Friday, June 29, 2007

Spfld Finance Control Board Speak-Out

Over at the Springfield Intruder, I posted a summary of the 30-minute the public speak-out heard prior to the regular meeting of the Springfield Finance Control Board held on June 28, 2007, at City Hall, followed by some personal observations.

Check out the story HERE.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

O'Brien Clip on Devine & Dusty

While attending the campaign kick-off of Springfield City Council candidate Karen Powell last week, Tommy Devine and myself found ourselves the target of "Bax & O'Brien" co-host John O'Brien's good natured barbs. It was all in light-hearted fun, of course. After all, if you can't kid around in a friendly environment, then when can you goof around?

You can listen to a sound clip HERE.

And just for the record: I do not do 1-900 numbers. I go to the Mardi Gras!

I'm going to get you, John O'Brien.


In other news...

While walking along Central Street (Spfld) a few days back, a young girl passed me one of those little "praise the Lord" pamphlets that religious fanatics think will make us see the Light. This one was actually disguised as a miniature comic book.

Inside, the comic warned me that the the Bible says, "the wages of sin is death," and that this death "is HELL!" - with the word "hell" being decorated with little flames.

I was unimpressed, however. But at least I took the time to snap a photo of it.


And last but certainly not least, I have a brand-new weblog by the spiffy name of "The Springfield Intruder". You can check it out HERE. The SI is pretty much more of the same ol' crap I write, only instead of divying it up between the New England Rogue Journal and this weblog, I'm putting all my Springfield stuff at the Intruder.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Roaming Springfield - a Couple of Days in June

Walking around Springfield the other day I came across the row of flowers planted along the MassMutual Center on Main Street. But something was missing!

"Did someone swipe the flowers?" I wondered, surprised at the sight. I certainly hope it wasn't a case of vandalism. It's quite possible, too, that they were looking ill, so the City was having them re-planted.


Last Wednesday I was downtown and came across the welcoming home ceremony for Iraq veteran and Springfield teacher Jose H. Irizarry.

Above, the "Star Spangled Banner" is being sung.
And below, the Puerto Rican National Anthem.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Simpsons All Over The World

For those who believe the effort to bring the Simpsons cartoon phenomenon home to our very own Springfield is a waste of time - or perhaps even detrimental to our city's reputation, I can only say that you need to look at this contest from the eyes of an outsider: True Simpsons fans are found all over the world, as evidenced by the hits my little post on the matter has received from places such as France and the United Kingdom. The evening cartoon, immature as it is to so many cynics, has an enormous following and fan loyalties that span the globe. The winning Springfield of the "Simpsons Movie" contest will be recognized internationally as the home of Bart and Homer Simpson. And that recognition will mean, at the very least, thousands of Google searches from folks eager to find out more about the actual city of the Simpsons.

How can this be a bad thing? One argument says that the cartoon Springfield is dysfunctional and corrupt and that people would assume our city to be the same. Well, first of all, for a time it actually was the same. But secondly, and more importantly, I cannot accept that premise as being a serious concern. Nobody is going to "laugh" at our Springfield just because we [may] have won the honor of being the home of The Simpsons. Any laughter that our city gets is due to our actual problems, not anything transferred from a cartoon city. And Springfield has been getting laughed at for all the wrong reasons for several years now, so there's no reason for us to be annoyed by any positive laughter brought in by this movie contest.

People come to Springfield for so many bad reasons - like "affordable" housing and cheap and easily available drugs (it certainly isn't because of jobs). Becoming the home of The Simpsons would be yet another good reason for folks to come to our city.

And it's so easy to make it happen. Win a contest, get the honor. Just like that.

The Simpsons phenomenon may not last for too long, but as long as it does last, it should be Springfield, Massachusetts, that reaps some of the benefits of its fame.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Powell Begins City Council Bid

Springfield City Council Candidate Karen Powell kicked off her campaign at the John Boyle O'Reilly Club in Springfield, MA, on Tuesday evening surrounded by friends and supporters, including Mayor Charles V. Ryan, various City Councilors of diverse repute, and local political pundit Tommy Devine. John O'Brien, of Bax and O'Brien fame, hosted the event and almost managed not to offend anyone in the crowd (sorry Ben Swan).

First up at the podium was 2006 Teacher of the Year Melinda Pellerin-Duck. Duck talked about Springfield's past troubles and her confidence in Powell's ability to make the right decisions in the future. She recalled their crusades together as they marched and packed the City Council chambers - much to the dismay of the councilors there. She said the citizens of Springfield could no longer afford complacency, and that those in Springfield's leadership needed to rebuild and not let down a public trust that has been betrayed so many times in the past.

Mayor Charles V. Ryan was next up to speak, and he talked about Powell's past efforts to make Springfield a better place to live. He said the Finance Control Board isn't going to be around forever and that the city needed people in office who could pick up where they leave off. He recalled first meeting the Powells when they ran their dog for mayor in 1999 (a protest statement against former Mayor Mike Albano). Ryan talked about his friendship with Karen Powell and his admiration for her determination to see things through get things done, and that it was that kind of drive that the City Council needed.

