Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tax cap signatures submitted

The Concord Monitor had the good news today: ["City tax cap signatures submitted"].
Frankly, a 100-plus-signature spread is a little thin to me. But whatever. It will probably make it on the ballot and then we can have a serious discussion about the issue in Concord.
My gut tells me it will be a close election especially since Concord is more liberal than most places in New Hampshire and the turnout for Obama is going to be huge. But that doesn't mean it will automatically fail.
Later this week, I will have a post featuring a slew of reasons why the tax cap is needed in Concord and why I will be voting Yes for the tax cap.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Strip club ads in the Concord Monitor

During the month of July, there have been at least three advertisements in the Sports section of the Concord Monitor promoting Mark's Showplace, a strip club in Bedford [I'm sorry, "gentleman's club," and I think the only one in the state].
The first one was published in the Sunday, July 6, edition, featuring an appearance by former Penthouse Pet Taya Parker [for those of you who don't know, a Penthouse Pet is a woman who has appeared nude in Penthouse magazine]. The ad was about 1/16th of a page, so not very big, and was also relatively tasteful in the scheme of things especially when compared to other ads which appear in alternative weeklies. Instead of a Taya's flesh being glorified, her picture looks like an edited 8 x 10 promotional picture.
The ad also appeared again in the Sports section on July 10.
Before writing this post, I waited to see if anyone else would say anything. I thought for sure that some local pastor would have a hissy about the ad, similar to the response of the two men tonguing each other on the front page, above the fold, of the edition after civil unions became law in New Hampshire. But, there were no responses in the letters sections about the ads. This could mean two things: 1) Folks really didn't have a problem with strip club ads in the Monitor, or 2) the Monitor refused to print complaints about the ads. Either one could be true.

Sidebar: The latter could be very true, even more so now. The Monitor recently edited out factual comments from a My Turn column submitted by Rick Watrous. The censored comments were about former City Councilor and now Merrimack County Attorney candidate Kathy Rogers targeting Watrous with an unwarranted police investigation over him having a public document which he received from the city. I have written about this in previous posts on this site. Rogers has admitted to doing this and is currently being investigated by the city manager over whether the action was appropriate. But for whatever reason, the Monitor chose to censor the information out of Watrous' piece, protecting Rogers from much deserved criticism. Why would the Monitor protect a former elected official from criticism? In fact, one could go a step further and say that the Monitor completely dropped the ball on covering this issue in the first place. They had a reporter present at a City Council forum where Watrous and I chastised the Council for this complete misuse of police detective time and taxpayer resources. Instead, the reporter wrote about a couple of people complaining about the senior center. Yawn.

Back to the lack of letters issue. At the newspaper I work for, I refuse to publish any letters which might harm or damage the finances of the company [the way I get paid]. I also delete these comments from our Web site. My thinking is and always has been, if people want to cancel their subscriptions because they aren't happy about some silly little story, that's fine. But I'm not going to help them hurt the company I work for. That would just be plain stupid.
So, if the Monitor chose to not publish letters complaining about strip club ads [or any other ad or revenue stream the company needed], I wouldn't have a problem with that at all. The Monitor does let people complain about coverage [or usually, lack of coverage]. But, there is no real way of knowing about the letters and I wonder if anyone else has thought about this at all.
When there was no response to the ads and no further ads appeared, I didn't think anything of it. In fact, I totally spaced that I wanted to write about it.
But then, another Mark's Showplace ad appeared, this time, on Page C3 of the Wednesday, July 23, edition, promoting their "10 week competition contest" and a $3,000 grand prize. This ad was quite a bit racier: "THURSDAY NIGHTS AT MARKS BEST ASSESTS [sic]" with what appears to be a woman's backside in white spandex shorts. The ad was also right below the Wukesong Baseball feature explaining how baseball is played, how pitchers throw and when hitters know when to hit.
No other ads have appeared in the Monitor and no letters were published about this ad either.
Strip club ads in daily newspaper sports sections is not a new phenomenon. I've seen them in a lot of big daily newspapers over the years. The Boston Herald has had them, made most famous when it was rumored that then-Red Sox slugger Mo Vaughn frequented the Foxy Lady in Providence. But that is a gritty, big city tabloid not a quaint small city daily with a heavy tradition of being family-oriented and in touch with the community. Maybe our community doesn't care about this. But I have to wonder.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about all of this. Before I get to the reasons, a tad more historical background: I first began reading the Monitor in the 1970s at a very early age. I came to read the newspaper because I loved the game of baseball and, like most young boys, wanted to know and learn every single thing I could learn about the sport and the Boston Red Sox. There was no Internet then and I couldn't afford sports magazines. My mom bought the Monitor. That's where I got my baseball information.
Later, I became a peddler of the Monitor, delivering it to one and later two routes in the White Park area of the city. As I grew older and moved to the West End, I stopped delivering the newspaper. But my little brother picked up a route in our area and delivered it through his middle school years [now adults are delivering the newspaper for extra cash. What does that say about the economy?].
So, I can imagine that many young boys today are drawn to the Sports section of the Monitor for the same reasons I was drawn to it 30-plus years ago. While they have the Internet, I'm sure it is a popular part of the newspaper for younger readers. So, it would be a bit worrisome, at least in my mind, to see strip club ads in a section of the newspaper frequented by young people, especially such a racy ad right below an educational feature about baseball. And what does it say to the young woman on the front page celebrating a great golf shot to see in the same section a woman's backside prominently displayed?
I'm no prude. And, I'm not going to be a hypocrite and say that I've never seen a woman strip. I have. And I totally understand that some women feel the need to get into that line of business because it is their only economic option. With the state of the newspaper business, I can totally understand why the Monitor would not want to refuse the money from the ads. Hey, their cash is as green as anyone else's. I also understand that some men feel the need to frequent such establishments.
But those aren't really the points here. The larger question is that if these ads are proper for a small, community-oriented city daily [and that is arguable], should they appear in a Sports section where young readers will see them instead of maybe the section where the straight/gay dating classifieds and phone ads are located? That would seem a more appropriate section of the newspaper.
As we move into uncharted territory about how news is gathered and delivered, some things will change. This may be one we all have to accept. But it would be my hope that a bit more thought would be put into how these messages are delivered, especially when they could adversely affect young people who are already bombarded by violent and sexual images everywhere.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gas prices dropping

