Friday, March 31, 2006

Little Brother has a posse

Have you seen the Little Brother is Watching billboard up along the pike? The one near the gun violencee billboard? Yeah, the state's trying to pull the thing down. Brian McGrory at the Globe has the details.

It seems that the state's Outdoor Advertising Board is using some real ticky-tack technicality to force the billboard out of the sky. It's a clear case of someone's political panties are in a bunch, and now the apparackik has made a veiled threat to the gun violence billboard as well:

For now, Little Brother remains in place, but here's where it gets really touchy. Rosenthal has crusaded against gun violence, and this month he repapered his 252-foot-long antigun billboard, shaming states that don't require background checks for private gun sales.

Suddenly, state bureaucrats were checking on a waiver Rosenthal received 11 years ago that allowed a billboard that large. ''I've had several people ask me about it," Bickley acknowledged. ''Eventually, someone may challenge it." Who would challenge a billboard that discourages gun violence? That remains unclear.

How thuggish is that? After years and national exposure for his gun violence billboard, John Rosenthal has to listen to some guy tell him his free speech must be curtailed because there's a subprovision in a bylaw somewhere that says his views and opinion are geographically too close to advertisements. God save us all.

The Boston Herald needs to stop

Good grief.

What really bothers me about the Herald's wall-to-wall coverage of the Scalia hand gesture isn't that they totally screwed up and called the gesture obscene (It's absolutely, 100% is not). It's that they manufactured this controversy by missing a mistake by a reporter, and then claimed the mistake was actually part of a larger national conversation over whether the gesture was obscene.

In effect, they screwed up and put in on Scalia so they could sell more papers. It's slimy and unethical.

It's easy to hate on Scalia, not because I disagree with virtually every opinion we writes on the court, but because he's a prickly asshole. But he isn't stupid. Apparently, however, the Herald thinks you are. Why else would they feed us this ridiculous line?

* Full disclosure: I used to work for Community Newspaper Company, which is owned by Herald Media.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sleight of Wilbur

What the Hell?

I was about to post about the Wily Mo Pena-Bronson Arroyo deal, and I based it on kicking Eric Wilbur in the teeth for his "gentleman's agreement" line on his blog. But now that line is gone, and the post starts with what was the second paragraph.

So did Wilbur realize he was wrong? If so, why not cross the line out or admit it was incorrect in a separate post or in an update? Why scrub the line instead of owning up to a dumbass comment?

Clearly, I'm more pissed because it screws up the premise of the following post, but hey, what can I do? Wilbur totally caved/showed some modicum of integrity by correcting a mistake, even if he did it in an underhanded, "I never said that" sort of way.

Whatever. Here's the now obsolete post:

Pity poor Eric Wilbur. As news broke of today's Red Sox deal sending
Bronson Arroyo to Cincinnati for outfielder Wily Mo Pena, the blogger had to rely on his own memory in recalling
Bronson's recent contract extension with the Sox. It was a three-year
deal under Bronson's Market value. Wilbur seems to recall a
gentleman's agreement, where the Sox said they would not trade Bronson
in exchange for the lighter salary. And thus, Wilbur's hackles are up,
claiming the Sox reneged on a handshake deal and should be ashamed of
themselves. He writes:

"The moral? Don't make any gentleman's agreements with the Red Sox."

Poor Wilbur. If only there were a way to look up written articles from
the recent past. Something like a virtual library, where things that
have been written are stored forever. And there would be this clever
and easy way to sift through the veritable googol of pages in that
virtual, world-wide library, so he could find just what he was looking
for by typing in some key words.

Had that technology existed, and Wilbur typed in the words "arroyo
deal," he would maybe have found Chris Snow's Boston Globe article on
the deal
, dated Jan. 20:

The Sox, according to Arroyo, told him they have no immediate
intentions of moving him.

''They didn't give me any guarantees," said Arroyo, who began looking
into buying a place in Boston. ''But Jed and Ben [Cherington] both
stated to me there were no deals on the table for me now, and they
felt pretty strongly I wouldn't be traded anywhere in the near

Or maybe he could have found the Providence Journal's take, where Sean
McAdam had this

"I want to stay here for my whole career," said Arroyo. "I think it's
a move that's going to be beneficial to me as well as the team for
right now, at this point in my career. Hopefully they see it that way
and don't trade me."

Arroyo spoke with co-general managers Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherrington
before agreeing to the deal and received no guarantees that he
wouldn't be dealt.

"But Jed and Ben both stated to me that there were no deals on the
table and they felt pretty strongly that I wouldn't be traded
anywhere, anytime in the near future," Arroyo said. "Not that they
could guarantee me any security for the lifetime of the contract. But
at no time in the near future did they see me going anywhere."

