All in a name.
Alcoholics Anonymous (or Drugs Anonymous as it may as well be called) is a great group that has saved millions of lives over the decades. I know I'm one of them. It does however pose some challenges because of the practice of using only first names in order to preserve the anonymity of the membership.
Actually, most members of AA couldn't give a damn about who knows that they are a member. Certainly most of the people in the lives of stoners already know they had a problem with getting high, so who is it they need to be anonymous from? Yet a stigma of sorts still exists against people who get too high too often and many stoners in denial pretend to themselves that other people don't know they have a problem. Therefore in order not to discourage any newcomers from joining AA the concept of anonymity is rigorously preserved.
As a member of AA I have come to know a lot of people only by their first name, which can cause me to have conversations like this:
AA member: Tom, did you hear about Mike?
Me: Mike? What Mike? I know a dozen people named Mike!
AA member: You know, the one from the Haydenville meeting.
Me: You mean the one that also goes to the Newman Center?
AA member: No, the one that also goes to the Looney Nooner.
Me: I'm not sure who you mean. What does he look like?
AA member: He wears a baseball hat.
Me: That doesn't tell me anything, every male in America has a baseball cap! It's practically the national hat!
AA member: It was a Red Sox cap.
Me: Aaargh! Nevermind, what is it about this Mike guy anyway?
AA member: He died.
Me: Well, I'm sure I'll miss him if I ever figure out who you mean.
In Northampton a truck with a McCain/Palin sticker was parked outside the aptly named skateboard shop The Boardroom.
Did you watch the Vice-presidential debate last night? I didn't intend to, but all the hype convinced me I should. I usually don't like what passes for political debates these days. The candidates are generally over-rehearsed, the questions are mostly softballs and the answers are just soundbites from their campaign speeches. Generally you end up looking for gaffes just to make it interesting.
Neither candidate made much of a gaffe last night. Joe Biden was knowledgeable but wonkish, burying his points in a sea of dull details. Sarah Palin often ignored the questions altogether to focus on topics she considers her strengths, but in general she came across as more likable than Biden. If Biden won on substance, Palin won on personality. The media's verdict seems to be that since Palin's expectations were lower, and she did better than expected, that means she "won" the debate. Actually I suspect that the debate moved few votes in either direction.
Vice Presidential candidates generally have limited influence on the presidential race, with even bad picks having little effect. The first President Bush was elected despite choosing the hapless Dan Quayle, and John F. Kennedy preserved his idealistic image despite choosing the evil Lyndon Johnson. If the past is any guide, on November 4th the voters will choose the next president based on what they think of Barack Obama and John McCain, not by who their running mates are.
This morning my sister and I were at a lawyer's office in Easthampton which is located in the Eastworks building. It was the first time I'd been inside.
I was impressed. It was early, so most of the shops were not open, but I could see that they've done a pretty good job in transforming an abandoned factory into a mall.
I was also surprised to see that TurnItUp has a store there. I hadn't realized that they have any other shop than the one in downtown Northampton.
Virtually every town in the Valley has one or more abandoned factory buildings, and if Eastworks proves to be a success than it might be a model for other communities.
Finally, here's a video made last week of the whole motley crew from the Fright Night reunion tour, with actor/pornstar Stephen Geoffreys doing his famous laugh.