Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Lists - Favorite Songs

I love Christmas music, not that I'm singing Jingle Bells in July or anything, but as Christmas approaches I look forward to hearing Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, Bobby Helms and the rest. I start tuning in radio stations that have an 'all Christmas' format (but for Pete's sake can't we wait until the day AFTER Thanksgiving??) and pulling out my favorite Christmas Cd's.

So without further ado, my favorite Christmas songs:
(in no particular order)

1. White Christmas - I prefer the classic Bing Crosby recording, but also enjoy the Drifters version, no others need apply.

2. Holly Jolly Christmas - I love hearing Burl Ives and only Burl Ives sing this song from 1964's Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

3. The Christmas Song - Even though this song was co-written by legendary singer Mel Torme, nobody has ever sang this song better than Nat King Cole, who actually recorded the song on 4 separate occasions. Cole's 4th recording, done in 1961, is perhaps the most widely known version of this Christmas classic.

4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Although others have sang it, notably Frank Sinatra and James Taylor, it was first done and made famous by Judy Garland who sang it in 1944's Meet Me In St. Louis.

5. Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms 1957 Christmas classic is both a perennial favorite and to me a matched set for number 6.

6. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee was just 13 when she recorded this perfect rock n' roll Christmas song. Oddly it wouldn't be until 1960 that the song really caught on, but once it did, it became an instant classic.

7. Pretty Paper - Although the song's author Willie Nelson would eventually record the song himself, Pretty Paper was first recorded by the legendary Roy Orbison. So the story goes that Orbison's producer flew to England, where the singer was on tour, to have him record this only to find the Big O suffering from a cold! Resting until he was needed to sing, Orbison was able to complete the recording session for this melancholy Christmas ballad.

8. Sleigh Ride - Let's give the singers a break and listen to Leroy Anderson's incredible Sleigh Ride. Written by Anderson in 1948 as an instrumental piece (words were later written by Mitchell Parish), Sleigh Ride was first recorded by the Boston Pops but Anderson himself recorded the song in 1950 and again with the better known stereo version in 1959. Complete with jingling bells, cracking whips, and horse clopping there is nothing quite so grand as a sleigh ride

9. Silver Bells - Thank Bob Hope for this Christmas standard. It was he who insisted that his movie The Lemon Drop Kid, set during the Christmas holiday needed an original Christmas song. The studio agreed but the songwriters thought there were no original Christmas songs left to write! Finding inspiration in a silver bell on one of their desks, they were able to craft this song of Christmas in the city.

10. Do You Hear What I Hear? - Like Silver Bells and White Christmas, Do You Hear What I Hear? is another song that Bing Crosby helped make a holiday classic. It was written as a "prayer for peace" and recorded by Crosby on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Under the Marquee

I can remember being just about 10 years old and sitting at my memere's coffee table and reading the Sunday Herald News. Oh, I didn't read about the news of the day, I read the comics and looked at the toy flyers and read John McAvoy.

John McAvoy lived and breathed Fall River history. He had spent his professional life managing just about all the theaters that Fall River once boasted and his column, Under the Marquee, was filled with those reminisces and also of Fall River itself.

Perhaps John McAvoy's best known column is his Christmas column. Written in 1983 and reprinted several times over the years. Mr. McAvoy passed away in September of 2004 and I don't believe the column has been in the paper since. For those who have never read it, I offer it to you here in full. For those of you who have read it, it's worth reading again.

