Saturday, May 31, 2008

Not going down without some noise in the Noiseless Typewriter Building debate

It's most recently known as the Remington-Rand building, and it's the site of some important Middletown industrial history, and national labor history.

After some questions were raised and resolved about his reputation, Middletown's Economic Development Committee has recommended that the award for sale and development of the building go to Thomas Briggs, who has restored the Piano Factory building in Essex.

However, Evan Blum, a well-known and well-regarded dealer in architectural restoration circles, and owner of Irreplaceable Artifacts, and another bidder for the factory, is not going down without a fight.

In a letter to the Common Council, which he also released to the press, Blum makes his case. Below is the letter in full. The disposition of the factory will be discussed and voted on at Monday's Common Council meeting.

It has become quite apparent that my proposal and intentions have not been properly understood. It will be a travesty to you and to us if I do not get this space. My proposal and ideas clearly leave the city much further ahead, and the fact that you look the other way is completely mind-boggling and most troubling.

Within 30 days of the sale, I will have the building fully occupied and will be bringing a number of new businesses to the town. One of the new businesses that I am going to set up is a window factory to replicate extinct wooden windows for historic buildings. In fact, the first customer is me. There are several hundred windows that need to be replicated in that building alone and we will manufacture them right there. Why wouldn’t you want that?
After that project is completed, I have five other buildings that need repair and replication and several clients of mine want their buildings done also. That alone would create five years worth of work and at least six full time jobs or more. The other new businesses that will take place at this space include a film archiving company. They will employ approx. 6 full time and part time employees.

Then, there is my own business. It will be a significant retail establishment that people will travel from all over the world to visit and that addition will create approx. 17 new jobs. My business, at present, contributes to approximately $200,000 that is spent in town at other businesses. If I get the Remington Building, this will, at the very least, triple.
I have been restoring old buildings for 36 years, and I will restore this building more appropriately than anyone else, as it is my business.

This building will be restored incorporating the following:

1. Securing it properly and providing 24 hour security
2. Making it watertight
3. Landscaping it to improve its appearance – remove all debris and do extensive planting

4. Re-lighting the whole building with authentic lighting

5. Addressing the mechanical systems

What gets me is that I have the most unique business in town, which greatly improves the reasons for people to come to Middletown. I actually bring in a good, wealthy crowd, so why am I not being treated fairly? The city should be working with me with a vested interest. I am a business that is in desperate need to expand and I am being ignored. I guess no one cares. Is that so? It certainly seems that way.
Remember when the city spent so much time, money and effort to get the Goodspeed to Middletown? If you only put a small fraction of that effort towards me, I will do more for Middletown that the Goodspeed ever would have. I clearly see that you do not have a grasp of what I am all about and what I can do. You are about to make a poor decision and I will have to move out of town.

Given the unfavorable position I was put in, I did not have the luxury of going out and documenting all of the support for this that I have and can get, which is more significant that the competing offer. Speaking of competing offers, if he was allowed to adjust his bid upward after the fact to top mine, why can’t I do the same?

I will up my offer to $1.5 million. Now, the city will yield a much higher net amount – no deductions for brokers’ fees, which will still put your net amount less than my previous offer. That should put the city ahead about $400,000.

What do I have to do to convey what the merits of going with me are? What don’t you understand? I ask anyone with any questions to e-mail me back immediately so I can clear up any doubts before an uninformed decision and vote occurs.
Why is it so important to vote away your best deals/talent so fast? Why don’t you vote to put it off for a while until you get the opportunity to really understand how I outweigh anything else that you have?

If this does not happen for me after all the hard work and money that I spent in Middletown, why would you want me to seek space in another municipality and that another municipality will get my business and get that benefit by me moving there. You will most likely have some ordinary replacement or vacancy happen in my place on main street if we move.
Would you really want me to move all my business out of the Remington building that I occupy and my building on Main street?

I am also flexible in the fact that I can close in the next budget year and that will also give you time to do the proper due diligence and see that I am still the best suitor for Middletown’s best interest and that building. Either way a transition should be seamless. Please consider putting this off for another day when all these issues can be better looked into.

