45 degrees in the morning. No snow.
Senator Joe Biden says that we will still have significant troop levels in Iraq in 2010.
Christmas lights on Boston Road turned on from St. Michael's to the underpass in North Wilbraham.
Pioneer Valley Casket of Whately is running ads saying that through December 24 they will donate 10% of all casket sales to your favorite charity. I called and asked who gets the tax deduction for the gift. After some sputtering the guy said, "We do!"
Other day downtown I saw Andrew Posey, the black man who always dresses in color coordinated clothes from head to toe. This time it was cobalt blue. He was in the food court in Tower Square.
Gave Jack Hess some postcards today, he likes the Wesley Church pictures. Complains he doesn't hear from Donald Schimke anymore. Hess says his house is now assessed at $279,000 and his taxes went up $750. Gave me a picture of the watercourse under the Springfield Armory's Water Shops. We looked at a group picture that is supposed to have Milton Bradley in it and we were pretty much certain Bradley is on the left-hand side in the back row.
Watercooler this evening discussed crime and credit card debt with (surprise) Paul Robbins, Rick Hurst and Chris Collins, three hacks that have become regulars of Susan Kaplan.
Odd little ad on the obituary page in the Republican showing a postage stamp size picture of Peter Picknelly and reading, "Happy Birthday - I will love and miss you every day of my life - Your Little Beauty."
34 degrees at 7am. Unleaded at Stop & Shop is $1.79.
Discount Liquors in the Acres is still closed.
School Committee is livid with Ryan for skipping Thursday's meeting to hold his fundraiser.
The IRS is giving me a hard time over the land I donated to Wilbraham. It is worth $55,000 and a third of that land is being reshaped into a straightened and widened Maynard Road with lowered grade, and the remaining two-thirds (some of which is wetlands and within 100 feet of the Chicopee River and unbuildable by law) is being left as a wildlife refuge in memory of my parents Blanche and John Miller. I feel I should get a substantial deduction for my gift but if I really owe them something then I'll pay.
Eamon called and said that lawyer Anthony (Bumpy) Scibelli is very close to Charlie Kingston, who has been quietly involved with school busing contracts. Also said that Samuel Bowles had a bowl of oatmeal every morning in the Bowles Lunch. Eamon said his mother had an 8th grade education in Ireland and could do geometry and had beautiful handwriting. His father had only a 5th grade education but was fully literate. People are wrong when they say that more money is the solution to the problems of education.
34 degrees. Snowing at noon.
Needle exchange being debated by the City Council but no recommendation yet. They said Springfield has 905 AIDS cases, over 400 infected by needles. There is a rumor that Michaelann Bewsee is living in the ARISE headquarters. If so and discovered they may lose their tax exempt status because occupancy by a tenant is not a tax exempt use.
Water Meter Man, a short, chubby Latino who said his name is Gil changed the meter and left at 1:54. He had to move some tins with brass collectibles in them and left a bit of water, a trace of dirt and one greasy smudge on the stairs. We were very polite to each other. After Gil got through he had a clipboard and asked me to sign right here. I asked if I was getting a copy and he said no so I signed under protest, writing right on the form that I am entitled to a copy of it.
Then the mailman rang the bell and had two shipments of books from Povirk and a $400 check from Microsoft which I will put into bonds. Also a letter from Western Mass Regional Library System who want more money but I haven't gotten the free gift I was promised for my last contribution.
I am a solitary scholar and I like it.
38 degrees, heavily overcast and raining.
This is the anniversary of when John Lennon was shot.
Connecticut will probably execute Michael Ross next month, the first execution in the state since 1960, for the raping and strangling of eight young women. He wants to die, so make him live!
Saw the ending of the Peanuts Christmas special ending with singing "Hark the Angels." Mother always watched the Peanuts xmas shows, and that memory inspired me to buy Mrs. Staniski today an immense Peanuts birthday card for $3.99.
Christmas lights decorating the window of Doyle the Twig Painter.
I am sending former neighbor Corliss Welch the photo of Bloomer and the backyard Maple tree he cut down on April 29, 1984. Wrote to her of local politics, changes on Birchland Avenue and ended the letter with, "The Corliss I knew had a wonderful, youthful, enthusiastic personality. You would come bouncing over and we'd have a good chat. Time effaces as much of that as we let it, but remember that there was a wonderful Corliss once and be as wonderful as you can still be."
