December 2001

December 2, 2001

Sunny, clear blue sky, 58 degrees at 8am. Gas is down to $1.07 at Mobil.

I have heard that Jews do a lot of business in synagogues, and of course Protestants do the same at their Masonic lodges and the Catholics pass out campaign literature after Mass. The bottom line is that religious views taint much of public discourse. Idiocy and Ignorance are the two hinges upon which human suffering turns. Ignorance is what the Advancement of Learning has not yet replaced with Knowledge. Idiocy is people who don't think but just act by impulse and without analysis due to superstition or religion.

The Green River Killer has been captured. He killed 49 women between 1982 and 1984. How awful! The news says that the executives at Enron were "arrogant and believed they were smarter than most people." Doesn't that sound just like Bill and Hillary Clinton or Gordon N. Oakes Jr. of Monarch? Jim Henke, the chief curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was on WFCR talking about the Beatles. TV40 is working with the Union-News in the Champions of Character series, yet another example of how the local broadcast media is in bed with the paper. Larry McDermott had no column in the paper this week. Wayne Phaneuf was in Providence recently accepting an award on behalf of the paper. Francis Gagnon will present a holiday program The Armory Introduces Christmas to Springfield on December 8 at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site.

Friendly's has been in business for 66 years. I went to the Wilbraham Post Office yesterday and a sluggish black woman sold me six stamps and then said I owed her $2.04. I said there is no way that six stamps cost more than two dollars, and then out of nowhere the manager lady appeared and politely said, "She's just learning." Then she rang up the right amount and asked if I wanted her to apply the stamps and put the letters in the mail. I said no thanks. Received a thank you note from Haskins at Fleet in the mail today for the pictures I sent them. I also got some porn books delivered from Starbooks Press in Florida. Enclosed was a letter saying that the editor/owner of Starbooks Press, Patrick John Powers, died on Halloween after a lengthy illness. AIDS? The books I received were Best Little Boy, Best Little Boy Grows Up, Slave Academy and S/M Ranch.

Cleaned up and did a load of wash this morning. Went to the Allen Street McDonald's and ate a muffin while reading the paper. This afternoon I went to the "Festival of Trees" at the Atheneum of Wilbraham held at the newly renovated Old Meeting House. I wore my biker boots with my blue jeans hanging over them, leather jacket and my head freshly shaved. I looked unmistakeably queer, even though I wasn't wearing my dog collar. I arrived at 2:55pm and parked behind the bank. There weren't many cars parked, and once inside I saw that the guest register already had around thirty names on it, meaning some people had probably already been there and left. The Old Meeting House looks the best I've ever seen it, all clean and white outside with old fashioned green shutters. Inside was an exhibit case showing all about the restoration.

For food they had a wonderful assortment of both homemade and commercial cookies, some of them too pretty to eat. They also served warm cider. There were nicely decorated Christmas trees, a few of them quite large. A poker faced Marcie Williams greeted me in the front hallway. She was chatting with Mrs. Godfrey and I gave them both some postcards. I told them how nice I thought the place looked, and suggested they make a postcard of the building shown from the southeast. Godfrey said they have a few old Wilbraham postcards in their collection but knew of none that were printed in recent years. Then I saw the author Coralie Gray sitting on the sofa in the middle of the parlor all dressed up in a red sweater. We had a jovial chat, which surprised me because she had been snobbish the last time we met. I mentioned to Mrs. Gray about the need to make a postcard of the Old Meeting House and she said that Murray had loaned her some old postcards to use in her book on Wilbraham history. She said she had heard of Vince and Claudia Robillard of Cat's Paw and knew they lived in Wilbraham. I told her they sometimes have old Wilbraham postcards for sale. Everyone there was over middle-aged but treated me politely despite how I was dressed.

Corliss Welch called and said her mother just turned 84. She told me she has four years and 118 days more to teach until she retires. She is 54 and taught in the Catholic schools for ten years before transferring to the public schools where she has taught for 21 years. She said her school is 50% black and 38% Hispanic. According to her, the Hispanics are the big problem because they don't know English and are in no hurry to learn it. Strangely, they all watch English speaking TV shows which they seem to have no trouble understanding. But when a teacher talks to them in English they behave as if they understand nothing. Even those in bilingual classes who are taught exclusively in Spanish still flunk. She said most of the Hispanics only seem interested in sex and fighting.

December 4, 2001

Sunny, 40 degrees at 8:30am.

An American named Walker who converted to Islam and got serious about it has been captured for fighting for the Taliban. Mark Hyman of TV40 Sinclair Broadcasting had an editorial today attacking those who are complaining about the surge in patriotism following 9/11. Three religious holidays are coming up: Chanukah, end of Ramadan and Christmas. George Harrison's ashes have been dumped in the Ganges River. D.A. William Bennett has announced that he is laying off six employees, including two assistant district attorneys and two advocates. Everybody else got a 5% pay cut. Bennett says his budget is $3.5 million less than last year. TV40 news reported tonight that the City Council will be asked to approve $71,000 to pay expenses incurred when Albano was trying to get the baseball stadium built across from the newspaper plant. This final expense signifies the end of the stadium scheme.

Half Moon Books was at 7 Pearl Street in Northampton in 1991. Governor Jane Swift is trying to cut back on patronage hiring at Massport, where she herself worked in 1996. She said under the new standards she herself would not have been hired. Construction on the new Basketball Hall of Fame is ahead of schedule due to the mild weather. A picture in the paper today showed a crane removing a wall of the Springfield Newspapers building as part of the work to install their new press from Germany. WFCR says that listener support is 50% of their budget. A new Superintendent of Schools has been hired in Holyoke. Hartford is swearing in its first Hispanic mayor tonight. The problem with Friendly's is that their business model is too old, they are catering to little old ladies.

Dined last night on Progresso Vegetable Soup. My 40 year Mayflower Society membership certificate came today right on schedule and I am sending historian Judith Elfring postcards and my current propaganda. I do this every time I get a certificate, which is every five years. Perhaps some of the stuff I send them gets into the archival collection of the Maine Historical Society and the name of my game is to spread my stuff into as many places as possible. I also got a plea in the mail for funds from the X Main Street Corporation. They have some nerve! Mudry has his Christmas lights up, very tasteful. Kelly was out putting up colored lights on her house. Later her car went by with a tree on top. We used to have candles and a string of lights when we lived on Crest Street. We continued and added more when we moved to Birchland, but that was my parent's doing. I am not doing it now.

The Springfield Newspapers often use the words "historic" and "historical" as if they were interchangeable. Francis Gagnon has her picture in the paper TWICE today, once regarding putting Classical condos into the Maple Historic District and again in a piece about Homer Street School. There are 111 residents at the Classical condos. Only five residents voted against joining the historical district, while 20 residents abstained. Mayor Albano told the residents that joining the district would increase their property values. Regarding Homer Street, Gagnon was objecting before the School Committee that plans to replace Homer with a new school would violate historical preservation laws. Committeeman Ken Shea is quoted as saying, "Let's face it, if Fran didn't watch it being built, it's historical."

Anyway, two photographs of Gagnon in the paper on one day - isn't that disgusting? I called McDermott at the paper and got his assistant Anita. She said Larry was not in and could she give him a message? I told her to tell him that having two pictures of Gagnon in the same paper is overdoing it. I asked, "Are there no other newsmakers in town?" She asked if I wanted to be transferred to the newsroom and I replied that the newsroom has nothing to do with it because McDermott is the boss. She replied, "Apparently you don't know how the paper is run." I told her on the contrary, I know people working at the paper who tell us that the newsroom doesn't have much to say about things, so please tell him I called. She replied all right and then hung up.

When I drove out today I noticed that the Cohn's New York Times was lying in the middle of the driveway, so I stopped and took it up to the house. You would think that the paper person would do a little more for old people. The Museum of Fine Arts has purchased Bridge to Sunderland, a painting by Amherst artist John Roy, who recently passed away. Life-long Springfield resident Alan Banusewicz volunteers in the Technical Services Department on the fourth floor of the Central Library. Guy McLain, Director of the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, was an archivist in the museum's Geneology and Local History Library from 1988-1995. He wrote The Pioneer Valley: A Pictorial History and edited Springfield Fights the Civil War. There is a good quote by him in the Quad newsletter:

In addition to older, more traditional artifacts, we need to collect newer things, including objects from our own lifetime. Some of our strongest collections are of ephemera - things like letters, diaries, theater programs, advertising broadsides - that show the social and cultural history of our area. They're important pieces of history with wonderful stories to tell. We tend to forget that all of us in this region are making history every day. Our choices today significantly affect society in the future. For that reason, I'd like people to remember that the objects and documents they have in their homes today will be the historical artifacts of tomorrow.

