Tags: FIX THIS, Lowell, Lowell Sun
UPDATE: For local readers, there will be an anti-violence rally thingie in response to this tragedy at Lowell City Hall on Tuesday, May 19 at 5 PM. Additional details are available here, and more pensive reflections than mine can be found here.
This morning while walking along the Suffolk Street canal – my regular route to the train station – I noticed a mound of flowers and candles along the sidewalk across the street, outside of the row of public housing. I figured someone had died in a car accident or something, as it’s not that uncommon to see such displays with paper-mache crosses or hand-made signs.
Then I noticed a couple trash bins filled with used police tape. This was not unusual either. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything ‘unusual’ while walking along Lowell’s canals. Their waters and banks are clogged and littered with condoms, shopping carts, televisions, toys, weapons of mass destruction, etc. I would not be surprised to stumble upon the $850 camera that I left in a New Orleans taxicab five years go.
At the train station, I got my paper and immediately noted something that did strike me as odd – the mere size of the headline font. Such bold block letters are generally reserved for grave, unexpected, or historic national events. And occassionally, a local story will also rise to that level. Sadly, this was the case.
I generally wait until I get on the train to read anything, but the headline read “CAUGHT IN CROSSFIRE,” and it showed a photo of the sidewalk that I’d just travelled*, with an inset headshot of Tavaryna Choeun, 17, who the caption said “died yesterday morning at Lahey Clinic in Burlington.” I walked slowly while I read, careful not to fall down the stairs to the platform, growing sadder and more stunned with each paragraph from Dennis Shaughnnessey’s report.
The 17-year-old girl was shot in the head as she sat in the passenger seat of a car in Lowell’s Acre neighborhood late Tuesday night, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone. The shooter was aiming for the driver, he said.
Choeun was left at the side of Suffolk Street, less than a mile from where the shooting took place near the intersection of Cross and Willie Streets. She died early yesterday morning.”
This is some bullshit! What the fuck is going on???
I’m not ignorant to the fact that violent crime is nothing new in Lowell. On the front page of today’s Local section, a headline reads “Shooting suspect arrested in Billerica.” This charmer, Dennis King, shot a pregnant woman twice at her home in April. That was literally footsteps from my front door, right next to Brother’s Pizza.
But this most recent incident is an outrage. These are children! And sadly, it’s hardly a surprise, because they’re everywhere, out all night in this city. You should see them. From the moment they can walk, they’re out on the streets, many of them barefoot, especially once the weather turns. And when school lets out? Good God. It’s like an ant farm in The Acre.
And so many of these kids are really wonderful. One of my favorite parts of living here is the neighborhood kids we’ve become friends with. And I’m terrified for them; if something happened to little Xiomara or Christian or <GASP AND PERISH THE THOUGHT> my dearest Carmasita, my heart would shatter to such a grave extent that I’m not sure I could recover.
This is insane. The girl’s friends didn’t even call for help! They left her on the side of the street! And I’m going to raise Nola Jane around this madness???
I tried not to think about anyof this on the train. It’s important to go into the workday with a clear, positive frame of mind. And I did successfully evict Tavaryna from my thoughts for a while, thanks to a chilling and strangely hilarious description of genital mutilation in Iraq from the FANTASTIC “Bowl of Cherries” and the beats pumping into my head from an equally FANTASTIC mix made by Lucy the Blog commenter mdub.
But as I was boarding the EZ-Ride shuttle bus, a girl in the first seat jolted upright with a look of horror and fear at the man across from her. I was certain that the man must have drawn a gun or, perhaps, whipped out his peter for some morning commute self-pleasure time. (Hey, we’ve all done it.)
Tags: Lowell Sun, Evil Tribune, Lowell, Jim Campanini, inflatable rats
Throughout its storied history, Lucy the Blog has taken some well-deserved shots at The Lowell Sun.
It began nearly two years ago, on May 9, 2007, with our *NEPA award-winning evisceration of the paper’s plump n’ pasty editor, Jim Campanini. Thanks to that fine piece of journalism, a basic Google search will now tell you all you need to know about this skeevy predator, who continues to embarrass his unfortunate staff on a semiregular basis.
Shortly thereafter, we exposed the Sun’s loathsome and underhanded efforts to intimidate and mislead American Idol voters, thus derailing the AI dreams of the dreamy Sanjaya Malakar. Scoundrels!