Well, maybe I was wrong about that $4 thing. Gas is slowing coming down around town. The lowest price I have seen is $3.89. Not a big drop - about a dime in a week - but noticeable just the same.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Silk Farm Road to close Aug. 20

If you use the cut-through St. Paul's School to get from I-89 to the west side of Concord, enjoy it while you can.
Silk Farm Road will close to vehicular traffic on Aug. 20 now that Langley Parkway has been completed over by Concord Hospital. Bright red signs adorn both entrances of St. Paul's School warning commuters and residents that the road will be closed to traffic from that date forward.
The school, hospital, and the City of Concord, paid for the new Langley Parkway, mainly to divert traffic from the school grounds and the often-jammed South Fruit Street, as well as save those oh so few "important" commuters from Bow and Hopkinton going to the hospital a couple of minutes on their commutes [tongue firmly planted in cheek with that comment].
In the process, they also took the land of the Tuttle family by eminent domain in order to get the road built. The city later moved the Tuttle family home to another location but not after the patriarch of the family had been driven to his grave by all the stress.
Interestingly, I have been on the new road twice during rush hour traffic and there were few cars on it. It actually is a nice ride, with woods, wetlands, and farmland now sprouting cornstalks on both sides. Let's hope all the street expansion for the hospital ends here.

On the radio tomorrow!

Hi all: Short notice here but I'll be on the radio again tomorrow. Samantha has the details here:

Saturday, July 19th, The Samantha Clemens Show is live on the air for two hours beginning at 9 AM (US eastern) on WMFO 91.5 FM Medford, and streaming live on-line:

Guest co-host: Tony Schinella. Tony is an award-winning journalist and publisher of

Guests this week:

  • Craig Sandler, owner and Managing Director of the State House News Service, returns to tell us all about how much debt the state of Massachusetts is in (did anyone say Big Dig?), how we're going to save money on schools, and maybe even how the state of Florida might go blue.
  • Dedrick Muhammed, Senior Organizer and Research Associate for the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies and former National Field Director for Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action, returns to talk about Obama's support of delivering social programs through religious institutions, Jackson's comments, and whether there is a generation gap in the black community on these issues.

Other topics on our minds:

  • Why is Dick Morris writing in that the Presidential race is tied? And Mark Mellman is writing in the same issue that Obama's lead is 'wrongly minimized'?
  • Should human rights be extended to nonhumans - we're talking the great apes - chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans ? Well, they are in Spain? The most fundamental right of all - the right to not be eaten for food? But, how about medical research? How about the right to not be locked up in a zoo? What about monkeys - they're not apes, but they're still kind of cute? What about giant squid? They're not as cute, but they live long and maybe be sentient?

Something you want to talk about? let me know:


War News Radio - beginning at 8:30 am (30 minute pre-recorded report) - War News Radio fills the gaps in the media's coverage of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan by providing balanced and in-depth reporting, historical perspective, and personal stories.

Media Minutes - 10:00 (5 minute pre-recorded report) - the longest-running syndicated radio program of its kind focused on media policy and reform. Media Minutes tracks the latest industry developments, keeps an eye on Washington policy-makers, and talks to the experts and activists dedicated to changing our media environment for the better.

