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.