Ultimately, it was not their chronic ineptitude or their flamboyantly whitebread columnists or their fabulous typos that caused us to give them the final gooseface by canceling our subscription. It was the simple fact that they relied on 7-year-old children and drunken vagrants to deliver the paper in a timely fashion. Some of my best friends are 7-year-old children and drunken vagrants. But I would not ask them to deliver a newspaper on a daily basis.
Lately, however, I have been having a bit of a love affair with the paper, or at least my relationship with it. Its faults remain, but I look forward to reading it, so that must count for something. Of course, this is mostly due to my relatively recent commuter status. Pricepoints and convenience go a long way, and the guy at the train station hands you the paper if you give him a quarter. One Quarter. I’m no economist, but that’s a good deal. I can almost always find a quarter before leaving the house. At the full cover price of 75 cents, I’d probably stop reading. Or maybe I’d only buy it on Thursdays to torture myself with Lowellita’s column; just reading about one of her late-night romps a few weeks ago left me with a mild case of the crabs.
In any case, given our past criticism, it is only fair that we occassionally commend the paper’s editorial staff, most of whom perform a commendable job in a thankless industry that swallowed me whole and crushed my spirit in less than three years’ time, leaving me with little more than a heavy debt load and lingering animosity.
I loved reading the Sun this week. In large part, this was because of events on the ground here in Lowell. The reporters had a lot to cover, but they covered it. And if they hadn’t, well…I guess these guys would have. And these guys would have. And in their own way, they would have and they would have too. But they certainly wouldn’t have been able to alone, or at least not for any sustained period of time. That’s why newspapers matter.
Because of the Sun, I know that cops arrested 22 drunk drivers in 3 hours at a Thorndike Street sobriety checkpoint. Is that not insane? These people should be executed immediately. All of them. Scary, scary shit.
I also learned about the United Teen Equality Center’s continued awesomeness. They’re planning a $6.3 renovation to their facilities, which will hopefully get a boost from President Obama’s socialist pork funds. As a result, UTEC will be able to serve even more kids and steer them from a life of hoodlum shenanigans. Fuckin’ libruls!
(And speaking of this worthy organization, have you seen these lovely paintings of UTEC youths? Why don’t you buy one of them, you cheap, selfish bastard? Our family’s diapers, Perk Is A Beast t-shirts, and Budweiser drinks aren’t gonna pay for themselves, you know!!!)
Tags: Dave Granlund, John Tomase, MetroWest Daily News
First, an editorial note. We are still here. And in the next few days, there will be an important announcement regarding the future of Lucy the Dog and this once-formidable web presence. We are not euthanizing the blog yet. But small changes are in the works.
In the meantime, we wanted to share some quick thoughts on two of Lucy’s former coworkers, John Tomase and Dave Granlund, neither of whom would know us if we bit them in the ankle.
Much of the editorial brilliance that you witness here regularly (sort-of) was developed in the modest newsroom of the MetroWest Daily News. My first day as a paid writer started on the morning that the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded. I localized that shit. Hard-core.
Anyway, I always used to peek into the office of the paper’s editorial cartoonist, Dave Granlund. It was so cool to see all his little paintbrushes and pencils lying around, as I found him and his work fascinating.
Editorial cartoons are generally quite lame. But Granlund consistently captures hilarious, poignant, and sometimes tragic moments in one single image. He is as much a storyteller as any columnist or novelist, and a kickass artist to boot.
I remember thinking how lucky the Daily News was to have a voice like Granlund’s in-house. Very few papers, especially of that size, employ a full-time cartoonist. And to have such a talent on staff, presenting unique, fresh commentary on national and local news, is a gift to readers.
So naturally Granlund got canned unexpectedly yesterday after 31 years at the paper. Because newspapers suck.
While Granlund only lost a job, Boston Herald Patriots scribe John Tomase may soon lose much more. Since reporting that the Pats videotaped a Rams walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI, Tomase has replaced Curly-Haired Boyfriend Dan Shaughnessy as the Boston journalist most likely to be found floating in the Charles River. Or at least the one most likely to get his house egged.