Yours Truly,
Evan Blum-Irreplaceable Artifacts

Courant gives Creepy Joe™ a taste of his own sanctimony

Once upon a time the Hartford Courant's editorial page endorsed Senator Creepy Joe™ Lieberman.

Maybe as a result they feel obliged to scold him when he acts so egregiously.

The Courant editorial board asks Lieberman to spare Connecticut embarrassment in today's paper. Maybe the Courant is embarrassed, but I'm not. I knew the day he decided to start his own party, a party of one, that he doesn't represent me. In fact, he's beginning to demonstrate that he doesn't care to demonstrate that he represents Connecticut in any way, shape or form.

Our Senator will be speaking to a room full of bigots at a Night to Honor Israel Banquet. If there's any doubt who Lieberman really represents, it's becoming perfectly clear.

Creepy. Very creepy, indeed.

Creepy Joe™ Lieberman takes summer off from Swiftboating

It's not because he found what they do to be reprehensible.

It's not because he's disgusted with the idea that 527's are able to launch vile political attacks unchecked.

It's not because he doesn't believe in the principles of Vet's For Freedom.

It's not because he wants to end partisanship, and bring opposing forces together

It's because the press caught up with him, and his presidential aspirant, and they decided it was better not to be intimately associated with a group of belligerent mudflingers.

That's why, Creepy Joe™ Lieberman took a leave of absence from the Vet's For Freedom. A leave of absence, for chrissakes.

Friday, May 30, 2008

You mean, Karl, that he might be telling the truth

A few nights ago, Karl Rove dismissed Scott McClellan's critical view of the Bush administration, and especially high-ranking staff, as something that might come from a "left-wing blogger."

In some circles, Karl, that would be a compliment.

And it would mean that McClellan's comments bore more similarity to the truth than anything he said while press secretary, and under the Rasputin-sway of guys like you.

I've seen the enemy, and it is me

Who knows whether these Army statistics on troop suicides bear any resemblance to the truth. The Pentagon has such a storied reputation for lying, that we can only imagine the number is tragically higher.

Still, they are admitting something, but not culpability.

From the Hartford Courant this morning:

Army officials who released the report Thursday were reluctant to draw a link between combat exposure and suicide, repeating assertions made in past years that failed personal relationships, along with legal and financial problems, were the main factors driving suicides. But they did acknowledge that long and repeated tours of duty were wearing down soldiers' mental resilience. "Is it the war? It's unquestionable that the high op-tempo, the multiple deployments and long deployments put a real strain on relationships," said Col. Elspeth Ritchie, the Army's top psychiatrist, in a conference call with reporters. "There's also normal, girlfriend-boyfriend breaking up, irrespective of the war, marital difficulties that arise in both civilians and soldiers. ... We're not seeing a clear relationship between conflict increase and suicide."

I would think that boyfriend-girlfriend breakups, and marital difficulties, not to mention legal and financial problems, are all exacerbated by repeated deployment, combat stress, and the mental fatigue that comes from fighting a hopeless war without end for leaders who don't give a damned.

This, of course, would make it a glass wall, with hinges

If only hope were a sexually transmitted disease

From the Obama in 30 seconds contest, the winner of the funniest ad.

More here.

The mystery of the plaque, solved

I arrived at the AWARE group's annual potluck last night and Jennifer Alexander made her way to me to tell me that she had solved the mystery of the Middlesex Mutual sidewalk plaque.

She called Tom Ford, who manages the insurance company's "skyscraper" in Middletown, and he told her that it had been a victim of frost heave through the New England winters, and that finally this year, it became so loose, he had it removed. Plans are in place to re-seat the plaque. We hope that it will be replaced in its original position, and not repositioned to be part of the sidewalk for the newer headquarters across the street.

AWARE, is a group of Wesleyan neighbors, some of whom are Wesleyan staff, who organized many years ago to address issues of noise, re-shaping of the neighborhood with university building, and other general neighbor issues. Last night's gathering saw a good turnout for Michael Roth's first appearance at a meeting as Wesleyan president.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Let my people Hagee's convention

This on Creepy Joe™ Lieberman from the New Haven Register.

