Saturday, March 24, 2012

On the Bus

During the recent New Hampshire presidential primary Amherst libertarian activist Terry Franklin was up to some creative mischief with his Freedom Bus Caravan. Here is an exclusive report on his exploits:

Our year-long goal was to establish a presence in the middle of the media frenzy of the NH presidential campaign. We did it. We certainly dogged the candidates relentlessly, and put the issue of legalization on the agenda in a way it hadn't been before.

In any campaign, many issues are involved, so we can't claim total credit, but I like to think that we did our part in preempting the most extreme social-conservative candidates, Gingrich and Santorum, from taking off early in the race -- they came in 4th & 5th of the five running.

For several days in the week before the primary election, a college convention in Concord brought many SSDP activists to the state. They were fantastic -- and especially instrumental in getting into candidate forums with persistent questions on Prohibition. Willie Nelson's Teapot Party was also active, as were many local Libertarians. The candidates couldn't go anywhere and have any doubt that this was one of the issues of the year.

In one of my favorite moments, I had left my "End the Drug War" sign stuck in the ground in front of a house, as I ran off to do some filming. It was standing by itself, away from the tumult of political activity down the street. Probably looked like something a local citizen had put up. As Mitt Romney left the debate, and drove away, I was able to see his head turn to look at the message on that isolated sign. While we did our part to get the dialog going, I can't help feeling disappointed we couldn't do better with the opportunity.

Donors were very few. Overall, fundraising was dismal (this isn't true just for FBC, but for the entire Movement nationwide). A bare bones operation was all we could manage, and many good plans were dropped.

Our numbers were small. We never had more than two dozen at any demonstration. I don't know what the problem was. Our potential base has always been huge. Perhaps we just couldn't get across to people what an opportunity this was, having the nation's media stumbling all over each other looking for a story. (Actually it was the world's media -- I was interviewed at one point on legalization by the Tokyo Broadcasting System.) While there were some inspiring videos in the alternative media, and the mainstream media covered us extensively... I believe if we had been able to turn out hundreds, rather than dozens, most of that footage wouldn't have ended up on the cutting room floor.

There are no doubt many explanations for our small size. Many opponents of Prohibition have gravitated to Ron Paul -- and thus were holding his campaign signs rather than legalization signs. The "Occupy" Movement diverted people in other directions. And, even there, *it* had been going on for so many months by the time of the primary, that the numbers had dwindled greatly -- no "Occupy" event had more than 100. People just wouldn't turn out. They stayed home on the couch. It's really too bad -- the weather was abnormally warm for a northern winter, and those of us who did participate had a wonderful experience of solidarity.

After 75 years, Prohibition continues to be a black mark on our society. (Check YouTube for New Hampshire's "Nurse Patricia." She headed to prison last month.) Finally, there have been unprecedented serious discussions of ending it. Dr. Paul's being in the debates has been extremely valuable. But in addition, many liberal commentators are coming out of the closet. Still, the struggle has barely begun. I know there were some FBC-inspired protests during the South Carolina and Florida primaries. But in many states, the Republican candidates -- and Mr. Obama -- are not yet facing enough public outcry. Let's get moving. I know I will be doing my best to stir up activism for the road ahead to victory.

Meanwhile the Irish aliens have landed in Northampton.

Fair warning:

Multiple messages:

Philosophy on a park bench.

The truth on a sidewalk at dawn.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Oh no! Karma is closed! I guess what went around came around in a negative way.

That's the second place to close recently down that end of Main Street. Some people say this Hamp hotspot is to blame.

I must admit The Roost is a cool place to hang out.

Last week some friends and I went to breakfast there. I had an expensive but tasty egg, bacon and cheese.

Stop by sometime, just remember that when they're not open they are....

Afterwards we went to an antique shop with this message in the window.

I was surprised to see that Michael Jackson material is circulating in the antique market. Actually I think Michael Jackson stuff is technically considered "collectibles" with some years still to pass before they can be regarded as true antiques.

In any case, those who hold on to such things will surely only see them increase in value. Speaking of money, radio-dude Monty Belmonte was down at the old courthouse raising cash for cancer research last week.

The scene last night in Sam's coffeehouse.

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everybody!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Tuesday I voted in the Super Tuesday Republican primary for President. I cast my ballot for Ron Paul.

Here are the results of the primary in Massachusetts:

Mitt Romney......265,110 - 72%
Rick Santorum.....44,255 - 12%
Ron Paul..........35,037 - 10%
Newt Gingrich.....16,990 - 5%

I don't think this person in the parking lot was voting for Santorum.

Some people in Northampton like to decorate their bumper.

An orange warning in downtown Northampton.

In the window of the Broadside Bookstore.

On a bike at UMass.

Campus Center slogan.

Today there was an Irish festival in downtown Amherst that filled the streets with revelers.

umass angel at sunset

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Winter Interlude

Hmmm, I have mixed emotions about this one.

I'm generally inclined to be critical of the police, but this conviction seems like an over-reaction. Certainly Asher does not deserve jail time. In any case how much ya wanna bet that Melvin Jones makes the jurors in this case look like fools over and over again for years to come? And just wait until he gets the money from the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, my neighbor is trying to conserve energy.

A sudden snowstorm trapped the bike commuters downtown.

Enroute to downtown Amherst.

This store does most of its business in the hour after school lets out.

Sweets are not good for you. Let's slip in the backdoor of Amherst Chinese for a healthful meal.

Then let's go for coffee in the cozy comfort of Raos.

Dig this uplifting video outta Holyoke.

Hamp Window