Friday, February 25, 2011


This morning walking on the woodland way into downtown Northampton I videoed the following scenes of transcendent beauty.

A wooden bear outside the R & R Sport Shop in Belchertown.

Hanging a picture in the Haymarket Cafe in Northampton.

While a customer looks on.

Filmed in a Northampton club way back in 1991. Is that you dancing in the audience?

Observation on a Northampton bench.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lame Holiday

Hey everybody, Happy President's Day! When I was a kid they used to call it George Washington's Birthday, but then someone got the lame idea of making the holiday honor ALL the presidents. You mean like President Nixon? Or Clinton? Or Chester Arthur?

Westfield State Senator Mike Knapik noticed this oddity today at a McDonald's President's Day display. Along with George Washington and Abe Lincoln we have - President Ben Franklin!

Actually Ben Franklin probably should have been president, and might well have been had he been younger at the time of the revolution, but somebody needs to tell Micky D that wise ol' Ben was never a President, nor did he ever even attempt to run for the office.

Speaking of State Senators, Northampton's Stanley Rosenberg is taking some well-deserved flack for his latest attempt to make more difficult the process for putting policy questions on the ballot. Every few years he claims that the ballot questions favor special interests, but the truth he just doesn't like the causes that the public puts on the ballot. As those saints at the Massachusetts Citizens for Limited Taxation point out in a recent press release:

Stanley and his mob are back again for yet another assault, his lust to crush democracy undiminished.

"After grassroots groups had to spend about $11 million to fight 2010 questions at the polls seeking to cut taxes," the Hampshire Gazette reported, "Rosenberg said, they have joined a coalition seeking to raise the bar for placing initiatives on the ballot."

Time out, Stanley: What "grassroots groups" had to spend that money? Let's take a look at his latest Big Lie. Let's look at Question 3 on last year's ballot, the proposal to reduce the state income tax from its recently hiked 6.25 percent down to 3 percent. How'd that work, Stanley?

According to the Secretary of State's Elections Division, here is the amount raised by the proponents and opponents:

Proponents: Alliance to Roll Back Taxes

Opponents: Mass. Coalition for our Communities

According to, the largest contributors opposing the 2010 sales tax cut ballot question (Question 3) were:

National Education Association - $1,325,000

Massachusetts Teachers Association - $1,062,000

Service Employees International Union - $888,000

American Federation of Teachers - Massachusetts -$704,000

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees -$200,000

Boston Teachers Union - $150,000

Mass. Nurses Association - $104,000

"After grassroots groups had to spend about $11 million to fight 2010 questions at the polls seeking to cut taxes, Rosenberg said, they have joined a coalition seeking to raise the bar for placing initiatives on the ballot."

"Grassroot groups" indeed! What hogwash.

Almost eight years ago, on Apr. 13, 2003 the Eagle-Tribune editorial ("A wolf in sheep's clothing") stated:

State Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst, says his bill to "reform" the initiative petition process is not an attempt to kill it. He says if he wanted to destroy the ability of average voters to pass laws, he would have filed a bill to do exactly that.

Don't believe it. Legislators rarely do things directly. It is much safer, and usually more successful, to do it indirectly.

Rosenberg is indeed trying to kill the only avenue to direct democracy in Massachusetts. He is just trying to kill it softly. He is hoping that, just like the frog in the cook pot, voters won't notice the heat gradually increasing on their already limited powers until it is too late and those powers are boiled out of existence....

It is not that Rosenberg has a problem with manipulating public opinion. He just wants himself and his colleagues to be the ones doing it.

Here former Valley investigative TV reporter Jim Polito, now turned radio provocateur, discusses Rosenberg's anti-democracy efforts on his radio show

In Holyoke the other day I made this video about the old Holyoke Catholic High School building.

Lovers in a Northampton alley.

Local musical treasure Jim Armenti has a new solo album out.

You can listen to some of it by clicking here.

Another local musical talent is Tom Pappalardo, although he's best known for his Valley Advocate cartoons, such as this one mercilessly attacking Valley hipsters. (click to enlarge)

His songwriting shows a pretty caustic wit as well.

Early spring at UMass.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


The way I have to walk every day is a perfect path of ice.

Despite my years of expert experience walking on icy New England sidewalks, I somehow managed to put my foot down in just the wrong way and before I knew what was happening I was on the ground. At first I tried to pretend that nothing was wrong, even though my right knee hurt. As the morning went on it started to swell and wasn't showing any sign of receding. Finally I went to see the nurse at work and she said, "You need to have that x-rayed." So off I went to the emergency room.

The nurse at the desk told me that the hospital had been seeing slip and fall injuries all week. She brought me to this room filled with medical contraptions.

When they did the x-ray of my knee the news was good - no fractures. However I had strained a knee-ligament and would have to stay off my feet for the rest of the week. Thank God for sick days! Here is a picture of the big bandage on my knee.

So what's a good thing to do while primarily sitting? Well, reading is cool, and I've been enjoying a big biography of Massachusetts writer Nathanial Hawthorne. But that gets dull, so I've also been spending some time sitting in restaurants, such as the Evolution Cafe in Florence. Joining me one day was my friend Emily, who was once involved with the same hippie drug cult that I was, but at a later time and without the drugs. As we chatted in the cafe she worked on making an origami crane.

Traveling further afield I went to The Ugly Duckling in Sturbridge, which is well worth the extra drive for their outstanding hamburgers.

All of Northampton is abuzz about the new restaurant called The Roost, located where Pop's Liquors used to be.