When Christmas fires are burning,
Old memories come and go,
Like light and shadows playing,
Within the firelight glow, a magic scene appears,
Dear faces smile and beckon, from out of other years.
-- Martha Eleanor Barth
The years drift away as Christmas comes again. I recall with great nostalgia the Christmas of 1927 and 1928 when I was seven and eight. We lived in the last house on Pine Street on a hill overlooking the railway tracks, where Harbor Terrace is now located. It was a two tenement house, but we lived all over it. (We were a large family...three girls, three boys.) My father owned a junkyard, and it was located in our front yard -- second hand lumber piled high, scrap metal, doors, and window sashes in heaps. That was the view from the bedroom windows. From the kitchen and front room (parlor), you looked down the hill on the railroad tracks, which brought the train from Boston out to the pier of the Fall River Line to meet the New York boat. You also saw the traffic on Davol Street and the panorama of the waterfront -- the New York boat, coal barges, and the Bowen Coal Company with its miniature railway cars that carried and dumped the coal in piles. My mother had a lovely garden in the back yard (perched over the tracks), though the front with all the lumber was not so elegant (to put it mildly). On the south side of the ‘estate’ my father had a row of sheds and a barn which housed his horse Nelly, who drew the junk wagon.
* * *
Our front room was only open in winter at Christmas time. The day before Christmas Eve, my mother would place a portable kerosene stove with a perforated top (which reflected on the ceiling), thus making the room warm for Christmas. The smell of kerosene can bring back the thrill of Christmas to me to this day. Our Christmas tree would not be put up till the last moment, so it would last. The fresh pine and the odor of kerosene intertwined, and the combination to me is the fragrance of Christmas.
Both my parents came from Ireland and were very religious. My mother was a saint, and she loved Christmas with a passion. She brought over the Irish custom of saying 4,000 Hail Mary’s from December 1st to Christmas Day. If you did this, legend said any wish you chose would be given to you. Even as a child, my wish would be that we would have a happy Christmas and we always did.
My mother was a superb cook, and that was what she was before she married. She worked on the hill for wealthy Yankees.
We were the most "Yankeefied" Irish family in Fall River. Christmas Eve, the house would be permeated with the smell of rising bread, white and Irish with raisins and caraway seeds and the scent of baking cakes and pies. Around three in the afternoon, my mother and father’s friend, Annie Cody would come up the stairs with a large wicker basket filled with gifts. She was like a preview of coming attractions, a harbinger of Santa Claus.
At dusk, and it had to be just the right moment (and only mother seemed to know,) my mother would take a blessed candle and place it in a container in the front window facing up towards Main Street. In my mind’s eye, I can still see her pulling back the old-fashioned lace curtains to make room for the candle.
As you would look up Pine Street, you would see many candles like this. The candlelight was a symbol of welcomed hospitality, assuring the Irish people that no one seeking shelter would be homeless. The candlelight must shine forth all night long and may be snuffed out only by those having the name of Mary, (of course, every Irish family had a Mary).
My mother and I would always rise on Christmas morning at 4:30 and attend 5:30 Mass at Sacred Heart Church. I would peek in the front room where the kerosene stove was pouring forth heat. Its perforated top would make patterns on the ceiling, and the tinsel on the tree would glow in the reflection. You could see the outline of the presents piled under the tree. What a magical moment!
However, I would not open my gifts until we came home from Mass. My mother and I would trek up the hill in the dark. On Pine Street, near Purchase, there was a house with a cupola on top which held a lighted Christmas tree, which was very unusual for the time. The church was like an oasis in a desert, as you entered it from the black night. It would be beautifully decorated with wreaths and poinsettias and aglow with candles. It would be a solemn high Mass (three priests)! When Mass ended, it would still be dark. My heart would be beating so fast, I felt it would jump out of my body.
* * *
When we got in the house, my mother would tie on her white apron and would come in the front room and sit on the piano bench. Before I opened my presents, I would give her mine. It was always the same, a green candy dish in the shape of a leaf, which I bought for 10 cents in the back of Woolworths. I would clumsily wrap it myself in white tissue paper. My mother would ooh and aah, how did ye ever think of it, it was just what I wanted. Right then I would decide I would give her the same thing next Christmas, if the gift made her so happy. My good mother needed a candy dish like a hole in the head, but she knew how to make a small boy happy. I think of all my memories of Christmas, this is the happiest to me, giving my mother that candy dish.
Then I would open my presents. My mother and I must have been kindred spirits because one of my presents was always the same, a puzzle map of the United States, where you could pick up the various states separately. I really looked forward to getting it, never tired of it, and liked it the best of my gifts.
* * *
Then my father and brothers and sisters would get up and go to Mass. If it were a snowy Christmas, you’d look out the bedroom window and see the lumber and the scrap metal all covered with white. And to the west you’d gaze out as the morning train would meet the New York boat, and elegant women in furs would wave to you as the locomotive would belch and speed by under the kitchen window. Yes, it was fun living on the waterfront! I recall that a family lived on one of the coal barges in the harbor. At Christmas, they would have a lighted tree on board. I envied them. I thought, (and still do) that it must be great to live on a boat.
First thing you knew, my father and brothers and sisters would be home from Mass. Then the excitement would begin. The phone would begin to ring. Friends would start to come in. Although we had a nice front door, I never remember anyone using it. Everyone came in the back door. The aroma of roasting turkey would be in the air. The dining room table would groan under all the delicious food. The meal would be topped off by the once a year treat of snow pudding. This was a "Yankee" delicacy my mother picked up on the hill." It was made from the white of eggs and would be whipped into a froth. We would take turns beating it (no electric beaters then) for what seemed like hours, till the pudding was as light and clear as the new fallen snow. This would be served with lemon custard sauce. What a scrumptious ending to a delicious Christmas dinner. My mother would always send one of us out to the barn with a special Christmas plate for Nelly, for she had to partake of our Christmas celebration.
* * *
Christmas afternoon would find new friends arriving, and after supper we would have more company. My mother had a close friend, Mary Dunn, who was a marvelous piano player (her specialty was Victor Herbert’s "My Hero.") Mary always headed the list of guests. Mona Kennedy, who lived across the street, played the mandolin and her sister Louise had a lilting voice.
Everyone sang around the piano (which was right next to my father’s big black safe, where he used to keep it to show he was a success in America -- or so he thought). My mother did her best to camouflage it with doilies and poinsettias.
My sister Mae, who worked in Cherry’s would have a group from the store on Christmas night. We would all sing Christmas carols. Then my father, who was a 6’2" sandy-haired Irishman, would boom out in his heavy brogue, "How about an Irish song?"
The company would then sing, "My Wild Irish Rose," "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," and then papa would say, "Mary, how about a tune?"
My sister Mae (no shrinking violet) would favor us with "Where the River Shannon Flows," complete with gestures. I think there was a rut in our parlor carpet where the fabled river weaved its way.
"That Tumbledown Shack in Athlone" was the tearjerker of the evening. As the lyrics reached the lines "just to pillow my head on the old trundle bed; just to see my dear mother once more," all the native born Irish in the room would sob as they brushed the tears from their eyes.
Then Mary Dunn would break into a popular song. The sheet music on the piano pops before me. "How Many Times," "Mary Lou," "Sonny Boy," "My Melancholy Baby," "Button Up Your Overcoat," "Girl of My Dreams," "Ramona" and "My Blue Heaven."
* * *
The sing-song would be followed by a collation that included turkey sandwiches, coffee, jelly, homemade nut cake, Irish bread and steaming hot cups of tea and coffee.
Was there ever joy as wondrous as on these Christmas nights? When the company departed amid many "Merry Christmases" and happy banter, all the guests seemed to walk out into the night and up Pine Street to their various homes.
Then you’d go to bed, well fed and happy from the spirit of Christmas. How marvelous those Christmases were!
This story has a poignant sequel. My mother, like all the old-time Irish, liked to plan her funeral, partly out of common sense, and partly out of Irish whimsy. When my mother would broach the subject, we would say, "Oh ma, we don’t want to hear about that." Because she knew I was the foolish one in the family, she would confide to me. "I want three things when I die. I’d like a nice mahogany coffin (how any coffin can be nice is beyond me, but that is what she used to say) and I’d like a bouquet of red roses at my head and I don’t want to be left alone for a minute" (those were the days of house wakes).
My mother died on the morning of Christmas Eve, 1943. I was drafted in 1942 and sent to England in 1943. The first day I was there, I sent a Fall River florist money to send my mother a dozen roses for Christmas. She was brought back to the house that night, as it was wartime and Christmas Eve, and there were no flowers available that night. But five minutes later, my flowers arrived (as my Christmas gift). So my mother had her roses, and her wishes were granted. I have often thought Christmas is so beautiful here on earth; what must it be like in heaven? I thought what a lovely day to go to heaven for someone who liked Christmas as my mother did.
* * *
Christmas is a day to be enjoyed. The hit song of a recent Broadway musical is "The Best of Times is Now." Part of the lyrics are: "So hold this moment fast. And live and love as hard as you know how. And make this moment last. Because the best of times is now." This is true. So enjoy your Christmas with all its joy and pleasures and the happiness of the day with your family and friends. But do not forget the memory of other Christmases and the dear faces who are part of those memories. For the true happiness of Christmas is the combination of the present and the past, which makes the day unique.
* * *
Marguerite Halker wrote:
"So those who love their fellow men,
Are glad it is December,
For peace on earth and memories,
Are precious to remember."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

For Whom the Bell Tolls

As talk show hosts WSAR's Barry Richards and Keri Rodrigues like to keep things aggressive and heated and I usually have a hard time listening to to a whole show because of their antics. However, I want to give them both a big thumbs up for volunteering to be Salvation Army bell ringers yesterday at the Harbor Mall!

The two highlighted the Salvation Army's desperate need for volunteers and raised money in a face-off to see who could collect the most in donations.

So did Keri and her fellow democrats raise more money, or did Barry and his fellow Republicans carry the day? My schedule on Friday didn't allow me to listen to the whole show or get down there myself, so perhaps someone reading this will let us know.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tiverton's Grand Central to Close

The Herald News reports that after more than 40 years the shelves will be empty and the lights will go off for the last time as Tiverton's Grand Central closes its doors for good this coming Tuesday.

Grand Central has been part of the area's landscape for the last 80 years when the first Grand Central opened in Fall River in 1926 and once boasted 3 locations before closing the Fall River store in 1977 and the Somerset store earlier this year.

I like Grand Central and pop in there several times a month to do everything from 'light' shopping to picking an item or two. For me it's conveniently located and shopping there is never a hassle or stressful experience. I'm truly sad to see it go.

