The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Bike Day!


Coming down King Street, I came upon these stakes in the ground, with the word "tree" on them.


I assume that means that the city intends to plant a tree wherever there are those stakes. If so, then that is good news. I'm old enough to remember when King Street was a shady, tree-lined corridor of leaves. Unfortunately, at the same time it was always way too crowded with traffic. In response, the city in the 1980's had the street widened, but in doing so, they cut down every single tree on the street, including some that were over a hundred years old. The lack of trees left the street with the appearance of a barren, sterile highway where once there had been bucolic charm. Planting a few trees at this late date wouldn't hurt, although it won't help that much either. Anyway, better late than never.

Soon I arrived at the festivities celebrating Bike Day!


Free food and coffee was available to all passerby.


WHMP was broadcasting live from the event; here's Monte Belmonte producing The Bill Newman Show.


Here's me and my neighbor Ruthie the Pedal Person solemnly surveying the scene.


In a Main Street window.


In the Haymarket Cafe.


With the school year ending, these trucks are seen everywhere.


Maybe this dude in Amherst has the right idea of what to do with a bicycle on Bike Day - ride it to UMass and take a snooze by the campus pond.


Rumors were rampant that the Share Coffee House (nee Raos) was going out of business. Now that seems less likely as the going out of business signs have been taken off the doors. Whatever happens, here's a little film I made of their musical entertainment last Sunday.



MGM Casino will be opening in Springfield, Massachusetts real soon!
This photo shot on Main Street looking North.
May 12 2018 photo by Jeff Ziff.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Rosenberg Postmortem


Former Sen. Stanley Rosenberg walking by the Campus Pond at UMass Amherst, after speaking to students there, Dec. 7, 2017. (photo by statehouse news service)


As most people predicted, Amherst/Hamp State Senator Stan Rosenberg was forced out of office last week, the inevitable outcome of a sordid statehouse sex scandal involving his husband. Rosenberg's departure - combined with the February death of Northampton State Rep. Peter Kocot - means there will be no or only partial representation for the residents of 24 western Massachusetts cities and towns until January of 2019. What's interesting is how many people locally seemed caught by surprise by Rosenberg's fall.

The local media was largely to blame. While the Boston media (and locally yours truly) consistently described Rosenberg as the political equivalent of a dead man walking, the local media kept feeding the irrational fantasy that somehow Rosenberg was still politically viable. Such puff piece coverage, which consistently downplayed the seriousness of the mess Rosenberg was in, may even have influenced Rosenberg to wage a futile effort to seek re-election which unnecessarily prolonged the scandal itself, while increasing the damage to the State Senate's reputation and magnifying the humiliation of Rosenberg himself.

Back in early March, I wrote that "if the report about his husband's alleged misconduct is as damning as some suspect it will be, his Northampton senate seat may very well be wide open this fall." That turned out to be a completely accurate prediction, as Rosenberg was forced to resign less than 24 hours after the report was released.

But even if the local media distorted the extent of the scandal, that still doesn't explain why so many local voters were so loyal to Rosenberg. Certainly the Senator was never a friend to working people, whose paychecks he repeatedly assaulted throughout his more than three decade career. Stan Rosenberg never saw a tax increase he didn't like, and if he didn't see one, he was always quick to suggest one of his own. No person's paycheck was ever safe from reduction as long as Stanley Rosenberg was in the Statehouse.

He was also no friend to citizen democracy. Rosenberg was the Senate's most persistent critic of citizen ballot initiatives, claiming that voters had no business passing legislation by referendum since, well, Stan and his fellow legislators knew best. Despite his supposedly sterling progressive credentials, he was also small help to those who struggled for marijuana legalization over the years, joining the cause only at the last minute when it was inevitable legalization would pass. In the years when it would have taken courage to take a stand, he was silent.

Senator Stan's presidency was a dud, with no major legislation being guided through the chamber on his watch, with the exception of a massive pay raise for the legislators, which included a $45,000 raise for him personally. Rosenberg may have had a hard time getting legislation through the Senate, but Stan was always good at taking care of Stan. Now, of course, his pay from the legislature has fallen to zero, but the taxpayers will now step in to pay the fat pension he will get for his more than three decades of "service."

Rosenberg is the fourth of three prior legislative leaders to depart in disgrace, leaving advocates for good government speculating on ways to fix the statehouse culture of scandal, incompetence and greed. However, the solution is actually very simple. The rat's nest in Boston can only be successfully cleaned out when a majority of the voters of Massachusetts finally have the sense to vote a straight Republican ticket.


