May 2005

May 3, 2005

A lovely but chilly morning, rain overnight, 48 degrees at 6am.

I have completed cleaning the basement, the breezeway and the redoing of the garage that was getting messed up. About to update the pink room. I also repainted the cellar stairs.

The Acres liquor store is still abandoned with fixtures and liquor inside but closed to business. Even the old prices are still posted outside. In Springfield Cemetery Sunday afternoon I stopped at the Milton Clyde Long monument and found the erroneous tablet is still there.

Debbie Gardner is the editor of Prime Magazine, a Reminder publication for the elderly. Lawyer Mark E. Salomone has a chess game commercial, first time I've seen it. 1-800-WIN-WIN-1. Heard a commercial on WFCR for the Whately Antiquarian Bookstore.

On Antiques Roadshow tonight they had on a descendant of one of John Brown's twenty children who had with her a letter Brown wrote from Springfield, Mass. Because of its rarity it was valued at $25,000.

Left word for Stas Rodosz at the Polish Center at Elms College inviting him to come and see what I have.

A new book on Colleges of Conscience includes Smith, Hampshire and UMass but not WNEC. Yesterday was the 24th annual gay pride march in Northampton. Also the Taste of Northampton has been canceled because the vendors were losing money. Later a TV news report had Judy Matt announcing the cancellation of The Taste of Springfield. Had Matt in red in front of her plaques saying, "Sometimes you have to look at things in a business fashion."

Called McDermott at the paper and said there's not much in the article on the R. C. Stevens Croteau investigation that Eamon couldn't have told him five years ago.

Drove out at 9:50 am, several cop cars pulled over on west side of Breckwood Boulevard. Carew Street is scraped down for refinishing. I dined on a 99 cent burger and 99 cent fries at Burger King at the Springfield Plaza. Found a very worn Indian penny in a crack in the pavement there. I like their burger with lettuce, tomato and onion better than McDonald's. Wish we still had a Burger King around here! Liberty Heights Stop & Shop gas is now $2.15. In Stop & Shop I found a package of 30 mild franks that had only 29 in it so the butcher gave me 50 cents off. Out at 12:04.

Roche Assoc. called inviting me to a seminar about planning my finances. I told her this is a telemarketing call and I'm on the don't call list and since they called earlier they have broken the law twice. She asked me my number and said they won't call again. I replied that I'm a lawyer and if I give her my number I'll have to charge her my hourly rate of $225. She politely said good-bye.

May 6, 2005

A sunny day, dandelions going to seed.

Blair won the British election, but a smaller victory than he would have had if he had not supported Bush. John H. Beauregard of Pioneer Reflections Barber Shop in Hadley is closing his shop because he's being sent to Iraq.

When the Sullivan Information Center opened I went in and asked, "I've heard that Springfield has three carillons, can you tell me where they are?" The reply I got, "Whatsa carillon?"

Got a letter from the IRS saying I got my taxes right this year and have applied my refund to all the money they claim I still owe them. Went to United Bank and took out $3,000 in bonds to pay the IRS if I have to. Then into the Newsstand and picked up Time, U.S. News and World Report and the Valley Advocate. Into Fleet and was waited on by Karen McCormick who cheerfully converted chickenfeed checks into a $100 bond. Going back to the car I passed Jozephczyk in his car and he waved. He is friendly, sometimes even smiles, but he is a quiet man who doesn't talk much and sometimes seems a bit moody.

I drove down to Sunoco and parked in front of the door as people often do. The Chinese clerk screamed not to park there. After I said I only wanted to get a paper she said, "I'll let you this time but there's a $100 fine." She is a problem, and I should have reported her last time. On a Jeep Wrangler at the Acres Garden Center, where prices are noticeably higher than at Home Depot: "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way."

Jim Tillotson had a well attended fundraiser at the Chicopee Legion Hall last night. Eamon said there was about 400 there, Landers was all dressed up, Eamon went casually. Eamon got a four page letter from Paul Nicolai about a tax lowering referendum, and Eamon sent him $100. Eamon said that years ago during the first tax override vote he ran an ad in the paper opposing it for which he paid $800 and he had an awful tussle with the paper getting it printed.