December 5, 2001

Tom Bevacqua said 60 degrees outside their studio at 6:15am. Gas is $1.07 at the Cumberland Farms at the intersection of Liberty and Carew.

Walt Disney would have been 100 today. The groundbreaking at the Clinton Presidential Library was held this morning. The nation's largest bookdealer Barnes & Noble, is in financial trouble. If they are doing poorly, than all my little bookseller friends must be as well. Chelsea Sobel has replaced Brenda Garton on TV22. The Springfield paper had an announcement that they will have an "A Team" to honor athletes who also do well in academics. The paper says that Winnifred M. Chandler has sold 508 Wilbraham Road to Mass Mutual. I used to deliver the Springfield Shopping News there years ago. The paper says the Springfield schools will hire a Fine Arts Director, perhaps they will adopt some of the suggestions I sent them in my art memos.

Ames is closing 54 stores and Annie's Attic, a clothing store in Westfield, is closing after twenty years in business. Mike Hurwitz of Pizzeria Uno lives at 11 South Bridge Drive in Agawam. Smith & Wesson is looking for a CNC Cutter Grinder at $18.44 per hour, a job my Uncle George Giroux could have done. The Big Y Holiday Stock-up circular came today, dumped by the mailbox. Artichokes were one of Mother's favorite treats, she used to dip them in warm butter. I had an Italian grinder for lunch and then cooked a Mrs. Smith's Custard Cream Pie. Mike Graney the economic development guy has proposed putting a boathouse and a public market on the riverfront. I think it is a poor location for a farmer's market and would flop. Graney has had a lot of jobs and manages to stay employed with the help of Richie Neal, but he hasn't accomplished anything.

I had two donuts this morning. Swung by Eamon's but he wasn't home. There were a lot of cars parked at the Quick Mart at the corner of Carew and Newbury across from McNamara's Package Store. I took some pictures of Eamon's Christmas decorations, multi-colored balls across the front porch, 5-light candelabras in the porch windows and Mrs. and Mrs. Santa Claus flanking the gate. There was a large blue and orange dump truck with a city seal on it parked across the street, no doubt the one that Eamon complains is parked in the street more than it's at work. The number on it is 37261.

From Eamon's I drove to the City Library. A big hole was being dug in the middle of the Quadrangle green. I haven't forgotten about the DAR tree that was there. When I got inside I saw that the book discard section was the same as last time, some Shakespeare, some poetry and some Spanish stuff. I exchanged pleasantries with the nice Oriental woman in the Music section. The locked oak cases in the back of Wellman Hall are now empty. So now Wellman is to be decimated as well?

In Rice Hall I found some STCC year books on a cart and glanced through the years 1970 and 1971. Mildred A. Russell was in 1970 and a young John Gately in 1971. Jeri came up and greeted me, she is always very friendly. She told me the hole in the lawn is to install the support platform for the Horton Hears a Who sculpture. She said her father was a milliner who ran the Lawrence Hat Company in Chicopee that closed around 40 years ago. When I got back the mailman was sitting in his truck at the end of Jeffery Street reading the paper! The Penniman's were sitting in their driveway, he in his wheelchair.

As soon as I got in the door Eamon called with the shocking news that The Reverend Theodore Brown has been murdered by a student named Ramos who stabbed him seven times. Brown was a guidance councilor at Springfield High School, a charter school operating out of the old Van Sickle. The cause of the stabbing was Rev. Brown telling Ramos to pull back the hood he was wearing indoors. What a trivial reason for a murder! Ramos has been apprehended and the knife was found in the woods nearby. School Superintendent Burke announced the murder at a press conference but refused to answer questions.

Mayor Albano was on TV calling the tragedy "an isolated incident" but Eamon says there has been a surge of violence in the schools recently. Gingras the teacher told Eamon that there was a major brawl in front of Commerce a couple of weeks ago. The police had to call for reinforcements, but nothing appeared in the media about it. Gingras claimed that there have been non-fatal stabbings in the schools that have not been made public. He said the goal of school administrators is always to minimize problems and keep the public uninformed. Burke said at the news conference that the kid had no criminal record, but Gingras claimed that Ramos has "a record as long as your arm."

December 6, 2001

Sun came out around 9am. 55 degrees at 8am.

Palestinian youth are rioting. If you want to know where things are headed ask the youth because they are the future, and it doesn't look good for Israel or the USA. Friendly's stock was up at noon. Osley and Whitney Inc. the tool company on Southhampton Road in Westfield is closing. Banker Tom Burton has been out of sight lately. He was everywhere last fall. WGBY is doing their fundraising drive. Roy Scott was on in a business suit and Marla Z. "The Voice of Channel 57" was standing beside him. Fox-TV20 has declared itself "the news partner" of the Hartford Courant. TV40 also describes itself as the "news partner" of the Springfield Newspapers.

My cousin Shirley H. called today to inform me that they are putting Aunt Maria into respite care at Western Mass Hospital in Westfield. They hope she will be able to come back home after the first of the year. There are problems with the clarity of her mind, and she has trouble walking. I mentioned that it would mean a lot to Aunt Maria to live to 100 and Shirley said Aunt Maria told her that last summer. Maria still recognizes things and sometimes speaks but doesn't comprehend a lot of what goes on. The clergyman from her church still visits and the Lucia's. She said Joe Lucia is still up and about, works in his shop and plays violin. I told Shirley we must get together before she leaves, but didn't mention I may give her Gram's candlesticks.

Has that blah, hip, bullshit show Politically Incorrect gone off the air? It wasn't on last night, but I saw an interesting marketing commercial for videos of the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. $19.95 gets you the Frank Sinatra roast and thereafter every two months you get another roast. A good deal, but one I can live without. Still, the videos are of some historical value because of all the stars that appear on them. Sandra called from the New York Times offering a subscription including the Sunday paper at $4.80 per week. I thanked her for calling but declined. I called Larry McDermott at the Union-News but hung up when I only got his answering machine.

Females In Training (F.I.T.) is at 479 Breckwood Boulevard with Ellen Bellicchi the owner, personal trainer and nutritionist. The mail today brought a Christmas card from Eamon, a lovely, long letter from Martha and a postcard from the Mullins Center in Amherst saying that their newsletter has gone completely online and will no longer be published. Once a month something called a Val-Pak comes in a blue envelope with an address window, full of coupons and advertisements. Helsa called for Baystate Gas saying they are going to install a device on my meter that will enable them to read it from the street without having to come in the house. Will this device be using my electricity?

At the former Emmanuel Church, now a Hispanic Protestant church, there is a lot of fixing up going on - new parking lot pavement, sidewalk work in front and new statuary and benches. I called the X Main Street Corporation and was told that their X-Bucks are available in five dollar denominations only. Too bad they aren't in the form of tokens, that would make them irresistible. Went to the A&P Food Mart with a pile of coupons and spent $82.21 stocking up on provisions for the winter. When I came back I passed the Cohn's coming down the street on their way home.

Superintendent Burke is meeting with Governor Jane Swift today to inform her about the murder of Rev. Brown and try to explain what the hell is going on in the Springfield schools. Eamon called and said that Peter Hogan is the School Department Security Chief. He is also the nephew of former School Committeman Wilbur Hogan. A hack hire? Eamon complained that whenever we hear something about the corruption investigation in Springfield it usually originates from the Valley Advocate, the Boston Globe, New England Cable Network or some other source other than the Springfield Newspapers or the local TV stations. Eamon referred to Albano as "an all glitz and no substance mayor." Eamon thinks the FBI may have tapped the phones of Ardolino, Keough, Catjakis and Phillips, and if so, then it may be enough "to bring down the whole gang." Referring to Albano Eamon said, "Show me your friends and advisers and I'll tell you who you are."

Eamon told me that Elms sent him an invitation to take a course on Ireland. He also said that Jim Landers came over last night and admired his Christmas lights. He said Landers wondered whether the newspaper has discontinued their monthly business section, which he liked. Landers said that the head of television at STCC, Luanne Carbaugh, told him that three TV cameras have been stolen in the last month. After Eamon hung up I called STCC and was told that Luanne Carbaugh is the Chairperson of the Multimedia Technology Teleproduction Unit and was connected with her voicemail. I identified myself and said that obviously she must not be an academic heavyweight if she's working at STCC, but if she can't at least take better care of the school's equipment, then she should offer her resignation. I wished her a good day and hung up. She did not call back.

December 7, 2001

57 degrees at 4pm.

