasant events.
First and foremost, I want to share publicly what I said to both Lynne and Jack. In my opinion, Santoro’s actions were not aimed at Lynne but they were aimed at LiL in general and Jack in particular. It is Jack’s investigating writing under the banner of “Mary Jo Must Go” that has the Superintendent, her supporters, her benefactors, her sycophants, her entourage and most importantly the hanger-ons that live off the job clearinghouse, self-defined political power base on the Merrimack.
Yes, Santoro would not mind if Lynne was wounded but I believe that particular action was orchestrated by one of Santoro’s staunchest supporters for his own twisted motives. Jack’s post were the ultimate target. The decision to go after Lynne was an attempt by Santoro and her companions to intimidate LiL into silence. I do not think this threat has worked. Lynne and Jack are stubborn and committed. When your principles are based on ideas and not on getting a job in the public sector for yourself or a family member, it is pretty easy to continue to fight.
I have no idea where Santoro’s complaint will land in the legal arena. We will wait and see but at this rate, pretty soon she is going to run out of people to accuse of harassment. That tactic has short shelf life.
What bothered me the most in the past few days was the pleasure some bloggers took in the possibility that another blog will be shut off. I can understand the Lowell Sun jumping on that bandwagon, there is no love lost between us and them. But for bloggers to find pleasure in the possibility that free speech will be curtailed is truly disturbing.
The internet and all of its wonderful democratic components should be applauded by all self-described bloggers. We should celebrate the ability to exchange idea no matter how appalling we find the words and their delivery. The freedom to share views, debate, argue and perhaps form a consensus should be embraced. You should fight words with words, not with the threat of police action.
There are so many avenues that are available to express one’s views in Lowell, LiL is not the only game in town. There are many blogs (I do miss the Mill City boys) and most of those blogs do not share our views. Some even like to position themselves as the anti-LiL. We have a local radio station that welcomes callers; we have a local television show that provides a wide spectrum of views. And of course we have our newspaper. There are plenty of outlets for everyone to present their views. Why try to harm LiL?
And as far as Mr. Mike Hayden is concerned, I would like to offer a suggestion. Instead of being fascinated by Jack and Lynne, try to serve as a mentor to younger Lowellians who want to get involved in public service or civic activity. If you are so confident in your views, you should be able to quickly form a cadre of up and coming leaders who can challenge the current sentiments expressed by the majority of Lowell voters that have clearly stated “we want people like Fred Bahou and Erik Gitschier” to serve on the GLTHS Committee.” By the way, Mr. Hayden I really do not care what you may say about me so if you want to go on Gerry’s blog and call me vile names as you do Jack and Lynne, it will be a total waste of your time as well as the readers. I do not need nor seek your approval on any level.
I would like to thank Mary Jo. On behalf of three Lowell homeowners, taxpayers who like this City and want it to prosper on all levels, thanks for giving us a kick in the rear end and waking me up from my slumber.
I just wanted to jump for a moment off the crazy train and express my gratitude for the fact that we live in this country, where we have free speech, where we have elected representative government, and how great it is to spend the day with a bounty of food, family, and lots and lots of fabulous wine from our locally owned markets.
I hope that even the people who hate my guts have a wonderful day with them and theirs, and they realize just how lucky we are in this city, this state, and this country. And that we remember those here in the US, and worldwide, who do not share in the bounty with us. May we be ever more compassionate in our thoughts and in our policies.
With that, let turkey-day commence! Have a great one!
A two year battle to keep an innocent family member from being executed ended earlier today, when Lennox, a dog seized in 2010 from a family in Belfast, Northern Ireland, despite having zero aggression problems, and being the therapy dog for a disabled 7-year-old, was put to death. Belfast ignored worldwide outrage, and even offers from celebrities to rehome the dog outside of the UK, where the so-called “Dangerous Dog Act” enabled this disgusting event. Lennox was not even a pitbull, but a Bulldog/Labrador mix - NOT on the dangerous dogs list in the first place. But “authorities, armed with a dressmakers tape measure, had determined that he fit the measurements of a pit bull-type dog.”