Hopefully Trucchi's or some other local chain will show some interest in keeping a grocery store in Tiverton.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Journal Register Sells Herald News

The Journal Register announced today that it was selling both the Herald News and the Taunton Daily Gazette. Gatehouse Media is paying 70 million dollars for the two daily papers and 5 non-daily publications.

In their press release Gatehouse Media says that "The Fall River and Taunton assets fit extremely well with our existing base of Massachusetts-area publications...", but go on to say "... due to their proximity to our existing operations, we will be able to benefit from the cost savings and revenue generation opportunities that are inherent in being part of a cluster."

Does the sale of the Herald News to Gatehouse media mean a better local paper or one that loses its local identity and whose content is compromised by the 'cost savings inherent in being part of the cluster'?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Three Hats in the Ring

City Councillor Al Alves lost his designation as the only 'declared' candidate for mayor this weekend.

City Councillor Brad Kilby announced Friday evening of his intentions to run for the city's top spot in a story that was in Saturday's Herald News. On Sunday State Representative David Sullivan officially announced that he would be running to be Fall River's next mayor.

In an amusing aside, WSAR's Keri Rodrigues took Kilby to task on her blog for excluding WSAR from his official announcement. Whether or not this because she feels Kilby 'snubbed' the radio station or just because she's aggravated at being scooped isn't clear but I find her ire amusing because on Friday she 'scooped' the Herald News by 'officially' announcing on her blog Dave Sullivan's official announcement!

Kilby and Alves are both current members of the City Council. Kilby previously served on the School Committee. Before becoming State Representative Dave Sullivan also served on the Fall River City Council.

Anonymous Comments

Just wanted to mention that I've changed the settings of this blog to allow for anonymous comments. I've implemented this change to hopefully encourage more people to leave comments.

Careful research has shown that of the 6 people that actually read this blog, 2 did not have blogger accounts.

This change is for them.

Utility Affordability Problems Affecting Middle Class

(Chart courtesy of the Providence Journal)

An article in yesterday's Providence Journal (Registration Required) reports that the number of Rhode Islanders who have lost their utility service due to non-payment has jumped 12%. The biggest increase is in households that do not receive Federal Heat Assistance.

In other words, households that make too much money to qualify for heating assistance don't make enough to pay their heating bills and although the although the information is specific to the state of Rhode Island, it's not too hard to imagine that there are similar trends here in Massachusetts.

It's a sobering reality that I fully understand because I feel the pinch of rising costs. I know the feeling of frustration that comes with realizing that your paycheck just doesn't go as far as it did just a year or so before.

It's too easy to say 'tighten your belt', 'live within your means' and 'save for a rainy day'. What is the solution? How do we save ourselves? How do we save middle class?

Friday, November 17, 2006

'Finger in the Chili'

Phillip Daggett, the man who claimed he got sick after eating a taco laced with drugs apparently made a similar claim after eating at a Fall River McDonald's three years ago according to a story reported by the Standard Times.

The story which was extremely suspect to begin with would seem to have NO credibility now.

Mr. Daggett told the Standard Times that he didn't plan on suing Taco Bell, but Taco Bell made it clear that if the claim turned out to be"false" or "fraudulent", that they would seek prosecution "to the fullest extent of the law".

It looks like if Mr. Daggett made this story up he could end up suffering from more than the usual type of 'heartburn' associated with Taco Bell.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Homeless Vigil Tonight in Fall River

A Candle Light Vigil will be held today on the steps of St. Anne's Church to bring attention the plight of the homeless people in our community. The vigil starts at 6pm.

Homelessness is a perplexing issue.

Why do we focus on the 'the plight of the homeless' when the cold weather and the holidays approach? Do we feel when the weather is good, their not homeless their just camping? Am I the only one who feels it's a sad commentary to think that we suddenly care about our fellow man just because we feel festive and are drunk with the spirit of the season.

How bad is the homelessness in our area? I really wish I knew or that I could find some really good information to site but I can't. A few years go when I first heard about a 'homeless' issue in Fall River I didn't see it. That's not to say I didn't believe it, it is just something that what's smacking me right in the face.What I can say is that I notice more people now who I perceive to homeless than ever before.

It bothers me that more information isn't available. If this is really an issue in our city and in the area I want to know what's being done about it. If we have a significant homeless issue, how do we justify tearing down public housing? Why don't we have more homeless shelters?

I don't want to hear that the Mayor knows about the problem but chooses to minimize it or ignore it. I mean to a point this could be true but I am sick and tired of every one of the city's ills being placed on the Mayor's doorstep. City Hall is not going to solve all of our problems and we need to stop thinking that it should. Certainly City Hall should have a role but so should or citizens and our churches. In fact we shouldn't be looking at this as a Fall River issue at all because you simply can't have a homeless issue in Fall River without it having some sort of basis in Somerset, Swansea, Assonet, Westport, New Bedford, etc.

So, when people say well what has the Mayor and the city council done, I would ask what have we done as a region and is it enough?

The issue of homelessness isn't going to just go away while we wait for someone else to take care of it. Homelessness isn't just an issue that affects 'other' people. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, if you can't afford health insurance, if you have to choose between heat or food you are at risk of becoming homeless.

I hope tonight's vigil brings new attention the issue of homelessness in our area but I really hope that when the candles go out, we don't forget.

I am unable to link to the Herald News article covering tonight's vigil but want to include the following information.

Donations such as scarves, hats, gloves, underwear, socks and toiletries are welcome. Donations will also be accepted at the Alcoholism Council, 206 Winter Street, Salvation Army, 290 Bedford Street, and the First Step Inn, 177 North Main Street.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Man Gets Sick From Eating at Taco Bell!

Phillip Daggett says he suffered from numbness to the mouth and stomach cramps after eating at the Taco Bell on Mariano Bishop Blvd.

He says that after getting sick he noticed a white power in another taco that he had purchased and went to the hospital where he claims he tested positive for opiates, or according to another news source, possibly cocaine.

So the question is did someone drug his taco or is this another 'finger in the chili'?

I'm not going to make any assumptions but when it comes to getting a bite to eat I think I'm going to stick to what's in my fridge.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gubernatorial Debate at UMass Dartmouth

The candidates for Governor, Kerry Healy, Deval Patrick, Christy Mishos, and Grace Ross met for their final debate at UMass Dartmouth, a debate I was able to catch on 1480 WSAR.

I won't attempt to recap the debate, which was sponsored by the SouthCoast Alliance, but the questions focused on the needs and concerns of the SouthCoast and really there were few, if any surprises. All four candidates said they supported commuter rail for the area, all opposed the Weaver's Cover LNG facility. They all supported a new Rt. 24 interchange, and pledged to work to improve over stringent fishing regulations.

In short, the candidates gushed about how they believe in and support the SouthCoast. For an area that has long considered itself ignored by the powers that be on Beacon Hill the praise and promises were heady, but only time will tell if any of this becomes a reality.