The Taliban are surrendering their guns and Mullah Omar has fled Afganistan. 800,000 jobs have been lost as the result of 9/11. I called Western Mass Hospital and got Debbie the nurse who said that Aunt Maria had a good breakfast and is doing alright, although she doesn't say very much. Debbie said she would tell Aunt Maria I called but I said that might upset her as she once accused me of trying to kill her when she was at Mercy Hospital. I explained to her that Aunt Maria has mental problems and that I would call in to check on her periodically.

I found the Union-News Extra thrown in the driveway. Went to the Eastfield Mall today, bought a few stamps and picked up the Valley Advocate. Maureen Turner has a story on Police Chief Meara's lavish expense account. I stopped in GNC and bought two bottles of Saw Palmetto for a total of 240 caplets. I walked around the mall and couldn't help but notice how expensive everything is. The Christmas tree balls at Filene's were $10 apiece! Wilson's was selling leather jackets for $300! Hallmark had 2000 piece jigsaw puzzles for $19.95 each. I stopped at the food court and bought a Gyros plate from the Greek lady. I made a point of thanking her when I left; as I usually do when I leave restaurants.

As I walked along I came upon a heavyset man in wingtips and a brown suit and tie, presiding over a wagon covered with $15 coupon books for Springfield merchants with the Business Improvement District insignia on them. I told him that the best way to save money is to stay home and read books. He laughed and introduced himself as Robert Picknelly of East Longmeadow. I asked the obvious question of whether he was related to Peter Picknelly of Peter Pan and he replied that they are first cousins. He said of Peter, "He hates me!" because he is jealous that Robert went to college while Peter only graduated from High School. He said that Peter Picknelly talks in public about the importance of education but he really doesn't think that it's necessary, at least not to succeed in business. I told him that Peter Picknelly doesn't like me either because I opposed the casino.

Robert told me he is a 1952 Classical graduate who went to Westfield State and then got his masters at UMass. He had been a teacher and then principal in Warren, but is now retired. He claimed once to have had the finest collection of presidential biographies in the valley but sold it to The Book Bear when he retired. He said he didn't get what he believed the collection was really worth. He also told me that he is working on a book about how computers are inferior to books, especially when educating children. I gave him my card and told him I would send him a copy of my article on the Springfield Library's foolish discarding of books. On the way home I saw that Boston Road has its Christmas lights turned on all the way from St. Michael's to the Wilbraham overpass. The TV news showed Arlene Putnam of the Boston Road Business Association presiding over the lighting ceremony.

The late Rev. Theodore N. Brown lived at 98 Brandon Avenue in Springfield. Eamon called and said that Nader the Hatter's brother Gary has left everything in the house just as it was when his wife died. When you call her voice is still on the answering machine. It's sad. Eamon told me that he talked to the Rev. Yusif Muhammad today for twenty minutes. He told the Reverend about how Worcester has fewer cops but a larger population and other things critical of the Springfield Police Department that Muhammad liked hearing about. The Reverend said he is considering bringing a big wrongful death lawsuit in the Brown case against the city for being negligent by not having metal detectors to alert the school security to the murder weapon before it could be used.

December 9, 2001

Sunny, calm, high cloudiness. 41 degrees at 7:30am.

Politics, I hate politics! Professionalism is the only way.

Congregation B'nai Jacob is located at Two Eunice Drive in Longmeadow. This is Beethoven Celebration Week on WFCR. Fleet Mortgage Loan Officer Jill Keefe sent me a "special bulletin" urging me to "refinance before it's too late!" Too late for what? Hartford's Holiday Light Fantasia in Goodwin Park (their version of our Bright Nights in Forest Park) runs through January 6th. Toad's Place in New Haven is having "Opus's Annual Birthday Bash" featuring Gargantuan Soul on January 25th. There is a Christmas/Chanukah with Cantor chimes program at Symphony Hall today but I shan't be going. Neither will I be attending the "new members" reception at the Wilbraham Atheneum. Actually, I didn't receive an invitation. Do they not want their new members to meet me?

Walt Erickson of Palmer, whom I met at the St. Ceci's tag sale, called to say he liked the copy of my Quadrangle article I sent him. He said he enjoyed it and that it reflected "more or less what I was thinking." He said he will show the article to his brother who teaches at Harvard Medical School. Erickson said he is a collector of stamps, coins and postcards, which he said "keeps me out of mischief." There's probably more to that than I know about.

Nice enough day. I put the tarp on the picnic table for the winter, raked some leaves out front and wrote Mrs. Staniski a birthday card. I went downtown thinking I would stop at Jeff the Framer's to have my Blessing of a Library (1945) framed. I noticed recently that Jeff has a new 15 second commercial featuring his always smiling face. On my way I stopped at the pornshop Bookends, just as they opened at 10am. I saw a hypodermic needle lying on the ground in the parking lot. Inside they have a new selection of sextoys, but no copies of Leatherman Magazine. The truth is Bookends has mostly stuff for straight people and almost no leather. I asked if they had a copy of Cocksucker Academy by Milne but they did not. I did get the current Bay Windows with a story about a lesbian attorney challenging Massachusetts' anti-sodomy laws. I left without buying anything.

Traffic was light so I took a little detour down to Enfield Plaza across the road from Barnes & Noble and the Buffet. Enfield's key store was Bradlees, which alas is now empty. I went to Bob's at 25 Hazard Avenue, a large store with virtually everything in it. The prices look fair enough, with an immense shoe department all along the back. They had boots in expensive models like Red Wing, but I bought a lower end $61 pair of logger boots with a comfortable feel and from now on I'll be wearing them regularly. As I left Bob's, I noticed a store named Michael's Arts and Crafts. I went inside and they had an enormous collection of artificial flowers and art supplies. I decided to get the glass and some Damir varnish and frame Blessing of a Library myself. It was so cheap and convenient and frankly there is nothing like it in Springfield. Unfortunately, I now had no reason to stop by Jeff the Framer's place. I will hang it over my portrait of Calvin Coolidge in my bedroom.

Blessing of a Library

God, the Lord of all knowledge, mercifully bestow thy blessing upon this library, that it may be protected from fire and all other evils, grant that at times it may congruously be enlarged, and that all those who resort hither officially, or for the sake of study, may advance in divine and human knowledge, and in the love of these. Through Christ our Lord, amen.

On the way back I stopped at Louis & Clark and mailed the credit card bill, the electric bill and Mrs. Staniski's birthday card. Then I continued on to the Eastfield Mall where the parking lot was packed. Inside the place was crawling with people. At Vibrations I bought a new t-shirt that bears the legend I Dress Like This Just to Piss You Off. Perfect! Robert Picknelly, cousin of Peter, was not there. The wagon of coupons was being run by a younger man named Matt, so I left the reading material for Robert with him and left.

Eamon T. O'Sullivan called and said Mario on Elm Street in West Springfield is a great cobbler and also fixes clocks. He said that Art Gingras had his prostate operation today with Dr. Althaseron in Boston. Gingras told him that at Commerce where he works there is a metal detector sitting in a box behind the auditorium stage, never been used. He said the equipment dates back to the prior principal. School Security Chief Peter B. Hogan admitted in the paper that "metal detector systems bought in the early 1990's have never been used" despite the city receiving an $8.1 million safe schools grant. Eamon said the failure to install the equipment in a timely manner could lead to a lawsuit.

Gingras told him about a Pakistani girl who got her face slashed at Commerce last year for smiling at another girl's boyfriend. She will never be able to talk right again. Gingras also said there was a stabbing at Chestnut Middle School. Neither incident was ever reported in the local media. Eamon has contacted his friends at the FBI and is urging them to launch a full investigation into what became of the $8 million in safe school funds. He said the agents seemed interested, but told him "we already have our hands full with the things we've unearthed so far" in their corruption probe.

December 11, 2001

Very foggy at 7:30am. Gas is $1.06 at Boston Road Citgo.

At 8:46am the radio and TV stations played the Star Spangled Banner in memory of the terrorist attacks three months ago today. On the news commentator Kevin Phillips said "pressure is mounting to attack Iraq." A segment of the Lehrer News Hour said newspaper ad revenues are down since 9/11. Billy Collins is our new poet laureate. Paul Bruhn is Director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont in Burlington.

The Mayor of Bridgeport Joseph P. Ganim will go on trial in January 2003. If Albano is indicted and gets delays like that he could still be around to run for re-election! Chicopee has 20 teachers working full time with waivers of certification. In South Hadley trash collection has been suspended for those who owe more than $200 on their trash collection bills. I believe that trash collection fees will be coming to Springfield someday. Ray Herschel was on TV40 talking about Amtrak being unlikely to reach self sufficiency by December "two thousand and two." No Ray, the correct phrasing is "two thousand two." TV22 continues to brag that they're "working for you" and "We won't waste your time." They had a lovely violin program on 57 this evening as part of their fund drive. The beggars were John Montinari of WFCR and manager Russ Peotter.