From Atty. Nicolai - May 8, 2005

Dear Fellow Springfield Taxpayer:

Tired of paying increasing tax bills each quarter while the City gives you practically nothing?

There is something you can do. TAKE IT BACK.

We are launching a PROP 2 1/2 UNDERride. We will put a question on the ballot in November to REDUCE Springfield property taxes by $15,277,285 a year. This is a $250.00 tax reduction for the typical single-family home.

Why $15,277,285? In 1991, when our city leaders gave us our last "fiscal crisis" we voted a PROP 2 1/2 override. Every year since, we have been paying EXTRA property taxes. Since 1991 we have paid $193 MILLION in EXTRA taxes. The number is now $15,277,285 a year. We are taking back the override we gave them.

Why Take It Back? In 1991, we were promised that if we passed the override, we would get safe streets, good schools and a government that would see to it that there would be no more financial crisis. Did they keep any of those promises? No.

Springfield's Track Record:

The Police Chief was paid $136,433 in 2004 - $15,000 more than the head of the Mass State Police. She gave us the 18th most dangerous streets in America. A record 17 murders in 2004. For 2005, murders are running at the rate of 43 a year as of Feb. 18 even though we have the 3rd largest police department in the U.S. for a city our size! The FBI and MCAD are both investigating civil rights violations.

The School Superintendent was paid $163,246 in 2004 - only $1,500 less than the head of the Mass State Department of Education. He gave us one of the three worst school districts in Massachusetts. A district that gets more state aid than any other department in the state and still fails.

The former City Solicitor was paid $142,260 in 2004 - $20,000 more than the Massachusetts Attorney General. He gave us a corrupt city government by doing nothing. He did not prosecute tax violators costing us $52 million in unpaid taxes. Now he has a new job working for the School Department even though a Boston law firm has been hired to do the union contracts.

The City Clerk was paid $100,898 in 2004 - $7,000 more than the Worcester City Clerk. Worcester has 25,000 more people than Springfield.

Springfield has no job quality program. People get raises for "being there."

While policemen, firemen, teachers and DPW workers are laid off:

The Springfield City Council has five full time aides.

Every accountant who cooked Springfield's books is still on our payroll - and we have added more $100,000 a year accountants to clean up after them.

The city auditor who was supposed to stop people from cooking our books is still on our payroll.

The tax collector who GAVE AWAY $1.7 Million of our tax dollars to his friends did not collect $52 million in taxes and is still on our payroll.

The health insurance director who wasted $30 Million of our tax dollars by not bidding health insurance for at least seven years is still on our payroll.

"Reform" of Springfield government has meant adding $100,000 a year people to the bureaucracy faster than the U.S. Mint spits nickles.

What Taxpayer's Have Gotten - The Shaft.

These examples are the tip of the iceberg. Our "leaders" are far more interested in helping their friends collect fat salaries for doing nothing and committing fraud than they are in efficient government. While all this has been happening:

Every year since 1991 the City Council and Mayor have raised our taxes to the MAX.

We are the second poorest city in Massachusetts.

We have the second highest tax rate in Massachusetts.

We Should Pay Extra For This? TAKE IT BACK

You can TAKE IT BACK. All you need to do is share this letter with your friends. Get as many registered Springfield voters as you can to fill out and sign our petition. Mail it back to us even if it is not totally full. We'll take it from there.

We can do it. Together, we will do it.


Paul Peter Nicolai

May 9, 2005

52 degrees, overcast, raw. Lilacs coming out. Flowering trees in bloom everywhere.

It has to be a worn biker jacket or else you look like a phony.

Called Verizon and got Colleen Santos and asked her what Verizon means. She said, "It's the telephone company." I said well what does the word mean? She said "comes from a Greek word but I don't know what it means." Finally got me Nancy Povreca who said it is a combination of the words Veritas = Truth and Horizon = Looking Forward.

