Friday, September 29, 2006

Remembering....

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 Amazon.com!

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!

WHAT?!

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.

WHEW!

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, uh...as 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.

Comm
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.