Who took the Middlesex Mutual plaque?

For years, embedded in the sidewalk in front of the old Middlesex Mutual Building on Court Street was a beautiful metal (bronze?) plaque commemorating the founding of this Middletown insurance company.

Just in the past few weeks, I've noticed it's gone.

Anyone know what happened to it? Was it the victim of a metal thief? The result of an errant snowplow job? Did Middlesex Mutual grab it for their archives? Was it an antiques heist? (They steal the statuary from Cities of the Dead in New Orleans, the weathervanes from barns in Vermont, and the pages from ancient books in the Beinecke, so why not a handsome plaque?)

I called the Department of Public Works, and no one in the office was aware that it was missing, however, sidewalk inspector Rick Romano was out, and he is the authoritative voice.

The DPW did confirm that the sidewalks, and thereby the plaque, belong to the city of Middletown, and that it should not have been removed without permission.

Hollywood hangs Creepy Joe™ Lieberman

Thanks to Connecticutblog for this. The clip from the HBO film Recount which shows the backstabber in action.

Some of the people, some of the time

The most frightening thing about the United States is the pride with we carry our abject ignorance and stupidity. There's almost a pride in indulging in the most brainless TV series, in wallowing in the most ludicrous myths, in holding dear our favorite superstitions.

Ben Smith at Politico gives some scientific grounding to the W.C. Field's line that "there's a sucker born every minute." And allows us to hope that the sasquatch factor found in polls will not prevent the best person from being elected president.

Go here, for The Amazing Bigfoot Diet, a Mojo Nixon song which scorns the sensational press, and America's gullibility.

Creepy Joe™ Lieberman a "worst person" runner up

Dishonor, two nights in a row.

BTW, "worst person" honors go to Dunkin' Donuts for caving to the right wing on the Rachel Ray "terrorist scarf" scandal. These are grounds for a Dunkin' Donuts boycott by every liberal in the land.

Playing the discredit card

The big story, of course, is how the White House is pulling out all the stops to make former press secretary Scott McClellan's shocking revelations about the Bush administrations seem the desperate whinings of a disgruntled former employee.

But on Verdict with Dan Abrams last night, an interesting sideshow took place.

The laughable Pat Buchanan accused McClellan of disloyalty at the highest level. Then he accused him of cowardice for not speaking up when he was in the administration. Hearing this, news analyst Lawrence O'Donnell lacerated Buchanan's sanctimony by calmly indicating that Buchanan's indignant response is odd since he was a member of the "most corrupt administration" in history, the Nixon White House, and he has never said a word about how wrong things were back in the early seventies.

Watch as Buchanan chokes back his shame with a gulp from his coffee cup.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Creepy Joe ™ Lieberman wins Olbermann honors

Vicevich refuses to get the joke

Right wing WTIC AM talk show host Jim Vicevich continued down his path of accusing Barack Obama of being a "communist," a "red," a "socialist" and "a Marxist."

If you didn't think you were being exhorted to join some great socialist revolution when you attended the Wesleyan commencement Sunday, the right wingers will tell you that you're wrong.

Vicevich, who spent several minutes making fun of Obama for "confusing" Wesleyan with Wellesley (he either doesn't get, or refuses to get, the joke), went on to say that Obama's challenge to graduating seniors to give back to their communities and to the world was asking them to subjugate themselves to some great socialist collective.

And if you think Vicevich came up with the "commie" bit himself, think again. It's an organized attempt to attach a negative label with huge and deep negative resonance, to Obama, that is being carried out by the right-wing hatemongers. Here's yet another example this morning.

I've made formal complaints to the management of WTIC about Vicevich's consistent use of the communist labels. I've asked for time on their airwaves to respond. So far, no response from WTIC.

Never is a long time

Speaking in Denver yesterday, and after being interrupted repeatedly by Iraq war protesters, John McCain declared that he would "never surrender in Iraq."

Sounds like a hundred year war to me.

