Morning light in the Haymarket.
I see that Monte Belmonte and crew are having their annual fundraising campout for Cancer Connections on the Northampton Couthouse lawn:
Here's Monte himself. I asked him about the scout get-up and he replied, "I'm a Flamingo Scout."
I chose not to inquire further. Both my parents died of cancer, so it's a cause close to my heart. Give a little something if you can.
Pine Point compare and contrast: 1939 versus 2009:
Another blast from the Pine Point past, sometime in the 70's:
Of course, that is also the site of the original Friendly's as seen here in 1939:
As long as we're doing Springfield stuff, here's a silent Dann Vazquez video from 2007 showing the Springfield Library and environs.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Marijuana officially became a fully legal product for purchase by adults on July 1st, a year and a half after voters passed a referendum legalizing it. The only problem was that on July 1st there wasn't a single place in Massachusetts where you could buy it, since no actual licenses to sell pot have been granted to any outlet anywhere in the state.
Let's face it, legal marijuana in Massachusetts has been a contemptible farce.
There was never any excuse for the long delay in setting up the infrastructure to sell marijuana legally. I still don't know why the state simply didn't hand the project over to the industry that has been successfully and safely selling intoxicants for hundreds of years - liquor stores. Why didn't the legislature just set a date when every licensed liquor store could start selling weed along with the intoxicants they already sell - buds with your Budweiser, so to speak?
There was no reason to make it be more complicated than that. But alas, they had to try to make a whole new system of tightly regulated specialty stores, creating a crony capitalist nightmare of special, often politically privileged sellers, protected from competition by strict zoning and artificial caps on the number of competitors.
All of it was a complete waste of time. Since other states have already legalized pot, we needed only to copy what they did with perhaps a few minor variations due to circumstances unique to this state. However, the legislators had to go out and try to re-invent the wheel, and when they had finished, the wheel was square and there was no marijuana to buy. But the powers that be now promise they will get their act together and marijuana maybe might be available by the end of July, or sometime in August, or surely by early September....
Whatever happens, we've been pretty much assured that the price will be expensive. That has certainly been true with the medical marijuana market, which sells at prices well above what the black market charges. For example, right now I could make a phone call and get an ounce of primo-kush for $200. At the medical marijuana store, the price is $350 per ounce. Do you think the black market is going to disappear with that kinda price discrepancy?
Recreational marijuana is expected to be even more expensive than medical marijuana. One of the often stated goals of legalization was to get the mob and other undesirables out of the marijuana business, but thanks to greedhead politicians, we now have the worst of both worlds - an overpriced, politically corrupt legal industry while the old, criminal underground market continues to thrive.
When I was a kid toking my first tokes with my delinquent buddies, we all assumed it was a certainty that when we got older and our generation was in charge of things, that we would absolutely legalize marijuana. I guess most members of the government these days are within ten years or so of my age, so I guess my generation actually has taken over. Frankly, I sorta hoped that the sight might be more impressive.
For decades my generation dragged our feet and did little or nothing to legalize weed in Massachusetts, despite the efforts of brave crusaders like Terry Franklin, Aaron Wilson and Dick Evans. Now at last it has finally happened, better late than never, and it is a beautiful thing that people will no longer go to jail anymore for smoking marijuana.
But aside from that, the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts has been a huge disappointment.
At least to humans. The UMass ducks don't care.
Dinosauric dimensions in Greenfield.
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Supposed to be a hot holiday, so if you haven't been to Herrell's in a while, might be a good place to stop.
Fortunately, the heatwave is supposed to end Friday with a mighty rainstorm. Here's a rainstorm I videoed from a bus stop last week.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Much was made in the media about how the rejection of the so-called Millionaire's Tax by the state Supreme Court last week was a stinging rebuke to the legal judgement of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, whom the court ruled had wrongfully approved the question for the ballot.
Less noticed however, was how the court, in citing evidence to back their rejection, quoted in the very decision itself none other than disgraced Amherst/Hamp Senator Stanley Rosenberg. The justices cited the former Senator's remarks as proof positive that the ballot question was just a cheap ploy to try to trick the voters into supporting something they have already rejected at the polls five times - a graduated income tax.
Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe had the only media mention I saw demonstrating how crucial Rosenberg's remarks were in providing the evidence the justices needed to kill the ballot question. Alas, once again Valley residents must turn to Boston media to find out what's happening in our own backyard:
“We are not entirely unaware of the possibility” that the amendment was purposely drafted “to ‘sweeten the pot’ for voters,” the majority remarked dryly. Knowing that every previous attempt to permit graduated tax rates had failed, activists this time around hoped to tempt voters with the prospect of more money for favored causes — and with a dash of eat-the-rich class envy thrown in for good measure. The SJC doesn’t actually say that, of course. Instead it quotes someone who did: former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg.
“In the past, constitutional amendments have been very differently constructed,” Rosenberg explained when he endorsed the initiative. “This one, because it is focused specifically on money for education and transportation, will stand a better chance of being approved. And also because it is very clear that it [affects] people who make more than $1 million.”
Thank you, Mr. Rosenberg, for making it so much easier to derail that ballot boondoggle because of your uncharacteristically honest admission of your planned deception. Meanwhile, Senator Stan's name has finally been stripped from the entrance to where his office was once located, as evidenced by these before/after photos by Dann Vazquez.
In the next stage of the Rosenberg drama, he is being sued by one of the alleged victims of his husband. Rosenberg has already lost his job and his reputation, now the courts are going to wipe him out financially.