There was a rally in the Acres to renovate and reopen the Greenleaf Community Center. Ryan, Lees and Sean Curran were there. About 50 people attended in all.

Dominic Sarno announced he is running for a forth term on the City Council. Describes himself as "old school."

Main event today was the release of the Buracker Report on the Police Department. Rated a three out of ten but spoke well of the cops themselves. Chief Meara, with Kateri Walsh standing beside her, says she works hard and the report is political. Meara got her job by whining and now she is whining again.

Drove out at 11:27, light rain in progress, and headed downtown. Parked on Chestnut in front of the Olympic Restaurant and Deli. In the Hob Nob bar there was an immensely fat bartender behind a large rectangular bar. An L-shaped establishment with more space out back, at least two pool tables. Right inside the front door is a little alcove with a rack of the latest gay publications and a bulletin board of AIDS information. The whole place is dreary and disreputable looking. How long has it been catering to the gay crowd? Went to the City Library and saw Belle-Rita's green on ivory Farmer's Market poster, second one I've seen. The carriage house behind Classical now has the roofing all stripped off and is being replaced.

The Hob Nob was originally called My Place and presided over by a nice lady named Mary. In time she sold it to Amando "Codo" Felici who owned the Top Hat on Taylor Street with Nicholas Cavanza. Felici's father was a mobster. Nick's brother Billy Cavanza owned the Cattleman on Apremont. Billy ran the biggest illegal gun operation in New England.

Sheriff Ashe and Frankie Keough have been buddies for years, but now with all the trouble Keough is in Ashe has had to sever ties with him. Ex-mayor Mike Albano's home in Florentine Gardens has sold for about $300,000 after being extremely remodeled, some suspect with city labor and campaign contributions. Reportedly Albano's new place in East Longmeadow is costing about $600,000.

May 10, 2005

Weatherman says freezing Thursday night and likely cool all week. It has been cool for too long.

Morning news says the "quite expensive" green and gold leaf sign in front of the Wilbraham Town Hall has been stolen.

Russell's Restaurant has a big sign up saying they are having a tag sale on Saturday 8-2.

In Connecticut a couple were visited on their 24th wedding anniversary by uniformed military personnel to tell them that their son had been killed in Iraq.

Councilor T. Rooke wants Chief Meara to resign. Councilor Mazza-Moriarty says "we have to work as a team, come together, formulate a plan and most importantly work as a team." Typical teamwork mentality.

Headed downtown at 9:06 am, it was sunny. Parked in front of the Apremont porn shop, then up to Paul Nicolai's office at the top floor of the Tarbell-Waters building which he owns with the young Putnam. His office is on the southwest side of the building where I noticed that it is shaded by the Kimball Hotel across the street, southern exposure with no pesky sun.

You see two things when you get in the Nicolai office. The walls are plastered with certificates, all matted and framed. There are over a dozen of them, all different sizes. There are also lots of free Nicolai literature, newsletters and guides on specific legal topics. Wife apparently a partner. I also noticed first thing a certificate with a Harvard shield and squinting to read it I found that Nicolai had attended Harvard law Summer Institute one year and got the certificate for attending. Asked the receptionist where he went to law school and she said he went to AIC and WNEC law. I presented my card and said I was picking up stuff for Eamon. She gave me two of the publications for the tax repeal and a big pile of blank petitions to get on the ballot. I signed one there and then back to the car within fifteen minutes, having paid for an hour on the parking meter.

Tim Rooke said in the paper that if Nicolai's repeal passes "it would immediately put Springfield into receivership."

Drove directly to drop off the stuff from Nicolai at Eamon's. Eamon told me that the word now is that F. Keough had jail inmates help making campaign signs for several campaigns. Also said that when C. Asselin was the Purchasing Agent at the Vets Hospital that Keough got meat and other items out of there.

I looked in the phone book and it says Indian MotoRcycle Building, 837 State Street. So I called Verizon and told the girl that it is in fact MotOcycle. She thanked me for pointing out this error in the phone book. I also called TV40 and said I frequently correct their English so they should throw a testimonial banquet in my honor. She politely thanked me.