But considering, as Attaturk at Firedoglake does, that McCain has a record of being very wrong on Iraq, he ought to be encouraged to run on the war issue. I think the American public would be interested in hearing just how wrong he's been.

Still, it's hard to imagine that there is a roomful of people anywhere in America who would cheer McCain's bellicose boastings. But yesterday in Denver there was.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The real horror of war

Impossible difficult to watch, but required viewing for anyone who needs a counter to someone who talks tough about the glories of war. WARNING: This is graphic and disturbing video.

Look up "deplorable" in the dictionary

Creepy Joe™ Lieberman will headline Pastor John Hagee's 2008 Christians United For Israel Washington-Israel Summit.

Hagee, of course, the pastor whom John McCain finally jettisoned for his remarks about Hitler and the Jews, is also the man who blamed Hurricane Katrina on "the homosexuals."

Which demonstrates once again that Lieberman will consider Connecticut's needs occasionally, but he'll do just about anything for Israel.

The emergence of the real Creepy Joe™ Lieberman

It's about time that Senator Creepy Joe™ Lieberman receives his due.

And he's getting it from all angles.

The NY Times pointed out his sanctimony in an editorial Sunday.

His asshole buddies on the right are wary of his environmental bill to be considered this week.

And, as Colin McEnroe points out, HBO unveils him as a backstabber to his running mate Al Gore in the film, Recount.

The detritus of education

Don't tell me we don't live in a spend and waste culture.

As I took my morning walk I passed mounds of garbage discarded by the seniors of Wesleyan University as they abandoned their academic careers in Middletown.

The walk which began as I startled a large blue heron in the holding pond across the street from the former Wilcox-Crittenden forge. As I approached the Wesleyan student neighborhood of Miles, Brainard and Homes Streets I began to see the piles of trash left behind by departing students.

At first, you're struck by the sheer volume, but that's because what has been relatively neatly gathered, is then pulled apart by scavengers looking for treasures. My assumption is that anything in the possession of a college student for four years is likely not rescuing, but friends have told me that they have found perfectly good pieces of furniture and clothing, unused kitchen utensils and items like microwaves and TV's that are too bulky to transport cross-country. The university has created a system where portable storage pods are placed in parking lots so that big items can be discarded and recycled.

One can only imagine this scene repeated at universities across the country.

The most savvy scavengers arose early Monday morning, after seniors had departed, to prowl the curbs and pull the most useful items from the piles of used goods left behind.

By the time I passed this morning, there was little left but the real garbage, much of it able to be recycled, but unlikely to be. And it was strewn from pillar to post by those in search of something of value.

I found these remainders of an academic career sad and beautiful in equal degrees. Entire contents of refrigerators heaped together. Unwanted wall decorations which now yoked Picasso with Janis curbside. Prodigious evidence that the students enjoyed the consumption of alcohol. The kitschy pitched carelessly with the pithy. And the well-worn carcasses of large upholstered chairs and sofas.

While Lucy forbids me carrying even one more chair-in-need-of-repair into our house, I did a bit of superficial dumpster diving near the fine arts complex where desperate students sometimes discard unwieldy masterpieces before they head out for careers in bohemian hovels in NY and Paris.

I'm hoping that the art, which now hangs on my office wall, will someday belong to the oeuvre of a well-regarded painter with a Whitney opening.

I had an idea while walking. I challenge one or more of the many non-profits in Middletown to organize an end-of-semester tag sale in town in which they could collect worthwhile items from departing students, bring it to a single location for sale, and make money for their organization while helping students with their clean-up.

Roseanne Cash on the creative process

While I haven't loved every blog by every songwriter in the New York Times effort to give us a glimpse into the songwriting process, I think Roseanne Cash's entries are always honest, revealing and a pleasure to read.

This morning's is as well, with another bonus - a clip from a new songs she's written with Elvis Costello and Kris Kristofferson.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bruce "Utah" Phillips RIP

The great singer, songwriter, traveller, union-supporter, champion of progressive causes Utah Phillips, has died. More here.

When he was healthy and travelling, his annual visits to West Hartford's Sounding Board will well-anticipated events.

