The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Monday, November 13, 2017

Warring


Last week I went to a meeting of the Philosophy and Free Thought Club in the UMass Campus Center. Here is a view of the campus out the window of the room where the meeting took place.


The guest speaker was Terry Franklin, best known as one of the Valley's foremost marijuana legalization activists.


However, it was not weed that was the topic of Terry's talk, but instead a room-wide discussion that attempted to answer the questions: Why is there war? How do we prevent it? Don't assume that Franklin is tackling fresh topics because there's nothing left for Franklin to do on the cannabis front since marijuana was legalized by the voters last year. The roll-out of legal pot has been a tawdry, anti-democratic and crony capitalist nightmare, requiring committed activists like Franklin to keep constantly vigilant.

It just happens that Franklin is a serious thinker about a number of issues, including foreign policy. The exchange with Franklin and the philosophically inclined, free thinking students was lively at times, but in the end, the question of why we have wars and how to stop them is one that many have pondered throughout history without finding a successful solution. By the end of the discussion, the challenges of war and peace remained unresolved. Yet, these are questions that are always worth raising.


Every so often, maybe two or three times a year, I like to cut myself off from computers. That means no going online for any reason and leaving my cell phone at home without checking it for 24 hours. Of course, the next day I'm swamped with unanswered e-mails and my voicemail is full, but it's generally worth it. I like to remind myself that the first half of my life I never so much as touched a computer. It may amaze some younger folks, but I was fine with it and had no sense that anything was missing in my life. It helps me to keep my head right to go back to that earlier, non cyber mindspace sometimes.

So what did I do on my phoneless and computer free day? I headed down to my old stomping grounds in Springfield, where I was invited to win and win until I won in ol' Pine Point.


I passed by the Hiram L. Dorman Elementary School, where my Dad and his sister attended.


I also paused at the abandoned gallery of Doyle the Twig Painter, where some sun-faded lithographs still stand in the window.


A nice little walk around the neighborhood, and a worthwhile use of computerless time.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Books, Campus and a Cup

The rising sun pouring through the windows of the Haymarket Cafe.


2017 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of President John F. Kennedy. In other words, had he lived he would've been a hundred years old, not something that very likely would have happened but not completely impossible. Of course, we all know about the tragedy that ended his life before he was even 50 years old. Just weeks before that fateful visit to Dallas, President Kennedy paid a visit to Amherst for the groundbreaking of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College. In observance of the Kennedy centenary, the Robert Frost Library has a special display of Kennedy memorabilia.


There are also large blown up photos of the audience, showing no doubt many residents now deceased, such as attendee Larry Kelley. Here are some protesters that were at that event, notice how nicely dressed they are.


Stop by the library soon and check it out before it's too late.

Seen parked in front of Amherst Town Hall.


I actually somewhat sympathize with this sentiment.


The lobby of Bartlett Hall at UMass.


A video about books, the UMass campus and a coffee cup.





Monday, October 30, 2017

Haters


The absurd "Hate Has No Home" propaganda campaign at UMass has been countered by a literally Orwellian critic:


It reads:
"Some ideas are so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them."
- George Orwell.


The whole "Hate Has No Home" crusade is an intellectual, free speech and civil rights abomination. What kind of hate are they even talking about? Who will decide what is defined as hate? Are they talking about Nazi's and KKK members? If so, then the suggestion is an insult to the UMass community, which has never had Nazis or KKK activity on its campus in the memory of anyone now living.

So who are these mysterious haters we are being so repeatedly warned against? It's hard not to conclude that what is really being targeted by all this heavy handed preaching is Republican party activity or non-leftist speech. In fact, those exact accusations were made more openly at Amherst College.

The bombastic, Soviet style poster campaign at UMass appears to be a frankly partisan attempt to smear any members of the campus community who are not Democrats or who decline to snarl with hatred at the sight of President Trump, as somehow purveyors of hate. Such thinly veiled partisanship and attempted censorship does not belong on a taxpayer funded university, whose budget includes taxes paid by the over one million Massachusetts voters who cast their ballot for Trump. Perhaps a more accurate, fair minded and less Orwellian poster campaign might have as its slogan:

LEFTIST INTOLERANCE HAS NO HOME AT UMASS.