There used to be a brilliant lawyer named Arthur Leary who hung around the newspaper offices, an old friend of Sherman Bowles, who always marked up the papers with corrections. Eamon said Bowles told him he considered Leary "brilliant but a little crazy." The Repubican should hire me at $50 per hour to proof read for them, but I don't want the job, think of all the fun things I wouldn't have time to do.

May 11, 2005

Overcast some of the time.

Added a "Keep Abortion Free" button to my jacket.

Mother preferred the Ludlow Hospital and was served there by Dr. Stusick a couple of times but Father gave more to Mass. General even though we never used it. Just doesn't seem fair.

I drove down to Sunoco and put gas ($2.09 per gallon) in my two lawnmower cans. Politely told the assistant manager that the Oriental clerk is too conscientious and bossy. Was thanked.

Called Jim Landers and wished him a happy weekend. Told him how I applied for a job teaching English at STCC but never heard anything. Says Landers: "It's all nepotism."

Went to the Friendlys Annual Stockholder Meeting today. I wore my full troublemaker uniform: leather cap with ARISE button, doggie collar with padlock, black fleece, black leather jacket with all the buttons, black jeans and laced boots. Plus right hip pocket black and baby blue hankies.

Whereas for a few years the annual meetings were at the training facility in West Springfield, last year and this they were in a little building, newly constructed at the back of the lot in Wilbraham. Both years I have asked about a tour of the plant but they refuse citing sanitary considerations.

Arrived at 9:22 and had no trouble at the security gate. Wherever I went people smiled, especially young people, while the executives were all dressed in dark suits as if for a funeral (but then maybe a 45 cent a share loss for the year is something to wear dark suits about). Greetings very cordial as I entered.

Same layout as previous years. A pure white crowd of stockholders, the only non-white was Mr. Stephen James. Food the same as usual, featuring ice cream cakes. Recalled how at the last annual stockholder meeting Monarch had they had the fanciest spread of food, Gordon Oakes standing there and doubtless aware of the company's impending fate.

Heard some speeches. Priestly Blake spoke dressed in totally uncoordinated blues and had to be corrected several times. Peter of Savage Arms, dressed in tweed coat and geek shoes, talked too much but not offensively so. Lyman Wood came in and I gave him my card. I asked if I might have his address so I could send him a letter about the Quadrangle. Lyman Wood is a breezy, friendly fellow and told me his address - 95 Mountain Road, Hampden - with no hesitation and I disappeared. I don't like backing people into corners, it isn't my way.

On the way out I got served a scoop of pink lemonade ice cream from a girl who paused to admire my jacket and comment on the buttons.

May 14, 2005

Started out overcast, Acres gas prices unchanged.

My neighbor Colleen served me tea this afternoon and when I left I found a car counter consisting of two tubes across the street. The tubes are stapled across the street so that they are after Colleen's drive and before Mudry's. We have had similar devices here periodically for many years and, alas, someday we'll get stuck with a street light which is just what we don't want because waiting cars, either way, will increase the exhaust pollution.

9:30 this morning a chubby Latino girl delivered the new phonebook. I told her I did that job once and thanked her. Drove out and bought a grinder at Subway. Supposed to be a "foot long" but it measured only 11.75 inches. I made copies of my money order for the IRS at Copycat and the copies have a fat ink streak across them. I told Jeff I get copies at UPS for as little as three cents and at a dime his copies are not at an acceptable level of service. He apologized.

Eamon says he gets $400 a month from Social Security. He called Florida today and talked to Natalie Arbula of the Tampa Tribune about Burke, who it turns out is out of the running for the Florida job. Recent static on the line with Eamon, who thinks maybe his phone is tapped.

Went to the Pancake Breakfast at 10:43, held this year at the Eastfield Mall in their front parking lot. I parked in front of Lowe's at the T.J. Wright end. Girls were giving away t-shirts and crazy sun glasses.