I called and spoke with Doris Anderson of The Church in the Acres. She remembered Mikus being the organist there. Anderson is an elderly lady and when I mentioned being an English teacher she said, "The people on TV must drive you bananas!" I said they sure do, and told her I write down all their errors.
According to the new assessments my house is worth $115,600. Looked up some others and Eamon's is worth $94,600, the Powells $124,000 and Fran Gagnon $199,500.
Went to the Big Y and as I was leaving a guy from the Republican was setting up a subscription stand by the door. They were also advertising products with their logo on it. Feverish emphasis on merchandising as their circulation continues to decline.
Kevin McCaskill, the articulate black gentleman who is the principal of Putnam, was on Channel 22 showing us leaks in the school roof. They want to build a whole new school even though it was redone just a few years ago. He said, "It is cheaper to rebuild than to repair." Isn't that what they always say?
Dan Kelly is representing all the crooks, but is that a conflict with his relationship with the City Council? The trial of the Ardolino brother who's a cop and that hack Hutchison has uncovered that the negotiations for the bogus real estate deals were carried out in the mayor's office.
43 degrees, heavily overcast.
Mail was extremely late today, got an A.G. Edwards check for $2068.18 and an IBM for $57.60.
I heard that Elms has only 500 students.
Ann Staniski came over with a piece of wonderful birthday cake, white with pink frosting, that tasted like Mother's used to. Ann said she can keep her job at Harvard "as long as I can hobble in from the parking garage."
I stopped in to see Mike Curran at A-1 Antiques, which is about all that's left of the former Antique Row at Sumner and White. Mike said business is "very slow." Bought some art postcards for thirty bucks.
McNamara's Liquor Store isn't open much anymore.
Mastriani, the highly regarded auto dealer and repairman who owns A-1 Auto Service has moved his entire operation to Palmer and sold the lot for $150,000 to a Russian mechanic. Mastriani complained that all the vandalism was his reason for leaving. He put up cameras but the police never paid attention to his films and never got back to him. Trouble has been going on for several years, but he never got adequate service from the police.
Old friend John Rixon called and said he recently injured his hand. Andy is in Memphis teaching and Greg is in Seattle. I don't feel bad that I don't have a family, the world is a mess and the future looks bleak.
40 degrees. Mobil 1.89.
Q: Why did the turtle cross the road?
A: To get to the Shell station.
Electoral College voted and Bush is re-elected president. Complaints in the press that the national debt is getting too big.
Second Look did a show on the history of the Memorial Bridge featuring Fran Gagnon and she performed very well and looked very professional.
WFCR did a profile on Michaelann Bewsee. She is 57 and makes approximately $12,000 per year. Twenty years ago she was broke, divorced with two children and on welfare. Her first job as an activist was cooking for the Black Panthers. For a while she lived off the land in Maine. She claimed she is presently living in a home that has been abandoned by the owner and she expects to be evicted in due course. (Rumor is she is already homeless.) Her issues are homelessness, needle exchange, ward representation and against police brutality. Says her term as President of ARISE will be ending soon.
First Pioneer Credit Union is opening a new corporate headquarters on Boston Road in Wilbraham. It used to be a credit union for Monsanto employees. I drove past and saw a Grand Opening sign so I stopped in and saw a man in a tan overcoat standing in the middle of the room talking to the tellers but no other customers.
I turned down a hallway and an executive called to me and we introduced ourselves. He was James P. Nagle, the credit union president, and I asked him for his card. He asked what I wanted and I said I had come to the Grand Opening and asked where are the coffee and donuts? He said he didn't have any just then, but food would be coming later in the day. He said they had already had two Grand Openings, one for members and one for "invited guests."
I had to ask again for his card and so we walked to his office where he retrieved a card from a holder on his desk and gave it to me. I asked for a tour of the premises but received only a vague reply. I asked about their CD rates and for a safety deposit box menu and a young fellow in the office was told to get that info for me. I said they should have had literature with all that information easily at hand. So I waited and waited and finally told them that their Grand Opening was not grand and that since they were unable to respond to customer requests I gave them my card and told them to send it to me by snail mail. Then out of there at 10:33.