Speaking of over-rated politicians, going through some stuff the other day I came across this old photo of my Grandmother posing in front of the Capitol with the late Springfield Congressman Edward P. Boland.


I find it slightly amusing how Boland signed that picture, with the addition of the line "Member of Congress" under his name. What, was he afraid that my Grandma may have thought she was posing with the House Custodian? I detect a touch of insecurity in that addition, one perhaps to be expected from a legislator who was known by his colleagues as "The House Mouse." One of the most damning documents regarding Boland is to be found among the archives of The Diary of J. Wesley Miller, in this letter from activist Eamon O'Sullivan to local Democrat Party boss Judge Danny Keyes:


Dear Dan,

Regarding your comments in the paper about Congressman Boland, the famous writer H.L. Mencken once said, "History is an agreed upon pack of lies." Quite frankly I always thought Edward P. Boland lacked the testicular fortitude to be a leader. As a matter of fact it wasn't until near the end of his time in congress that he was involved in the so-called "Boland Amendment" which was poorly written and described at the time as "a piece of Swiss Cheese."

I remember reading the Boston Globe back in 1972 when they were writing about the various congressmen from Massachusetts. When it came to Congressman Boland the Globe Spotlight column had this to say: "We don't know anything good or bad about Edward P. Boland from the Second Congressional District. After twenty years of service to date he is a cipher and a nonentity in the U.S. Congress." As a matter of fact Boland's record was rather dull with him never taking a stand for or against any significant issue of his time.

I often told my late great mother that I couldn't understand why the Irish, although trapped and scarred by the limited Hungry Hill mentality, always voted for a man like Boland with no real stature as a leader or statesman. Whenever I encountered Boland he was always too much in a rush to talk and his public statements were rare and in most cases glittering generalities.

Boland's most significant failure was causing the closing of the Springfield Armory. I have handwritten letters from the late U.S. Speaker of the House John McCormack, a good friend of then President Lyndon Baines Johnson, telling how Boland's disastrous decision to back Edward M. Kennedy for U.S. Senate over Speaker McCormack's nephew Edward McCormack killed any chance that either Speaker McCormack or President Johnson would use their power to save the Armory. It was Mass Ways and Means Chairman Tony Scibelli and Edmond P. Garvey who partially salvaged the Armory by turning it into Springfield Technical Community College for which they received little help from Boland.

Judge Keyes, I recognize your life long friendship with Boland, but he was not highly respected in the U.S. Congress as you suggest, and it was well known locally that if you wanted something done in Washington you should contact our other Congressman Silvio O. Conte. We don't need anymore streets, statues or schools built or named after Boland. I find it interesting that his parents enrolled him at the public elementary Armory Street School instead of Our Lady of Hope. He may not have been academically inclined, but I concede he was still clever enough to fool the Irish.

Eddie


Every year around here we have a parade.



Photographer Bill Dwight captured Stan Rosenberg at the parade, which took place the day after his resignation became final.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Baking Baker


I love this picture by Valley photographer Keith Sikes of Massachusetts Governor Charlie confidently arriving at The Fort in downtown Springfield.


The Gov has good reason to be confident, having won about 70% of the vote at last week's GOP convention in Worcester. However, complications remain. Despite Baker's lopsided convention win, religious conservative and Springfield resident Dr. Scott Lively also got enough votes to get on the ballot, meaning Baker has to first win the September primary. The conventional wisdom is that he will win the primary easily, but that doesn't mean that Lively isn't a factor. Over a million Massachusetts residents voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and Baker needs every one of them to win. Yet, Baker has tried to distance himself from Trump, which also has the effect of alienating the Trump supporters in his base.


Many see Lively's nearly 30% convention vote as more of an indicator of Republican displeasure over Baker's center-left governing style than an endorsement of Lively's fundamentalist religious conservatism. In other words, most of Lively's support came in the form of protest voters wanting to send Baker the message that he needs to move more to the right. If enough protest voters desert Baker in the primary, Lively may do well enough to embarrass Baker despite the Governor ultimately winning. Balancing the need to hold onto his Republican base in the primary, while still reaching out to the non-Republicans he will need in November, will be a real challenge.

Meanwhile, up in Hamp, Hillary remains completely unhinged.


Is Scott Pruit entering the cut throat Northampton real estate market?


The Mayor was passing out trees for Arbor Day.


As the farmers were hawking their crops.


Bertucci's in Amherst has bit the dust. I'm not surprised, although the food was good, their prices were high and the portions small.