The fall of Enron reminds me of the fall of Monarch. I usually listen to radio and TV while doing other things, I don't have time to just sit and listen. An attempt is being made to get the FCC to repeal the rule that newspapers can't own other media in the same market. You can be sure that the Springfield Newspapers want that rule repealed. The news will become even more one sided if they control the radio and TV stations as well.

The Springdale Mall has been renamed Lowe's Plaza. Channel Hardware Store was located at Five Town Mall where Food Mart is now situated, but it faced in the other direction, toward the older part of the mall. It was the first of the giant hardware stores and Mother liked it, but they closed up. In time Home Depot and Lowe's came along and they have done better. The Channel logo had a curving driveway leading up to a happy home with a chimney on the left, a tree on the right and the sun with rays in the sky, all inside the C of Channel. Our original sofa on Crest Street was a green studio couch. It became the sofa at Fernbank in Wilbraham and finally ended up in Uncle George's bedroom.

Today the sunshine in my window is simply wonderful. Right now I am sitting on my bed and typing, but I expect to move the typewriter to the end of the table - maybe not, maybe back and forth, who knows but I prefer to have the sun shining through the window on the page as I am typing. I have just finished typing my Doll's Bill of Rights:

A doll has the right -

1. To be loved.
2. To have a special place of their own (a dollenarium).
3. To not be abused.
4. To be dressed handsomely.
5. To be kept clean and repaired when broken.
6. To be photographed and written about.
7. To be included in major family events.
8. To be talked to.
9. To have a personality of their own (to talk back).
10. To be retired from service and laid to rest with dignity.

The Judge's Chambers on Dwight Street has two mottos - "A Place Where Men Meet Men" and "Always Something Happening at the Chambers." I dined today on Progresso Ham & Pea Soup and a ham and cheese hotpocket. I try not to eat a lot everyday. Rob of Baystate Gas came today at 8:30am to upgrade my meter. He is a Latino who goes to UMass and is majoring in civil engineering. He said he lives in Holyoke and does about twenty meters per day. Rob said his next stop was an address in Wilbraham and he wasn't sure where it was. I gave him an AAA map in friendship for which he thanked me politely. Giving Rob the map reminded that my AAA insurance sticker for my card has expired so I called and Serena said they will send a new card within two weeks.

Then I called Western Mass Hospital and head nurse Tom Connors told me that Aunt Maria is fine and had no visitors today. We chatted briefly and I told him about the Mountainview House reopening in Whitefield. I next called Superintendent Burke's office and told his secretary that School Security Chief Hogan apparently got his job through political connections and should be forced to resign after the murder of Rev. T. Brown. She very politely said thank you for calling.

I drove out to the Acres Mobil to put air in my tires for 50 cents. Then to the Bank of Western Mass to cash my IBM and Chevron dividend checks with Maggie. Then out to the Wilbraham Post Office to mail some postcards. I got a Faith Church poster off their bulletin board, shame on them for recruiting members in Wilbraham but putting no posters up in Springfield anywhere I've seen. They want lily white people with money from Wilbraham, not poor minorities from Springfield. I swung by the Eastfield Mall and saw Robert Picknelly sitting by his wagon of BID coupons. He stood up, smiled, shook my hand and said he got my article and would read it. Then I went to the Snow Babies booth at Mark's Hallmark and got a Christmas ornament of a snow baby playing a lute for Mrs. Staniski. I asked the girl how business is and she said pretty good, but not as good as last year. I crossed the street to Stop & Shop and asked if they had any plum pudding and they said they had none, although I can recall buying it there in past years. Citizen's Bank is constructing a structure in front of the Stop & Shop. Too bad it isn't Hampden Bank.

Next I stopped at Wilson's Leather and bought a new black leather motorcycle jacket for $149 cash from Liz the manager. From there I went to see Mrs. Staniski to wish her a Happy Birthday and give her the Snow Baby which she loved. She said her grandson drove in from Boston and took her to dinner at Storrowtown Tavern. We discussed how it was three months since 9/11 and she recalled how 25 years ago when her husband John Staniski belonged to the Lodge they had a Professor Racine come in to lecture who said "there will never be peace in the Mideast." She gave me a piece of her birthday cake and a Harvard student newspaper from Ann.

Finally I stopped at Sixteen Acres Garden and bought a 2002 calendar. I asked how business was and they said sales were okay, but business is down everywhere since 9/11. When I got home I saw Mr. Lucius walking by, who stopped and laughed as he said he enjoyed my "unique postcards' featuring my beloved dolls Sweet Pea and Honeypot. He said when he was a boy he had two imaginary friends that he talked to all the time. They even had names. I said he should put his recollections of them into an essay, but of course he won't.

Murdered guidance councilor Theodore Brown's funeral will be Thursday at Holy Family. Eamon called and said he spoke to Nader the Hatter in Florida. Nader is buying expensive photography equipment so that he can sell hats on the internet. Eamon said Nader and he discussed how the French astrologer Nostradamus prophesied that a turbaned man would cause a great calamity around the year 2000. Eamon said he had just finished watching the Bill O'Reilly Show on Fox News who was very critical of Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve.

Eamon said he called Washington D.C. today about the Brown murder and spoke to David Quinn, who is in charge of all the federal school funds coming to Massachusetts, and told him all about the $8 million dollar safe school funds that no one around here seems to know anything about. Quinn surprised Eamon by saying that there has long been suspicion in Washington that the funds given to Springfield were mismanaged, and that he was also aware that "the FBI is swarming all over Springfield." Quinn told him he would discuss Eamon's concerns with Karen Dorsey, who is director of the safe schools program.

December 13, 2001

Overcast all day, 43 degrees at 3pm.

With Walt Disney you had cartoon critters that were clearly imaginary and could not possibly be real. I do not like the Harry Potter books because they encourage kids to believe in magic. We have to replace nonsense with truth.

President Bush has a 90% approval rating. D.W. Brown Financial is located at 30 Berkshire Avenue in Springfield. Kyle Ambrose of Ronald Circle in Wilbraham is the person who delivers The Reminder in my neighborhood. WFCR played Beethoven's Eroica which I love. I called the office of Rep. Cheryl Rivera and got Gladys. I asked her if my postcard got there because I never heard anything back on it. She replied, "Yes she did, I saw it on her desk." On the news tonight there was a beautiful interview with Tasha, the 30 year old daughter of murdered educator Ted Brown. She said her father was a devout Pentecostal minister who got his college degree at Westfield State at age 47. He was 51 when he died an hour after being stabbed by a student in school. It was a truly moving interview.

Went down to Picknelly's Sheraton to the Chamber Channels After Five social. I went dressed like a model from an S/M magazine with a leather cap on my shaved head, bondage collar, new impeccably slick motorcycle jacket, black jeans and my new boots. I also wore my I Dress Like This to Piss You Off t-shirt. I parked on Dwight and walked down, paying the $10 fee for non-Chamber of Commerce members. It was held in the Grand Ballroom which has two bars. The food was better than at a lot of Chamber events I've been to. However, the Chamber offers sophisticated recipes and I prefer plain food. There were no free drinks of any kind, no coffee, no soft drinks, no bottled water. There was also no fruit and no desert or pretty little Italian pastries. Nothing. They had egg halves with some kind of goo in them. There were at least some veggies: broccoli, cucumber slices, celery sticks, tomatoes the size of grapes and various cheeses. The hot food consisted of turnovers much like the ones Belle-Rita Novak make for the GLAD event, only with more filling of some kind. I only had one because I dislike mystery meat.

There was hardly a soul there that I recognized. The old accountant Petluck was there with his hearing aid on. He introduced me to his companion Cathy Ferrero, who said she has been a second grade teacher for 25 years. They were chatting with two women from Rock 102 marketing. I was introduced to a tall black man named James A. Rhodes and I remarked that he has the same name as a Republican governor of Ohio. He chuckled and said that both Republicans and Democrats are bad. Russell Denver was there in a grey suit and told me that the new Hall of Fame is "creating lots of construction jobs" but had nothing else to say when I asked him about the local economy. Peter Picknelly was not there nor Tom Burton. I wonder where Vice Chair Carol Leary was? The real bigshots never show up for these things.