As you all know by now I am a passionate dog owner of two adorable little rescues. And I am also vehemently against the stupid muzzle law that our own city put on pitbulls. It is absolutely ridiculous to react in a kneejerk fashion to anecdotal feelings that a particular breed is dangerous. There is no evidence pitbulls are any more dangerous than any other large dog.
The AVMA document concludes:
Given that pit bull-type dogs are not implicated in controlled studies, and the potential role of prevalence and management factors, it is difficult to support the targeting of this breed as a basis for dog bite prevention…
“If breeds are to be targeted a cluster of large breeds would be implicated including the German shepherd and shepherd crosses and other breeds that vary by location.”
We were interested in possibly a trip to the UK (Scotland) and Northern Ireland sometime in the future. But forget that. Not if dogs can be ripped away from families for having the unfortunate measurements of a banned dog, and not until they lift the ban itself.
Don’t you understand? It’s NOT the breed. It’s the owner. A bad owner could own a POODLE and they’d turn aggressive. A bad owner could own a golden retriever and turn that family-friendly dog into a nightmare. Get the owners. STOP blaming the breed. An ordinance to strengthen the ability for the city to cite bad owners for: not keeping their dog confined or on a leash (a real pet peeve of mine), for not licensing them, and for other violations would do a lot more for safety than muzzling (or seizing and destroying) one breed which currently has a bad rep because of today’s ownership trend. Pitties are all over the place, proportionately, so yeah, they seem more prevalent in attacks. They are also a “status” breed for the sort of owner who WANTS to train aggression in their dogs, or neglects them and doesn’t do proper socialization. That doesn’t mean they are any more dangerous than any other breed badly brought up.
And it doesn’t mean that it’s a great idea to punish the vast majority of good owners who have great, socialized and trained, properly confined, sweet adorable pitties.
In previous decades, other breeds have been blamed for dangerousness, like rottweilers, doberman pinschers, German Shepherd, and others. When will learn that it’s not about the breed? How many aggressive chihuahuas are there out there, simply, again, because of they are a popular breed and some owners do not bring them up right? But you see, a badly socialized or spoiled aggressive chihuahua hardly seems dangerous. Just pitties. Or rotties. Or shepherds. Or dobermans.
Instead of letting their gut lead the Council, maybe they ought to try actually researching the facts. Unless we want to be like the heartless UK and start seizing family pets, which seems to be the direction we’re heading to, sometimes. Politics should be able rising above primal sentiment to operate on the behalf of the public’s actual best interest. In the case of the breed-specific bans and seizure and muzzle laws, however, we’ve seen a total failure.
Margaret at Jackie’s blog posted about her missing cat on May 3rd. I didn’t see the post until today. If it’s been found, Margaret, please let me know! Otherwise, please keep an eye out for it in the Highlands area, his name is Milo, he’s a black and white cat, very friendly.
Margaret if you have a picture please let me know so I can post it. Having just gone through a missing pet episode, I know how you feel far too well. I’ll help any way I can.
Hallo folks, sorry I’ve been absentia lately. It’s been a chaotic month or more, with the loss of my beloved Memere (aged 93), immediately followed by a very rough eight days where the new doggie we adopted ran away on her first day with us (wiggled right out of her harness, I will never forget the sight). We got her back a little over a week ago, thank goodness. For those on Facebook who followed the story, thank you all so much for your support and spreading the word - every little thing really helped. I almost posted the info on the blog…I went back and forth about whether to or not…but all ended very well.
Here’s a picture from the night we got her back, with her new big brother, our other dog Hector. Pauke (pronounced pow-ka with a German accent, it means “tympani,” singular) is a little 2-year-old, 10-lb (well, not any more, but we’ll get her back up to weight soon) miniature pinscher rescue from this hoarding situation out of Springfield. She is a sweet little girl, a bit shy and timid, but since her adventure on the streets of south Lowell, she has really bonded to us and I doubt very much we’ll have to worry about her running away ever again. I think she figured out that a roof over her head, adorable warm little clothes (she gets cold easily), two square meals a day and lots of scritches are better than scrounging food and water and shelter off the streets!