The Pancake Breakfast was in my view a fabulous success because of the ample parking, the lack of crowding, the greater number of booths and all the special offers at the stores inside the mall. I got two pancakes that weren't that big and two pats of butter at the adult price of three dollars. There was orange juice and coffee or milk for those who wanted it. I had the feeling that the people cleaning up were doing a better job than in the past. Mall security people were taking pictures. I said I didn't want my picture taken but they took it anyway.

May 17, 2005

Saw M. Bewsee on television in her trademark jean farmer's bib uniform talking about the homeless. Today I came upon an old passport which I never used. The photo from it is laid in herewith.

Changed the beds today. I was at the Big Y checkout when some young fellow, some sort of manager, was kibitzing with the female checkout clerk and I remarked that I felt that the customer is entitled to the checkout person's undivided attention while checkout is in progress. They both agreed.

Stas Rodosz of Elms came over to visit to look at my material related to Pioneer Valley Polish history. After he saw my things I told Radosz that he should consider getting in touch with the following people to help him expand his Polish history collection.

Eugene Povirk of the Whately Antiquarian Book Center is one of my dearest friends and a great source for radical, Third World, minority, underground and Eastern European materials. Povirk lives in Conway, and we recently discussed the miserable fact that we are the last generation of people who take books seriously.

Jack Yeager Hess, vet and former police officer who makes cupolas that sell out of his hands before finished. He is turned off by some of our amateur historical types who are focused on self-promotion. Hess has the largest local postcard collection (I'm second) and is a massive collector of local industrial history. He's an expert on the Knox Auto and Fire Engine Company. Hess recently told me that all the Van Norman Co. records were destroyed. Also told me that the safe in the old Ludlow Manufacturing building complex is packed with company records that have never been let out. A concerted effort to go after that stuff would doubtless provide lots of info on Polish workers.

I also mentioned that for info on Polish workers he might see my Polish friend Irving Cohn. He ran one of the last hat factories in Massachusetts and was the last man in the Mass. Millinery Manufacturers' Association.

Finally I told him of the recordings of Prof. Belsky of American International College, although I know people he should have interviewed and I never knew anybody that he did. But I'm sure some were Polish.

At one point Radosz asked, "Are you a Methodist?" I replied that I'm an atheist committed to John Wesley's dedication to doing all the good I can. I told him that maybe the Sun is the eye of a glow worm of immense proportions! All cultures seem to build piles pointing heavenward and use their religions as an excuse for fighting with their neighbors. Religion is the most pernicious source of evil on the face of the Earth. I prefer doing to bickering, but I can bicker if I must.

In any case religions were invented by man not initiated by God. And if we free religion from religious associations and see it in a secular way then we can read religious literature, which is some of the greatest literature in existence, as literature. What if we read The Book of Mormon in the context of the literature of the period? It is a novel, a romance, a mixture of all.

I served refreshments to Radosz from one of my Springfield Beer platters and noted that the original Springfield Brewery was where Mass Mutual is now. We made polite chatter for a bit and then Radosz politely thanked me and then departed at 6:48 for his house in Amherst.

May 21, 2005

56 degrees at 7 am. Trash picked up at 6:45 am.

Buttercups in full bloom. In the Fall trees turn colors, but in the Spring they do too, although the colors are more subdued and not loud as in the Fall.

Road crew mending cracks in Wilbraham Road. Gas at the Breckwood Shell is $2.16 per gallon.

Springfield native Taj Mahal is 63 today.

David Earle arrived from Home Depot and took about an hour to quote me $27,330 to put vinyl siding all around my house. He quoted $7,332 to do just the back. The problem with vinyl siding is that it comes only in a very limited range of colors and contributes to making the housing landscape look boring. Late in the afternoon I called State Line Doors and to have a large garage door installed they want $1,259.

Russell's Restaurant is beautifully mowed but chained. Windows are boarded up.

Jim Landers got a letter printed in the paper using the fake name Pete Wilson.

The paper says St. Joseph's in the South End is closing because they only have 50 members left. There will be a recital on June 20th and their last Mass will be June 26. I intend to attend both.

