The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Monday, July 24, 2017

Death of a Rammer

Greetings from beautiful downtown Holyoke.


My neighbor's sunflower.


Peace, Love and Beer in downtown Northampton.


Really sorry to hear about the death of my old Springfield Technical Community College Ram newspaper and radio colleague Mark Wiernasz. In many ways he was truly Mr. WWLP. The picture below was taken by me for the STCC student newspaper in - gulp! - 1975.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Icons

What on Earth?


Saturday morning I visited this new place in Hamp called Iconica, located directly behind the itself iconic Haymarket Cafe. It's definitely a hipster haven, but the coffee is good and the atmosphere super cool. It's also nice to see that historic space finally open to the public. If you go, be sure to check out the upstairs loft.


Is Northampton going to the dogs?


The choice is yours....


The other night I went to an art show in downtown Hamp where you had to wear 3D glasses to see the paintings.


It was quite disorienting.


Bye.





Saturday, July 8, 2017

For the Love of Cal

Walking past the Old Courthouse in Hamp on the 4th, I saw that someone had decorated Silent Cal with a flag and balloon.


Nice gesture by somebody, but poor Coolidge doesn't really get his due around here. As the only resident of the Pioneer Valley ever to be elected to the Presidency and the former Mayor of Northampton, you would think he would be more widely celebrated. Of course there are some things named in his honor, such as the theater that bears his first name located across the street from his statue.


There is also the Calvin Coolidge collection at Northampton's Forbes Library, although in recent years it is rarely open to the public.


Of course, nothing can compare with the glory of the Calvin Coolidge Bridge over the mighty Connecticut River.


Yet despite such honors, Coolidge doesn't get the credit he deserves as the most prestigious political figure in Pioneer Valley history. That is because Coolidge's beloved Republican Party is no longer dominant in Northampton, to say the least, and today's Valley leaders would instead prefer people to admire Massachusetts Democrats such as John Fitzgerald Kennedy. However, Kennedy is from the Boston area, not the Pioneer Valley like Coolidge, who is shown here with his wife in Northampton's Pulaski Park in 1929.


Oh well, once the Republicans take over Northampton, as I'm sure they will some day soon, new honors can be devised to enhance the memory of good ol' Cal. In the meantime, people are certainly enjoying the woodland way into downtown Northampton this time of year.


Here I am truckin' along the way wearing my new kicks.


Now just kick back and enjoy the weekend!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Staring

I took this screenshot of local media legend Scott Coen off of a news video from 1987 that is part of the Ogulewicz Chronicles and put it on Coen's Facebook page, where it turned out to be really popular!


Flower power on Main Street Northampton.


Sam's Pizza in downtown Hamp has really good slices, in fact, it is really the Northampton equivalent of Amherst's Antonio's. Sam's also serves sandwiches, or a cutely named variation thereof.


All in all, you're just another one in the wall, at Share Coffee in Amherst.


It used to be called Raos:


Whatever happened to Raos? Anyway, now it's called Share. However, who the hell is sharing anything? The ambiance seems to have little to do with sharing, as most patrons are just staring at their computer.


That's why instead of calling the place SHARE, I call it STARE.

At UMass the bike is redefined.


Sorry but there is only one Gerry Phillips.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Serving



Pioneer Valley congressman Richard Neal isn't feeling the love from some of his hilltown constituents these days, but I wonder if much of their concerns about his level of constituent service are misplaced. I say this as a longtime critic of Representative Neal, a staunch Democrat whose voting record in Congress rarely coincides with my own libertarian views.

Grumblings about Neal's availability and responsiveness are not new. As far back as 1992, the refusal of Neal's office to respond to letters sent to him by a supporter of then presidential candidate Ross Perot named Tom Sheehan so exasperated Sheehan that he actually ran against Neal on Perot's third party ticket, garnering 16% of the vote. Last year Independent Frederick Mayock and Libertarian Thomas Simmons ran against Neal, both using inaccessibility as an issue, but combined they got only 27% of the vote. The point is that the issue of Neal's accessibility has been raised in the past, but has never translated into any kind of a serious threat to Neal's re-election. Despite the clever advertising campaign by his critics, I don't think the issue will have much impact this time either.

