Tuesday, April 27, 2010

UMass Puke Party

As a former UMass party animal (now retired) I'm generally a defender of UMass get-high culture. But sometimes things go too far, and this is just plain dumb and dangerous. Here are some repugnant puke party videos from UMass.

Meanwhile yesterday at UMass was the Herb Festival. No, not those kinds of herbs. Here is a display about the cocoa plant. No, not that cocoa plant, this is the kind they use to make chocolate.

Free hotdogs were available to all comers. You can usually find somebody giving away a free lunch at UMass everyday - provided you favor a diet of hotdogs, hamburgers and pizza.

Later you could pose to have your picture taken with Stewie.

The moon over Northampton by Greg Saulmon.

The musical Moe.

Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the Rebecca Johnson school in Springfield, Massachusetts. One is from Ludlow, another from Longmeadow and the third, Agawam. They go with a Springfield official to examine the fence.

The Ludlow contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. "Well," he says, "I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me."

The Longmeadow contractor also does some measuring and figuring, and then says "I can do this job for $700; $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me."

The Agawam contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the Springfield official and whispers, "$2,700."

The official, incredulous, says, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?"

The Agawam contractor whispers back, "$1,000 for me, $1,000 for you, and we'll hire the guy from Longmeadow to fix the fence."

"Done!" exclaimed the Springfield official.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Once in awhile even the most intrepid photographer must go through their camera and eliminate the pictures that for whatever reason were not usable. Or so it seems, because often you discover that the unused photos have their own special charm.

For example, from my recent Springfield sojourn is this picture of the battered door to the abandoned, once World Famous Thomas M. Balliet Elementary School. Not a pretty picture, but how many generations of Pine Pointers passed through that entrance?

Here is Pine Point's Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, which my great-grandfather helped to build. He also built his own house in the Point, which is still standing to this day but is no longer in the family.

While in the Point I went to visit Doyle the Twig Painter, and stopping by for a visit was neighbor Jim Sampson, who has been running Music World on Boston Road since 1965. Sampson himself was a prominent musician in the local music scene in the early 1960's.

Mattoon Street in downtown Springfield. Too bad all of downtown wasn't this well preserved.

The telescope atop the Springfield Natural History Museum.

This Chestnut Street package store was once the location of the George McGovern for President campaign headquarters. A whole generation of Springfield politicians got their start working on that campaign, most notably Congressman Richard Neal.

As you can see from this old postcard, a house used to sit between the City Library and Saint Michael's Cathedral.

The only evidence remaining is this curb opening leading to nowhere.

After years of going nowhere, plans are finally coming to fruition to reuse Springfield's Technical High School building, which was foolishly closed in the 1980's.

However, this back section is not part of the restoration, and will be torn down.

An old tree in front of the new courthouse.

Two ancient sentinels on Lincoln Avenue in Amherst.

Amherst bumpersticker.

A painter tries to capture the timeless serenity of the Old Chapel at UMass.

A Northampton street artist creates a Nietschiean nightmare.

A gambler's losing ticket and empty cigarette pack. Since when have Pall Mall boxes been orange?

A rainbow ship floating upon the downtown breeze.

Here's Kelsey Flynn arriving in her radiomobile this morning for an Earth Day celebration at Pulaski Park.

Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower at Amherst College in 1968.

Rockin' in Northampton.

A couple of my pics got swiped for this video, but I don't mind.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Big Hat Daddy

Hey everybody, I was in Springfield all day yesterday, and of course my camera was snapping! My bus trips to the city of my birth always take me first to Holyoke, where I have to transfer to the bus to Springfield. While waiting I noticed that yet another spring has sprung with no sign of life at the old Holyoke Catholic High School.

One of Holyoke's many abandoned factory smokestacks.

Once in Springfield I headed up to ol' Pine Point to visit my friends and relatives in Saint Michael's Cemetery. While there I was surprised to see standing right near me a wild turkey! If I'd only had the sense to just aim my camera and shoot I would've gotten a good picture. But of course I had to try for the Pulitzer Prize winning shot by taking just a few steps closer - which spooked the creature and left me with only this shot of the bird running away.

Later I enjoyed some moments of peace and serenity by the Mill River.

It's hard to believe that nothing remains of the old Russell's Restaurant.

I also stopped by the site of the original World Famous Thomas M. Balliet Elementary School, now a shuttered ruin.

But looking through the front window, I was surprised to see the school entrance mat still in place.

Frankly I don't remember us ever calling ourselves bears in my day. My mother however did coach a girl's softball team called The Balliet Bombers.

Passing through downtown on my way home, I took a picture of the famous Puritan statue next to the City Library.

Many people assume it is a statue of William Pynchon, the founder of Springfield, but actually it is of Samuel Chapin, the patriarch of one of the city's founding families. I wonder what he would think if he could see the city today.

They were hard judges, those puritans.

While I was taking pictures two black kids, who looked like they might have been brothers, asked me why I was photographing the Chapin statue. I was amused that they called Chapin by the name "Big Hat Daddy." I explained that he was one of the founders of Springfield, but it appeared to be the first they'd heard of it. They also told told me that they lived in the apartment tower right across the street. I asked them if they would pose for a picture with Big Hat Daddy, but they refused.

Later I visited the nearby Dr. Seuss National Memorial and stole a kiss from my childhood friend The Cat in the Hat. Now there was a real Big Hat Daddy.