Downey Sweeney exec LaPierre had a dart board with Osama bin Laden on it. I said I still had one with the Ayatollah Khomeini on it. Just after six some entertainer came on and he was awful. While I was bored by the entertainer I counted noses and I got to around 155, but missed some so there may have been 175. Overall, the event was disappointing in a million different ways. I told Petluck the lousy entertainment was forcing me to leave so I took the elevator down to the lobby. They had two lovely prints by the hotel check-in and I love the new carpet Picknelly put in. That long narrow bar by the door was promoting Rascal's Comedy Club but there were no customers, just a barmaid watching TV. Coming home I drove down Crest Street and saw that my old house and the Maher place have Christmas decorations.

Eamon called and said A. Gingras is doing good. He recalled to Eamon a story of how in 1997 Gingras was at a meeting with Paul Carbonneau (Communications Technician) when Dr. Peter Negroni was told that they needed to buy new software. Gingras said that Negroni told them he didn't care about any "legal arguments" and to just steal whatever software they needed by copying it. Negroni said that if there were any copyright complaints involving the pirated software "I'll take the heat for that." Eamon said he was not surprised by Gingras' story since "Negroni was always a thieving bastard." Eamon said that Ardolino, Keough, Phillips and Catjakis think public service is just a game to fill your pockets with the taxpayer's money. He described them as "scoundrels who would steal a dog's dinner."

December 15, 2001

WFCR said 40 degrees in Springfield at 7:59am.

Vermont Yankee has the lowest safety rating of any nuclear plant in the U.S. and the locals are complaining they have not been told how to evacuate in case of an emergency. WFCR had a segment where someone in Newark was talking about how building a cultural center is NOT about economic development but the improvement of the quality of life. That is just the opposite of the view around here, where the project is viable only if the political pigs and their insider friends can cash in. Regarding the Philadelphia Orchestras new $2 million dollar rent obligation in their new facility they said "some venues are too expensive for the non-profits that are to use them." Is that what happened to StageWest?

160 jobs will be lost at UMass because of budget cuts, 100 by attrition and 60 will be fired. The UMass library is losing almost half of its book buying budget. Rich Tettemer of TV22 said that George O'Leary of the Fighting Irish shouldn't have been fired for lying on his resume about playing ball for New Hampshire because it involved something so long ago. A commercial for the "Big C by the Big E" dealership says "the best thing you can do for your country is buy an American car or truck" but how do you do that when you're losing your job? George Abbott, a psychologist at Holyoke Hospital was asked on the news to speculate on the mental health of Osama bin Laden. He said Osama seems okay, which is how I see him.

In June a monument to the Massachusetts men and women who died in Vietnam will be dedicated at a Worcester park. 1332 Massachusetts men and women died in Vietnam. State Representative Paul Caron sent me an invitation in the mail today to his Holiday Reception on December 27th to "give me the opportunity to personally thank you for your assistance" to his mayoral campaign. Northampton has been declared by the National Association of Towns and Cities as having more artists, writers and musicians for its population than anyplace from Springfield to Montreal. Springfield did not even receive an honorable mention as it has become one of the worst places to visit, shop or have dinner.

The total projected cost of the Dr. Seuss Memorial is $6 million. Dr. Seuss was born in Springfield in 1904. Went and got gas at the Breckwood Sunoco and then drove over to Fancy That where they had nothing new other than old matchbooks. Then I went next door to Radzicki's where a Latino with a high pitched voice was trying to sell them some jewelry. When she left I was told that six people were in there this morning trying to sell things, but no one came in looking to buy except for a local lawyer searching for old law books.

From there I went down to the Quadrangle and made a quick tour of the museums. In the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum they have a toy soldier display but not all were antiques. In the Museum of Fine Arts they have a mirror display but have greatly scaled back their Christmas decorating. Down the hallway by the gift shop they have some fancy mirrors with ornaments and images on them. They had a nice French provincial mirror, but overall it was a lot of junk not worth going to see. At the Science Museum I was glad to see all the stuffed animals still on display. In the George Walter Vincent Smith museum Moses is still there and one dollhouse in the downstairs lobby. I noticed they have postcards with the Tiffany window on them. The samurai swords case was empty so I asked the young lady on duty about them and she said they were put in storage to keep the display from becoming too crowded. I said, "But madam, there are no blades on display at all!"

Finally I went to the library and got several books they were discarding, including Santana and the Beatles (1967) and The Criminal Code by Flavin (1930). I also got The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses (1916) which was quite worn, meaning it had been loved by many readers. I took The Naked Emperor (1970) a collection of political satire and cartoons by Barbara Fultz, a Smith College graduate. I'm glad I got it. On the way back I stopped at Food Mart to buy the specials, including orange juice at 99 cents per half-gallon. There is a new cellar hole being dug on Alden at the curve and Fred Whitney has no Christmas lights in his windows yet. When I got home I saw Kelly out getting her mail and she said hi very pleasantly.

Eamon called and said the picture in today's paper of the proposed renovated Civic Center is "a hideous glass box." Jim Landers told Eamon they are rearranging the library at STCC to make room for more computers. I wonder what became of all the rare books they inherited from the Armory days? Someone called today identified on my machine as B.M. Rush. As soon as I said hello she said, "Could you give me my hours for next week? This is Bea." Replied I: "You're not working next week, Bea." She said, "Oh good, I have so many things to do next week." I said, "And by the way Bea, this is not Storrowtown Tavern" and hung up as she sputtered, "But who is this?"

December 17, 2001

Bright, sunny day. 35 degrees at 9am. Gas is $1.11 at the Breckwood Shell.

Mother used to feed the birds, but I do not.

Mary Lu M. Irvine is a Customer Service Representative for the Pioneer Valley Automobile Club Insurance Agency. The Springfield Library is accepting entries for its second annual poetry contest. Smith College has received a gift of 600 rare books. The Odyssey Bookshop is on the Village Common in South Hadley. They are having a special day of booksigning featuring Jill Ker Conway, author of A Woman's Education: The Road From Coorain Leads to Smith College. Also appearing will be Jerome Liebling and Christopher Benfey, who co-wrote The Dickinson's of Amherst and Claire Hopley, author of New England Cooking: Seasons and Celebrations. WFCR payed Beethoven's Violin Concerto in DMinor today. It has lovely, uplifting passages at times, but otherwise doesn't have much going on. WFCR also had a segment on J.R.R. Tolkien. His Lord of the Rings was a major influence on Star Wars.

Received a thank you letter today from Bay Path President Carol Leary for the postcards and the obituary of my cousin Connie Southworth I sent her. She didn't mention the stuff I sent her on Margaret Thatcher, which may have disturbed her. Anyway, she is always very professional when it comes to sending thank you notes promptly. The other day at Stop&Shop I bought a pecan pie and the guy running the cash register put the pie in the bag on the edge instead of flat, so of course the crust was broken when I got home. My bill came to $10.66 so I asked him if he knew what major historical event happened in 1066. I could tell from his expression that he neither knew nor cared, but I told him anyway about the Battle of Hastings and the ensuing Norman conquest of England. He smiled and wished me a good day. I went out this morning and the price of copies at Pride in the Acres has gone up to 9 cents per copy. They used to be a nickle, then seven cents and now nine. We are in a recession but the price of everything is going up.

I went to Sears at the Eastfield Mall looking for some heavy socks to go with my new boots. They had nothing so I walked to another mall store, The Shoe Department, where a chubby black lady showed me some nice socks for $7.99, a price I would never pay. I went to Penny's, where they had two pairs for $8, which was better but still high. Finally I went to Old Navy, where they had exactly what wanted for $2.99 a pair. Why pay more? On my way out I saw that Wilson's was having a 50% off sale. Then I went across to Stop&Shop where I bought some chicken and a Mrs. Smith Mince Pie. I stopped very briefly at the Grand Opening of the new Citizen's Bank outside Stop&Shop and picked up their free gift of an ice scraper. Next I headed down to Angelo's where I saw Mrs. Staniski's navy blue Dodge parked by the front door. I saw her inside wearing a lovely scarf with purple Japanese iris on it that she said was a gift from Ann. After buying some fruits and vegetables I headed back out on to Boston Road heading towards Mason Square. The Boston Road Christmas decorations are few and far between, with only one to be seen between St. Michael's Cemetery and Angelo's. Wesley Church in the Square had 39 vehicles in their parking lot.

When I got home I saw that Jozephczyk had left me a USA Today. In the late afternoon I called Faith Church and got their answering machine. I identified myself only as "a troublemaker" and criticized them for having posters around Wilbraham looking for new members but putting none up in Springfield. Then I called Western Mass Hospital and was told that Shirley Lucia was there to visit Aunt Maria. TV22 News said that a person was arrested at Foxwoods recently for making a scene when he refused to take off his Hell's Angel's motorcycle jacket. It reminded me of the trouble I've had wearing leather to Riverside/Six Flags. I forgot to mention that I saw a tough looking woman in a biker jacket with a sensitive looking man at the Quadrangle the other day.

