Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Little Perspective Is A Good Thing

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rebuilding New Orleans Music Community

Help me get the word out to the Greater Boston Blogosphere, would ya? Copy and paste a link to this post and email it to all of your friends in Greater Boston.

Katrina has done much to tear the heart and soul of Louisiana -- and while Americans from across the Nation are pitching in to help Louisianans rebuild their lives, blues artists from Massachusetts are coming together to raise money in aid of their soul brothers and sisters in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Sunday, Oct. 9, 2005, from 1pm to 1am

Shooters/Club 58, Parkingway, Quincy Ctr

New Blue Cross 2005 Benefit for
Louisiana Blues Community Relief

Tony Lynn Washington
James Montgomery
Ricky "King" Russell, Shorty Billips
Shirley Lewis, Racky Thomas
Jon Justice Band from KY
Weepin Willie
The Boston Soul Revue
Chris Fitz , John the Conqueror
Mission of Blues,
Chris Stovall Brown
“Undaunted” Professor Harp
The HouseRockers, Rythym J’oes, Gregg Miller
Cindy Daley Blues Band
Lisa Marie & All Shook Up,
Brad Faucher, The Steve Murphy Band
Slo-Burn, Hoodoo Revelator
Russ Costa Band, Dominic Micarelli,
Ted Leutz, Scottie O’Brien
Memphis Rockabilly, The Jaywalkers
Kassie Buckley Band
Basic Black, John the Conqueror
Blind Billy & The Spectacles

Sponsored By New Blue Prods., Purple Eggplant Café’,
Next Page Blues Café, & Crossroads Music

Side stage will feature solo acoustic acts all day. More acts being added every day!!All funds going to musicians in need in conjunction with The Baton Rouge Blues Society and the The New Orleans Musicians Clinic!
Get Directions to Shooters HERE

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Vile, Tasteless Humor

I confess. I love a good groaner. The kind of humor that makes you feel ashamed that it made you laugh. Politically incorrect expecially. Wincing, blushing, I'm-am-ashamed-to-call-myself-an-American type.

And now, apparently, a sufficient amount of time has passed since the grave tragedy of Katrina for the internet-based community to start pumping out tasteless photo-humor on the plight of New Orleans hurrican victims.

As it usually is with this material, there is some biting social commentary lurking close to the surface (if it isn't slapping you fresh in the face).

So here we go with the "looter jokes."

Of course, when you are rendered homeless by the most powerful hurrican in centuries, and you are left without power or food, it is most adviseable to stock up on carbohydrates --gonna be a long time before the delivery truck comes around again.

Likewise, in the immediate aftermath of this catastrophe, when FEMA and the Red Cross first announced the distribution of the $2,000 debit cards, who didn't harbor a deep cynicism that they would be used by some for less-than-emergency purposes?

Okay, I'm a little conflicted -- but you know, when human nature shows its ugly self in flagrante, I believe it is necessary that we demonstrate our disdain for the worst that people have to offer -- and lest some sanctimonious reader care to chastise me for exhibiting "racist" tendencies, well --- GFY. This has nothing to do with race. It has to do with the worst crass opportunism and selfishness that can be caught on camera.

On Politicians and Hot Air

In contemplation of the Katrina finger-pointing hangover, perhaps this parable is apt:

A man became lost while riding in a hot air balloon. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below.

He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The woman below replied, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.

"I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me may be technically correct, but its of no use to me, and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip."

The woman below responded, "You must be a politician."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

As It Should Be

If it's good enough for Ruth Ginsburg, it's surely good enough for John Roberts.

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Major Leaguer Walks the Walk

Ever since Curt Schilling became a member of the Boston Red Sox, I have been a huuuuuuuuge fan of his. The man's heart is a mile wide. He's a ferocious competitor and a strong leader in the clubhouse and on the field. His dictionary doesn't have the word "quit" in it. He's got great morals and ethics. And he speaks his mind, intelligently and respectfully (unless, of course, you're talking about Jose Canseco, in which case, the adjectives simply are inapplicable).

Curt has taken some lumps in the press and on talk radio (typical of Boston sportfandom) for shooting his mouth off, for going to Washington D.C. to testify at the steroids hearings, blah blah. They should all just shut up.

Anybody who has his ankle tendons stitched to his bone so he can hurl a World Series winner is walking the walk, not just talking the talk. So he can say whatever the heck he wants -- especially if he says it the way Schilling does -- frankly, forthrightly, and respectfully.

And this giant (in my book) just
showed once again that when it comes to walking the walk, there's no one above him.

Moved by the plight of thousands of Gulf Coast residents whose lives were shattered by Hurricane Katrina, the star pitcher and his wife arranged to fly up a family and to put them up in a Boston-area hotel, where the family has been since Saturday.

The Fields family has seven children, four boys and three girls. They are between the ages of 5 and 12. The family fled its New Orleans home just before the storm, with only a few clothes and groceries.

As they realized the scope of the devastation in New Orleans, the Schillings decided to help, and they chose a personal, immediate gesture rather than a simple contribution of money....

...The Schillings have pledged to provide housing for the family for a year, and are trying to arrange for the children to attend school. The Fieldses plan to attend their first-ever Major League baseball game, tonight at Fenway Park....

...The Schillings have visited the family frequently since they arrived, bringing clothing, medicine and toys, and have called several times to check in, Fields said.

''They are beautiful people, God-loving people," Fields said. ''I am very grateful for what he's done for me."