It's easy to see why Deval Patrick is the front runner, his exudes polished confidence and optimism, but to be fair I thought Kerry Healy had a better understanding of the issues debated, Of all the candidates responses hers seemed the most realistic. Christy Mihos may have been the most entertaining, he joked with the other candidates and seemed to be the most personable, but through the lightheartedness he stressed that municipalities need to be properly funded so they can direct funds to the areas where they need it most. But it was Grace Ross who I think constantly had the most well thought out, articulate, and poignant answers of the forum. I don't believe all of her answers were realistic or practical and there were several I just flat out disagreed with, but overall I found myself impressed by Green-Rainbow party candidate.

So who won? Grace Ross had the least to lose and impressed me the most, but I think the real winner was the SouthCoast Alliance for putting together this forum and allowing us to hear these candidates and their views on some of regional issues that effect us the most.

Why Does Public Housing Fail?

When I was a child my grandmother lived in elderly housing, a whole complex of housing for senior citizens on limited incomes.

It may be stretching a point to compare a senior complex with a housing project like Heritage Heights or Sunset Hill but I think their basic function is the same. Just as housing for the elderly serves seniors with limited means, our housing projects are meant to serve or residents that our 'income challenged'.

I understand that there is a difference in demographics and the challenges they face. What I don't understand is why there is such a difference in environment.

But there is a drastic difference in the environment between the two. The complex that my grandmother lived in, even 20 years later, is still a nice, reasonably safe, pleasant place to live. That isn't the case with the our housing projects which are better known for crime and drugs than for their beauty or hospitality.

Why? What is it about public housing, or their clientele, that leads to such a break down in values, pride and respect?

I understand that there are people in public housing who come from tough backgrounds, but I don't understand the obstacles that keep them from bettering themselves.

We need to figure out how to make public housing work because public housing is supposed to be a 'leg up' for people who need it, not a corral for our poor and the need for it is not going to go away. Why do our housing projects fail?

I don't think I have the 'readership' to make this more than a rhetorical question but I welcome comments.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thoughts on the Governor's Race

With the election less than two weeks away I am not only wondering who to vote for but how to even make a decision!

For me the problem is that I believe that you should vote for the person, not the party. I want to vote for who I feel best represents my views and beliefs. I want to vote for someone who I feel will lead the state, who has vision. I want to know what a candidate stands for. I want them to explain their positions so I can understand.

Instead I see negative ads and soundbite-politics. Where are the facts, explanations?, and analysis? How come in the "information age" I can't get any information!?

For me, the choice is between Kerry Healy and Christy Mihos.

It's not that I dismiss the other two out of hand, Grace Ross has impressed me from what I've seen of the debates or from reading in press coverage and Deval Patrick carries himself very well, has several platform issues I agree with, (and some I don't like his stance on immigration) but overall I find myself more inline with Healy and Mihos.

I've read Kerry Healy's 50 point plan on her campaign website. It's good, and I agree with a lot of it but have doubts about how much she could get implemented and what the costs would be. Likewise I'm intrigued by Mihos' proposition One, but have the same questions about whether he could get it implemented and what the long term costs might be.

Mihos is more moderate than Healy, and I find myself much more in agreement with his stances on the tax rollback, the value of the MCAS test and property tax. Still the big issue I have with Mihos is as an Independent he will a tough time getting support by people who feel they need to vote for one of the 2-party candidates. In short he won't get votes because people feel he can't win. In fact I know several people who have told me that they don't like Healy and PREFER Mihos but fear "a vote for Mihos is a vote for Patrick."

My problem with voting for Kerry Healy, is aside from her 50 point plan she has run and aggressive and negative campaign. Too often she is telling me why I shouldn't vote for Deval Patrick instead of telling me why I should vote for Kerry Healy! This is a big point for me because as I've already stated I'm not considering voting for Patrick. She has also called time and time again to debate JUST Deval Patrick, something that infuriates me because if all 4 candidates are on the ballot, I have a right to hear all of them in any debate. Kerry Healy has been our Lt. Governor for the last 4 years, during a period time where the state weathered a tough economic climate on the backs of city's and towns, will things improve if she's Governor?

When it comes to the issues, their plans, and the future of the state, there are more questions than answers but sometimes I think you have to put aside the party politics and vote for the person you feel deserves to win.

For me, I think that's Christy Mihos.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Who Should be Mayor?

To no surprise the announcement by Mayor Lambert on Thursday evening that he would not be running for a 7th term in 2007 has set the political wheels in motion.

By 8 a.m. Friday morning WSAR was announcing that City Councilor Al Alves had thrown his had into the ring and that there were at least 2 other potential candidates. By the end of the day that number had grown from 3 to 6 and this morning the Herald News had the list up to 11 and with WSAR announcing that School committeeman Mark Costa was considering a run the list is up to 12!

Let's take a look at who could be our next mayor!

Alfredo Alves is our first confirmed candidate for mayor in 2007. A veteran city councilor, he is serving his 7th term on the city council. He also has the distinction of being the council's only Republican.

Bill Whitty is another veteran councilor who has been elected to the city council 8 times in three different decades! He has often served and currently does serve as council president. Whitty has also run for mayor on 3 separate occasions and lost to Carlton Viveros, John Mitchell, and current Mayor Ed Lambert. He also served as director of Rep. Barney Frank's local office.

F. George Jacome is probably best known as the man who almost beat Ed Lambert back in 2003, losing by just under 1,000 votes. Jacome also lost to Lambert in 2005 and had a failed City Council bid in 2001. Still while it may seem odd for a three time loser to consider mounting another bid at public office, Jacome has constantly been praised as being a thoughtful candidate and certainly has motivated supporters.

Henry Gillet reintroduced himself to Fall River and Fall River politics with a mayoral run in 2005. Gillet promoted himself as a man of experience and with a background as a state legislator, lobbyist, and Special Assistant to former Fall River mayor Wilfred Driscoll. He criticized Mayor Lambert for concentrating too much on LNG while ignoring other issues. Gillet's call for an independent audit was seen as a 'gimmick' by Ed Lambert but gained momentum and support. This support, however, didn't apply to the candidate himself and although the city seemed wallpapered by Gillet campaign signs he failed to get past the primary.

Brad Kilby continues the cycle of city councilors looking for promotion! Kilby is serving his second term on the city council and had previously served 8 years on the school committee. Mr. Kilby has earned a reputation as someone who puts in the hard work, asks the tough questions and looks for answers.

Representative David Sullivan is a former city councilor and currently a state representative for the 6th Bristol district. When I heard Sullivan's name mentioned I was surprised, not that he would be interested in the office, but that I had forgotten him! Rep. Sullivan works tirelessly and passionately for what he believes in. Although he is usually in agreement with the rest of the delegation he is not afraid to express a difference of opinion.

Anthony Cordeiro is a prominent businessman. His belief and forward vision for Fall River is evident with a look at downtown. Cordeiro has built several new building and rehabbed several others. The big question is whether or not this business prowess translates into someone who could successfully run the city. Cordeiro has been rumored as a candidate since he had a falling out with the Mayor several months ago. In fact some say it is his support and ability to fundraise that have kept Ed Lambert in office. If Cordeiro does decide to run his reputation as a builder and his experience as a fundraiser will make him a viable candidate.