A boy cries out for his mama, before he dies for his home

Red and black balloons blow across the wide lawns where collapsed folding chairs are piled ready for transport beneath the sweep of the enormous tents that had been set up for Wesleyan's graduation, and of course, for Barack Obama's visit (lots of good stuff on Wesleying this morning regarding the event).

This is the day when my neighborhoods shifts rhythms to the summer mode. With five houses on my block completely empty for the summer, the neighborhood would be something of a quiet ghost town if it weren't for the hoodlums who traverse the street at all hours shouting into cell phones as if the cells were tin cans attached with a taut string.

This morning we'll head down to the Memorial Day Parade where I, for one, will consider how readily our leaders dispose of the plentiful bodies of our patriotic young men and women. The dead are our country's heroes. The families pay the most horrible price. Our leaders are culpable. As Phil Och's sang, "It's always the old who lead us to the war. It's always the young who fall."

Michael Roth's words from yesterday's commencement echo large:

"You will hear people tell you that the greatest protection against violence is surveillance, that greater security is developed with higher fences to keep out the foreigners, or that we must project violence on distant shores to keep our homes safe. DO NOT BELIEVE THESE MESSAGES. Please remember that your education stands in opposition to non-sense and cruelty; please recall your capacity to create when others around you call for destruction."

For my part, the thought of God Bless America, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, or the National Anthem, while the easy choices for the day, are the least appropriate.

Here's what I'll listen to, and I invite you to join me:

Phil Ochs, I Ain't A' Marchin' Anymore

Billy Bragg, Everywhere (written by Greg Trooper and Syd Griffith)

Eric Bogle, The Green Field's of France (No Man's Land)

The Pogues, The Band Played Waltzin' Matilda (written by Eric Bogle, but turned into a classic by the Pogues)

Dan Bern, After the Parade

Mark Erelli, Volunteers

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Obama speech: a tribute and a challenge

Barack Obama carefully made the Wesleyan commencement speech non-political. He treated it for what it was, an address to those who were about to gradutate.

He began the speech (Wesast here) with a joke, calling Wesleyan "Wellesley" the way the senior class president had in her speech, but went on to pay serious tribute to Ted Kennedy, who was supposed to have given the speech. Obama used the opportunity to encourage students to find a way to give service to the people around them who needed it the most. He urged them to pursue the good of the country, and not the good of their own bank accounts.

Obama's speech was preceded by an excellent one by Wesleyan president Michael Roth who warned students not to believe those who would advise them that secrecy, security, violence and war would keep them safer. Jamaica Kincaid, the novelist, also received an honoray doctorate, and her impromptu praise of Obama as a man who inspires was moving, "When you find a man who inspires you," she said. "Stick with him and go."

In that vein, while Secret Service agents were stationed on roofs and around the field, entry to the commencement was remarkably free of the expected hassle.

Our neighbor Mark Masselli, and his family, including wife Jennifer Alexander, reunion class of 1988, scored front row seats (just behind the grads), by showing up early with his under-rested daughter Karma.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Sunday Times, Barack Obama, Wes and..."the incident"

Peter Applebome visits the pre-event, to discuss the event. It's a beautifully written encapsulation of the wild last three weeks on the campus in Middletown.

The Middletown you missed

With so many parents, family and friends of grads in Middletown this weekend, not to mention the several thousand more expected to be around Sunday morning, you might be looking for something to do that's off-the-beaten track. Middletown, after all, is 42 square miles, and likely you've only seen a couple of those miles in your time here. It's not too late.

Henry Clay Work House.
You'll find a bust of this relatively unknown songwriter of the Civil War era, appropriately enough, in Union Park on the South end of Main St. The composer of such classics as Grandfather's Clock, and Marching Through Georgia was born in Middletown but lived much of his life elsewhere. A printer by occupation, Work came to songwriting by avocation. Biggest little known fact: the tune of his song, The Ship That Never Returned was used for the classic country music song (in fact the first million selling record, ever), The Wreck of the Old 97, recorded by artists as diverse as Vernon Dalhart and Johnny Cash. The same tune was used for a hit song of the sixties, M.T.A. by the Kingston Trio. The Henry Clay Work house still stands on Mill Street.