Karen Powell stepped up to the podium and spoke about her vision for Springfield, which she said has recovered quite a bit from past administrative misdeeds, but which still has a tough road ahead. She supports the work of the Springfield Finance Control, and believes it's important that their work continues. Powell has been active for years in fighting for what she believes are Springfield's best interests, and this campaign will be her first effort at making positive changes "from the inside [of government]."

For more on Karen Powell, check out this Reminder article. Below are some photographs I took while at the event.

Melinda Pellerin-Duck; John O'Brien; Mayor Charles V. Ryan

Karen Powell at the podium.

Karen Powell and supporter Kara Adams

Tommy Devine striking a pose.

That's me, making up for lost time in front of my computer with Kara Adams.

Karen and husband Bob Powell

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Simpsons: Missed it by a Hair(do)

[UPDATED: 6-18]
Well, I arrived at Court Square in Springfield, MA, at 2:20pm on Sunday to check out the Simpsons video shoot scheduled for 2:30pm that afternoon. Unfortunately, at the last minute they apparently decided to move up the time to before 2:00pm because of concerns about the weather. I looked around - it didn't exactly look like the "cast of thousands" as later headlined on the Masslive Simpsons blog. I asked around, and got a number of "about a couple hundred." The Republican later confirmed that count in their story on the event.

Oh well. As long as they got their video in.

People were still milling about and getting their Simpsons hairdos while I was there. And I got a neat photo of probably the ugliest bus I've ever seen in my life. Photos are below, and below them is a 5-minute video I took of the post-event.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

A longtime reader of "Earth to Bill" from Marietta, GA, occasionally sends up photographs of her favorite places, and she's recently e-mailed a few nice pictures from Georgia's Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. Included in the photos are shots of the "Illinois Monument," erected in 1914 in honor of an Illinois brigade that unsuccessfully attempted to take Cheatham Hill from Confederate forces in 1864. Take special note of the photo showing a tunnel next to the monument, where Union troops tried to dig under Confederate lines - using only bayonets, knives, and canteen cups.

Thanks Deborah!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Brother Gerry Appears on "Peoples Court"

Finally, somebody in the Dusty family gets his 15 minutes of fame!

On Wednesday, June 13th, 2007, my brother Gerry made his appearance on TV's "People's Court". He was the plaintiff in a case about a non-payment/partial payment of a bill for service.

Unfortunately, I missed it the show.

I waited all day for his episode to come on. There were three "People's Court" editions on that day - one at 11:00am, one 2:00pm, and another 3:00pm. And as fate would have it, the show segment he appeared on was the 3:00pm edition, which is about the same time I start my shift at the place that pays my mortgage. Just my luck.

Fortunately, my best buddy, Tony Danenza, commandeered my digital camera and snapped a bunch of photos for me in my absence. Thanks, Tony! You can check them out below.

Oh, yeah..... Gerry lost his case. Oh well. I still love ya, bro!

Tough luck, Man!

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Springfield River Walk & Bikway

On June 13th, 2007, I participated in the first meeting of the Friends of the Riverwalk was held in the Municipal Building in West Springfield, MA. The purpose of the meeting was to establish a plan for the promotion of the Connecticut River Walk and Bikeway, a paved pathway extending from Agawam in the south to Holyoke in the north, with eventual plans to link to other bikeways in the region.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Exploring East Columbus Avenue

For those unfamiliar with Springfield, MA, East Columbus Avenue runs parallel to Interstate 91, along its eastern side. It is a one way street, going northbound to match the northbound traffic of the highway. Its sister avenue, West Columbus Avenue, runs along Interstate 91's western side (and is also a one way, running southbound). The east/west split was due to the construction of Interstate 91 back in the 1960s. Before that, many of the side streets that now end at East Columbus Avenue (stumped by the highway) used to extend westward to the riverfront & railroad tracks. Oldtimers from the South End tend to blame the construction of Interstate 91 for the demise of that section of the city, though the flood of 1936 (among others) certainly didn't help any.


Entering onto East Columbus Avenue from the South End of Springfield, the road will eventually take you all the way to the center of downtown Springfield, where you will pass by the Symphony Hall & City Hall (to your right), followed by the hotels Sheraton & Marriot. There are underpasses along the way through which you can get to West Columbus Avenue. Curiously, the street signs are absent at these traffic-lighted intersections. I never noticed this until I attempted to photograph the street signs (for visual reference) for this post. Suffice to say, if you come to a traffic-lighted, four-way intersection while travelling up East Columbus Avenue, turning left will take you under the highway and then to West Columbus Avenue. Turning right will take you to Main Street.

Looking south toward the used car lots that line East Columbus Avenue in the South End.

Looking north toward Lombard Street.

The church at Howard Street.


And below is a video I did to accompany the photos.

NOTE: The above video includes a look at the burned down "Loui's Auto Body". HERE IS A LINK to a video I made a few months back of Loui's.

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