There was no column by Larry McDermott in the paper this week. Eamon likes to say, "I tinker at the edges of valley politics." Yes, but it is a very solid tinkering. Eamon called and said Art Gingras is a big supporter of Israel over the Arabs. He told Eamon he thinks Osama Bin Laden wants to die a martyr. Gingras also said that you can't get a job in the Springfield School System unless you know somebody, and if you do it doesn't matter whether you are qualified or not. Eamon said he spoke briefly with Larry McDermott on the phone about the Brown murder. He told McDermott that they should have been using the metal detectors bought years ago with the Safe Schools grant money. McDermott disagreed, saying that jails have metal detectors but still have stabbings. McDermott also said that Albano is going to prevent a lawsuit by Brown's family by giving his widow full retirement benefits even though her husband didn't work for the city long enough to earn them. Eamon was surprised that McDermott spoke to him so politely.

December 18, 2001

Very light snow at 9:15am. 30 degrees at 12:30pm.

On the news they told of a fire at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, the largest cathedral in the USA. The paper said Friendly's is struggling. Their high prices are the problem, and until they lower them they cannot succeed. Today when I got home I saw on my identifier that a G.V. Oliver from Agawam had called without leaving a message. I called back and a woman said, "You have the wrong number." To which I said, "Madam, you called me, and if you called the wrong number than you owe me an apology." She slammed the phone down in my ear.

Mother's sister Eleanor Maria Wilson Giroux is nearly 100 years old and requires around the clock nursing. I was disappointed when I sent a copy of Mother's obituary to the Colony Club with a note saying how she once worked as a waitress at the Club and they did not thank me. I detest snobs and love to irritate them. There is absolutely no reason for snobishness, except in responding to a snob. Mother also worked as a serving girl at the Mountainview House in Whitefield, New Hampshire in the summer of 1923. It closed in the 1980's and its contents were auctioned off, but will reopen completely restored in May 2002. I am entering the Quadrangle poetry contest with two of my homosexual poems. I am also getting ready to try wearing my black leather hood over my face in public and see what happens. I went down to Louis & Clark today to make copies of the poems and noticed two cop cars parked in the driveway at Duggan Middle School.

Then I drove downtown and parked in the street by the railroad, directly behind Channel 57, and put 75 cents in the meter. There was a large sign saying how you can go to Foxwoods on a Peter Pan bus. I dropped off some papers at TV57 for Roy Scott, and then walked down to Antiques on Boland Way. They had a 50% off sale going on, but I bought nothing. Then over to City Hall where I left some papers for Carol Lewis Caulton in the City Council office. I also went to the City Treasurer's Office and asked Paula for the prospectus on the new bond issue and she said, "The Treasurer is at lunch, so I wouldn't know what to tell you." She should have asked my name and offered to send me a prospectus. I saw no sign of any of the supposed extra security precautions at City Hall. I told the guy at the snack bar that I don't expect to be invited to the Mayor's inauguration. When I left, I saw in the mayoral parking space a little black car with four antennae sticking out the back.

Next I went to the Bank of Boston building and left postcards for Atty. Berman and then went across the street to leave some with Hurwitz's receptionist. I went into the old SIS building to leave postcards for Russ Denver and then BusinessWest in Room 604. I told the security guard they have some nice Christmas decorations this year. In Tower Square/Baystate West I stopped into the photo gallery in the former Valley Bank space. The photos were not very exciting. A guy named Jeff Cheney was "watching the place" but said he was not one of the artists, although he said he lives with one of the photographers. He said they are getting the place rent free until Tower Square can find a paying tenant. They had some glitzy literature, but the photo show itself was routine.

Finally, I drove out to the riverfront where the parking lot in front of the new Hall of Fame is paved and the last of the silverish tiles are going on the globe. At the Information Center there were only two cars in the parking lot. They had a Walking and Dining Map of Downtown Springfield with the slogan on it, "Springfield: Someplace Special." I swung by the Quadrangle on the way back and had Ed Lonergan help me to research Richard Griffin's Bughouse Poetry (1917) on the computer. In the old days of card catalogs you could look things up yourself and not be beholden to the librarian. In the book discard section I got a few things, including Letters to Sherlock Holmes by Richard L. Green (1985). All the books had dust on the top of them. In other libraries I have seen them vacuuming with a brush to control that, but apparently the Springfield Library can't be bothered.

Eamon called and said that up where Serv-U was they now have a place where Peter Pan will pick you up for Foxwoods. They have a reception room and you can park there all day while you are at Foxwoods. Eamon said he is furious about an editorial by Editor George O'Brien that appeared in the latest BusinessWest describing the FBI corruption probe as "a witch-hunt." He said he ran out this morning and bought two copies, placed them each in an envelope and then drove downtown to the FBI office and left the copies for Agents Scripter and Hedges. Eamon said it is depressing how dead downtown is, and that "a three night a week so-called Entertainment District just won't cut it."

December 20, 2001

37 degrees at 8am.

"You sell more tickets being hated than being loved." - Gorgeous George the Wrestler.

The official number of those killed at the World Trade Center has been revised to 2992. This is the 100th day since 9/11. Kenneth Fineberg is the special master dishing out money for 9/11 victims and has a physical resemblance to Howard Kalodner of WNEC, tall thin and bald. We forget that the American Revolution was fought by terrorists resisting the legitimate authority of the British government. Edmond A. Hasenjager, who founded Edmond's Opticians in 1954 and had a shop in the heart of downtown on the corner of Worthington, has died at the age of 85. He also had shops on Sumner Avenue by Gus & Paul's and at the Five Town Mall. He was a very polite and accommodating, old style business person, whose short son Edmond Jr. is the same. I regret that I ever let Walmart sell me my current glasses with the thick lenses. Edmond's used a plastic that was very thin and light.

Progresso Tomato Soup is real nice but is too much like puree. Margaret F. Viens is the Director of Alumni Relations at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Got a Christmas card from Martha today who said she is too old to travel so Helen will visit her. Also got a Christmas card from the Camp Norwich Alumni Association. I called the Western Mass Hospital today and the nurse said that Aunt Maria "is doing very well." Shirley Lucia was there at lunchtime.

Workers at the Brightside orphanage have rejected a union by a 3 to 1 margin despite the big Mo Turner piece in the Valley Advocate last week backing approval. The owners of Fancy That live in the crazy brick "gingerbread house" on Alden Street. They are just the people to own such a house. Louis & Clark are selling ribbons for one dollar with a note on them saying, "In memory of our fallen comrade Reverend Brown. Please wear this ribbon in his memory from Dec. 13-20." Went to the Food Mart for some cranberry juice and the New York Times. The closed Spag's has a sign in the window saying to go to their Shrewsbury store. Then I went to United Cooperative where I cashed a check with Cathy Manning. A new CVS just opened on Stony Hill Road near the restaurant ThirtySomething. There is a Walgreens at the corner of Parker.

For lunch I went to the Olive Garden today. The manager is Kirk Schneider, and I was the only one there besides an old couple. It has arches, stucco walls and photos of Italy on the walls. My neighbor Mr. Jozephczyk was just leaving as I was going in and we exchanged greetings. My waitress was named Cheryl and she was very pleasant. She said she used to work at Ruby Tuesday and remembered seeing me there. I had spaghetti and sausage and a glass of wine, which at $3.95 per glass wasn't cheap! Desert was a blueberry turnover, which in the picture on the menu was shown with 3 scoops of ice cream but I only got two. I told the girl, but said to forget it and she apologized and said she never served that dessert before. The food was just fine in every way and the total came to $17.17.

Eamon called today and said that Nader the Hatter is not coming up from Florida for the holidays. Eamon said he mailed an angry letter to BusinessWest today critical of their editorial attacking the Springfield corruption probe. He said he also called Karen Powell to alert her to the editorial. Eamon said he spoke with FBI Agent Cliff Hedges today for about a half hour. Hedges thanked Eamon for giving him a copy of the BusinessWest editorial, but said he is not concerned because "everything is coming together nicely" in the probe and although he couldn't give Eamon any details, he said that "everyone will be stunned" by what is revealed when the indictments are unveiled.