Joseph Camara is yet another councilor who is considering making a run for mayor. Camara is serving his 6th council term. It is said that he is not afraid to go against the status quo or to explore every available option. He has served at Council President and is active as a coach and on the board of Fall River Youth Soccer. Councilor Camara ran for State Representative in 2003 and lost to incumbent David Sullivan.

Carole Fiola is certainly a known name in Fall River. She is an area realtor and a former employee at WSAR. For the last 6 years she has been the District 1 representative on the Governor's Council a position she is currently campaigning for re-election of. If Carole Fiola decides to make a run for mayor is her position on the Governor's Council and name recognition enough?

Raymond Hague first served on the City Council in 1997 when he finished the term of David Sullivan upon Sullivan's election as State Representative. He was elected in his own right in 1999 and has served ever since. He was instrumental in the lawsuit against BFI that resulted in an 11 million dollar award and called for an independent financial and performance audit 2 full years before Henry Gillet used it as part of his 2005 mayoral campaign. He is often credited for his constituency service.

Kevin Aguiar was elected to the Fall River School committee in 2001. In 2002 it was alleged that Aguiar had assisted in an illegal gambling operation, which he denied. He was re-elected to the School committee in 2003 and again in 2005. In 2006 he announced plans to challenge Representative Bob Correia but lost the primary race getting only 21% of the vote.

Mark Costa was elected to the School committee for the first time in 2005. The fact that Costa is already being mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor says a lot about the impression he has made as both a candidate for school committee in 2003 and 2005 and now as a school committeeman.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Lambert Not Running for Re-election!

I was shocked to learn from this morning's Herald News that Fall River's mayor, Ed Lambert, held a late press conference last night to announce he would not be running for re-election in 2007.

Mayor Lambert said the decision wasn't based on another job opportunity, or the loss of his wife, just that this was the right time personally and professionally to step down.

Although the Mayor, like any incumbent, has his share of critics, I am not among them.

I think Ed Lambert has brought to his office and to this city a passion, and optimism that will not only be missed, but is still greatly needed.

In his 11 years as mayor I have not always agreed with every decision, with every plan, with every action. However I think Ed Lambert has honestly had the best intentions to do what he thought was right for the city and not just in the short term but for generations to come.

It has been said that his legacy will be the fight against LNG and the building of new schools but I think his legacy will be that he was a mayor who believed in Fall River and worked to build the foundation for its future.

During his administration new roads and schools have been built, water lines replaced and parks restored. Some will argue that Lambert had no choice that it had to be done, others will say he did too much too fast and has burdened the city with the debt of paying it off. The truth is the city's buildings and roads, parks, water lines had all been ignored for decades. It was this administration that moved forward to repair, replace, and maintain. Yes this costs money but the option is to pay now or pay even more later.

In the time that Ed Lambert has served as mayor he has accomplished much, yet there is still so much more that needs to be done. We can only hope that Fall River's next mayor brings the same passion and energy to the office. We can only hope that like Ed Lambert, the next mayor believes in the future of this city.

I wish Mayor Lambert the best of luck and success in whatever he decides to do after leaving office and can only wish that in 2007 his name was on the ballot.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Brightman Street Bridge Takes The Cake

The Brightman Street Bridge turned 98 the other day. I know this because a group of people calling themselves "The Friends of the Historic Brightman Street Bridge" assembled on the bridge itself, sang happy birthday, and served cake.

I'm sure the bridge was touched.

Of course the reason these people were celebrating the "birth" of a rusting bascule bridge has more to do with its role as an obstacle in the proposed Weaver's Cover LNG facility than any true fondness for the bridge itself or any of the 'proposed' uses for it now that we're committed to seeing it NOT torn down.

I'm not going to spend a great deal of time going over the LNG battle, but for those who haven't kept up, it comes down to the old bridge is too small for standard size LNG tankers to fit through. This little fact is something that the folks at Weaver's Cove didn't consider an issue because the new replacement bridge with a wider opening is in the process of being built. However in an effort to stop the proposed facility Rep. Jim McGovern inserted legislation to stop the old bridge from being torn down. Weaver's Cove in turn said they would just use smaller ships, but while they insist the old bridge isn't an issue there have been at least two attempts to undo McGovern's legislation. So while this may not have 'stopped' the LNG facility from moving forward it would appear to be more of thorn in the site of Weaver's Cove than they have let on.

I too am against this facility being built in Fall River. I believe that the area is too congested and that Fall River has suffered enough from these types of projects. The type that are good for the state or the region, or the area, but NOT good for Fall River. So, I understand the motivation of this 'Friendship' and appreciate their efforts but at the same time I think to profess such affection for this bridge is just a little too absurd.

Historic? Friends? Let's be honest here! Does the simple fact that the Brightman Street Bridge is old also make it historic? If there were no LNG would anyone want to be its friend? Why can't we just say we don't want LNG at Weaver's Cove and if keeping the Brightman Street bridge helps prevent that, well then we want to keep the bridge?

Let's not forget that all of our professed love comes with a price tag. Keeping the roadblock, um, eh, I mean bridge will cost us several hundred thousand dollars a year in maintenance costs and any proposed reuse has been projected to be in the 20-40 million dollar range. Talk about the price of friendship! Whew!

Well anyway, Happy Birthday Brightman Street it too late to get a piece of that cake?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Camera, key, chain...

Have problems with blurry photos when taking photos in low light situations? Don't have or don't want to carry around a tripod or monopod? Dr. Momentum, a Fall River area blogger may have the answer for you, a chainpod!

I'm really intrigued with this little do-it-yourself gizmo and hope I can blog about using one soon! Read more about a chainpod here and here.

If you don't take pictures or if your camera has image stabilization check out the Aces Full of Links blog anyway. It's pretty broad in scope, offers something for everyone and is a pretty good read.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I have spent much of today watching and listening to people who have lost a loved one at the Station Nightclub fire make impact statements at the sentencing of Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, the two brothers who owned the club.

Person after person spoke of their loved and their loss. Many expressed anger at the brother, the judge, and the state of Rhode Island. All expressed anguish.

The two brothers, weeks away from trial, changed their plea from not guilty to nolo contendere. In exchange for their plea of no contest Michael Derderian will serve 4 years with 3 years probation, Jeffrey Derderian will serve no time but will have to perform 500 hours of community service.

Many question if justice was served.

It is easy to understand why the people who have lost someone would feel that way and honesty and probably wrongly the opinions of those unaffected matter little to me. I feel for these people not just for their loss but for their anger. I just don't know how someone could exist feeling so angry for so long. For them this outcome will give them little consolence. I doubt any sentence could. I'm reminded that someone once said that "life does what it's supposed to do and you accept it and go on", for these people I hope they can "go on".

That fateful night my cousin was at the Station Nightclub, she would never come home. She would leave behind two daughters, a fiancee, and a bright future. She is forever 29 but in my mind's eye she is 10 or 12, her red hair is in pigtails and we ride bikes, and roll down hills and laugh, years away from when I would have to say good-bye. I hear her voice, her laugh and wonder if she knew how special she was, how much she would be missed.