If you have any questions for this week's guests, suggestions for future topics or guests, comments on our show, would like to get on the email list or have an event that you would like us to mention on the air, send them to

Someone got sick ...

Apparently, according to one of the lifeguards on Thursday, the Kimball Park pool was closed Wednesday night because I boy became very ill and threw up in the pool. No one yet on why White Park pool was closed at the same time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kimball, White Park pools closed

Two of the city's pools were closed tonight. Kimball Park pool was closed during the 5:30 to 7 p.m. session reportedly after someone had an accident in the pool.
White Park pool was also closed during the evening session but no reason was given for the closing. The sign stated that people should use one of the other open pools in the city. It should also be noted that the park is in the process of being reconstructed.
Over at Rollins Park, the pool was open at 6 p.m. ... but it was also a mob scene, with probably close to a hundred kids and parents trying to cool off from the hot July evening.
No notice was posted on the Recreation Department's Web site to let people know that the pools would be closed and it will be interesting to see if the pools will actually be open tomorrow or not.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Carole King in town!

Short notice on this one, from Gibson's Bookstore, but worth posting anyhow:

Tues., July 15, 3:00 to 4:30 PM
Carole King

A campaign appearance on behalf of Barack Obama
Singer and songwriter Carole King will be at Gibson's on Tuesday to talk about why she supports the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama. Sorry for the late notice--that seems to be the nature of presidential campaigns!

Anyone who is my age, give or take 10 or 20 years, will remember Ms. King as the artist who gave us "But Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "It's Too Late," "You've Got a Friend," and many other classics. More recently she has worked with artists as diverse as Eric Clapton, Slash (!), and Mary J. Blige. She's a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, and has won four Grammy Awards. She's been politically active at least since 1972, having campaigned for George McGovern, Gary Hart, and John Kerry.

She'll be talking policy instead of singing, but I for one will be very happy to meet her. Get here early, I have a feeling this will be Standing Room Only.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My last gallon of gas for less than $4?

It looks like it. On Monday, I filled the tank with $3.95 regular from Hess. Across the street at the Gulf, it was $4.07. On Loudon Road, it was $4.13. Down in Massachusetts, it is in the $4.15-plus range. The Irving on N. State Street that I normally go to was at $3.99 on Monday but had dropped down to $3.95 Tuesday night and was that price this morning. So, maybe I will hit that one up on my way home.
As an aside, the new Chevy commercial saying the Cobalt has better mileage than the Civic is a total lie. It supposedly gets 36 mpg and my Civic gets between 38 and 39 most of the time. The highest was 42 when I first bought it. And that's not driving miserly at 55 mph. That's regularly driving 65 mph-plus. So there you go. If I wer Honda, I would complain about that one because it just isn't true.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Following up on Chris Sakey's death ...

The Concord Monitor's Ray Duckler did a pretty good job of following up on the death of punk musician Chris Sakey earlier this week: ["His friends will remember his music"]. I'm quoted in the article, along with some of Chris' other friends and former bandmates. Duckler does a really good job to not glorify some of the more difficult times of Sakey's life. Nice job indeed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

George Belli acoustic

George Belli plays acoustic at Cheers on Thursday, July 3 and 17, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the patio. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Punk rocker with long criminal, psych history, dies