Finally I arrived back in Northampton, heading downstairs for a relaxing cup of tea in the Haymarket.

Ralph Hexter, President of Hampshire College, has responded with wit to the declaration by the Huffington Post that his college is the most hipster in the nation. President Hexler figures that makes him "hipster-in-chief" and asks: "If I were truly hipster-in-chief, shouldn’t there have been a photo of me, preferably with my husband?"

President Hexter and his husband Manfred Kollmeier

When YouTube was introduced in 2005 I was the first local blogger to use it, thereby helping to launch the video revolution in our Pioneer Valley blogosphere. I remember that this was the first video I ever saw appear on YouTube about Northampton that wasn't by me.

Here is some classic footage filmed by someone going down Route Nine while riding into Amherst on a bus way back in 1995.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Patriotic Bicycling

Happy Bicycle Day everybody! This is the anniversary of the day Dr. Albert Hoffman became the first person to experience psychedelic awareness. It is also an official state holiday, although not for that reason. It is Patriots' Day, which for you out of state readers is defined as follows by the Wikipedia:

Patriots' Day (sometimes incorrectly punctuated Patriot's Day or Patriots Day) is a civic holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. It is observed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and state of Maine (once part of Massachusetts), and is a public school observance day in Wisconsin. Observances and re-enactments of these first battles of the American Revolution occur annually at Lexington Green in Lexington, Massachusetts, (around 6am) and The Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts (around 9am). In the morning, a mounted reenactor with State Police escort retraces Paul Revere's ride, calling out warnings the whole way.

I don't know about today, but in my time at the World Famous Thomas M. Balliet Elementary School we had to memorize the opening lines of this poem about Paul Revere by Massachusetts' poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Oh well, I hope you have a good Bicycle Day or Patriots' Day or whatever.

Returning to modern times there was a big political convention in Worcester this weekend where the Republicans nominated their candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. Here is the delegation representing Hampden County, as captured in this photo by Bill Dusty.

The winner was former Weld and Celluci Administration bureaucrat Charlie Baker, who whomped his opponent Christy Mihos so severely he was knocked right off the ballot. Personally I was partial to Mihos as being the more radical reformer, but I'm not surprised he got skunked. Mihos made bigtime enemies when he ran as a third party candidate in 2006 and his candidacy may have resulted in drawing enough votes away from the GOP nominee to elect Deval Patrick. Many were infuriated by this advertisement from 2006 in which a cartoon figure that resembles GOP nominee Kerry Healey shoves her head up her ass.

For Mihos to then seek the GOP nomination was just too much for some of the party faithful to endure. Plus the Republicans are very hungry for victory, and the Baker campaign with its moderate tone appears to be the surest ticket to victory. However Deval Patrick, until recently perceived as doomed, has gained a little traction with some aggressive personal campaigning. Third party candidate Tim Cahill has also reinvigorated his campaign, which was initially dismissed by many pundits as a self-serving ego trip, by making himself the primary critic of Massachusetts' failed universal healthcare law. Frankly, if the election were held today this race could go to any of the three leading candidates. A fourth contender, Jill Stein of the Green Party, has yet to register at even one percent in the polls, but if she ever does gain any traction it is likely to be at the expense of the only other liberal in the race, Governor Patrick.

This is the view out the window of my friend Zak's restaurant Eclipse in downtown Northampton.

Here's Zak tryin' to burn the joint down.

Objects in the Haymarket Cafe.

Tulips in Pulaski Park.

Wooden flower pot by a Hamp doorway.

Wise bumpersticker.

A six minute video has surfaced of Saturday's Extravaganja in Amherst that consists of someone walking all around the perimenter of the town common. It was filmed at the same time I was there, in fact you can see me walk past at 5:23.

An interesting cover of a Pink Floyd song.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Extravaganja 2010

I didn't have time yesterday to do more than a quick walkthrough at the 19th Annual Extravaganja rally for an end to the drug war. However, I saw plenty to take pictures of in my brief stay. That was unlike Amherst blogmaster Larry Kelley, who came by around noon, when it was raining and hardly anyone was there.

However, when I arrived around five o'clock the rain had stopped and the town common was packed with revelers.

To escape the crowd some people took to the trees.

While I was there a great local Irish band was playing called The Swaggering Growlers. Hey, I thought the Irish were known more as juicers than tokers!

All the crazies were out in full force.

Counterculture comedian Norman Bie was there doing the latest version of his routine Deviations from the Norm.

Event organizer and multi-media artist Heather McCormack getting down.

The tone overall was pretty mellow and everyone seemed well-behaved. Well, almost everyone.

Yet it was still the sort of scene where a guy could dance with his girl.

Tie-dye was everywhere, including attire for the psychedelic tot.

The icons of stoner culture were well represented, such as Pink Floyd.

The times they are a-changin' - Republican Grateful Dead shirts were for sale.

For the first time in Extravaganja history a candidate for governor campaigned at the event - Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein.

Despite less than perfect weather, the 2010 Extravaganja was a big success, especially for the downtown merchants like Subway, who cashed in royally on the munchy crazed crowd.

This eighteen minute documentary has surfaced about the Feder Fiasco over free speech at UMass in 2009. You can see me in it at several points if you look closely.


A psychedelic butt in the window of the UMass Student Union Art Gallery.