The city is asking Governor Swift for $50,000 in emergency funds to beef up security in the schools after the Brown murder. Of course why should the Governor think it won't be wasted like the Safe Schools grant was? Eamon says that the Springfield School system has the highest rate of school expulsions in the state - 358 compared to Boston's 180 and 58 in Holyoke. Springfield is utterly failing to rescue its worst students. Eamon is disgusted that Officer Carlo D'Amato got a Medal of Honor at Police Department ceremonies last night. He was shot in the South End several times and needed a whole string of operations to recover. Eamon said that what really happened is that he came drunk out of the Hippodrome and headed for the Civic Pub where he had even more to drink and then staggered into the South End where he was attacked by a mugger. Deputy Chief Spellacy told Eamon that D'Amato "was drunk out of his mind" and ought to be ashamed, not proud. Of course none of this got into the media, and Eamon said the incident reminds of him of the late Officer Michael Schiavina who was shot in 1985 and the story of his malfeasance never got out.

December 21, 2001

The Winter Solstice. Cloudy, 39 degrees at 12:24pm.

Rush Limbaugh had a two hour ear operation yesterday. The Mt. Holyoke Summer Theater is $580,000 in debt. The Red Sox sold for $660 million. Why would someone pay so much for a losing team? The Cleveland Indians sold for $323 million about a year ago. Sandra W.R. Hofstetter is Head of Membership Development for the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield. The news says the Jahn Foundry has been sold to Advanced Metals of Pennsylvania and will be renamed New England Iron. On WFCR today they played Beethoven's 9th. I like the 9th but I find a lot of Beethoven's work to be boring.

The Boston Globe has an article referring to Northampton as "a friendly little city with big city energy." TV40 finance guy Jim Vinnick says the future of Friendly's looks good despite their current high debt levels. Considering that it has been a number of years since Friendly's made big profits, is there any reason to expect them to make big profits again? I put the covers on the air conditioners today and I got my first Kentucky quarter in my change.

I drove out today and left the Boston Herald for the Penniman's and a bag of magazines for the Cohn's. Lenore Cohn thanked me politely, but it is obvious that she is wilting with age and it is too bad. Coming down the street I saw Cressotti looking into his mailbox and removing one large card. I headed to the Quadrangle and went to the Walter Vincent Smith Museum to look over their dollhouse exhibit. It is a super display with over 30 dollhouses. I encountered two elderly women looking at the dollhouse of an 1890 New York brownstone by Beverly Kidde. It turned out one of them was Mrs. Ballas from the Tuesday Morning Music Club. She asked me why she doesn't see me there anymore and I replied, "Madam, let's not talk about that." When I left the black security guard asked me what I thought and I said the exhibit was excellent.

Heading over to the City Library, I then checked out the discarded book section and got several books including The Care and Feeding of Ideas by Bill Backer (1993) and a 1962 copy of Billy Budd. I then went to the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum to the toy soldier display and counted 3,156 of them, so there is no misrepresentation in their commercial claiming "thousands on display." As I walking to my car a girl sitting on the Quad lawn shouted, "Hey, do you smoke?" I replied, "No sweetie, and neither should you."

When I got back I saw on my phone ID that Eamon had called at 9:54, 10:07, 2:28, 3:19 and 3:38. Is Eamon constantly on the phone? At 4:44 Eamon called and said that there is this guy that goes around Hungry Hill on a bicycle picking up cans. Eamon said he asked the man that owns the liquor store at Liberty Plaza about him and he said the guy comes into his store three times a day to cash-in cans. He estimated that the guy rakes in about $150 per day just from gathering cans. After he hung up I called Larry McDermott and left a message that the paper needs to hire a competent proofreader. Then I called BusinessWest and left a message on George O'Brien's answering machine saying that his editorial attacking the Springfield corruption probe was stupid. I said that BusinessWest is a fine publication in some respects, but they flatter the local business and political establishment too much. Finally I called the mayor's office and spoke to Jean, telling her that J. Deezer Sullivan is a fine Election Commissioner but that Brian Santaniello is an incompetent hack. Jean was very polite and thanked me for calling.

December 25, 2001

Christmas. Sunny, 38 degrees at 12:55pm.

The interim government has been installed in Afghanistan and music, which the Taliban had forbidden, was played at the ceremony. Bowling Green University in Ohio has a Department of Popular Culture founded in 1973. Russ Peotter is the new General Manager at WGBY-TV57. I like the cartoon Tom Tomorrow that appears every week in the Valley Advocate. An ad for Bright Nights says the cost is $10 per vehicle. Saw a commercial last night for the Johnny Carson Collection video series. Carson was on for thirty years and had over 23,000 guests. The first show was in October of 1962 and his last show was in May of 1992. Mother would have seen that.

Did some housecleaning today including the garage and breezeway. Tomorrow I will do a load of laundry. Yesterday I called the Big E and the receptionist said Pederzani is off until Thursday. Then I called WMass Hospital and got nurse Mary Jo. She said Aunt Maria is "just fine" but then went on to say that they have received a legal notice saying they are not to give out any information on Maria except to people on a special list and I am not on it. I said to wish Maria a Merry Christmas on behalf of her nephew and she said she would convey that message to my Aunt. Finally I called Larry McDermott and left a message saying that his paper is still wrong about many, many things and better luck next year.

I drove out yesterday and saw that the Penniman's garage door was open and Lucius had his Cadillac in the driveway. In front of the cop house on Ballard a dark Explorer was parked with license plate reading POLICE - 384G. I went to Louis & Clark and then to CopyCat where I found the newspaper in the trash. How convenient. Then I headed over to Angelo's for beets (I love beets) and then to Arnold's day old bread store. Next I went to the Boston Road Big Y where they had donuts on sale for 99 cents. I asked the girl, a minority, the price of a dozen and she looked at something behind the counter and said $13.99. I said well, it's cheaper to buy them by 3's and she agreed saying, "I don't set the prices." I also bought some bananas that had flag stickers on them. Everything since 9/11 has flags on them, but now I've seen it all - flags on bananas.

At the rapid self-service checkout there was a short, fat woman who was amazing to watch. She pawed over each item, turning them every which way, then reluctantly scanned each purchase. There was a long line behind her and she still had half her carriage to scan when I left. She must be a wonder at housework. For lunch I went to the Eastfield Mall, which had a lot of day before Christmas shoppers. The clientele was mixed, but overall lower class rather than upper and half of them were minorities. I saw only two men in suits but lots of families and lots of teenagers. Old Navy looked like they'd been cleaned out, as did Wilson's even though their prices had not been reduced. At the food court I paid $6.83 for a gyros dinner. At the card shop a sales clerk said to me, "Hello Professor!" I said, "Madam, I am an attorney, although I act like an absent minded professor."

Nader the Hatter called today to wish me a Merry Christmas. He said he will not be coming up to Massachusetts until March. Nader said his brother is coming down to Tampa and also said he recently bought a camera for $1,000 to photograph his antique hat making items before he sells them. He said the market for hat collectibles is very profitable and he expects to do well. Suddenly there was someone rapping at my door so I had to wish Nader goodby. It turned out to be Mr. Mudry with a beautiful basket of fruit with fat red grapes on top. I told him he shouldn't have and thanked him and his wife profusely. I had some of the fruit and it is delicious.

The paper says that Election Commissioner and Eamon's cousin James Deezer Sullivan is out on medical leave. Mayor Albano is quoted as denying that he is trying to force Sullivan out. Eamon called to wish me holiday greetings. I told him I've been working on a Bookthief's Bill of Rights which delighted him. He said I should have some holiday cheer and I told him I had half a bottle of Bristol Creme last night with my dolls Sweet Pea and Honey Pot. He said excellent and quoted Winston Churchill: "In success you deserve it, and in defeat you need it."

December 28, 2001

Clear blue sky a sunup. WFCR said 19 degrees in Amherst and 22 degrees in Springfield at 8:22am.

Everyone is unique and in their own way special.

Osama bin Laden has released a statement urging his followers to attack our financial system to "bring about the destruction of America." For the first time there appears to be serious talk of attacking Saddam Hussein in Iraq. 624,000 jobs have been lost since 9/11. The news says this has been one of the worst holiday seasons in three decades. An economist from UMass was on and said there has been a decline in real estate prices and Massachusetts is definitely in a recession. The New Year's celebration in in Northampton will be scaled back this year because of 9/11. Atlas Fireworks of Goshen, New Hampshire will provide the fireworks for Northampton.

Governor Jane Swift wants to raise professional licensing fees by 50% in March. Westfield Bank stock is listed on the American Exchange for the first time today. The Quadrangle has released its winter schedule which includes Storytelling Paintings in the Springfield Museums by author Richard Muhlburger, The Planet Mars by astronomer Richard Malone and Be My Valentine, a lecture by historian Fran Gagnon. There is a picture of Joan Briggs in the Reminder this week, showing one of the paintings donated to WGBY-TV for their fundraising auction next month. Old typewriters, of which I have eleven, are becoming increasingly valuable collectibles. There is still a typewriter repair shop in Amherst.