This painting of a sheep in the Black Sheep is decidedly not black.


The world on an Amherst sidewalk.


This video of the late Doyle the Twig Painter training for an ersatz boxing match with Keith Walmer is a hoot.





Sunday, April 22, 2018

Extrava


This Dann Vazquez portrait of Northampton was symbolically true yesterday.


That's because yesterday was the psychedelically themed Extravaganza which is put on each year by the UMass Cannabis Coalition as a celebration of the virtues of marijuana in particular and high culture in general. I took the bus there, and soon encountered a terrible traffic jam at the Calvin Coolidge Bridge coming into Hamp from Amherst.


The traffic was crawling along so slowly, that I and a bunch of other people on the bus decided to just get off the bus and walk across the bridge. While on one side of me as I crossed was the impenetrable traffic jam, as long as I just kept gazing in the opposite direction, then I saw only transcendent beauty.


At last we arrived at our destination, where the traffic jam continued on the street leading into the fair grounds itself.


There was security at the gate, but it wasn't particularly intrusive, in fact, they practically just waved me through. But maybe that was because I purposely did not bring a knapsack and probably looked like some harmless old coot. One of the few advantages I find with advancing years is that I'm often mistaken as much more respectable and much less subversive than I really am. Once inside, old glory greeted the revelers.


The place was really crowded.


When I was younger I used to love crowds, going to concerts running all around shouting "Yahoo!" I no longer do the substances that used to encourage the yahooing, and find that I now appreciate mankind more in the abstract than when they are swarming all around me.

The star of the event was there, actual marijuana plants that you could buy. While purchasing marijuana in a store is not possible until July 1st, it is already legal to grow your own.


I got there just in time for the Terry Franklin & Dick Evans Show.


Conspicuous in their absence were any local politicians, including sorta-Senator Stan Rosenberg and State Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, both of whom face potentially tough re-election races this year and could've used the goodwill their attendance would have generated.

What I also didn't hear, in the ninety minutes or so I was there, was any live music being played. Later I heard that a few bands got stuck on the highway and missed their own gig. In compensation, here's something from the golden age of psychedelia.



My verdict: A good time was had by all

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Wintry


Doyle Twig Paintings on the wall.


A noble cause.


For one fleeting day, the temperature around here was almost spring-like.


It's time to plan a trip to a sugar-shack.


The geese were honking their love for academia.


Momma and Poppa Duck were out with the ducklings by the campus pond.


Then, of course, it had to go and snow for the fourth time this April.


Hopefully the weather will improve for the Extravaganja this Saturday. With legalization beginning on July 1st, this may be the last one. Here's a cool song from yesteryear.



Be There or Be Square!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

City Clowncil



I'm dismayed, if not particularly surprised, by the irresponsible actions of the Springfield City Council in trying to prevent law enforcement from attempting to remove a person who is in the country illegally and currently attempting to escape justice by seeking refuge in a local church. A group of foolhardy councilors will try to bring a resolution next week before the council in an attempt to offer the fugitive that body's official support.

What are the esteemed councilors thinking? Do they think the immigration laws should not be enforced? Do they think that people should be allowed to sneak into the country without any consequences? Do they feel that new comers should not be medically examined to see if they are carrying infectious diseases? Do they feel they should not have their background checked to see if they have a criminal record, such as a history of violence or pedophilia? Do the esteemed councilors feel they should not be checked to see if they have ties to criminal gangs or terrorist groups? Because these are the very checks that do not occur whenever people sneak into the country illegally. When someone like the criminal alien hiding in the Springfield church are supported in their efforts, and by public officials no less, it only encourages others to try to sneak in as well.

It is also an insult to every American immigrant who entered this country through legal channels, and who went through the long and demanding process to legally obtain citizenship, for the councilors to suggest, as they do by their actions, that the standard should be simply that if you can get here than you can stay here. I'm especially disappointed in Councilors Tim Ryan and Mike Fenton, who once had reputations for having some commonsense, an appraisal that must now be downgraded in light of their participation in this current foolishness.


It snowed on Monday.


Then it snowed again on Friday.


WILL WINTER EVER END?

This week the UMass Library had their Edible Book Festival. I think the Forbes in Northampton has had similar events.


Here's a tasty biography of Vincent Van Gogh.


Of course Springfield's Dr. Seuss had to be included, although The Lorax was not one of his better books.


Let's end with something a little thermonuclear. Observe former Pine Pointer Karl Mayfield at around 1:25.