Because of the time I wasted I was unable to attend the ARISE rally against police brutality at City Hall, a shame because I was fully attired in my troublemaker outfit. Instead I went over to the Longmeadow Shops where the Cock o' the Walk is closing after 45 years. They sold me their Godiva Chocolates banner for $25.
36 degrees first thing, sunny all morning.
ABC News says Google will scan 15 million books creating "an entire library on your desk top." This has the potential to be a major development that upsets all sorts of apple carts.
Gary J. Plant made the Dean's List at WNEC in 1969.
Called Punderson and got Jan who said their current price for heating oil is $1.89 per gallon. Called the Rotary Club at 95 State Street and got Jean the secretary there. She said they presently meet at the Basketball Hall of Fame. Paul Jennings is their membership chairman.
Got a wrong number from someone on Woodland Road, according to my identifier. Woman: "Is this Salvatore's Restaurant?" I replied no. "Okay, thank you," but it wasn't ok and she didn't apologize. I looked it up and the number for Salvatore's is 782-9968. Interesting point is the address was Woodland Road and that is the same street off Parker and Cooley from which I got the crank blow job call a few weeks back, number 78.
Watercooler is being plugged regularly on WFCR. Last night they had something decent for a change. Host Kaplin was in her olive top and the guests were Jay Demarath of UMass, Kemil Ali of Westfield State and Russ Peotter of 57 discussing religious fundamentalism. Demarath is a smiling bald old man who said that fundamentalism is a form of Protestantism that originated in the Southwest in the 1900-1920 period. Demarath also said the Koran is short enough to be memorized while the Bible is too long. At the end Peotter said, "The time went by so quickly," and it did.
In the Republican today a lot of advertising space devoted to products with their logo on it. Over the years the paper has supported all sorts of economic development projects that didn't develop. They like pie-in-the-sky development dreams rather than hard news because it sells papers. Sports also gets everyone's attention and sells more papers than news.
Kline's All Sports are closing their chain of eleven stores, including one in Pittsfield and one at Holyoke Ingleside. I remember there used to be a big sporting goods store at the Eastfield Mall years ago but it closed. Sporting goods must be a difficult business.
Today I found a note from neighbor Colleen Moynihan poking out of the newspaper box so I called and we discussed some things. Says she wants to reorganize the 16 Acres Civic Association and increase its openness and if she succeeds more power to her. We agree that we don't think much of Clodo Concepcion.
When I got off the phone with Colleen I called Concepcion of 121 Mallowhill Road and he, macho he, said he never got the postcards I sent him and that sometimes things get lost in the mail. "Next time, maybe," he said. So he is a macho, bullshit liar as I have always known. J. Masse has always been loyal to him but fortunately Colleen sees right through him.
A poem for Hess:
To impeccable grammar he don't like to confess.
But with a saw and hammer
He's a cut-up and a slammer
And he always picks up his mess.
Sunny and 24 degrees at 8:45. Gas at 16 Acres is now $1.77.
This date in 1777 France recognized the United States.
Went to the Big Y at 11:24, they were giving samples of cheese and crackers and I bought turkey legs, deeply discounted Friendlys ice cream and OJ. Over to Hess and gave him photos of St. Lukes. I found some Iron Horse posters of various shades on telephone poles in 16 Acres. I believe those are the first Northampton posters to appear in the Acres. Then went to the Acres library to make copies of the New York Times article on Google's online library plans but the male librarian there, although very friendly, didn't know how to fix their ill-functioning photocopy machine. He apologized for "our impoverished library system."
Called Irving Cohen who said we should have lunch sometime. He said his wife Lenore "is very sick and declining rapidly." I told him that sometimes death is God's greatest blessing.
Eamon told me that Donald Trump is getting married again. He says he can't stand Trump and neither can I. Eamon is a graduate of the Air Defense War College in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Western New England College, the Valley Press Club and the Republican will host the second annual Communications Conference January 12. Speakers will include John Baibaik of Clear Channel Communications, G. Michael Dobbs of The Reminder, Latoya Foster of 22News, Peter Goonan of The Republican and Jim Polito of abc40.