That could have gone a long way in stirring Wilbur's memory, and maybe
he would start to see that there was no "gentleman's agreement," as he
so eloquently put it. Heck, a little more digging on this
interconnected, web-like portal of information would likely have
yielded this AP story on, which stated:

Arroyo said neither of the Red Sox co-general managers, Jed Hoyer and
Ben Cherington, could promise him that he won't be traded.

But hey, we don't live in a world with that sort of unlimited access
to information. Would that we had such a fast and easy portal, almost
like a superhighway of ideas and information!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

you'll be a dentist...

I think my dentist has marked me as a wuss.

I just had a caviry filled. The dentist who did the work is great; Happy, calm, friendly.

So she set me up in the chair and gave me a topical swap to numb me up for the novacaine shot. I asked her to wait like a minute, because the last time I had a cavity filled, they shot me up right after applying the topical, and it hurt like Hell. So she agreed, and even daubed a little more of the topical stuff before she started. OK.

She starts to drill, and things are going fine. Apparently, though, this cavity of mine was way back on the far end of my last tooth, and it was hard for the dentist to get to it. So she pulls back on my cheek a little harder, and says, “You’re doing fine.”

I’m doing fine?

I wasn’t aware I was doing anything. But OK, maybe she was talking more to herself than me. Like I said, she’s wicked nice and good at what she does.

So she keeps working, and I hear drill bits grinding to a stop on the tooth. Which is awful, but what are you going to do? I didn’t feel anything, although I could smell the burning tooth and sense the vibration come to an abrupt stop. “You’re doing great.”

Wait, what?

Then I start to realize: She thinks I’m freaking out. But I wasn’t, and I know I wasn’t. I wasn’t grimacing, I didn’t say anything, or pull away. So why does she think I’m about to break down in the chair?

I start to wrack my brain as she continues to work. She’s tugging hard at my cheek, because if she doesn’t, she says, she’ll cut the cheek. She took her hands out of my mouth and I say, “I appreciate that,” trying to use a little humor to let her know I’m all good.

She gives off a little (forced) laugh and said “You’re doing a great” again.

She starts to work again, and I realize, it has to be because of the form I filled out last year when I started with this dentist. It had a question about whether you feel anxious about seeing a dentist, and I checked “a little.” I wanted to be honest, because I don't entirely like the idea of someone poking around my mouth with needles and drills. But maybe everyone lies on that form, and tries to play themselves off as cooler than they are. So to the dentist, "No" means "A little" and "A little" means "Hell yeah I'm scared."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rollover in Revere. Or was it Saugus?

I saw a horrible accident yesterday on a highway between Revere and Saugus. Which town it happened in became an important detail, for reasons I still don't understand.

But first, here's what happened: I’m driving south on Lynn Marsh Road in Revere at about 4:30 or 5 p.m. yesterday. If you aren’t from around here, Lynn March Road is a long, straight shot through the marsh between Revere and Saugus. And when I say straight, I mean it: It’s where most kids would go to drag back when that was still cool. It’s almost impossible to drive down the mile and a half or so of road without speeding.

So I’m driving back toward Revere, and I see a cloud of dust, like sand billowing up in the air, about 1,000 feet in front of me. That’s not entirely unusual, because everything is so flat there. But it’s a lot of dust, like maybe someone is kicking up sand from the side of the road.

That’s when I see the car on the other side of the road; it hits the guardrail, stops, and pulls to one side like someone yanked on a string behind it. Then it pops up and flips in the air, hits the ground, and rolls over a couple more times. Once it settles on its back, the car spins down toward the far side of the road.

I pulled out my cell phone and called 911.* A bunch of people stopped and ran over to the upended car. By the time I got there, both passengers were out of the car. One guy was on the ground, flat on his back. He didn’t have any obvious injuries, but he was yelling and writhing around. It was hard to tell if it was pain or if he was just upset.

His buddy, though, was up and walking around, but the right side of his face was covered in blood. Covered. The eye was swollen shut and his shirt was quickly soaking with the blood pouring down. Everyone (there were about two dozen people out of their cars at this point) kept imploring him to sit down, but he didn’t want to or didn’t understand.

At one point, he turns to me and a couple of other guys and asks “Is my face fucked up? If my face fucked up?” No, we all say, it’s just a little blood. You’re fine, you’re fine.

The kid talks to an older man in Spanish. The old man then turns to me and asks if I have a cell phone. I pull it out. “He wants to call his mother.”

OK, I ask, what’s the number? The kid starts to tell me the number, but he can’t get it straight. It took him a couple fo tries to get a number out, whish I dial and gave him the phone. After a couple of seconds he hands it back and starts to pace again. He never spoke with anyone.

Now we’re all just waiting for the cops and ambulance. The guys seem fine to the naked eye, so people start looking more closely at the car. Everyone sees the vodka bottle.