Went out to Atkin's Farm and then to Hampshire College. Went to the Amherst Big Y and it is immense inside, the fanciest Big Y I know of. Arrived at UMass library at 11:13. They now have a snack bar right inside the front doors. Out of UMass at 12:11. Awful delay getting across the Coolidge bridge. Back in Springfield I noted that whereas there has been a light in Doyle the Twig Painter's for the last few months, now it is all dark in there.

I called and spoke to Marie Irzyk, the secretary to Western New England College President Caprio. She was quiet and pleasant, very polite. I identified myself and told her of my Springfield papers which cover 16 Acres in great detail for the past half century along with important information about WNEC which they might rather have there than someplace else. So Caprio has been given notice if he wants to do anything about getting my stuff and I'm not sending him another memo about it. WNEC has a business school which never said or did anything to straighten out the business operations of Springfield City Government.

May 25, 2005

55 degrees at 6am. An overcast day, I love overcast days. Tom Bevacqua said "rain on and off all weekend including Sunday, still notably chillier than usual." This is the third coolest May in the last hundred years.

Today a piece of my left upper back tooth fell out as I was chewing a soda cracker covered with smooth peanut butter.

It is Mental Health Month. Coming out in leather has improved my mental health.

WFCR e-pledge day is June 1st. Public radio is wonderful.

Being tough on crack is tough on the state budget because keeping so many in jail costs lots of greenies.

Bishop Dupre is in the news again, still getting his monthly stipend of $1,500. Also in the news it was suggested that the Mass Turnpike could save millions if they eliminated politically hired toll collectors. The legislature has proposed an $8.25 per hour minimum wage in Massachusetts, while others have replied that it would make us uncompetitive, make things more expensive, etc. especially if adjusted annually.

John Rixon telephoned and called Eamon "really cool." Then Eamon himself called saying not to miss Sixty Minutes on Channel 3 because they will be doing a special on Danny Croteau. Also said a reliable source told him that Mike Albano earned $150,000 last year in his consulting business.

Been talking to Landers about the many problems at Springfield Technical Community College. Everybody is a political hire and most arrive late and leave early and spend all their time when not in class on Red Sox or other nonsense. Many professors don't know their field. Computer course teachers (Landers has taken several for free) don't really understand the subject.

May 26, 2005

At first it looked like the sun would come out and I was depressed, but then it became cloudy and I was cheered. Fact is I do my best work on dreary days. I am energized by dreariness. Now figure that out.

I got up at 4am to do a million little chores. Washed the knobs on the stove and some dirt came off but now the center knob is cracked. They're made of shit plastic.

Bought a Big Y brand pizza with everything on it and it was quite good.

In the paper it says signoidoscopy, a common screening tool for colon cancer misses pre-cancerous tumors "in almost two-thirds of women." Mother died of colon cancer after various tests. Same paper has a picture of Court Square with the lion fountain removed and says they are fixing it up for the grand opening of the remodeled Civic Center.

The Sixty Minutes special on Croteau and Lavigne last night was superb, right down to suggesting that there was no trial because you couldn't find twelve jurors to convict a priest in this town.

Eamon called at 11:38 and had some interesting comments about the Basketball Hall of Fame. He met an ironworker on the project who says the building is going to be a long term problem. The Hall's geodesic dome has the wrong configuration of underlying metal, plus the covering membrane is not hooked up properly and they didn't calculate properly for the effects of changes in temperature. A serious hurricane could knock the whole dome out. The ironworker said the old Hall building was of far better construction. The new building is always going to need adjustments. The ironworker only had one thing to praise about the project: "Keeping the unions working is a priority."

A big crowd reportedly showed up for Ashe's mayoral announcement party last night. Councilors Tosado and Bud Williams were there. Frederick Hurst is Ashe's campaign manager, which must mean that Hurst wants to be City Solicitor!

May 29, 2005

Sunny and 64 degrees at 6:45 am

Heard on WFCR Beethoven piano sonata No. 22 "The Forest."