This morning was cool, gray and dreary, a wet and somber day that unexplainably turned bright and sunny. The cool September wind gently caresses 100 crosses in a vacant lot in West Warwick. There where it was once so chaotic it is now calm and peaceful, and we remember......

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Chow Mein Sandwiches

Maybe a week a go or so a co-worker came up to me and said "I know what you should blog about next......chow mein sandwiches!" I probably looked back at him somewhat puzzled and I questioned why. Well, not being from this part of Massachusetts he had never heard of them before but I guess now that he lives in nearby Providence, RI he stumbled across it and read up on it's origins and saw that it's a Fall River staple and felt that I should blog about the humble sandwich.

So, I looked him and said "yeah, I'll have to look into that" and promptly filed it away as 'something' to consider but otherwise put it on the back burner.

Forward to earlier this week and I'm listening to the Keri Rodrigues show on WSAR and she's talking about how she's moved to Fall River and immersing herself in the community but although she had heard of it, she had yet to try a chow mein sandwich. As callers began to call in tell Keri that she just had to have a chow mein sandwich, with vinegar, from here, from there, in wax paper, in a container and so on I'm thinking 'I can't believe I'm hearing another reference to chow mein sandwiches'!

So now that an obvious chow mein conspiracy is taking place I figure I better blog about chow mein sandwiches!

Simply put the chow mein sandwich is chow mein noodles premixed with chow mein gravy and served on a hamburger bun. That's it! That simple.

Except of course it's not. The first thing you have to know is that chow mein noodles in Fall River are much different that noodles anywhere else. They are crispy deep fried thin noodles, think Campbell Chicken noodle soup noodles and you might get a pretty good idea of the size, now picture them not nearly so plump, and deep fried! Got that?

Now again, the noodles start of crispy but start to soften up pretty quick once the gravy is added, so a sandwich served at the restaurant is likely to still be somewhat crisp, while one gotten as take out will not be. (I personally like the noodles soft and gravy soaked!)

The gravy itself is a matter of taste, some prefer to get the gravy strained, meaning that all the vegetables are strained out and just gravy is left. Others prefer it unstrained and I usually prefer chicken or shrimp chow mein.

I've had them with vinegar. I've had them mixed with chop suey. I've had them from all over Fall River, and Somerset, Swansea, and Tiverton, RI! No matter how I've had them or from where they've always been good. And the area's Chinese restaurants are not the only place to get a chow mein sandwich. With all the ingredients available for purchase right at the Oriental Chow Mein Co. right at 42 8th St. here in Fall River! you can make them at home! Actually you can find the ingredients at most local grocery stores or amazingly enough at!

So why are chow mein sandwiches so popular? Well in my opinion it's because their tasty, filling, and inexpensive. With its gravy soaked bun, they have the same appeal as open faced sandwich. It is basic comfort food.

All this talk of chow mein sandwiches had the effect of making me quite hungry and not surprisingly I found myself grabbing a couple for lunch...all I can say is delicious!


The Alarm clock goes off and the and I lay there in bed groggy with sounds of am radio barely registering in my sleepy head.

The radio is set to 1480 WSAR and on this particular morning is set for 6 am, the top of the hour and WSAR is reading off the headline news of the day. Again, half asleep I can barely recognize voices never mind actually make out what anyone is saying and then I'm jolted by the announcement that the night before the City Council voted 5 to 3, with one councilor not in attendance to vote in FAVOR of seizing the Weaver's Cove site by eminent domain.

Now fully awake, the voice in my head screaming WHAT?!, I stare at the radio in amazement that the non-binding resolution submitted by Councilor Bill Whitty has actually received a majority vote.

I'm stunned and for several hours I wonder just what the Mayor will do...WSAR reports he will not veto the City Council and I'm stumped but later the Mayor is interviewed on WSAR and reminds us that this is a non-binding resolution and that he plans to take no action on this at all. To veto it would only send it back to the Council and invite more debate and he has no plans to change or alter the city's legal strategy.


Except that 5 of our 9 City Councilors actually voted in favor of this...To me that is really scary and to listen to WSAR there are certainly is support for seizing the Weaver's Cove site by eminent domain!

The problem with trying to take this land by eminent domain is the city does not have any sort of plan for what to do with it. What they do have is a very public opposition to Weaver's Cove LNG proposal. While it is certainly possible to come up with a fantastic plan for a waterfront site, can you really come up with one and make the courts believe that you true intention is just to stop the LNG facility from being built? Because if you can't, say the experts, then the courts tend to view the action as having been made in bad-faith and it stop it dead in its tracks.

Even if the city could convince the courts that the seizure was made in "good-faith" the price tag for the land could be much more than the 6 plus million the land is assessed at. The city could be forced by the courts to pay the 'expected' worth of the land which could be as much as 50-80 million dollars.

There is nothing wrong with having a different opinion on eminent domain but as representatives of the city it is irresponsible to pass a resolution that seems to promise to end all this with one legal maneuver, when the legal experts say it just won't work. Such a resolution, even a non-binding one has the ability to give false hope or worse it can erode the support for the efforts already underway.

Such political grandstanding on such an important issue is unforgivable.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Vintage Vinyl

For some, listening to a record is a near religious experience. To them there is no substitute for the sound a record makes. It is an onyx disc spinning around, its grooves forming gentle rippling waves as they drown in pools of sound. To others a record is a piece of nostalgia, an instant link to their youth. To them the hiss and pop of an old record is an instant link to times gone by. Still others collect records of just a favorite artist, or simply as a hobby, or because the music was never released on a newer format.

Whatever the reason, records are collectible and even though records are still made, albeit in rather small numbers, the majority of records purchased are used 'vintage' vinyl.

Used records are not hard to find, a walk into almost any second hand store, Salvation Army, flea market or yard sale and you're likely to find a collection of albums and 45's just waiting for you. However, finding a particular record in the often disorganized piles can be like finding a needle in a haystack! The internet has proved to be a great resource for record collectors with online stores and online auctions, such as ebay, putting hard to find albums at the fingertips of those looking for them. However such convenience does not always come cheap and buyers often have to deal with inflated prices and the cost of shipping and handling.

Perhaps the best place to search for an old record is at store specializing in old records like G/D Records located at 638 Quequechan Street right here in Fall River. Tucked in the back of a Mill Outlet, G/D would be easy to miss but for those looking for old records it is a treasure trove. The best part of G/D is that you don't have to spend hours sifting through pile after pile of records. Everything is neat and well organized and the G of G/D is quick to help you find what you are looking for. And if they don't have the record your looking for G/D will do their best to find it. With good prices, great quality and helpful service G/D is worth giving a spin.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

No Re-Morse

Former talk show host and current U.S. Representative candidate, Chuck Morse is appealing to voters to include him, as a write-in candidate, on their primary ballot this Tuesday.

Morse needs to receive 2000 write-in votes in order to get on the November ballot. If successful the Republican would face off against incumbent Barney Frank for his house seat. Morse challenged Frank in the 2004 election but was easily beaten by the veteran Democrat.

