Saturday, January 28, 2012


The students are back from winter break, as seen here on their way to their 8am classes.

Tremble students, lest the fate of this graduate in downtown Northampton become thine own!

Scene out the front door of the Haymarket Cafe.

Mary Serreze (right) Queen of Northampton Media, in the Haymarket styling the latest fashions from Maine.

A disc of ice on a fresh stump near my house.

Yikes, I hope this prophesy on a Hamp postal box doesn't come true!

I wonder if a Catholic drives this car?

Sometimes this is good advice.

Philosopher and a fish.

The philosophy of Springfield's Dr. Leary adapted by UMass for traffic purposes.

Big poetry reading in Amherst last night at Raos Coffee. It was so crowded I couldn't get in to film any of it except by going outside and filming thirteen seconds through the window.

Rao's House Plant

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mo Sno

As they say (whoever they are) "Beware what you wish for!" We were complaining all through the holiday season that it wasn't snowing, and now we are having snow storms interrupted only by arctic blasts, as Northampton's Silent Cal could testify, if he wasn't so silent and covered with snow.

In Amherst all the plows were out this afternoon.

Raos Coffee was packed with people relaxing over a hot, steaming brew.

I however was recruited to de-chill at the Black Sheep.

Silverscape Designs is a Northampton landmark with its iconic clock dating back to the time when the building was a bank.

Across the street is this bench.

And on that bench there is a plaque.

May all the dreamers who sit there have all their dreams come true.

Joe Carvalho (above) is probably best known locally for his longtime multiple roles with the Springfield Library and Museums Association. Today he's done with all that and heavily into a musical trip. This is one of his spacier compositions.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


This guy's been all over town.

So has Old Man Winter. After a premature start with a mammoth storm around Halloween the winter has been pretty much snowless except for the hilltowns, leaving even the usually super scenic woodland way into Northampton looking dreary and drab.

Now this is more like it!

Hard to believe that right around this bend is downtown Northampton!

The ancient church juxtaposed with Saturn.

Rudolph on Amber Lane.

By the time I got to work the weather was just exactly perfect.

Unfortunately, it was soon followed by a bitter arctic blast. Happily all was snug and cozy in the Haymarket Cafe last night.

This week the first presidential primary of Campaign 2012 was held next door in New Hampshire. Lots of political junkies in our Valley scoot over there every presidential season and this year was no exception, as shown in this photo of local GOP rising stars Joe Flebotte, Alexander Sherman and Josh Carpenter arriving at former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's victory party.

Who says Romney doesn't inspire a devoted electorate?

Meanwhile over at Ron Paul headquarters, adding a little Western Mass madness to the scene was Valley libertarian leader Terry Franklin and friends engaging in some satirical surrealism with prankster candidate Vermin Supreme, who wears a boot on his head because people are always saying they want to give politicians "the boot" but there's never one handy: Aleksandra Valiunas of Amherst in white suit on far left at 1:10; Terry Franklin in red jacket and black hat, taking photo at 1:40; Barbara McGovern (UMass grad) hair in foreground at 2:14.

psychedelic moose on king street

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Alan C. Howard

1959 - 2011

I'm sorry to hear that Alan Howard has died. I knew him best back in his radio days at WNNZ-640, where he had a series of radio shows in the early 1990's, the best known perhaps being the version he co-hosted with fellow flaming liberal Barbara Heisler. I was a guest on his show sometimes, and even had a program of my own, The Tommy Devine Show, for one summer. So I got to know Alan mostly through the station.

Today WNNZ is an affiliate of National Public Radio, but in the early 1990's it was owned by the Hahn's, a powerful Republican family in Westfield. Cele Hahn was Westfield's State Representative for a time. The joke was that they let Alan do pretty much whatever he liked on the air because the Hahn's wanted to be able, in case the FCC gave them any crap about a lack of balance in their overwhelmingly right-wing programming, to point to Alan and say, "Hey, we not only have a liberal radio host, but he's black too!" Or come to think of it, maybe that wasn't just a joke.

This was in the golden age of Valley talk radio, when we were all battling the injustices and corruption of the Valley political machines, in particular the crooks in Springfield. We were definitely all on the political fringe in those days, with the mainstream media either ignoring the crooks or even cheering them on. In the end we outsiders were all vindicated by a hail of Federal indictments against nearly all of the people we fought against, although it remains an open question whether the Feds actually succeeded in cleaning up Springfield or the crooks just got smarter.

Anyway, besides our ties to WNNZ Alan and I shared another interest - we were both stoners. In fact sometimes we actually smoked pot behind the radio station before going on the air. Perhaps the fact that we got stoned to go on the radio at least partially explains why both of our shows were eventually cancelled.

After the radio era Alan and I worked together briefly as political reporters for The Springfield Gazette, an underground newspaper that put out about ten issues before sinking beneath a sea of debt. Once there were no longer any media ties between us I seldom saw Alan in person again. In fact I think the last time I saw him in the flesh was at The Democratic National Convention in 2004, when he came up to say hello to myself (who was there as an outlaw journalist) and Mitch Ogulewicz (who was attending as a personal guest of John Kerry) at a reception for the Massachusetts delegation put on by Rep. Barney Frank. I have a picture of Alan at that event somewhere, and if I come across it I'll put it up.

Although I didn't see much of Alan after WNNZ and the newspaper bankruptcy, I continued to hear news about him from time to time, and it wasn't always happy news. He did a short jail term as a result of some personal scandal that the local press, which had ignored his career up to that point, gave prominent coverage to. I don't recall the details of the scandal, but I remember that he insisted to me that he was innocent and I believed him. My final contacts with him came when I accepted his request a few years ago to become my Facebook friend, which he apparently did primarily in order to send me snide but good natured putdowns of my political views. Although Alan never pursued all that healthy a lifestyle, I was still taken by surprise when I heard that he died last week on the day before New Year's Eve at only 52.

Now in the future whenever I remember Alan, I will prefer to recall the times when I was his radio guest, around about 1993, and there were no Hahn's about, and we would smoke pot behind the station before the show. There was a charming little brook back there, and it was babbling (and so probably were we) with us smoking and laughing and then going before the microphones to rail uninhibitedly against the evil deeds of the local politicians, blazed as much on idealism as we were on weed, righteously attacking the establishment, sometimes harshly but never more than they deserved.

Those were the days, Alan. Rest easy.

To read the obituary, which curiously doesn't mention his radio career, click here.

A soldier stencil in Northampton.

The sunny side of the street.

In Northampton the other night.