It’s one of those fruit flavored vodkas, with a green cap. I can’t tell if the bottle is open or not.

A fire truck and ambulance pull up at the same time. At that point, the EMT tells everyone to step away from the car. We all shuffle back and start to talk.

“Did you see the bottle?” one guy asks us.

“Yeah, I saw it,” I say. “I don’t know if it was open or not.”

“We should have thrown it out,” the guy says, only half kidding.

I don’t say anything at that point, because frankly, if the kid was loaded and driving that fast on the highway, I want the cops to figure that out.

Cop cars, fire trucks and ambulances from both cities are pouring in at this point. We all waited there as the kids were loaded up onto those boards and taken into the ambulances, then started to disperse. I asked a firefighter if anyone needed to speak with me, because I made the call to 911. He said no, you’re free to go. And I left.

I got in my car and pulled out my phone again. Before I started to dial, though, I found a bloody fingerprint on my phone. I wiped if off with a bandana and threw the rag out of the car. Then I went home.

*Calling 911 was a bit of an ordeal.

I had dialed 911 when I saw the car flip. Cell calls to 911 direct you to the state police, which is a horribly inefficient use of time for the Staties, the people in the accident, and the local police who are going to respond to the call. After the accident, a friend told me the state’s trying to set up a system where your call is triangulated and directed to the closest local authority. Let’s hope that’s done sooner rather than later.

So I got the Staties and I told them, “I’m on Route 107 on the Revere-Saugus line. A car just rolled over on the highway.”

The dispatcher asked which town I was in. I said I wasn’t sure, that we were in between Revere and Saugus. “I need you to tell me what town you’re in so I can direct your call.”

“Ok, Revere,” I said slightly annoyed.

So she connects me to Revere, and I repeat what happened.

“Which town are you in?” asks the Revere dispatcher.

“It’s Lynn Marsh Road. I don’t know which town exactly. It’s right on the line. I think it’s Revere.”

Then she asks for a landmark, and I don’t see one. Finally, she asks “are you near the lobster place?”

I turn around, and sure enough, there it is, about 500 feet down the road.


This bothered the Hell out of me. I know the area very well, and I know that Cataldo, the ambulance service Revere contracts with, is literally two minutes away. They are the ones who are going to get the call. I know this, and I’m not a cop. The dispatcher knows this too, so why the third degree about which town? I also know that both towns will respond to an accident on this road, so what gives? Maybe there’s an excellent reason beyond “We don’t want to spend the money and resources on an accident in someone else’s town,” which is all I can figure. But it doesn’t make sense.

Look, Revere’s one of those towns where everyone has a horror story about the cops, and I think overall that’s bullshit. I’ve never been harassed by the cops in Revere, and in the times when I have had to deal with them, they were really professional, even the older cops who some people have specifically told me are jerks. So I like the cops here. I couldn’t imagine the dispatcher I spoke with cares about which town picks up the tab for responding here. So what was the deal?

Friday, March 03, 2006

All I wanted was some Sam Cooke

Best Buy, Square One Mall, Saugus, MA. 8:45 p.m. CD section.

Me: Excuse me, can you tell me where the Motown section is?

Best Buy bubble gum girl with fake tan: Umm, let me see.

Me: OK.

(We start to walk to the back of the section)

BBBGG: Did you say Botown?

Me: (pause) I'm sorry?

BBBGG: Was that Botown?

Me: Motown. Moe. Moe-Town.

BBBGG: Oh. (Pause) Let me call someone who can help you.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cape Wind, Don Young, and sleazeball politics

Think Washington's lobbying scandal has nothing to do with you? Think about this:

Everyone around here knows about Cape Wind and the pitched battle playing out down on the cape. The latest came out of the Globe: Representative Don Young of Alaska has inserted an amendment to the Coast Guard reauthorization bill to kill the Cape Wind proposal. The Washington Post has picked up on the story.

So a Representative from Alaska wants to kill a wind farm proposal in Massachusetts. Let's look beyond the obvious, that Alaska's oil industry feels threatened by the prospect of successful offshore wind farms. Young has been lobbied hard by the deep-pocketed opponents of the wind farm. Apparently, the view from a millionaire's window is worth at least $100,000 in disposable cash. And that's just from the first half of last year.

Add into that Young's entanglement with Jack Abramoff (exposed by the always great Talking Points Memo), and you start to get a picture of the street fighter nature of this issue. The rich folk on Cape Cod are willing to purchase a renegade representative to kill a renewable energy project that's been green lighted at every regulatory venue. And Don Young's services are clearly up for sale. So you tell me; Does hiring an Alaskan lobbyist and giving him huge gobs of cash translate into legislative action? Or was Don Young of Alaksa always intested in the shipping routes along Horseshoe Shoal near Cape Cod, some 4,700 miles away?