There is a Rep. George Miller from California, I have wanted to write to him but never have.

My neighbor Colleen M. has mowed her lawn, but not impeccably. She has Western taste in lawncare which is more like mine and unlike Longmeadow. Don't worry about the weeds or the long things on the edges, just mow them. Yet Colleen remains herself impeccable.

Dana Goodfield of Dana Chevrolet or whatever in Northampton has a chatty, congenial one to one style as he repeats the same commercial year after year. A lot of the discounts other dealers talk about are too good to be true but not so with him.

The Roman Catholic Diocese has chosen Coldbrook Realty Services to dispose of properties like Blessed Sacrament in Westfield and St. Joseph's in Springfield.

Arrived Boston Road McDonald's at ten and got a little salad and a wrap around sausage and egg. 11:46 arrived at the site of the old Basketball Hall of Fame. The lawn is mowed but the garden is a mess. The brick plaza all around the back of the old Hall is covered with gravel and maple keys. You'd think they would have swept it up by now. Then down to King Phillips Stockade, admission $2. May walk in for free. The front steps of Faith Church are being reset, it is a pretty church outside and has a good congregation but the sanctuary inside is boring. Cumberland Farms at the X is selling gas for $2.04. Went to Hillcrest Cemetery, an awful lot of flags on the graves. All veterans?

Nader the Hatter called and said the Cubans in Florida are behind a lot of political corruption. He says our whole country is one in which nobody accepts responsibility for anything. Nader still working on his hat projects and now he's starting a book on machinery. No idea when he'll be back up here. Says he wishes I had a computer.

Pam's Paperbacks in Wilbraham winning the Valley Advocate's Best Used Bookstore award is a joke, an incredible joke. She is a paperback place, not a used books place, with a few hardbound and quality kid's paperbacks. Troubadour Books in North Hatfield is in fact the best - better than Whately but Whately has more antiquarian. Raven is okay for downtown Northampton.

May 31, 2005

61 degrees, overcast. Gas at Breckwood Shell $2.11.

Went to the Holyoke Mall Ingleside to cash-in on my free J.C. Penny portrait coupon. Went dressed in laced boots, black jeans with hole in the left knee, white t-shirt, biker jacket with buttons, black cap with button: "If you're not making trouble, then what are you doing?"

On my way there I drove through downtown and the foundation hole for the new federal courthouse is pretty well dug but a truck was carrying out more dirt. The back of Tech High is all gone and the ground leveled. Hampden County Courthouse tower is enveloped in scaffolding, interesting because they did that about twenty years ago. So soon? Down by Memorial Square repaving created a mess. The once popular Valle's is all boarded up (it was an elegant place). There was a single rhododendron growing in front beautifully in bloom. Finally got across the bridge.

Arrived at Ingleside at 10:36. Sy Becker was snatching people to interview in front of Barnes & Noble but I didn't go in. Holyoke Mall dwarfs Eastfield but there were still a few unoccupied storefronts. I was in and out getting my portrait done fairly swiftly as there was no other photo business except for a little Latino girl dressed up for First Communion. Walked around the mall, and the store I liked best was Eastern Mountain Sports because of their nice catalog. Out at 12:14.

I offered to loan Eamon my postcards. For the second time lately he said, "You're very generous" but didn't want to see them because they would depress him. In his youth Eamon ran copy and proofs for the ads for all the merchants and nobody knows better than he how much has disappeared.

People don't remember that it was Charlie Ryan in his first go-around as mayor who presided over the urban redevelopment that dislocated 300 North End businesses and only a very few survived. When the Civic Center was built James Grimaldi said to Ryan, "Before you put a spade in the ground Mr. Ryan, you are creating a white elephant." Paul Goldberger said downtown Springfield is "banal in the extreme" and "you have destroyed some lovely historic buildings." Thurston Munson also complained about the historic buildings destroyed and how we'd never straighten out the relationship between the city and the river. Jane Jacobs complained of "the sacking of cities in the name of civic construction and development."

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