(PS if you think our little Pauke is adorable, there is another little min pin looking for a home via the same rescue group, All Dogs Rescue, called Lemon, she’s 5 lbs and very sweet, too.)
All right, off the subject of personal stuff, and on to the reason for this post…there are a couple of really cool things I saw that are happening in Lowell, community-wise, that I thought I would share.
First, there’s this really neat “Mill City Skill Share” event happening on Sunday, May 6th. I may not be able to participate this time around, but I’m hoping to see this take off and become a regular thing (so YOU should go participate!). The premise is so simple I’m not sure how it hasn’t already happened before! People with skills, from knitting, to making sushi (YUM!), to American Sign Language, to documentary film making are signed up to volunteer to teach members of the community. Members of the community sign up to learn! It’s that easy!
It’s happening all around downtown Lowell, at the Mogan Cultural Center as well as Lucy Larcom Park, St. Anne’s, and other locations.
I haven’t had the chance to meet the person/persons behind it but all I can say is, wicked good job and thanks for bringing it to Lowell!
The second thing I just sighted (Facebook is great for this stuff) is Saturday, May 12th -Lowell Give Back Day. Another great community idea. You can help with park and street cleanup, city gardening, cleaning canals, get your bike tuned up and go to the Community Gardens Greenhouse Plant Sale. I am hoping I can make it to one or more of the events listed here, so you might see me around!
Take the time to engage in your community, share a skill, participate in activities, or help clean up a park! Getting connected to your community has never been so easy. Just show up, bring a pair of gardening gloves, and pitch in! It’s very rewarding, especially when you look back at the area you just cleaned and think how much better it looks now that you’ve been there.
‘Twas the night of Halloween,
And in all the streets
the branches and debris
were frustrating the treats.
All little ghosties and ghoulies
were kept from their rounds
of their neighborhoods darkened
from trees that came down.
Their costumes they hung
back in closet halls.
In hopes that their city
would reschedule their hauls.
“It must be some trick,”
they thought to themselves.
“It sure can’t be time
for us to see elves.”
But soon they forgot
that they missed out on Twix.
They pulled on their snow boots,
and went out in the mix.
They built up their snowman,
and snowball fights led.
They slid down the hills
on the sled from the shed.
Their parents breathed sighs.
Did they escape the worst fate?
Would the holiday pass
without sugar highs great?
Alas, not to be.
The city decided
in its infinite wisdom
that candy bars be provided.
Still there was a postponement
of the rush to eat chocolate.
A week extra off
to prepare for the racket.
That is, if there’s any
little “fun size” treats left.
If the parents don’t eat it
in dark, desperate theft.
Merry Halloween everyone! Hope all of our readers still without power get it back soon, and that you don’t, in the desperation of all this darkness and cold, eat it all up before next Sunday.
I just returned home from the Lowell Summer Music Series’ yearly FREE Shakespeare offering (held indoors at the high school auditorium due to weather). Just last Thursday night I got a chance finally to attend Shakespeare on the Common in Boston, as well.
The two productions could not be more different, and both were great. As an avowed Shakespeare fanatic (ever since my freshman year in high school!), I thoroughly enjoyed them, though strangely both are from the same period of “dark” comedies and both (All’s Well That Ends Well, and Measure for Measure) involved tricking a main character into thinking he’s bedding one woman, and really bedding another. I hadn’t read nor seen either of these plays before, and they’re probably not on the list of my favorites.