Here are some objects on my desk. The first is a fish trophy Jay Libardi and I won at Yolly Nahorniak's fish derby, year unknown but sometime in the 80's, a cup from my relatives in Texas, a Coke bottle from the 1970's and a Springfield 300th birthday souvenir from 1936 I use as a pen jar.
Here are some scenes from Springfield's 350th Birthday celebration in 1986.
And no, his plane did not crash in the parking lot.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
A lot of people are expressing surprise in the wake of the news that disgraced former State Senator Stanley Rosenberg is making his supposedly estranged husband Bryon Hefner-Rosenberg the recipient of his state pension upon his death. Personally, I am not surprised at all, as I never believed that the couple had ever split up in the first place. I based that opinion on back channel info from sources in a position to know, who told me that Bryon was still receiving legal notifications and other official correspondence related to his criminal case at Stan's address. So apparently the "separation" that Rosenberg claimed had occurred while he still thought he had a prayer of returning to power, never became separate to the point where Bryon felt he needed to file a change of address form with the post office.
Ex-Senator Stan claims in his pension filing that he collected a government paycheck in some form or other for 38 years and five months. That means after decades of Rosenberg attacking working people's paychecks with his relentless demands for higher taxes as he crusaded for every crackpot socialist scheme that came down the political pike, the long suffering taxpayers must now bear the burden of supporting Stan for as long as he lives, and then posthumously supporting his young husband for possibly decades beyond. But why would Rosenberg give his pension benefits to the man whose actions ruined his political career? I'm reminded of that line from Faulkner's A Rose for Emily - "With nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will."
Meanwhile, the old Adams Jewelry by the Haymarket has become festooned with signs for State Representative candidate Diana Syznal.
I peered through the window as best I could, but couldn't tell through the darkness whether the spot has become Syznal's campaign headquarters, or if the sign display is just a supportive gesture from the owner of the building. Ms. Syznal is the District Director for the previous holder of the seat, Peter Kocot, who died tragically earlier this year. Unfortunately, Kocot's legislative voting record was a model of leftist dysfunction, and his aide Syznal is promising more of the same, which should please Northampton's masochistic electorate. Syznal is considered a shoo-in for the seat because after she brushes aside her primary opponent, the political neophyte and dizzy feminist Lindsay Sabadosa, Syznal will face no opposition from the region's hapless Republicans.
In any case, I'm sorry that Adams Jewelry is out of business. At the time of its closing last winter, Jesse Adams wrote this heartfelt farewell.
My grandfather Emery Abrahamowicz survived the Holocaust but his wife and kid did not. Before the war, he was a jeweler and watchmaker in a small town in Hungary. One of his roles was to fix the village clock when it needed it. The Nazis took all his possessions and murdered his family but he hid two diamonds that a dentist friend stashed in his teeth. He survived the holocaust. He came to the US after the war. After Ellis Island he became Emery Adams. He did not know English. He cracked the diamonds out of his teeth. They were still there. (The dentist didn’t trick him as he feared). He married another Holocaust survivor and started a new family. He sold one of the diamonds and started a successful jewelry store in NYC. He taught my father. My father opened up his first store in Northampton in Thornes in 1979 and later moved to a Main Street storefront. He later bought the building and two others downtown. I was in the store nearly every day and lived above it for 15 years. The store supported our family. After nearly 100 years the Abrahamowicz/Adams jewelry/watch/sculpture business ends. From Hungary to NYC to Northampton, it was a good run. It’s the end of an era.
Around the corner at Sam's Pizza, I recently tried Virgil's Cream Soda, the best I've had since I was kid drinking Cray's Soda.
Across the street there was a good turnout for the first summer concert in Pulaski Park.
While Hamp is rockin, UMass is sleepy with the students away for the summer, as evidenced by this video of the usually crowded Peet's Coffee, now turned ghostly silent
Monday, June 4, 2018
When I got home the other afternoon, the Pedal People chickens (pedal-chicks?) were having a picnic.
The house I live in is so old that the foundation consists not of bricks or concrete, but field stones piled one upon the other.
I see that the local Democrats have opened their campaign headquarters in downtown Northampton next to the Iron Horse.
The Dems must have too much money on their hands if they are renting a headquarters in the middle of the pricey Hamp real estate market. I mean, why even bother? Enough voters can be expected to automatically march in zombie-like fashion to the polls to mindlessly elect every Democrat on the ballot, so any actual campaigning for Democratic candidates is probably unnecessary. It is also in most cases ulitimately irrelevant, as nearly all the local Democrat incumbents have no Republican opponent anyway. However, there is one ray of hope to give beleaguered North Valley Republicans a reason to come out and vote in the local elections: Tracey Lovvorn.
Lovvorn is running against Congressman Jim McGovern, who represents both Amherst and Northampton. Speaking of McGovern, The Worcester Telegram has a picture of McGovern at last weekend's Democratic State Convention, showing him with drink in hand and tie askew.
Also shown is Lt. Governor candidate Jimmy Tingle (right) with former Congressman Barney Frank, who in retirement has really let himself go.
Here's our despicable Attorney General Maura Healey posing with E. Henry Twiggs, a former bagman for ex-Rep. Ray Jordan.
Finally, here's a bit of an Open Mike at Sam's Pizza in Northampton.
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Thank you, Governor Baker, for defending the rule of law.
The office of Amherst/Northampton congressman Jim McGovern.
Last weekend I was at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. Classy joint.
We fooled around with a drone.
When was the last time you visited the Miss Florence Diner? Still as good as it ever was.
A flower on Main Street in Northampton.
Geese by the UMass campus pond.