Anti-slavery activist Sojourner Truth lived in the Florence section of Northampton in the 1840's and they are erecting a monument to her to be unveiled this spring. Thomas J. Warren is the sculptor. Union Station downtown is being offered for inspection by prospective tenants. So far no takers. Harold Flavin has an article in the Springfield Journal this week on the Tuesday Morning Music Club. It is an article designed to promote their current season and not the kind of proper history of the club I feel should be done. WFCR had a story on about the bookbinders in the valley, with five located in Easthampton alone. Judy Matt was on TV saying that attendance at Bright Nights is down but she hopes it will pick up during Kwanzaa. A fake holiday that was conceived just thirty years ago, a Kwanzaa celebration is scheduled to be held in Forest Park.

This morning there was a lovely sun pouring through the windows as I sat reading. I am currently reading Paradoxes of Education in a Republic by T.H. Brann, which is a wonderful exposition of educational theory. Went to Louis & Clark to mail things to Stusick, Eskowitz, Marcie Williams and Mudry. Got today's Union-News out of the trashcan in front of Females In Training. In the parking lot I saw a little white Mercury Sable with the license plate ST JUDE. Then I went to Angelo's Mart where I saw a fruit basket identical to the one Mudry gave me selling for $12. Then I went down to the Quadrangle where Jennie White was running the Periodicals Room. Upstairs in Rice Hall the stairway door has a "Do Not Open" sign on it. In the book discard section I got a copy of George Abbe's You and Contemporary Poetry (1957) in the original blue binding. Before heading home I swung by the Eastfield Mall where I saw that the store Last Minute Gifts is going out of business in a few days. Waldenbooks had a sale, but two books and get a third for free, but I bought nothing. Wilson's was sold out of motorcycle jackets.

When I got back I called Mrs. Staniski to tell her about the piano history concert on TV57 and her daughter Ann was there. Ann sounded hoarse and said she was getting over a bad cold. I told her to say hi to her doll Piggie. I also called WMass Hospital and got John who said that Aunt Maria "is fine and currently sitting and dozing in her chair." In the mail I got a thank you note from Russ Denver of the Chamber of Commerce today. He thanked me for the postcards I left him and asked "whether you have ever given consideration to showcasing your dolls/stuffed animals to the public?" Also in the mail Clay of the YMCA sent me a nicely produced illustrated history of Camp Norwich.

The gay bar The Judge's Chambers on Dwight Street is having a third anniversary celebration on January 12th. Last night was Rep. Caron's holiday party but I didn't go. Eamon called and complained that Mayor Albano is guilty of misplaced priorities like his Northgate baseball stadium fiasco, proposed riverfront aquarium and skating rink, which Eamon called "all feel good projects he failed to deliver on." Eamon said that all the career politicians, hack appointees and incompetent department heads should be forced to go out on the streets and pick up trash "finally doing something constructive for the first time in their lives."

City Councilor Brian Santaniello is giving up his seat to take over as Election Commissioner following the mysterious health problems of Deezer Sullivan. The move brings onto the Council the tenth place finisher Jose Tosado, currently a School Committee member. Tosado's departure caused the defeated School Committee incumbent, black racist Robert McCollum, to get back into office. Both Tosado and McCollum are blind Albano loyalists who are benefiting from this game of political musical chairs Albano has set in motion. Most disgusting is that just a few days ago Albano said in the paper that he had no intention of doing what he has now in fact done. Alas, poor Deezer!

December 30, 2001

A nice day, 29 degrees at 8am. Gas is $1.05 per gallon in the Acres.

When Menachem Begin bombed the King David Hotel killing 91 people he was called a freedom fighter. But when Yasser Arafat, Moammar Khadafy and Osama Bin Laden commit similar acts they are called terrorists. Were we terrorists in our relentless bombing of Vietnam?

Judith M. Froman is the Associate Dean of Enrollment at the Sea Education Association at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This week Mark D. Mason, a Springfield lawyer who won a precedent setting case involving military personnel, was named one of the ten best lawyers by Massachusetts Lawyer's Weekly. Mason and his partner Mike hosted the GLAD party last spring. Last night on ABC News architectural critic Paul Goldberger, who famously denounced Springfield's downtown redevelopment efforts as "banal in the extreme," described the architecture of the World Trade Center as "unworthy of a bank headquarters in Omaha." Stuart Hurwitz, manager of the Civic Center, is quoted in the paper as saying the planned renovation of the Civic Center "is something the public will look at and say, WOW!" Actually it is an ugly, hardly unique glass box designed to complement the other ugly glass boxes downtown like the Federal building.

For breakfast I had an Egg McMuffin at McDonald's and then over to Food Mart for some plum pudding but they were sold out. I went to the Men's Room and a worker in uniform was there and he left without washing his hands. I shouted at him, "Wash your hands!" and he returned, "Fuck You!" I swung by the Eastfield Mall and saw that Robert Picknelly's cart of Business Improvement District coupons was gone. I asked a cop and he said that the BID coupons were only a Christmas promotion. The Hallmark store was replacing all their Christmas cards with Valentines. At Waldenbooks I bought a book on Feng Shui and then got a gyros sandwich for $3.50 at the food court. At one point I encountered Hildegarde and Francis Lamoureaux, officials of the Tuesday Morning Music Club, and I wished them a Happy New Year. Francis asked why I no longer belong to the club and I said he could find my blistering letter of resignation in the club's files. Francis said the club's concerts are now free and open to the public so I should come to them even if I am not a member. I told them I would think about it and proceeded on my way. Before I left the mall I swiped a Happy New Year From Eastfield Mall poster off the wall.

Paul Caron's headquarters has a large flag in their window. Fancy That has a pretty lamp in the window, leaded glass mission style with a green sprout stem. The Pizzeria Uno at the X next to the old Stop&Shop is definitely gone with its sign taken down. Myer's Forest Park Antiques in the next block from Lady in Red is also cleared out and closed. I continued downtown to the Quadrangle, but their lot was full so I had to drive around like we used to at Victoria Square until I found a spot. A red Chrysler Town & Country wagon with the license plate JEFREY was parked in front of me. There were a bunch of skatepunks at the Quad, with kids on the wheelchair ramps and extremeing on the railings and steps of the Science building. There were no good books in the library discard section, although I did see one by Jean Pellerin that was marked "Given by the French Book Club." On my way home I paused at the Hillcrest Cemetery to leave some postcards with Mr. Corbin. When trying to pull out of Hillcrest onto Parker I had to wait for 27 cars to pass by!

When I got home I saw that a letter had come from the Community Music School of Springfield addressed to Blanche W. Miller, which I sent back marked deceased. Then I called Karen Powell to tell her about the Open House next month at the York Street Jail. I said I hoped I wasn't bothering her as she sounded depressed and she said, "I'm not bothered because I'm just sitting here." I asked her about Maureen Turner and she said that "Mo is happy she's not working today." Karen said she might attend the Open House if she feels better. On the 22 News tonight President Caprio of WNEC was in a commercial where he was standing in front of people sitting at computers, saying how WNEC prepares you for the future, blah, blah, blah. Westfield State College is also running a commercial showing a black person staring at a computer screen.

This is the first time that the Springfield Sheraton has been booked solid for New Year's Eve, no doubt because everyone is afraid to go to New York. I plan to stay in New Year's Eve with Sweet Pea and Honey Pot and go to bed right after twelve. Eamon's last answering machine message of the year begins, "The suburban scribes at the Union-Snooze and Sunday Republican like to tell their toady, inept, career politicians what they should be doing and how to do it, but it's high time the misinformed citizens of Springfield wake up and take their city back." Eamon called today and complained how Mayor Albano raised over $600,000 for his campaign in part by putting pressure on city employees and department heads to give $500 or more. Eamon also recalled how he used to drink beer with former Sheriff Curley. Eamon has known everybody! Eamon told me he mailed a check to the widow of the slain educator Rev. Brown today.

The Springfield Newspapers yesterday released a new TV commercial in which they say they have "entertained and enlightened out readers for more than 175 years." I called McDermott and on his voicemail I said, "I've seen your slick new commerical. The expression "entertained and enlightened" originates with Horace's Ars Poetica where he says the function of poetry is to delight and instruct, but that's more Latin than you know, Larry! The phrase is also used by Public Television in their advertising, so you have copied and infringed on their copyright.

That's not nice, Larry. Happy New Year!"

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