This morning upon the woodland way into downtown Northampton.


Some people go crazy over big pumpkin displays this time of year. One of my neighbors believes that less is more.


The question of the moment.


Did aliens make these circles?


Every week the students at UMass have a farmer's market.


The campus is so beautiful this time of year.


Big man on campus.


In the lobby of the UMass Student Union.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Lost Images

Big pumpkin sale going on at the Northampton Stop&Shop.


In fact, pumpkins are popping up all over the place. This pumpkin population explosion will culminate in an orgiastic frenzy of pumpkins around Halloween, with prices for the orange orbs relentlessly rising right up until the holiday. The day after Halloween, however, the pumpkin merchants will be all but giving them away.

This pumpkin in front of First Church looks like it has some kind of disease.


The other day I stumbled upon an old memory card in the bottom of a drawer. What could possibly be on it?


It turns out the card wasn't that old, as the oldest pictures were only about three years ago. Still, there were some interesting pics on it that I don't think have ever been released. For example, I believe these are the last pictures ever taken of Doyle the Twig Painter. He is shown here pretending to read, because the picture was intended to go with a book version of the documentary The Twig and I but you can tell by looking at his eyes that he is blind and not really reading. The book version was incomplete at the time of Doyle's death in September, 2015 so the pics ended up never being used except for Doyle's obituary.


A selfie in the Dr. Seuss chair across from my house. Notice the old fashioned phone in the background, available for use by all passerby for the price of free.


Pedal People.


At first I liked this statue on the courthouse lawn. I admired it less when I learned it was entitled "Day's End." That sorta spoiled it for me, since it implies something tired and sad. I had thought of the statue as a giant steel monster descending upon the metropolis, which is far more cool. In any case, it has since been removed.


Here are some pictures of the bus stop at Pulaski Park in Northampton, taken before the park was extensively renovated.


In the end, America was not "with her."


Among the lost pics were these shots of the late Amherst blogmaster Larry Kelley, on the occasion of our last meeting. I never used the pictures in my coverage of that event because they were blurry and the lighting was bad. Time and tragedy, however, has since made them precious.


Taken at Amherst Town Hall, these pictures show how Larry typically entered a room, with his camera waving, openly shooting pics and video of everyone without asking, acting under the journalist's creed, "It's easier to say you're sorry than to ask permission." Too bad we no longer have Kelley, who died in a car crash earlier this year, still scanning the local scene, because the news blackout in Amherst has been terrible in his absence.

Finally, here's some early Halloween music.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Roasted

Hey, have you checked out the latest downtown Hamp coffee shop? It's so new, they haven't even put up their sign yet, which presently rests on a chair.


Of course Shelbourne Falls Coffee Roasters is not new to the Valley, there are others such as this one on Rt. 9 where I once attended a meeting of The Freethinkers.


Prior to it's current occupants, the space was a Dunkin Donuts.


Prior to that it was a legendary music store called B-side Records. In the 1990's it was a prime destination for music lovers throughout the Valley.


As a Dunkin Donuts, it was always busy but with a slightly sketchy clientele. Word on the street was that narcs sometimes sat in there dressed as homeless guys, when they were actually there to try and monitor drug activity. Hey, our Valley is truly "The Crossroads of New England" at least as far as the drug trade is concerned.


Whatever was going on, the kids who worked there often appeared to be having fun.


People were surprised when the Dunkin Donuts suddenly went out of business without warning or explanation. Rumors of all sorts circulated, but one person who used to work there told me they got driven out by high rents. According to this person's unverified account, when the Dunkin's opened a dozen or so years ago after the record store died, the rent was around $2,800 per month. By the time they closed, the rent had crept up to $8,000 per month! That's an awful lot of coffee and donuts to sell each month just to make the rent, let alone labor and overhead costs. If that was the case, I can't blame them for giving their landlord the finger and moving out.

