Sunday, February 26, 2012


The old stomping grounds.

It doesn't change much.

My father grew up in this house on Haskin Street.

My father went to this elementary school.

My great-grandfather built this house on Hood Street.

Let's go visit Doyle the blind Twig Painter!

Doyle made this portrait of Samuel Chapin in 1989 based on the statue at the Quadrangle.

Back north, here's fellow Springfield boy Kevin Noonan at the Black History dinner in Amherst last week.

Advice enroute to Raos.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


But not the weather.

I've heard a number of people say that the ugliest building in Northampton is the Hall of Records. I agree, it looks like something from the Soviet Union and is inexcusably boring for a city with an otherwise rich architectural landscape.

Once upon a time government buildings were built to last at least a century, but today they are put up with the cheapest possible quality and at the highest possible cost, the better to maximize the profits of the politically connected contractors who somehow always win the construction bids. After twenty-five years they usually have irreparable structural problems that make it necessary to replace them all over again - with another round of cashing in by the in-group.

Oh well, maybe that's just politics as usual, and Northampton is not the worst sinner in this regard (that would be Springfield and Holyoke) but nothing excuses the following kind of bad taste. Is there anything uglier than these boards dividing the benches in front of the Hall of Records?

The boards are designed to keep anyone from lying down on the benches. I can see why you wouldn't want people sleeping on the benches during business hours, but who exactly would be hurt by some poor hobo sleeping on those benches at night? It takes a cruel and petty mind to object to such a thing, and shame on whoever ordered those barriers put on the benches.

An antique game in the Hotel Northampton.

Down the street UNITE may have a strong Black Power vibe, but I've noticed that all the coolest dressed white people shop there.

My neighbor has an ancient sandstone wall around his property.

They also have a dinosaur guarding their porch.

Hey, let's run around town putting up posters!

Finally an accurate map of Massachusetts.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What it is.

So it goes.

The UMass kids didn't take it well. Here's some dramatic footage shot from deep in the crowd.

Yesterday embarking upon the woodland way into downtown Northampton.

Arriving on Main Street I gasped with dismay when I saw that the Yellow Sofa coffeehouse was closed and the windows all covered up!

Happily a sign on the door revealed that it has not gone out of business, but is merely closed temporarily for renovations. Perhaps the inspiration to upgrade comes from the pressure from this place which opened last year.

The Roost is a big hit and no doubt sucking up a lot of the coffeehouse traffic down that end of Main Street that once belonged to Yellow Sofa. It will be interesting to see in what new form the Yellow Sofa re-opens as a renewed contender in the eternal Northampton struggle to define hip.

On the back of a STOP sign.

There was an ice festival downtown last night and the sculptures were still unmelted in the morning light. First Church contributed this iceberg of a holy chalice.

Arctic residents conversing outside Thornes.

On a Northampton stage.

from the Pete Sorbi Collection.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Be Nice

To the Pedal People

I'm friends with the Pedal People, who live near me. Their communal home is located behind this fence with holes in it made of bicycle rims and featuring their motto: SHARE.

By the side of the woodland way they have set up a place for people to sit and rest if they are walking and some free air if they are on bikes.

The Pedal People have rejected the internal combustion engine and do everything with bicycles, including collecting all the trash downtown, a chore for which they have a contract with the city of Northampton. However, the other day I saw Pedal Person Ruthy Woodring struggling to remove a cinder block some idiot had thrown away in one of the street cans.

Thoughtless people, whenever you throw something away, do you ever stop to think of where away is? Be nice to the Pedal People and make it easy for them to pick up after you!

To read more about the Pedal People go here.

Hipster fashions in a Hamp store window.

Who knew that the ruby slippers were in an apartment over a chinese restaurant in Hamp?

Then when?

A big show is coming up on the 12th at the Northampton Academy of Music where a bunch of old rockers from the heyday of the Rusty Nail will reunite for a good ol' blast from the past. But where's Martian Highway?

The Rusty Nail was a popular music club out in Sunderland in the late 1970's and early 80's. I went there a number of times, but have only sketchy memories of the joint. I recall that you could hardly see a foot in front of your face in the restrooms for all the pot smoking constantly underway. I also recall the ridiculous fashions of the times, which were a mix of high hippy and flashy disco, sometimes the worst of both. But the place had a boogie til you puke good-time vibe that could be a lot of fun, and was much mourned when it burned down under suspicious circumstances around 1986. I'm sure this reunion show will be a sweet dose of nostalgia for those who were there, and a fun-filled lesson in Valley musical history for those who were not.

In the catacomb like stairways of the UMass Library I came upon this pencil sketch.

A few weeks later I came by and saw that a tribute had been painted to the late, lamented UMass band leader George Parks.

Dancing robots at UMass.

last night