A hotly debated section of town for many years. Recently, it's been in the news because a new gas-fired energy plant is being built there, and because the Army has proposed building an Army Reserve Training Center there. This Southeastern corner of Middletown (a section as large as neighboring Cromwell), is mostly wild, rugged and beautiful as it hugs a broad turn in the Connecticut River. It's eminently hikable, and if you're lucky you stumble on the rock shelter that was used by native Americans, and in the 19th century by the famous hobo, the Old Leatherman, who was made famous most recently in a Pearl Jam song, and will soon get new acclaim in a to-be-released volume published by the Wesleyan Press.

The Insane Asylum

The other institution on a hill in town is located to the East of Wesleyan, and visible from there. It's the hospital currently known to locals as CVH. Connecticut Valley constitutes the only state hospital dealing exclusively with mental health issues in the state. It's a huge campus, and the older, unoccupied buildings are a frightening example of "insane asylum" red brick Victorian architecture. But don't take any pictures, because you might get arrested.

The Blog Prototype

Middletown artist David Schulz live on Ridge Road, and since George Bush occupied the White House, he's been creating editorials, Burma-Shave style, on his front lawn. This makeshift editorials are short, punchy and briliant, as might be expected from one of Middletown's finest art talents. When I stopped to take the photos today, Dave told me that he's had relatively few protests. "Last week," he said. "A guy in a pickup slowed down when I was in the front yard and yelled, 'Those signs suck.' So I guess they're doing their job.

An Authentic Italian Meal and Dessert
As you leave Middletown, you'll know you're beyond city limits when you stop passing an Italian restaurant or a pizza joint every 300 yards. While in town you may have visited the famous Main Street joints, but a hidden gem is right around the corner on Court Street. In the basement of the Italian Society club is the Cantina. Short on atmosphere, the restaurant serves what many feel are the best Italian dishes in town. Combine this with the chance to rub elbows with local politicos, or even a made man or two. For dessert, head down to deKoven Drive for the kind of Italian ice that's been pulling passing customers on Route 9 for decades into the tiny driveway at Vecchitto's.

Kudos to Rosa

According to this morning's Hartford Courant, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro is working diligently to get answers to the Pentagon's use of retired military officers as distributors of military propaganda in the early stages of the war in Iraq.

The Courant mentions that the story, which first appeared in the New York Times, several weeks ago has not caught fire, as expected. The obvious reason the story has gotten no traction is that it indicts the very news organizations who would have to report it in order for it to ignite.

Closed to the public, but open to the public

UPDATE: I just spoke to a downtown merchant who was advised that he should not count on getting into or out of his shop on Sunday, because Main Street would be closed for some time. This same merchant quoted police as saying they are projecting up to 100,000 visitors to Middletown for the Obama speech.

Anyone who knows the Wesleyan campus knows that while the Commencement ceremony at which Barack Obama will speak on Sunday, is closed to the public, the simultaneous acknowledgement that Foss Hill will be open to the public, is a bit absurd.

Foss Hill looks directly over Andrus Field, and anyone sitting there will get a full view of the ceremony. In fact, in the past, it's been a place for families to sit under the trees, and out of the sun, to see the event.

So, it's likely to be very crowded. I'd advise that finding a place on Foss Hill by 8 a.m. is advisable.

I can only park six cars in my driveway, which is four blocks from Foss Hill, so you're on your own to find a place for your car. Be ready to encounter closed thoroughfares, restricted parking, and tight security.

The wrong wes

I fully appreciate the work Middletown Police News does to shine a light in the eyes of those who would rather not be illuminated.

Still it wouldn't hurt if these bloggers walked up the hill to take a look at the beautiful architecture at Wesleyan's campus in Middletown. They would find that the photo (also used here) illustrating a Wes story on their blog is actually of a building at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Doh!

I guess it's an easy mistake to make. Google Wesleyan images and grab a red brick building for your blog. Hey, it's a nice building and would probably fit in on the old campus, but High Street is a long way from Lincoln.