The question is how does Morse find himself in the position of needing to plead for write in votes? He says he failed to get the petition signatures when needed because as the author of "The Nazi Connection to Islamic Terrorists" he was in Israel as a guest speaker.

So let me get this straight, Chuck Morse wants to be a U.S. Representative and instead of getting the signatures needed to be on the ballot he's in Israel for a book signing, um, a "guest speaker"?

Give me a break. He's says the trip to Israel was a big honor, but that it took a lot of energy and "waylaid" his signature effort. Doesn't this guy have a campaign manager or some friends or something that could have worked on getting those signatures? Couldn't the Massachusetts Republican Party have taken up the effort for him? Is the Morse campaign even to be taken seriously?

I fully support, embrace, and believe in having political choice but the fact the Morse finds himself needing write-in votes to secure a spot on the November ballot is both a testament to the poor performance of the Massachusetts GOP and his own lackluster campaign.

Brother Can You Spare A Dime?

The Fall River School Department is setting up a non-profit organization that will be able to accept charitable donations to benefit Fall River Public Schools.

unity Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts will operate the not-for-profit foundation for Fall River's schools. Community Foundation recently set up a similar program for the New Bedford School High School and is working on implementing a foundation for the Old Rochester School District.

Community Foundation's president, Craig J. Dutra believes that such foundations can promote, improve education. He also noted that donations to the foundation are not for typical operation costs associated with running the school department but are usually intended for special programs designed to improve student achievement. One purpose of the foundation is to ensure that donations are used in the manner wished by the donors.

Superintendent Nicholas A. Fischer expressed that the goal was to first build a relationship with local donors and then work to state and national foundations. Fisher stated that after establishing a "track record" potential donations could equal 7 million dollars a year.

Is this a case of Fall River turning over every stone desperately looking for extra funding or is it the realization that funding exists for pilot programs for hose resourceful enough to look for it?

Either way, the Fall River School District can benefit from the extra funds as much as Fall River's children can benefit from innovative reading programs, math workshops, science seminars, programs to support the arts and the like.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Matt Amorello and the Fall River-Boston Connection

With a sickening crack, tons of concrete plummet from the tunnel ceiling above to the highway below. The sound of the crashing concrete ceiling tiles is joined by the sound of crumpled sheet metal and smashed glass and the squeal of tires desperately trying to stop.

After those initial moments of tragedy when the dust of shattered concrete finally settled, with the tunnel closed and a major highway impacted, Matt Amarello stands in the middle of it all. He is the man who has to find the answers to explain what just happened. Little did anyone realize, 7 years later he'd be doing it again.

It was March 3, 1999 when 2 ceiling tiles weighing about 2 tons each fell from the ceiling of the Government Center tunnel onto the highway below. The chaos that followed resulted a multi-car accident and several injuries but thankfully no one is killed.

It turns out that in the 20+ years since it was built no one had inspected the tiles and the metal clips that held the tiles in place had failed. Matt Amorello, the state Highway commissioner, said "We can't change what happened, but we can work to make it better". Meanwhile, as the tiles under Fall River's Government Center were coming down, the tiles in the tunnels of Boston's "Big Dig" were just going up.

Conceived in the 1970's as a way to replace and reroute 3.5 miles of Boston's congested Central Artery expressway, the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, nicknamed the "Big Dig", was already over budged, behind schedule and severely mismanaged by the time Amorello was appointed Turnpike Authority Chairman in February of 2002.

Amorello's appointment, some claim, was nothing more than a political maneuver by Governor Jane Swift to thwart the efforts of those who were critical of the handling of Big Dig project.
Amorello became the 4th chairman in just 2 years, responsible for overseeing a project that was already facing quality concerns due to leaks in the Fort Point Connector.

In 2004 a major leak in the I-93 North Tunnel forced it to be closed for repairs. Project officials claimed that some leaks were to be expected in a complex tunnel project like the Big Dig and Matt Amorello assured: "There is no way that I or the Turnpike Authority or the engineers who work on the project would ever allow citizens to use an unsafe highway network."

Those sentiments would come back to haunt Matt Amorello on July 10, 2006 when massive ceiling tiles in a connector tunnel came crashing down on the car occupied by Angel Delvalle and his wife Melina as they were on their way to Logan Airport. Mr. Delvalle was rushed to the hospital with minor injuries but his wife was pronounced dead at the scene.

In the days and weeks that followed, with Matt Amorello trying to assure the public the tunnels were safe and everything was being done to make sure such an accident would never happen again, investigators focused on the bolt/epoxy system that held ceiling structure in place. It quickly came to light that there has been concerns as early as 1998 about tunnel ceilings by both the Massachusetts Inspector General and a safety officer for Modern Continental Construction.

Although there are many similarities, circumstances that led to the collapse of the ceiling tiles in the Government Center tunnel in March of 1999 are ultimately much different than the circumstances that led to collapse of ceiling tiles in the I-90 connector. What happened in Fall River happened because lack of inspection for over 2 decades allowed for deterioration to compromise the metal that held the tiles in place, in Boston the ceiling just hadn't been up long enough for that to be a concern.

Still, one has to wonder why the collapse of the tunnel ceiling tiles in Fall River didn't focus more attention to the concerns expressed over the Big Dig ceiling. Would it not make sense that after being appointed chairman of the MTA that Matt Amorello would have educated himself on all the troubles and concerns raised about the project? If so, after going through the incident in Fall River wouldn't alarm bells go off if at the mere mention of ceiling tiles?

I guess not.

It's a shame that what happened in Fall River, though unrelated, didn't spur more caution and oversight in the installation of the Big Dig ceiling. It's a shame that what happened in Fall River didn't prevent what happened in Boston. Now that work if finally underway to repair the Government Center tunnel, let's hope what happened in Boston prevents it from ever happening again.

*Matthew J. Amorello resigned his position as the Chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority after much political pressure from Governor Mitt Romney

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Gates of Ponta Delgada......Boulevard

For over a year I've watched as a vacant lot, a filled in former crab pond, became a landmark.

When I first learned that the city of Ponta Delgada, located in Azores, had gifted to Fall River these beautiful gates, replicas of the gates that welcomes visitors to that city, I didn't understand why we would place them on this vacant lot. It seemed that that certainly there must be a place where these gates would be better appreciated, but then I learned that the site is the intended home of a Fall River train station. If and when the state ever delivers on its promise of rail service to Fall River, these gates will welcome visitors here.

Now that the gates are completed and the landscaping completed and the dedication has taken place, I have to say they really are quite breathtaking. When rail service finally makes its way down here to Fall River and people step of that platform it will be a fine welcome indeed.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

No Walk in the Park

Kennedy Park, for those not familiar, sits in the south end of the city. It is one of Fall River's three Olmsted parks. It slopes down toward, and eventually meets the Taunton River to the west, it is topped by St. Anne's Church to the east and is bordered by houses and tenements on both sides. Although baseball diamonds fill its upper section and tennis courts and an inground pool intrude at its lower section, taking away some of its grandness and beauty the park is still a majestic thing. It is an oasis, an island of green open space in an ocean of densely populated neighborhoods. Children sleigh and skate in winter, fly kites in the summer, and people stroll year round.