Now that the story’s been proven false, bloodlust for Tomase has soared to new heights. Nothing short of his shriveled testicles on a skewer will satisfy the legions of wronged Patriots fans. They are pissed. (It would be appropriate here to insert a quote that illustrates how pissed they are, but I can’t seem to find anything that adequately represents the mood. Here’s a sampling of the reaction to his mea culpa. But take my word for it, it’s ugly.)
I worked at The Eagle-Tribune before Tomase left that paper to go to the Herald. I rarely interacted with him, but he was likable when we did. He covered the Red Sox and injected a lot of personality into what could have been bland, routine game recaps. I haven’t read him since, but at the time I thought he was a great writer – certainly a cut above average.
Early in his Herald career, Tomase returned to the Tribune newsroom to pick up some belongings or complete some paperwork or something. At the time, we were deep into our union organizing campaign and one of our supporters asked him what he thought of the Herald’s union. With uncharacteristic volume and anger (at least from what I’d seen from him), Tomase replied that the union was a bunch of assholes and he couldn’t stand them. When asked to elaborate, he offered no specifics. He just hated them, he said.
I never knew what to make of those comments. But now that Tomase has fucked up ROYALLY, enabled no doubt by his editors, I wonder if the Newspaper Guild is doing anything to protect him. Should they? I have no idea. But if so, they probably shouldn’t try too hard.
Tags: your mother
But at the moment, the sun is shining on Lowell and the weather is ideal for a stroll down memory lane.
Yesterday marked one full year of soul searchin’ and knowledge-droppin’ at Lucy the Blog headquarters. And what a year it’s been for the Dog.
We laughed. We cried. We learned 12 things about Tyra Banks’s vagina. We opened foreign bureaus in Pakistan, Sweden, and Chechnya. And we licked the interior of our anus. It was awesome!
So today, please take our paw and join us as we revisit some highlights from the last 365 days. Or don’t. It’s Friday, so do whatcha wanna, do whatyalike, and do what you feel.
Cue sappy accoustic Green Day song, and commence nostalgic clip montage.
Tags: Charles Nelson Reilly, Dan Kennedy, Evil Tribune, Lowell Sun, Pax Arcana, Perk Is a Beast
It’s no secret that the newspaper industry is kinda fucked. There are more professional, dignified ways to state that. And many have, or do on a regular basis.
I’m told that HBO’s “The Wire” has devoted its final season to the newspaper’s demise. But I wouldn’t know, because less than three years of working at a newspaper left me so poor that I still can’t afford anything beyond the most basic of basic cable packages.
The rise of the Internets and technology is most often sited as the force behind declining circulation, ad revenue, and newsroom staffs. Corporate boobs atop the masthead lacked the minimal foresight it would’ve taken to see this train roaring down the tracks. But after years of resistance, they’re finally loosening the vice grip on their piggybanks, and they’ve started to acknowledge that they might have to adjust their thinking. Or at least start thinking.
As reported by Lucy the Dog man-crush Dan Kennedy, The Evil-Tribune recently announced it will make all of its content available for free on its website, a move that even dumb old Lucy the Dog claimed was a dire necessity before the blond cabal of Tribunazis kicked my sorry ass to the curb.
Publishers are also investing more in their technolomogical capabilities. Yesterday, Kennedy posted a nifty story about Catherine Keefe O’Hare, an editor at the Danvers Herald. Kennedy writes:“It wasn’t long ago that a local reporter could head out on an assignment with nothing more than a notebook and a pen. Maybe a camera, but only if there were no photographers available. But those days are rapidly drawing to a close.”
Now reporters and editors like O’Hare get a video camera and editing equipment. So not only do they have to file that story by deadline, they also have to shoot a short film, edit it, and post it on the website, an increase in workload that is surely reflected in their paychecks. Or not.
Because it’s also no secret that no one gets into this truly noble profession to get rich. Or even to break even. Being a newspaper reporter is a great life if your spouse is a doctor or lawyer. If you don’t care about little things like spending quality time with your family. If you aspire to grow man-jugs because you only have time and funds for hasty lunch runs through the Burger King drive thru. But it’s not the racket you jump into if you’d like a comfortable life.
Bloggasm reports that 25% of 770 newspaper journalists polled said they intend to leave newspaper journalism, and 36% said they’re uncertain if they’ll stay. Among respondents under the age of 34, those numbers rise to 31% and 43%.