Thanks Xue and Holly

For Wesleying, again, of course. But also for the amazing gift. More on that in a blog tomorrow.

I apologize for answering the door in my pajamas, and for accidentally setting my house alarm off, but Lucy and I were watching a movie in the bedroom. And I expected to see you today.

Congratulations. And best of luck in your next ventures.

Clinton invokes assassination

It's true, isn't it? She will say anything.

Now she's said this:

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it."

There's no good exlanation as to why she would say it, except for the obvious one.

The reaction, as can be expected, is unbelieving. Here's what Keith Olbermann said in a special commentary last night.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Oops. Someone remembers Creepy Joe's™ past better than he does

Today, Joe Conason in Salon pulls apart the legacy of lies, reversals and politic expedience which constitutes the career of our Connecticut Senator Creepy Joe™ Lieberman.

According to Conason, Lieberman may never have been what he appeared to be. The ultimate political changeling.

Conason calls Lieberman a turncoat, just as Ned Lamont did during the Senatorial campaign. In my opinion, one of the least successful Lamont ads was the "Turncoat" ad. Why? None of the coats appeared to be inside-out.

I worked on that ad a local producer. It was produced by a production company from Minnesota.

Commencement, the public and Barack

I have TV crew calling and asking to park in my driveway.

I have two kids who are thrilled that Barack Obama will be two blocks away.

And you can read between the lines on this notice from Wesleyan president Michael Roth:

Because of the appearance of Senator Obama at this year's Commencement the event will be ticketed and there will be limited seating.

Graduates will receive a limited number of tickets for their families, and will receive first preference on seating.

Because of the high amount of traffic that is anticipated, there will be no guarantee of any parking availability for this event.

We ask the general public to respect the ceremony, our graduates and their families during this event.

Senator Obama is appearing at Wesleyan to provide the commencement address, not as part of a political campaign. Campaign related activity, including the display of signs and banners will not be allowed at Commencement. Further information about political campaign activities and exempt organizations can be found at,,id=170893,00.html.

Glass bottles, fireworks, and selected other items will not be allowed at the ceremony. Anyone in possession of such items will be subject to removal and possible arrest.

UPDATE: From Wesleying.

Galway Girl

I somehow wandered onto Sharon Shannon's site because I saw a posting on the Pogue's site that Shane MacGowan was performing as part of Shannon's big band.

She's such a great box player.

I found this ad for Irish hard cider. What could be better; a glass of cider, Sharon Shannon on accordion, and Steve Earle.

Also, sadly, I found that Shannon suffered a devastating loss earlier this month as her life parter Leo Healy died unexpectedly in his sleep at age 46. Condolences to Shannon and the Healy family.

As bad news often follows good, Shannon last year hit the Irish pop charts with a version of Earle's Galway Girl recorded with Irish Country-Western and Americana group Mundy.
Which also won a Meteor Award for most downloaded song. Mundy is also part of Shannon's big band tour, which unfortunately is not booked for the U.S. as yet.

Meanwhile, bad boy Shane MacGowan is dallying with his bad boy protege Pete Doherty who these days heads Babyshambles.

The difference between a Y and a T

It's about a million bucks, probably.

That's likely what the city will spend to convert the current "Y" intersection to a "T" at the intersection of Farm Hill Road and Russell Street in Middletown.

I don't claim to have great knowledge of why a "Y" is better than a "T," but urban planning expert, Middletown resident, and Planning and Zoning Commissioner Catherine Johnson does. She says the "Y" promotes and preserves the character of the neighborhood, and the flow of traffic. The "T" proponents say it increases safety (though offer very little evidence as to how).

Driving down Farm Hill, it becomes evident that the road definitely needs repair and resurfacing, and whether it really needs complete re-doing, at a time of great fiscal austerity, is another question.

Johnson proposes a solution which will narrow the roadway, preserve the "Y" and likely cost less. For a bit more, she proposes that the roadway could become a model "green" intersection.

Before anyone in town spends money these days, it's important to understand that we're not buying books for our schoolchildren because we don't have enough money in the budget.