The Dunkin's had a garishly bright decor, but Shelburne Roasters has completely remodeled the site to create a nice, cozy atmosphere.


The coffee is pretty good too, with lots of varieties to choose from.


You should stop by when you get a chance and check out this latest contender in the highly competitive Northampton coffeehouse scene.


Dave Ratner (above in downtown Springfield's Theodore's) is the owner of Dave's Soda and Pet City. He was invited to the White House this week to attend the signing ceremony for an executive order by President Trump that will expand the range of health insurance options available to the employees of small businesses. Here is Ratner, second from left, as he appeared in the Boston Globe:


Unfortunately, Ratner got blocked out of appearing in the New York Times by somebody's big head.


When he got back to Western Mass, Ratner was shocked and dismayed by the firestorm of angry phone calls, mean tweets and insulting Facebook posts he received, many of them calling for a boycott of his business just because he dared to appear with President Trump without spitting or snarling with hatred. It would have been a plus for Ratner in the long run had he defended his White House visit, but instead he caved and released a statement appearing to apologize for simply being in the presence of a President our local Democrats disapprove of.

Dumb move Dave. The leftists will never forgive you no matter what you say, while the goodwill earned with average Americans through the visit was subsequently squandered by the apology. With his hesitancy to tell the hate-filled lefties to go to hell and instead trying to please everyone, Ratner ended up pleasing no one, managing to turn what should have been a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience into a big loser.


Someone we hope won't be a big loser in next month's elections is Springfield's Tim Ryan, son of Charlie, who is running for City Council.


Finally here's a lesson in downtown Hamp about a fool and his money above a falcon's eye-view of Springfield's Hungry Hill.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hoped

Broadside Books in Northampton is promoting Hillary Clinton's new 2016 campaign memoir.


I haven't read the book, but most critics have panned it as an exercise in finger pointing. Hillary apparently accuses numerous people of letting her down in ways that helped to cause her defeat. Personally, I think Hillary blew the election when she made her infamous "deplorables" comment about Trump supporters. The goal of a political campaign is to attract voters, and the first rule is to do nothing to drive them away. While it is fine to attack your opponent, never say anything to insult the electorate itself. Hillary's deplorable comment made any Trump voter who might have been thinking of switching to Hillary instantly decide they would never vote for someone who publicly insulted them. That's Politics 101, and a seasoned pro like Hillary definitely should have known better.


Last week marked the one year anniversary of the death of Northampton artist Greg Stone. Stone was primarily known as a painter, but he also dabbled in sculpture, especially in his later years. This one was put up on the courthouse lawn posthumously.


Technically it is is well done, but I don't like the subject matter, which implies that hope is a fragile thing you can barely protect or preserve, like a cowering little bird in need of a shielding hand.


I think a sculpture symbolizing hope should be of a more heroic nature, after all, it often takes great courage to remain hopeful. I consider this sculpture, The Stone of Hope featuring Martin Luther King by Lei Yixin better captures the sense of steely determination that is a partner to real hope. Hope without determination doesn't usually get very far.


This is my favorite Greg Stone sculpture, captured here as the first rays of the rising sun strike it on Main Street.


Looking down I saw that someone had placed a flower in front of the stand of the sculpture, which features the names of allegedly prominent Northamptonites.


There was also a note with Stony's name on it.


Did I open the note to see what it said? I was tempted, but I let it be.

Liberty School on Carew Street in Springfield in 1939.


I took this on King Street in Hamp.


The moon over Springfield at 6:30 a.m. by Paul Sears.


Here's another Paul Sears photo, this one of the Christopher Columbus statue in Springfield.


Poor Mike Baxendale of the Bax and O'Brien Show can't get no respect.


His sidekick John O'Brien was also around, as evidenced by this Keith Sikes photo.


Finally, some people need to be fired in Holyoke.