Karen Powell and Belle Rita Novak were both on WFCR this morning and both did well. Belle Rita Novak moved to Springfield twelve years ago and started the farmer's market at the X seven years ago. She also talked about her war against graffiti. Powell said fighting the casino and making the libraries part of city government were her major causes. She also complained of the unfairness of how some businesses in Springfield get special tax breaks that others do not.
At 4:50 today they interrupted Judge Judy to inform us that the old American Bosch was on fire. By supper it was a four alarm fire and still out of control at 11:00. Eventually put out in the middle of the night. Bosch plant closed in 1988.
I called Channel 57 and got voicemail so I left word that I think Susan Kaplan hasn't been doing her job. She has the same old people on Watercooler week after week. I said why not have Eamon, or Vannah, or Turner, or Devine on or even me? She only asks approved establishment types to be guests. I intend to write a blistering memo about Kaplan and mail it to her boss.
27 degrees in the breezeway.
Just one piece of mail today, The Reader's Digest. My family has had a subscription since 1949.
Western New England College is advertising itself on Fox 61.
The Springfield Photographic Society Society was founded in 1936, and now hold their meetings in East Longmeadow.
Ex-rep Fred Whitney has braced up his front entrance that was damaged in a car accident. An out of control car careened off the street into his house. Springfield College had a police car parked in front of the Linkletter Nanatorium. At 175 Poplar Street, Feeding Hills the entire Giroux manufacturing complex has been demolished.
Stopped at the Walgreens at 1440 Boston Road and bought a card featuring an Xmas tree for Eamon for $1.99 plus ten cents tax. The clerk asked, "Do you want a bag for this?" and I replied, "Yes, you should always bag cards so they don't get soiled." He looked mad and put it in the smallest bag he could find.
Went to the Council of Churches Christmas party. Parked in front of the Carpenter's Union at 144 Oakland and went in St Barnabus at 2:05, where I was greeted by the Rev. Karen Rucks, who says she's the sister of Charles Rucks who ran unsuccessfully for City Council. I was dressed full queer (collar, boots, jacket) and I had a supply of John Wesley postcards which I gave to everybody I saw. Rucks said they have done these parties three times before. It was a lovely event with good food served by a black fellow in a chef's hat. Hot meatballs in gravy, cheese, cold cuts and much more. It was primarily a black event, although Police Chief Paula Meara arrived accompanied by a slight little lady with red-brown hair who took pictures of nearly everyone, including me.
The Finance Control Board approved changing all eligible city retirees to Medicare, thereby saving millions. The City Council opposed it in a merely symbolic vote meant to show their distaste for the Control Board and to pander to seniors.
Both ex-cop Chester J. Ardolino and Michael J. Hutchison were found guilty on all charges in their real estate fraud case. Ardolino was police liaison to ex-Mayor Albano. Brother Anthony had hidden ownership in the Civic Pub and The Pour House. Other partners were Chester, former City Councilor Tony Ravosa, Matthew Campagnari and Mark Pandolfi. Hutchison had a job at the Hampden County Employment and Training Consortium, where James Asselin and Jimmy Krzystofik worked. Anthony Ardolino's best friend, City Councilor Dan Kelly, was Hutchison's attorney.
30 degrees at 5am, four inches of snow. Went out about 12:45 and shoveled off the driveway, light and fluffy.
Most heart attacks occur about 10am.
Book title: Every Man I Love is Either Married, Gay or Dead.
On the subject of Democrats working with Republicans, Rep. Barney Frank says, "The days of Silvio Conte and Jacob Javits are gone."
TV40 online poll about whether we should pull out of Iraq: 60% yes, 40% no.
Made a casserole out of a third of a pound of hamburger, a green pepper, a red pepper, a yellow pepper, three onions, a can of tomatoes and two cans of spaghetti.
One of the Springfield kids Bill Cosby is helping through college is named Wesley White.
Called the Tuesday Morning Music Club and got Vice-President Sylvia Starkie. Gloria Barnes of Westfield is the president. Starkie volunteered that her husband James directed the band at Minnechaug High and founded the Hampden County Symphony of Wilbraham. That was forty years ago, then when he retired the Principal or Superintendent decided they didn't want the orchestra there anymore. It then became the nucleus of the Holyoke Civic Orchestra.
Called Attorney Ken Shea and got Luanda and she said, after a pause, that he "stepped out for a moment" and would call back. Never did.
