Saturday, April 28, 2012

Extravaganja 2012

This week the UMass Alumni Association gave away free ice cream on campus. Needless to say it was very popular.

At Amherst's Food for Thought Bookstore today they had a meeting of Zinesters.

Zines were underground publications that arose in the late '80s early 90's around the then new word processing technology that allowed for cheap "desktop publishing." It opened a whole new world of publishing possibilities that were previously too expensive using the traditional printing press. This was before there was widespread internet access and it was exciting because suddenly everyone could print anything in their own home! Once the internet exploded in the late 1990's most zines migrated online. But in its brief heyday our Valley was a pioneering area for the zine scene, with lots of music zines coming out of the Northampton punk music culture. There was also a subversive little political zine called The Baystate Objectivist, edited by yours truly, which probably had the largest single audience of any of the Valley zines.

But the rise of websites and then blogs killed the zines, or so it seemed, yet as this afternoon's zine revival in Amherst showed the zine is still very much alive among the most extreme publishers. Here's one of them, Katie Omberg.

But the biggest event of the day was the annual Extravaganja rally for the legalization of marijuana, a patriotic event calling for freedom for all astronauts of inner space.

All the usual suspects were there, such as UMass Cannabis Reform Coalition adviser Terry Franklin.

Counterculture comedian Norman Bie, who once counted among his fans Jerry Garcia, was there in full regalia.

Mainstream politicos were also represented.

And then of course there was the stoner music by such bands as Orange Television.

A good time was had by all.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day

It's Earth Day and the weather is sucky. Northampton City Hall looks dreary with the windows all boarded up while undergoing renovations.

The Yellow Sofa coffeehouse may have closed, but their traditions live on. Ironic how the iconic sofa is shown being carried past The Roost, the popular establishment that some have blamed for driving The Yellow Sofa out of business.

Posters are all over town for these hipster humpday parties.

A No H8 display in the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College.

A pig runs out to greet me as I pass Simple Gifts Farm.

420 poster at UMass.

The rain forced the UMass Earth Day concert under a tent.

Here's the band "of nature" performing beneath the Big Top.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Lotta Deadheads in town last night.

But of course the street muscians were also out playing for the price of free.

I ran into popular local singer Katelyn Richards on her way to get ready for a gig.

Someone came to town on a cool ride.

For Martian Highway fans.

View from the Haymarket Fire Escape

Saturday, April 7, 2012


It's a beautiful Saturday in downtown Northampton.

Cute kid on a poster.

I tried to photograph my neighbor's ducks but they kept running away.

The ducks at UMass have grown so accustomed to thousands of students walking everywhere that they have lost all fear of humans.

A noble cause on the Campus Center concourse.

I'm not sure what this was about.

Masked mimes in the Campus Center courtyard.

The Easter Bunny making some early rounds in downtown Amherst.

The Alchemystics have been floating around the Valley stoner scene for years, but I don't recall them ever making a music video before. Now they have and amazingly it's one of the best local music videos ever made.

Holyoke After the Storm by Greg Saulmon

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Down the Shute

Greetings and Salutations on The Feast of Fools

Speaking of fools, I can't believe how people in Northampton just blithely step into the street expecting the cars to stop.

The amazing thing is that the cars actually do stop. In Springfield you would have a low life expectancy if you tried to cross the street like that.

How cool is this? An entire poem by Amherst College professor Robert Frost scrawled on the guardrail of the footbridge across the Connecticut River.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

I'm glad I live in a place where poetic masterpieces appear as graffiti. This poster is outdated.

Seems a lot of people are missing this these days.

Hey let's go peace-out at the Haymarket....

....and go up to the counter and I'll order a coffee and you can get a banana shake.

Then go downstairs where it's quieter and more private.

See that square enclosure, that's an old coal shute. In the olden times the coal man would use it to pour the coal into the cellar for the furnace.

Now it is decorated with religious icons.

See the light shining through the top? This is what it looks like from the sidewalk outside.

In Amherst today the UMass football team was raising money for autistic kids.

The 1975 film The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, a so-so thriller based on a so-so book, is none the less an eternal local favorite due to the fact that large sections of it were filmed in the Pioneer Valley, especially downtown Springfield. Northampton videomaster Dann Vazquez has spliced together all of the Springfield scenes for your viewing pleasure, which capture the city's downtown during a time of heavy construction and "revitalization." Sadly, most of the new buildings they put up were way inferior to the ones they tore down.

Some say this opening was the final nail in the coffin of downtown Springfield.