Editor's Note: This is a corrected version of an earlier post.
Chris Sakey, a Granite State punk rock musician with a long history of psych problems and criminal activity, died last week after jumping off a local building, according to today's Concord Monitor: ["Man jumps to death"].
I knew Chris back in the day. We played together in a noise band called Insanicide in the mid-1980s, along with Jim Hildreth and Andrew Smith, all bored teenagers from New Hampshire with nothing to do.
The band had a revolving door policy in that we would each show up for whatever gig, whenever we could, and do whatever we felt like musically. It was a ton of fun. The punks hated us because we were "arty," but they tolerated us because we would bring some folks to the shows and we weren't bad people.
Chris was more metal than the rest of us. He would pull out these scaled solos on the guitar while Jim would pound out these dissident bass lines and Andrew and I would just stand there and allow our guitars to feedback at gutwrenching volumes, shaking buildings and forcing people to move away from the stage. It was kinda like a cross between Motorhead and Philip Glass. I often likened my guitar sound during this time period to what it would sound like if a whale was being tortured at the Hanoi Hilton. We didn't think we were all that great at the time. We were just having fun. But, listening to some of the tapes in later years, we were way ahead of our time.
I also knew, God rest his soul, that Chris was completely bats.
I remember to this day [1984? 1986?] driving around Boston for some reason that I can't remember, in his beat up car, trying to find a parking space. The car didn't have a knob for the blinkers. So Chris stuck in a toothbrush into the jam. It would work for him but it didn't for me. I had to take over driving for him because he hadn't taken his meds or something and was overcome with these painful headaches. I'm trying to drive this car - a total wreck - in the Fens area, looking for a space. The toothbrush isn't working for the blinkers, so I'm constantly hand signaling while turning, pissing off Boston drivers, who continually honk at us. Chris kept screaming at me to find a parking space. I looked over at Jim and he didn't say much but we both tried to calm him down. Chris, however, wasn't having any of it, holding onto his head, with a perfectly coiffed mohawk and a pained look on his face.
After finally finding a parking space, I asked Jim what the problem was, and Jim stated, if I recall correctly, in his deadpan way, "He's fucking nuts."
I never noticed this behavior during the gigs but I wasn't really paying attention either. I was in my own world and the music wasn't structured enough to require looking at the other musicians to figure out what was going on. We just listened and watched Jim and sensed when he was ready to stop and we would too.
He had great lyrics and a great, snarky attitude. One of the better song titles was "Peace, then what?" One line that sticks in my head to this day is this: "Sperm drips down from the trees, see it hanging off green leaves ..." We would rank on baby boomers, with Jim calling our time "the summer of love skins," because AIDS was just starting to rage in certain population sectors. Simply hilarious.
I stopped playing with Insanicide a short time after that, moving to NYC and later Boston, attempting to start my own "career" in music. For about two decades, I was in and out of all sorts of bands, self-producing music, doing small tours, etc. On two different occasions, I left bands that went onto bigger things, solidifying my position as just another New England musician who never really "made it." The trail is long and full of them, although I still play guitar to this day.
I lost track of Jim for a while there but he did visit me in NYC during one recording session in 1987 or 1988. He was living in Vermont at the time and I believe he lives in upstate New York now.
Andrew, who also played in the Eunuchs of Industry, lived in Boston for a while and released some very cool 7-inch records, including "Boneyard," one of my favorite noise records of all time. He later resettled in Europe. We talked by email last year and I'm still attempting to dub all the Insanicide stuff to mp3 with some decent mastering so he can upload the files to his Web site for all the world to hear.
As for Chris, he didn't fare too well and one could have suspected that it would all lead to this in the end.
Sometime in 1987, Chris hooked up with Lisa Carver aka Lisa Suckdog, who also did punk shows with us, and they moved to Philadelphia. According to Carver's book, "Drugs are Nice: A post-punk memoir," Chris allegedly said he was going to rape her one morning and came after her, and she attacked him with a hot iron [Chapter 7, Page 40]. According to the book, Chris later moved out, quit his job so he can spy on Lisa and her roommate Rachel, and later moved to California to go the music school.
Years later, in 1997 or 1998, Chris would allegedly attempt to murder Barbara Becht, the owner of the Elvis Room in Portsmouth, according to the Portsmouth Herald Web site. I didn't know about this but looking back, it doesn't surprise me.
If I knew he lived in Concord, I might have tried to look up him. Then again, I probably would not have because I knew the guy was dangerous.
Hopefully now, Chris is finding some peace and quiet. R.I.P.

Maybe it's because it is Tuesday ...

... the thinnest newspaper day of the week in most cases, but the Monitor is again 20 pages this morning. I have to admit though that I really like the Local news stuck in the middle of the A section, with sports and classifieds in the B section. It makes for an easier read. I wonder if anyone else is noticing that there is a better flow to the read.
In other quick news, the Insider is also hiring a reporter to replace its current reporter, who is being bumped up to editor after Danielle Kronk got promoted to replace Mark Travis a bit ago [Congrats Danielle!]. This is a rare opportunity for a new reporter to start out working for a niche publication at a daily while still living in New Hampshire. Granted, it's not a big city union daily, but it is daily nonetheless.
Speaking of media jobs, there are not a lot out there in our local area. The Monitor has an Editor/Page Designer position open. There are radio sales jobs around. The Hippo has yet another ad for a reporter. I love the headline they put on "Newspapers are not dead." Hilarious. But I can't figure out if it is the same unfilled position or if the turnover there is just very high. NHPR has some new listings: A general assignment/health reporter and afternoon anchor, both of which were listed just a year or two ago. Is there big turnover there too? Well, not exactly. Xenia Piaseckyj, the woman hired to do afternoons in 2006, just had a baby [Congrats Xenia!] and now only works part-time. However, if you already live in the state or have years of experience working in commercial radio here, you probably won't be considered for the NHPR jobs, so don't bother applying.
And lastly, another question: Will WKXL 1450 be replacing Doris Ballard as host of Coffee Chat any time soon? Ballard is still hosting the program despite the fact that she is also a candidate for County Commissioner and has a Democratic primary opponent, City Councilor Elizabeth Blanchard. The WKXL listening area is about 50 percent of the county, giving Ballard a clear political advantage whether she talks about politics on the program or not.
If I were Blanchard, I'd be calling or writing the management and/or owner of the station to complain about this. And if that didn't fix things, I'd call the FCC and make a stink.