A few weeks ago a story in the Herald News announced that the annual 4th of July fireworks at Kennedy Park, a long standing tradition, would instead be held at Heritage Park.

The story, which I cannot find online to link to, went on to explain that the Veterans Council which is one of the sponsors of the event no longer had the manpower to do it and had approached the folks over at Heritage State Park to take it over.

It's an awful thing to see the end of a much loved tradition.

The 4th of July at Kennedy Park could be a Norman Rockwell painting. Who knows how many generations of Fall Riverites have packed up their loved ones and sitting out on blankets and lawn chairs have watched exploding ribbons of color fill the night sky?

As night falls people from all of the city make their way to Kennedy Park. They leave their cars on nearby side streets and a flood of people, young and old, make their way to the park. As they walk down sidewalks with the heat and humidity of the day at last giving in to night air, they pass by people assembled on porches, in backyards and on stoops. The smells of cookouts and the sound of easy conversation linger in the air as those who live near the park host the perfect Independence Day celebration to be capped off with a near perfect view of the fireworks display.

The park begins to fill, the best spots go first and those who come late will have to contend with a view obstructed by trees. People perch on tiptoes to try to spy among the sea of faces, a friend or relative that they planned to meet up with. Hawkers abound trying to sell glow sticks and ice cream and refreshment carts do brisk business.

Then they start, a whoosh followed by streaks of color and followed by the awaited boom. People oohh and ahhh, some children clap and point while the smaller ones start to cry and cling tight to mom and dad.

The night sky fills with color and the sound of explosions seems non-stop as the fireworks people lead us through several false finales before climaxing with the GRAND FINALE.

The last explosion reverberates off the nearby houses and whoops and cheers fill the park and people head off toward home.

It has been a good night.

But now this simple tradition is being replaced by a 4 day event at Heritage State Park, filled with music, car shows, a traveling amusement park, all capped off with a fireworks display that we be launched from a barge anchored in the taunton river.

Amazingly there has been little public protest over the change in venue, however with such a late announcement any protest would be of no use. Also there is very little promotion going on and I find that a lot of people I talk to just aren't aware of the change!

It seems to me that this is less about the Veterans ability to sponsor this even and more about turning a simple fireworks show into a money making event, and although this is being billed a free event I wouldn't be surprised if in the near future there was a charge for admission.

One can only imagine that this will in many ways be similar to Fall River Celebrates America. And the fact that Fall River Celebrates will take place at the same park just a few weeks later. is reason enough to keep with simpler tradition at Kennedy Park.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Please Refrain From Talking During the Show

Several weeks back I commented that the Capital Theater was for sale, or to be more precise the building that housed the Capitol was for sale.

Since the theater closed in the late 1950's, the building has been used for office space, a bowling alley and most recently it was the home of the Sonho do Lar furniture store.

Although Mayor Lambert has long been in favor of seeing the Capitol restored he stated when the building came up for sale that the city would only consider purchasing it if it made financial sense.

It seemed as if fate would decide if the theater would ever be restored of if it would finally give way to renovation as office space or perhaps face the wrecking ball.

It seems the Capitol was about to be lost forever when Donna and Greg Viveiros looked into purchasing the property. Their intentions were to use the building as warehouse and office space, then they learned about the theater hidden behind the Sonho do Lar storefront.

Now the Viveiros' plan on restoring the Capitol to its former glory, but will need the help of the city and the community at large.

Here's hoping that after a 50 year absence that the Capitol Theater has a successful return to the downtown scene.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Surfing Without a Net

Verizon DSL sucks.

Really what else can I say? Okay, maybe that's not a fair statement but MY experience has been anything but great. I've dealt with no service, lousy connection speed, less than stellar support and STILL continue to use it.


Well because my other options are dial up service or a cable modem. Dial up is just not practical, the reasons I switched were for quicker speeds (HA!) and so the phone line wasn't tied up. Cable modem? It's fast and available but I can't justify the cost. So that's left me with DSL.

Or has it?

A local company Meganet offers Megabroadband a wireless modem that uses a nirvani rip wave modem.

I'm intrigued!

Actually I've known about this for several months but the service was unavailable in my neck of the woods, that has since changed.

The catch with this service is signal strength. The better your signal strength the happier you'll be with the service. Those who live near leafy trees or in low lying areas, or near lots of steel framed buildings may find it difficult to obtain a strong signal.

However, after a friend of mine complained that Verizon wasn't excepting new customers for their DSL service I mentioned Megabroadband and he signed up, and although his computer is in the worst possible location, in a low lying area he is still enjoying speeds far faster than dial up and far faster than I am enjoying with my DSL package.

In the near future I'm going to borrow his modem and see what type of signal strength I receive near my computer. If all goes well I'll be signing up.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Have you seen this man?

The answer is probably no. That's because he is Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming ( approx. 2000 miles away from all of us here in Fall River!), and even though I don't believe he's ever set foot in Fall River he's trying to play a role in our future.

Senator Thomas (of Wyoming!) has introduced legislation that would undue the legislation introduced by Representative Jim McGovern to keep federal money from being used to destroy the Brightman Street Bridge. Of course McGovern's legislation and the bridge are thorns in the side of Hess LNG and their proposed LNG facility. Although Hess LNG says they will move forward with their plans even with the old bridge in place the good Senator (from Wyoming), in an effort to "improve the energy outlook in the nation" has decided the bridge has got to go.

This really deserves a big WOOHOO for Craig.

Someone needs to explain to Senator Thomas that we here in Fall River would also like to see an improved energy outlook for the nation, we just expect a little common sense when it comes to siteing facilities like this.

Obviously this is just the next chess move between the supporters of the Weaver's Cove site and those opposed to it and I'm pretty sure are local congressional delegation will defeat this. Still, this is the second time a Republican senator has tried to undue McGovern's provision and it's getting a little annoying. Let's be straight on this, we don't think this belongs in Fall River, we have the support of our state reps and senator, we have the support of our U.S. reps and senators, heck we even our Republican governor agrees that this doesn't belong in Fall River.

The thing that annoys me the most is I don't think Senator Thomas took two seconds to find out why a working class community in Massachusetts is against having an LNG facility rammed down their throats. I mean, come on, he the senator of WYOMING, population 500,000! He can't be that busy! If his actions were really motivated by a concern for the nation's 'energy outlook' shouldn't he have talked to Representative Jim McGovern, or fellow Senator John Kerry to try to understand what motivates us?

If Senator Thomas had taken the time to talk to McGovern, Kerry or Kennedy, if he had had staffers talk to Governor Romney or Mayor Lambert, if he has sent staffers down here to learn things first hand and STILL decided to take the actions he took at least I might be give him the benefit of the doubt and believe his decision wasn't just motivated by politics.

Since I've started writing this Mayor Lambert has extended an invitation to Senator Thomas to come and see things first hand. Here is a chance for the good senator to gain a little credibility and respect, a chance for him to see with his own eyes the lives he may affect.

It's more than doubtful that Thomas will accept this invitation but in case I'm wrong, please take a good look at the picture up above and let me know if you've seen this man.