And they did all this anonymously -- until the press found out about it.

This, people, is truly walking the walk.

A Lot of Work To Do

We're getting 2500 refugees at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod.

We'll be going down to lend a hand there.

Hope everyone else finds a way to help!

Caption Fun

This picture, sent to me by one of my birdy-loving friends, begs for a caption. I'm not in a joking mood at the moment. How 'bout you?

Alumnus Embarrassed No More

Last week I expressed my embarrassment at the apparent heavy-handedness with which a lawyer representing Phillis Academy treated the administrator of a poor urban New Orleans charter school that sought to use the same name. It turns out that things didn't happen quite in the fashion that was initially reported in the Times-Picayune. Imagine that -- a newspaper reporting the facts wrong.

I closed that post by saying this: "It would be my hope that in the future, Dr. Chase sees the efficacy in picking up the phone herself, before the white shoe litigators are unleased on the unsuspecting principals of struggling minority charter schools in the Louisiana bayou, and suggesting (in the convincing manner that heads-of-school quickly develop) that Andover would be most willing to contribute the cost of a name change, if that would be fine with him, and 'do please keep me informed of any of your students who you consider to be compelling candidates for an Andover education.'"

Well please accept my apology, Dr. Chase, for being oblivious to the fact that that you had already done exactly that.

According to an Open Letter to the Phillips Academy Community, When this contretemps was first reported in the Times-Picayune, the co-founder of the national charter school organization known as KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program), Michael Feinberg, sent a letter to the editor of the Times-Picayune, a copy of which was given to Globe Columnist Alex Beam before he wrote his column.

Before he wrote his column.

Let's take a look at snippets of Mr. Feinberg's letter:

.....While some may have gotten the impression that this was a David vs. Goliath adversarial struggle, the reality is that we resolved potential trademark confusion with a cordial phone call and a generous agreement that Phillips Academy would reimburse KIPP for new signs. There was no acrimony or threats or bullying, and we fully respect the legitimate interest that Phillips Academy has in monitoring its trademarks. That school’s name is synonymous with the best in education, and we are proud that graduates of the KIPP schools in Washington, DC, New York, and Houston have matriculated to Phillips Academy. Indeed, we are similarly proud of the KIPP name and protect it just as much....

...The fact is that KIPP and Phillips Academy of Andover value each others’ missions and respect each others’ efforts. Although it might be easy to take potshots at a 227 year old institution with the history and prestige of Phillips Academy (and, of course, any lawyer), that simply wouldn’t be fair. We were happy to work with them to resolve concerns, both schools remain committed to providing an excellent education for our students, and we hope that many of our KIPPsters will become Phillips Academy graduates....

So, as between KIPP and Phillips Academy, there appears to be a history of collaboration and collegiality. And since they're the main players in the story, that would seem to be all that matters.

But I am not so eager to let attorney Whitman off the hook, for my instinct tells me that she was the catalyst behind this "misunderstanding" all along.

As the Open Letter described the chronology of events, " [b]y July 15, when KIPP had not responded, Michele Whitham of PA's law firm Foley Hoag wrote to Mr. Robichaux to reiterate the academy’s need to protect its trademark. Soon after, Ms. Whitham and Mr. Robichaux spoke briefly on the phone to discuss the concerns. Regrettably, some misunderstandings arose during the course of that conversation and created some tension.." And, when the Times-Picayne initially wrote the story, the reporter "used an inaccurate representation of the phone call between our counsel and Mr. Robichaux to sensationalize the situation."

Now this requires some vetting. The reporter's story used quotes from Mr. Robichaux: "Are you aware that President Bush graduated from our school?" Whitham said, according to Robichaux. "There's nothing funny about this -- we could go further. . . . And do you have the resources to fight this?"

So in order for the representation to be inaccurate, Mr. Robichaux would have to have been misquoted or lying. Which is it? Unless he happened to know independently that both Bushes went to Andover, he couldn't have been lying about that part of the conversation with Whitman. And it seems like an awfully curious thing for a reporter to have deliberately invented. My bet is Whitman has a nasty streak (odd thing for a litigator, eh?).

One very important point needs to be made about Mr. Beam.

If it is indeed true that a columnist of his tenure entirely ignored Michael Feinberg's letter before writing his attack piece, then the Boston Globe needs, at the very least, to apologize to the Phillips Academy community and smack Beam around.

Beam arrogantly ends his August 30th column with the following gratutious slap: "Maybe the preppies should throw in a little hurricane relief to atone for their arrogance and stupidity."

While there is plenty of time to debate who are the arrogant and stupid in this, I hope he didn't miss this story that ran in his own newspaper four days later:

"Public and private schools across Massachusetts yesterday opened their doors to students displaced by Hurricane Katrina, offering financial aid, speedy enrollment, and help getting settled in their new home away from home....

...Phillips Academy received dozens of calls from families for spaces in its 1,080-student school, Barbara Chase, head of school, said.

Phillips staff members landed in Houston yesterday and plan to meet with families at public and private schools to gauge their interest in attending the private school. Students will have to take a placement test, and if accepted, the school could provide financial aid, Chase said.

''This is an extraordinary circumstance, and we want to open up our community," Chase said. ''All of us are just devastated by everything we're seeing."

So Alex, while you were patting yourself on the back for your righteousness, the preppies were at the Houston Astrodome with survivors, looking for kids to bring to campus.

And since last week, what have you done?

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