Inside I discovered two celebrities dining - multi-media figures Jaz Tupelo and Bill Dwight. They tried to block being photographed, but were no match for my paparazzi skills.

Jaz and Bill have just launched a new show on Valley Free Radio. Bill asked me if I would come on the show sometime and gave me his card. It had a cool radio graphic on it.

I almost went on Valley Free Radio a few years ago when Mary Serreze and Paolo Mastrangelo had a show. However, just before I was to appear the program got canceled. Warning to Bill and Jaz, inviting me on your show could be dangerous to your career!

Speaking of hotboy Paolo, he's been riding a wave of notoriety lately on his blog reports about the worsening rat problem in New York City. However those bold and nasty NYC rats are nothing like our sweet Northampton rodents, which never appear on Main Street unless accompanied by balloons.

Did you know that Ronald Reagan is now on a postage stamp?

This looks like an interesting show. I wonder what a band called "Mail Myself to Thoreau" sounds like. It should either be a beautiful country band or an ultra-extreme punk band. Ideally, it should be both.

The Jerry Garcia Fire and Snow Ritual in Turners Falls, Massachusetts.

May the grit from the road of life
never tarnish the snowbanks of your love.

Holyoke photo and concept by Greg Saulmon

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Madsen Remembers

One of the most popular figures in our Valley media is Dave Madsen, best known for his nearly two decades at WGGB-TV40 as reporter and anchor. His bio at the station's website includes this info about his long media career in our Valley:

Madsen in 1982

Dave Madsen is celebrating his 40th year in broadcasting and 19th anniversary with abc40. Dave came to abc40 in 1992 after spending twelve years with WWLP-TV. He began his career in 1970 with WMAS in Springfield. Later that year he began a nine-year association with WHMP Radio in Northampton.

Dave was born and raised in Southampton, attending schools there and in Easthampton. He attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where he majored in Communications studies. He now serves as an adjunct professor at the University, teaching a television news writing course in the Journalism department.

Dave and his wife Linda, a registered nurse, will celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary in September. They have two sons, Christopher and Greg.

I used to hang around TV40 a bit in the 1990's when I was one of the stable of fill-in hosts for the now defunct Dan Yorke Show. I occasionally chatted with Madsen, and in contrast to the stereotype of news anchors as egomaniacs, he always came across as a nice, down to earth guy. Here is the news team when I was around - Mike Ratte, Madsen, Eileen Curran and Tom Bevacqua in 1995.

A bunch of historic media pictures from Madsen's personal collection are floating around the internet, and here are a few classics. Speaking of Dan Yorke, that's him in the second row, second from the right, in this 1992 photo of the TV40 softball team. Others who appear in the pic are Mike Ratté, Mary DeLiso, Clayton Trauernicht, Dave Fraser, Eileen Curran, Ed Carroll, Jim Cline, Dan Salamone and Priscilla Ress. (click photo to enlarge)

Madsen has been at TV40 for so long that people have almost forgotten about the more than a decade he worked for arch-rival TV22, as seen in this 1980 photo of a billboard in Springfield. Note the adjoining billboard for the long lost, lamented Dreikorn's bread.

Here's a picture of the TV22 crew at a 1985 St. Patrick's Day parade in Holyoke. Note the youthful Sy Becker! What other local media stars of yore can you recognize? (click photo to enlarge)

The man above in the grey trenchcoat is the late local weatherman legend John Quill. Here is a picture of Quill's set in the pre-computer era when you actually had to try to explain the weather while drawing with an ink marker on maps. Yet despite the primitive technology, Quill was renowned for his accurate forecasts.

This is Madsen with actor Ed Begley (St. Elsewhere). Begley's sister Allene Begley-Curto was a Springfield School Committee member about twenty years ago.

One of the great things about a gig with a TV station is that you never know when you might meet one of your heroes. Madsen with Yaz in 1988.

With Ted Kennedy in 1988.

With fellow Massachusetts resident James Taylor in 2008.

Returning to the present, here I am this morning in beautiful downtown Amherst boldly holding a product from Arizona.

Oh no! I hope I don't get arrested for violating the official town boycott of the allegedly racist hate state of Arizona!

The woodland way into downtown Northampton sure is pretty this time of year.

This iceboy stands outside of Thornes in downtown Hamp.

The back exit of the Haymarket Cafe is covered in ice!

Spotted in a Northampton parking lot.

In Northampton the other night.

Whiting Resevoir in Holyoke by Robert Genest.

Monday, February 7, 2011

To Hampshire

After work today I took the bus out to the weird and wonderful Hampshire College in Amherst. In this picture taken out of the bus window, the fertile farm fields of Hadley wait silently to be reborn in Spring.

The snow has made everything seem more scenic.

Our Valley stands alone in its unique beauty.

This silver trapezoid alerts us that we have entered the Hampshire habitat.

This is the Johnson Library. Of course I am constitutionally unable to walk past a library without going in.

I paused to check my favorite website.

Then I had a nice organic vegan lunch at their cafeteria.

Later I went downstairs to the art gallery, where these antique stereoscopes allow you to look at 3D images of New York City as it was in the 1800's.

Finally it was time to go to the bus stop to leave.

As you can see the bus stop is covered with posters. This one for a UMass radio show caught my attention.

There is a great organization at Hampshire College called S.C.R.E.W.Y which stands for the Society for the Creative Realization of a Weirder You. It has a cool public service announcement that airs on Amherst Cable TV.

On a classroom blackboard:

There are all kinds of crazies, some more talented in their ways than the over-numerous duly, dully sane. - Bukowski