Today’s LSMS staging, put on by the New England Shakespeare Festival, got me to thinking…about the difficult language of Shakespeare for modern audiences, accessibility, and fidelity to the text and context of the plays. There are a lot of really great modern takes, such as “O” - based on Othello - or “10 Things I Hate about You” (loosely based on Taming of the Shrew) and they are fascinating, but I’d argue much more fascinating if you are familiar with the original plays. Some other adaptations fall short in my opinion, and the various on-screen traditional productions are great or good or bad, but there are a thousand of them. (My absolute fave is Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, a rich and gorgeous production with its sizzling, and stinging, back-and-forth between Branagh’s Benedick and Emma Thompson’s Beatrice.)
Why is Shakespeare so revered, adapted, and performed in all these various movie and stage vehicles? A lot of people probably wonder, especially those who are not Shakespeare geeks. Shakespeare has permeated centuries of literature and plays and movies, and most modern viewers or readers don’t even realize it. With our 21st century sensibilities and much more cynical suspension of disbelieve (we even like our sci-fi and fantasy to adhere to “reality,” at least self-referentially), sometimes Elizabethan stagecraft and writing seems overly quaint, and deus ex machinae too corny. I can’t blame people, with little spare time to study Shakespeare, for feeling this way.
However, there isn’t a steep price for entry into Shakespeare, if one knows where to look. For instance, serious movies like Branagh’s Much Ado (though now he’s more known as Professor Gilderoy Lockhart than as Henry V, another great movie) and good “modern” adaptations that ditch the language but mimic the plot can get one familiar with the stories and the language pretty quickly. And going to live performances like today’s from the New England Shakespeare Festival are sure to make you a fan as well.
Unlike the Boston Common performance, which is polished, well-staged, with live string music and impeccable dramatic delivery, the NESF prides itself on accessibility. They bring Shakespeare back to its roots, as they explain at the outset of their performance. “Show of hands, have you ever attended an unrehearsed Shakespeare play?” you are asked at the beginning. Because you’re about to see one!
The NESF company stages Shakespeare like they did in Elizabethan times, which is surprisingly much more accessible than what you might think of as traditional staging. In Shakespeare’s time, they explain before starting, actors were performing a different play each night in order to compete for audiences with other production companies, so lines were not memorized, but put on a hand-held scroll, and there was an on-stage prompter to help actors when they miss lines.
In their production, you feel like you, the audience, are in collusion with the actors. The delivery is not perfect (far from it) and the “fourth wall” comes crashing down more often than not, and the lines are hammed up with dramatic gestures, overdone eye rolls, and exaggerated tones. There were even a few moments where I disagreed with the interpretation of a line or two (being a Shakespeare geek does come with some privileges). But I had fun, and so did the entire audience so far as I could tell. Even the kids were giggling.
At the polished performance on the Common, I was enthralled and I loved it. But I did see a few people snoozing on their blankets in front of me - likely dragged there by an enthusiastic spouse - and there was less engagement by the children in attendance. It had a more removed feel (and not just because we happened to go on a night everyone else did, and had to be quite far from the stage). New England Shakespeare Festival’s performance, by contrast, was intimate, with a nod and a wink to the audience. A third of the play was acted from the aisles in front and middle of our seats, and several times, audience members were referenced with gestures at some line about thieves or (in one memorable moment) strumpets. There was lots of cheering, and you were encouraged to boo the knave who was causing all the problems. (He wasn’t quite a villain, just a religiously rigid hypocrite. In that way I felt like I was watching the evening news…)
I am not a Shakespeare purist, and when a good “adaptation,” or full-blown production, or anything in between, comes around, I judge it on its merits. There is room for the modern take, the polished stage production, and the bawdy over-exaggerated “unrehearsed” roving Shakespearean companies as well.
One thing I do know about Shakespeare is that understanding his outdated writing does come to you with practice. With productions like NESF’s around to introduce newcomers to the Bard, maybe more people will be enticed to build up their Elizabethan muscles.
Please please please be careful out there. The CM’s blog has some details on where to go to stay cool during this excessive heat. Be especially aware of young children and the elderly in this weather. Check on your neighbors. Stay hydrated. If you have no AC and can’t stay cool, go spend the afternoon with your family at one of the area’s malls.
Update: Also, the Senior Center is open (call ahead first).
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