For one thing, elections are about candidates as much as issues, and I don't see any major figure on the horizon who might challenge Neal. I also suspect that the hilltown critics are a little naive about what they should expect from Neal. As top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, Neal is a major figure in devising the nuts and bolts of the resistance to the policies of the Republicans under Donald Trump. Neal will have the opportunity over the next two years to make a major impact on whether those policies advance through congress or are rejected.

Therefore, if I were as anti-Trump as the members of Indivisible Williamsburg claim to be, I would want Richie Neal to stay in Washington and on the job as much as possible. The last thing I would want him to do is wander far from the heat of battle by visiting the hilltowns to chat about the drop in the wholesale price of milk and the condition of country roads.

If Neal ever is spotted in Williamsburg, those crusading anti-Trumpers would probably be smarter to tell him to stop wasting his time visiting them and get back to waging the war in Washington.

Update - Neal couldn't be very happy about this cover story in the latest Valley Advocate.


Speaking of service, there was a really nice affair this week honoring the late Amherst blogmaster Larry Kelley, who tirelessly served the town with news, commentary and high quality photography since he made his first blog posting on St. Patrick's Day 2007. The memorial event featured framed versions of some of Kelley's better photographs and was held at the Sunrise Grill on Fearing Street, right across from where I used to live in the early 90's. I lived in the upstairs apartment and used to look out the window at the mob scenes that used to form outside that joint on Saturday nights.


The pizza and grinder place looks the same as it did then, although it had a different name that I can't quite recall.


Here I am at the event with Amherst Town Meeting member Emilie Hamilton.


Larry's beautiful daughters were also in attendance.


Mary Cary, who took most of the pictures you are looking at, is shown here with the legendary Amherst Bulletin reporter Phylis Lehrer.


Here's a video Mary Cary shot of the many nice things people had to say.



I leave you for the time being with this view of downtown Northampton through the front door of City Hall.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

999 Page Boulevard


Springfield, Massachusetts - 1939

This is what Google captured the address as looking like in October 2016.


View out the back window of Northampton's Starbucks.


Abandoned protest sign at a Hamp bus stop.


Vehicle parked at Amherst Town Hall asks a question everyone should be able to answer.


Here's an unusually sophisticated political graffiti I came across recently.


Sadly, one sometimes comes across evidence of anarcho-communist activism online, despite the fact that it is a political dead end due to its own internal contradictions. Anarchy is the abolition of all order, where no one controls the government and it is characterized by chaos, confusion and often violence. Communists have often favored the creation of anarchy in order to create conditions where the chaos becomes so disruptive, disorienting and dangerous that the public soon begs for a return to order by any means, at which point the communists step in with an iron fist and take over.

Some people, typically young idealists, are drawn to anarchy by an understandable disgust over the stale customs, traditions, regulations and laws of the current system. It seems wonderfully liberating to just trash the whole corrupt and incompetent system and replace it with....? Because of the poor quality of our public school system, many young people today have no clear understanding of what communism is. In fact they may have been given the false impression by their left-leaning educators that communism is somehow practical, moral and consistent with human liberty.

The truth is that communism is by its very nature a system of rigid controls designed to strictly regulate the economy and society in general. It's primary feature is the low level of freedom communism allows and its domination of all major areas of life. Claiming to support both anarchy and communism is self-contradictory, you cannot have total freedom and total control at the same time. Anarchy is always unsustainable in the long run because a productive and safe society must have at least some degree of order. Therefore, despite its radical, freedom loving rhetoric, anarchy always ultimately leads to some form of dictatorship. Although it is counter-intuitive, anarchy is actually a form of authoritarianism, since by its very nature anarchy creates the circumstances where repression of freedom is the inevitable long term result, especially when combined with communist ideals. No true lover of liberty is an anarchist.

Update - June 13, 2000

Today I noted that new graffiti has been added to denounce Anarcho-Communism as "childish." It also appears as though someone tried to cover part of the original message, but someone then rewrote it:


Only in the Pioneer Valley can you have a debate on sociopolitical concepts via scrawlings on a wall.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Libraries I Have Known


The golden age of libraries, at least as brick and mortar institutions, is now over. Indeed, it is hard to imagine what role they can play in a world where all the knowledge of all humanity is available to everyone through a device they carry around in their pocket. I doubt libraries will ever completely disappear, surviving in some cases as educational community space or depositories of special collections and historical artifacts. However, most of them will close in the coming years and certainly no community should be investing any serious money into new or existing library buildings. Are you listening Amherst?