Went to the Sixteen Acres Civic Association meeting but was turned away. I will write a full report when I get a chance.
Eamon called and said he and Landers had lunch at the Copper Line Restaurant in Chicopee. Eamon ordered a chicken pie and got a puddle of gravy and not much else. Landers got a burger and fries and afterward left for LL Bean in Lebanon, New Hampshire to get gifts for his wife and son Sean.
Hess called and grumbled about Fran Gagnon appearing all over the media as an expert on American Bosch. I asked if he had ever seen her Commerce High School yearbook picture and he said no. Told him I would send him a copy.
Judge and former mayor Mary Hurley Marks is divorced from her husband who works for Freedman's Scrap Metal.
20 degrees at 7:30 and sunny. Gas at Liberty is $1.72.
"Great literature is the product of the reaction of intelligence against the prevailing stupidities of the population." - E.T. O'Sullivan
There are 47,837 lawyers in Massachusetts.
3,800 fewer people in Massachusetts than last year, the only state to show decline. Governor Rowland of Connecticut has pleaded guilty and may go to jail. Sentencing March 11th.
Jane Yolen turns 65 in February and said on WFCR that the Michelson Gallery in Northampton is honoring her with an exhibition of art from her books through the end of January. She lives in Hatfield and has done 250 books. She complained of the "dumbing down of children's books" and how publishers prefer kid's books written by celebrities over well-written books. Said, "The thing that makes me happiest is sitting and writing."
The person who delivers my Reminder is Andrew M. Parent of Lumae Street. I got a complete copy of yesterday's paper out of the trash can in front of the fitness place, Females in Training.
Got a Christmas beg letter from ARISE.
Got up at 6:45 to get out early to get my flu shot at the clinic they set up at the Eastfield Mall food court. On the way there I bought a paper and picked up a handful of Valley Advocates. In the Republican there was a retirement photo of Talmadge Principal John M. Fitzgerald on the front of the B section. As I waited for my shot I saw Wayne Phaneuf walk past and I offered him an Advocate but he declined. Also saw Brian McCook who said he is enjoying retirement.
There were four inoculation stations and I was number 32. I got my shot, paid the $20 and walked around the mall a bit. Sears Roebuck's Christmas decorations are just blah. Bought a McDonald's breakfast sandwich with a coupon and left.
Eamon sent a Christmas card to John Silber in Boston with a note about what a mess the world is in and Silber sent a note back quoting Juvenal and recommending Tom Wolfe's Hooking Up as providing an excellent look at how bad things are. I told Eamon about what happened at the Civic Association meeting. He says I should pay the $10 to join so that I can get the names of all the directors and send them all letters of complaint about how I was treated. Meanwhile I am waiting for a call of apology from Colleen.
Christmas Day, sunny, 26 degrees at 9:15am.
The Pope is 84 and suffering from Parkinson's.
Hess called and said he got the yearbook picture I sent of Gagnon.
Business Plus profile in the Republican is of Jeffrey Cohen of Jeff's Picture Framing in Springfield.
Eamon called and said he heard that the circulation of the Valley Advocate is down 30%. He also said that officers have told him how years ago certain cops used to grab minorities off the street as if to arrest them and then take them to a dimly lighted room in Union Station called "The Blue Room" where they would be beaten and robbed by the police. More recently Maurice Kearney was a cop who Eamon says used to "beat the shit out of Blacks and Hispanics" to the extent that he was kicked off the police force. However, just a few months later he was back on the force. Eamon thinks it was due to help from Saco Catjakis. This was during the Albano Administration.
I spent the afternoon reviewing photos from the last several years and selecting stuff for several upcoming projects. For Christmas dinner I dined on a Hungry Man turkey dinner with my stuffed animals Sweet Pea and Honey Pie in attendance. I sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" for them as I waited for the TV dinner to cook.
Overcast to start, 25 degrees. There is an extremely fine snow starting to fall, you can barely see it, you can't catch it, but it is beginning to accumulate in crevices around.
Enormous 9.0 earthquake in the Indian Ocean has caused a huge tsunami resulting in thousands of deaths.
On January 15, 1777 Vermont declared itself an independent republic, and now some descendant of the original settlers wants January 15 declared a state holiday. Good idea.
Never knew before that the first name of Wimpy in Popeye is J. Wellington.
