Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene Report

And Other Assorted Stuff

On Saturday the sun shining through the trees created a cathedral of light along the woodland way into downtown Northampton.

But after hurricane Irene passed through on Sunday, the woodland way was blocked in several places by fallen trees.

Personally, I do not think that Irene lived up to Hurricane Gloria back in the mid-1980's. I remember being out in my backyard during the period of time when the eye of the hurricane passed over Springfield, and the sky was as strange and beautiful as I've ever seen it, with odd colors and spectacular cloud formations. I saw no such wonders of nature displayed by Irene. However, maybe I was just in the wrong location, as Irene made much more of an impact in other parts of our Valley, as seen in this Craig Gagne photo taken in Deerfield near Richardson's Candy Shoppe.

Some critics have complained that the media overhyped Irene, but in any case, it's over.

Earlier in the week people were arriving at the Amherst Survival Center by all means of transportation.

The media was there too, like Hampshire Gazette reporter Nick Grabbe.

And veteran photographer Gordon Daniels of the Amherst Bulletin.

Soon U.S. Congressman John Olver arrived on the scene.

He was immediately given an apron and put to work.

I guess this is what you would literally call "serving your constituents."

I was surprised to see this big line stretching down the street to see Alice Cooper in Northampton.

There has always been something kinda corny about Alice Cooper and his horror show schtick. Yet at the same time his music is rockin good fun and the special effects I'm told are impressive. Plus to people of a certain age he's a big nostalgia trip that still generates a substantial cash flow. This limousine bus parked at the Hotel Northampton was definitely Alice's.

Only in Northampton do signs end up like this. Who knows what they originally said?

Sean is a hip Hamp biker.

A rare recent interview with David Starr of the Springfield Newspapers. Extremely controversial in earlier years, Starr has faded from the scene somewhat, although he maintains his position as President of the Springfield Newspapers. This interview is about what you'd expect - lots of civic cheerleading, quoting Karl Marx, and dripping with unintended irony.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jake's Saved

For decades everyone has been going to Northampton's Jake's.

So all of Hamp cried out in dismay a few months ago when it was suddenly shuttered beneath a cloudburst of legal and business hassles.

But sighs of sorrow turned to jumping for joy as all has been sorted out and this sign appeared in the window.

Amherst College is restoring the exterior of one of its classic colonial structures, including putting in new steps.

However, it was a little sad to see the old steps waiting to be dragged away. How many generations of Valley residents have climbed those ancient stone steps?

I'm as much in favor of the new as anyone, but must the old be so casually tossed aside? Of course not everything old is good, like old dents in your car, although they can be partially disguised by dog paintings.

It's nice to see that an old rockstar like Jim Morrison still rates a bumpersticker.

But the newfangled Rumble Bee is ready to rock!

And the ultra-new Wheego All Electric car is making the scene all over Amherst!

But along the old Nowottock Trail the spider in its web greets the morning mist at dawn just as it always has and always will do.

My stuff waiting to hit the fan. The brass bell belonged to my grandfather and is over one hundred years old. The fish is a trophy that Jay Libardi and I won around 1986 at Yolly Nahorniak's fishing derby at Five Mile Pond in Pine Point.

Trevor Hall has a new album coming out in about a week. It sounds really hot.

As seen on this poster in the window of the Iron Horse Trevor is coming to Northampton on Columbus Day October 12th. Don't miss it!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


When my friend asked me if I wanted to go to a meeting of the Pioneer Valley Freethinkers, of course I had to attend, if only to see what is considered a free thinker. I mean, is there anyone who does NOT consider themselves a free thinker?

"Excuse me, but are you a free thinker?"

"No, I'm rigid in my thoughts, close minded and I hate new ideas."

It's sort of like a sense of humor, no one will admit to not having one, yet at the same time we all know people who are humorless. In the same way everyone is a free thinker - until the thoughts get a little too free.

So I went out of curiosity, but also because it was being held at a place with a great reputation, Shelburne Falls Roasters Coffee Shop on Route Nine.

As you can see it has won numerous Valley Advocate awards.

A little late, I entered the room where the free thinkers had already gathered.

They were a friendly enough bunch, these free thinkers. They were also primarily atheists, and I soon realized that this was the topic they mostly talk about. At points when the discussion drifted to other topics, the conversation was pretty much orthodox lefty Valley talk.

However, atheism is indeed a radical concept in this country where about 90% of people in public opinion polls say they believe in God. It would have been helpful however had some hapless Christian wandered into the discussion to spice things up with some opposition. Frankly, a radical idea loses a bit of its punch in a room where everyone agrees with it.

Oh well, it was still a fun and interesting time, and if this sounds like a group you'd like to join (or challenge) click here.

Hey, next time you're zooting around on the Norwottock Trail, don't forget to stop in at Grey Matter Books. It's good for your grey matter.

Then go next door and check out Troubador Books.

There's some ducks living around there too, as you can see in this video.

Advice scrawled on the Norwottock Trail.

Around about 1979 everyone used to get stoned and go to Bart's Ice Cream, at that time located in Northampton. We could never have imagined that there would one day be solar powered Bart's Ice Cream stands like this one in Amherst.

Daniel Platt has an article in the Valley Advocate on this year's Western Mass Republican picnic, the most publicity that affair has received since Dan Yorke broadcast live from the event back in 1995. (click to enlarge)

Things were much weirder at the Big Fruity Picnic in Easthampton.

An orange resident of Ashfield, Massachusetts by Tony Mateus.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Southwick Boatride

Hey everybody, I was floating around on Congamond Lake recently. A lot of people seem to do that, taking it easy on the water.

Easy, the way life's supposed to be.

Congamond actually consists of several bodies of water, connected by tunnels.

There are strange sights on the shore.

The strangest things of all go on in the non-stop party zone called Louie B's.

There was a band playing called Mass-Conn Fusion.

When I first heard the name I thought it meant 'Massachusetts Confusion' which is pretty funny, but I later learned that it refers to how the band consists of a fusion of Massachusetts and Connecticut players. Not a bad band, whatever their name.

Here's a video I made of somebody's patriotic raft.

I often cross these railroad tracks in Northampton, yet never saw a train on it. Therefore I began to think the tracks were abandoned.

Then yesterday I found out I was wrong.

I wonder what these symbols mean that somebody painted on the bike path.

My friend bought a cool shower curtain.

Connecticut River Explorer by Robert Genest.