I was lucky that I was alive during the golden age of libraries, before the digital revolution altered and diminished their role, so I thought I would list the libraries I have visited and that have influenced my life.

Liberty Street Library



When my father got out of the service and before my parents moved back to their childhood neighborhood of Pine Point, my family lived in Hungry Hill, Springfield's Irish ghetto. It's still a ghetto, but now it's a Spanish one. The nationalities change, but the poor are always with us. I got my first library card in this charming little stone structure, but can barely remember that event or anything about the inside. Despite its official, address based name, everyone always called it the Hungry Hill Library. Today it is a senior center, having closed as a branch library some three years ago.

Pine Point Library


I have fond memories of this longtime Pine Point landmark, especially their summer reading program. It was originally The Boston Road School, which my grandfather attended. The Boston Road School closed as unnecessary after the construction of the Balliet and Dorman Elementary Schools, so the building was converted to a library, a role it played until it was destroyed in a 1970 fire.


A newer but architecturally inferior structure replaced it, but that too is now defunct, closed in the same downsizing of the Springfield Library system that shuttered the Liberty Street branch.

Springfield City Library


My first bus trips downtown as a boy were to this central branch, a beautiful marble structure given to the city by the generous industrialist Andrew Carnegie. The first copying machine I ever used was located in Rice Hall at a time when such technology was new. I liked this library better before the remodeling of a decade or so ago, which improved the interior in some ways but at the loss of some of its former antique charm. Still a great place to spend a rainy afternoon.

Duggan Jr. High Library


This chronically under performing school, lousy even back in my day, actually had a decent library with a good science fiction section which I raided regularly. Today it is one of the Valley's most notorious leftist indoctrination centers, um, I mean, "An Expeditionary Learning Magnet School with a Social Justice Theme" according to their website. While I suppose Duggan must still have a library, I fear that today it is more likely to be filled with political fictions rather than science ones.

High School of Commerce Library


Commerce I love you, but I can't remember your library. I know there must have been one, but apparently I never went to it. I must have been too much into the Commerce social scene, which of course had to be cool if I was a part of it.

UMass Library


When I arrived at UMass in 1976 the library, then known simply as The UMass Library, was only four years old. As a boy, I visited the original Goodell Library, my main memory being the big seats just inside the main entrance on which students lounged and flirted.


The current library is nice, although digitization is causing whole floors to be converted from books to other uses. Ultimately, most floors of the library will probably be converted to housing. Hopefully, the library will someday have its name changed from honoring the Nazi-sympathizing, communist admiring W.E.B. Dubois to someone more worthy of the honor.

Robert Frost Library



I love this beautiful library, named after Amherst's second most famous poet, with no less a dignitary than U.S. President John F. Kennedy presiding at its groundbreaking.

Jones Library


Amherst's main public library is a gorgeous stone structure that should stand for centuries. Unfortunately, misguided do-gooders are currently plotting a major renovation that will significantly alter its historic appearance. Don't do it, Amherst!

Forbes Library


This is another wonderful stone structure, whose little known secret is the fascinating Calvin Coolidge Presidential Museum on the second floor (if you can find it open). Fantastic antique paintings can be found throughout the building.

Western New England University D'Amour Library



A modern, well designed library in Springfield, this is a hidden gem gifted by Big Y's D'Amour family, located on the borderline of Pine Point and 16 Acres. Unfortunately, the atmosphere is not very hospitable to non-students.

Springfield Technical Community College Library


Located in one of the original Springfield Armory buildings, this library features brick walls and hardwood floors. I haven't been there in years, but the Men's Room upstairs used to feature cool looking antique urinals. Once again, the library is not very welcoming to non-students.

AIC Shea Library


Despite its location in the heart of Springfield's black ghetto, this is a very functional library with a friendly staff and a surprisingly varied selection. Underutilized by the community, it is worth a visit.

Springfield College Babson Library


A beautiful library that is fully accessible to the public. It also features kinda homoerotic statues of college age athletes.

M.D. Anderson Library - University of Houston



From time to time I have visited my relatives in Texas, although I haven't done so since 2002. Whenever I went, I always visited this architecturally interesting library in Houston. I was looking at the Masslive website on a computer in this library when I first learned that Congressman Edward Boland had died back in Springfield.

So there's some thumbnail sketches of libraries I have known, used and sometimes loved. But don't try to go to the library this weekend. They will all be closed due to Memorial Day.

HAVE A GOOD ONE!