According to the study’s author:“Those intending to leave indicate that they will freelance, enter public relations, move into academia or return to school…”
In my opinion, this brain drain from newsrooms is as dangerous a threat as anything to newspapers’ survival. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by humiliating wages and 60-hour workweeks. We were all replaced by equally gifted journalists with ideals and hopes that will also, in time, be squashed. The cycle of burnout and turnover will continue, resulting in a sad decay of institutional knowledge. Reporters who’ve been around for years and know their community inside and out will become increasingly rare. And despite revamped websites, complementary videos, and discussion boards, the quality of coverage in your community will suffer. But this is not why I’m writing today.
Lucy the Dog does not have the answers to save the newspaper industry. However, we do have one bit of advice to save the Lowell Sun. It is profound. It is radical. It is so far outside the box that it’s almost back inside the box. It will blow your mind. And it appears after the jump.
(No, it’s not weekly inserts of posters featuring sexiest son of a bitch of all-time Charles Nelson Reilly, though that wouldn’t be a bad start.) Continue Reading EXTRA, EXTRA! Lowell Sun Gets the Gooseface…
Ladies and gentlemen,
We ask that you please direct your attention to Daddy Steinbrenner’s box for an important announcement…
It is true, patient readers. Your long national nightmare is over. Lucy the Dog is back.
It’s been quite some time, and much has transpired in my absence. But the biggest development is this: I became retarded. It’s true!
I didn’t even see it happening. But on Sunday, I sat down to write a simple feature article for a magazine. Much to my surprise, this took me the better part of three full days–far longer than I’d anticipated. I could hardly link subject to predicate. And in the end, I generated 2,200 words of useless garbage that could have been produced by any mere simpleton, even an executive sports editor at a mid-size daily paper in the upper Merrimack Valley.
Ironically, one reason I lost interest in this blog was I thought it was making me retarded. I could no longer see the point in writing about Sanjaya, Lowell politics, or masturbation. But sweet sassy Freddy Blassie, was I wrong. Dead wrong. Just the opposite was happening!
The only good part about writing for a newspaper was being forced to write every day. That and getting mad pussy. And I now realize that without disciplined writing on a regular basis, this brilliant mind can quickly turn to crud. So I will endeavor to exercise it more frequently here in this web space. You, reader, will be the beneficiary of these efforts.
Now I know what you’re thinking: my generosity knows no bounds. But bounds there shall be. I ask that you bear with me in the early-goings. Be gentle. For if I go too hard initially, I am destined to risk further, possibly permanent, brain damage. Or worse, a pulled groin. And that would be disastrous.
So this was fun. I’m feeling good. And maybe I’ll post again in December. Thanks for stopping by!
But at the The Eagle-Tribune, and apparently the Lowell Sun, we used to create a ‘mock’ front page as a parting gift whenever people left the paper. Which seemed to be every other week or so.
These spoof fronts gave coworkers of the outgoing employee a chance to write something clever and fun, filled with inside jokes and wit and hilarity and oh my God, those were the good old days.
But like most good old days, they came to an end when one of our faux stories somehow got posted on the Tribune website. The story was not well-received by local pols, several of whom were portrayed in a less than flattering fashion. (Politicians can get so touchy when you mock their former DUIs on the Internet.)
At the time, there was much speculation that the unionistas had posted the story to embarass the Trib. But I don’t think any of us had the technical savvy to do such a thing. And we were generally quite busy leaving nails in our editors’ driveways and bashing our elbows through windshields. We loved bashing windshields!
It appears that the going-away stories for business reporter Tom Spoth were all posted online, or at least the stories: “‘Ruthless, Dirty…and He Bites’, Placid journalist by day, Tom Spoth emerges as athletic demon at night”“He can write, but he’s no actor” and its sidebar, “OK, maybe he can act”
Sadly, there’s nothing all-too incriminating here. And these links will be dead by the time your eyes read this.
In a Notebook item called “Let’s Keep It Clean”, Duggan warns the editorial staff of The Eagle-Tribune to stay out of political candidates’ personal lives, lest their own skeletons be dragged from the closet.