Among the things placed in the grave of Leonard Bernstein was a copy of "Alice in Wonderland."
Bought gas at Pride for $1.82 per gallon and while there I saw a police cruiser (Number 16) with a black officer chatting with a leather clad girl leaning in the cruiser window.
Eamon's brother Robert (nephew Patrick's father) owns a cottage in Dennis, Mass. Bacon & Wilson's Managing Partner is Steve Krevalin and his secretary is Kim.
The Republican is now having bigshots write about their own activities rather than have reporters do the writing. Carvalho did an article about what will be happening at the Quad during school vacation week and today we have Orchestra Executive Director Michael Jones giving a rundown on various activities of the Orchestra Association.
Eamon says he went down to the 24 Hour Store on Liberty Street that he describes as being "robbed every other day." The guy who works there is a former marine who said a guy with a foot long knife robbed the place the night before last. Told Eamon he wishes he could have a trap door in the floor in front of the register. His boss told him to just give the robbers all the money in the register.
16 degrees on the breezeway at 7am. No snow overnight.
I was surprised to find on my latest Big Y cash register receipt that I am supporting Putnam Vocational High School. I have been asked a number of times to sign up for the Education Express program and I have always declined. So it looks like somebody signed me up, and for a school I would never sign up for! At 1:04 I called and got the manager Eric who said a cashier "must have made a mistake" because they don't sign up people that don't want to be signed up.
Called the Chamber of Commerce this afternoon and Denver's secretary Lynn said that Ciuffreda is on vacation this week.
My old neighbor Corliss Welch called (lived where Josephczyk does now) sounding much better than she did formerly. Said she is still depressed about her mother's bad health. Job okay but explained, "I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get a good job teaching in Springfield, I had such great credentials," she said. "Then I figured out that you had to know somebody, and I never got to know anybody." Went on to say, "I taught nursing at Putnam, and I never saw such dumb students in my life, such vandals, such slobs."
Called Karen Powell at 11:15 and she was flattered when I said I liked her on the radio. She said she likes her library job and told me that she is no longer on the board of the 16 Acres Civic Association. Told me that Carol Caulton used to be an active member but doesn't come very often anymore. I said that Clodo Concepcion is a liar, condescending, conceited and argumentative and she agreed with me.
The paper says the dome on the Basketball Hall of Fame leaks. Eamon said, "I laughed my ass off," when he read it. Eamon had an appointment today with Dr. Cuadra in the building across from the Republican. Had a 10:30 appointment but didn't get in to see the doctor until 11:30. Cuadra asked about me and seemed pleased to hear I still collect rare books. Also said his wife is "very concerned about what the U.S. is doing internationally." Doctor says Eamon is fine, next appointment in six months. Eamon told me he used to pay $65 per visit, but now he says he pays nothing. "Let the people with deep pockets on Birchland Avenue pay," he said.
Overcast at 8:55, 32 degrees.
2005 will be the World Year in Physics.
Ours is a youth orientated culture whereas other cultures value and venerate the aged.
Life can be a broad canvas on which to paint, and if you do your painting right you can put on dabs at various times and decide which dabs to include and which to omit and fill out the details according to the circumstances.
Listening to Mozart on WFCR prompts me to say that probably the most joyful thing I ever did was playing in the Junior Symphony. When you are playing with a symphony the music truly surrounds you as you are caught up in it, enveloped in it and become one with it in a wonderful uplifting feeling like no other.
Running through my head is a verse Mother sang - Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy - and I can't remember no more.
1040 tax form came in the mail along with the Mass Income Tax form.
Drove to the Fleet Bank and deposited $1,300 to have coverage for my gift to the Miller Church in Bethel. Teller at Fleet is a new girl, Rachel Vadnais (her grandfather was the builder) and she said her uncle also had something to do with the business.
Eamon said that Springfield Technical Community College killed the Andover Institute because people could get their associates degree cheaper at STCC. He said there was also a Gaugh School of Business in downtown Springfield for fifty years and Eamon knew the woman who ran it. Eamon has known everybody.
Just before midnight I brought Sweet Pea and Honey Pot and their pillow out and positioned them on the dining room table and had a shot of cognac with both televisions on, and it seemed to me that TV40 was a fraction of a second ahead of TV22 in declaring the New Year begun.