“If you cross the line again by writing about people’s personal lives when it has nothing to do with their abilities to do the job they are running for (or doing), I will unleash a series of stories about the backgrounds and personal lives of certain people at the Eagle Tribune, including arrest records, divorce records and a very unpleasant story about Canada.”
CANADA??? Do tell!
While it’s long been rumored that departed publisher Richard Franks sired a bastard child with Canuk folk singer Gordon Lightfoot*, Franks was kicked to the curb months ago, and Duggan’s item does not mention former employees. Any Valley Patriot reader knows Duggan is a stickler for precision and accuracy, so surely this would have been noted.
Thus, I am left to wonder. What could the unpleasant story about Canada be? I know this Scandanavian doofus who used to traffic pirated DVD’s and fireworks north of the border, but again, he is a former Tribune employee so he would not apply.
For now, we can only speculate. And we encourage you to join us in reckless, slanderous speculation in the comments section.
But goddamn you, Tommy Duggan, you have done it again. From the edge of our seats, your readers await. Breathlessly.
*This rumor was actually started by Lucy the Dog, just this very moment. To the best of our knowledge, it carries no truth whatsoever.
Yesterday, Eagle-Tribune sports editor Bill Burt apologized for calling ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon a “jerk” in his July 2 column titled, “Pardon the Interruption, but Wilbon is a jerk.” You can read that column here, followed by Burt’s initial blog recap at www.bradfordonbaseball.com.
Lucy the Blog commends Burt for his humility; we sort of know him and don’t imagine he’s the type that deliberately attempts to offend. Of course, we don’t know him well enough to make any such judgment, so who knows? But offering him the benefit of the doubt, we give Burt’s apology a Kudos or Thumbs-Up, or whatever the Trib Opinion page might say in their mail-it-in Saturday column.
Following Burt’s lead, I’m sure the Tribune brass will also bury the hatchet with its former Red Sox beat reporter, Rob Bradford. Bradford left the Tribune earlier this year for a gig at the Boston Herald, where he hoped to continue his once-popular and once-beefy Bradford on Baseball blog, found at www.bradfordonbaseball.com. As you can see, that didn’t work out for Bradford. On Baseball.
Take, for instance, the Lowell City Council and the Greater Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance (GLILA). At the behest of GLILA, and more importantly, the city’s lawyer, the City Council recently agreed to stop reciting the Lord’s Prayer before its meetings. (Click here for prior coverage on Lucy the Blog.)
It doesn’t take much smarts to see that the Lord’s Prayer is a distinctly Christian prayer, and thus wholly inappropriate to kick off meetings conducting city business. Taking things a step further, logic might also dictate that there are better places than the City Council meeting to pray out loud to any God. And perhaps one of those pleasant moments of silence would be more appropriate. But that’s not what we got here in Lowell.
Instead, the City Council adopted a watered down “nonsectarian” prayer, written by GLILA, which they read as follows:
Today as this session opens, we pray that your presence will be before us and everyone who serves in the decision-making process of our city. We pray for direction which will lead our city to be strong and unified. May we continue the legacy of our founders. May we be granted this day the wisdom to make decisions which will be for the good of the city.
We also pray for your special blessing on all those who are working to transform our city and make it a better place to live and work.
According to a Lowell Sun op-ed piece by Stephen Fisher, president of GLILA, “The use of a nonsectarian prayer welcomes everyone into full participation as citizens.”
Uh, not quite, Stephen. To the contrary, standing up for the Lord’s Prayer or this lame-ass substitution makes me feel excluded, itchy, and isolated, since I don’t really believe in your one-size-fits-all God. And, in fact, when you froth all over him and ask him to guide our city, it sorta creeps me out. So count me as one citizen not feeling the full participation vibe.
Fisher also writes, “When the council prays at a meeting, it is no longer simply a personal devotional matter but a public action taken on behalf of the whole city. [Gee, thanks!] The use of a nonsectarian prayer welcomes everyone into full participation as citizens.” Again, Stephen, not everyone.
While I object to the premise of the councilors praying out loud at the meeting to begin with, I also object to the mamby-pamby lunacy of this Mad-Libbed nonsectarian prayer. If I was of any religious ilk, there’s no way I’d say it. What’s the point of pretending that your God is some super-unifying force? That the Christian’s God is the Jew’s God is the Hindu’s God is your momma’s God. Has everyone lost their goddamned minds?