Snow Beef

March 20, 2007 at 7:44 pm | Posted in America, Evil Tribune, Lowell | 5 Comments


One thing I learned at The Eagle-Tribune is weather drives the news.  You would think in New England, home to the nation’s most volatile and diverse weather conditions, a light snow flurry might not warrant six 20-inch stories with four breakout boxes and nine photographs.  But you’d be wrong.  Because there is nothing – NOTHING! – more important than the weather.  (Gas prices and the Red Sox rank a distant second and third.)

Given this knowledge, I’ve been inexplicably delinquent in providing weather coverage during the first few weeks of Lucy the Blog.  I should know better.  Weather is what the people want, so today, weather is what the people will get.

Last week, our annual thaw was in full swing here in Lowell.  The snow had melted, revealing the first signs of spring – piles and piles of garbage.  Food wrappers, beer cans, condoms, those red plastic sticks that spread the cheez in your cheez-n-crackers. And dogshit, everywhere.  Lots of dogshit.

In an effort to do some real boots-on-the-ground reporting, I tried to count the piles of dogshit lining the sidewalk between Moody and Austin Streets.  But the task proved impossible.  Not even that bearded know-it-all on CSI could figure out where one pile of shit ends and the next starts.  The entire block is lined with it, like luminaria candles on Christmas Eve.This is the mud season.  The trash season.  The dogshit season.  Or so it seemed.  Temperatures pushed 70 on Thursday, and despite mud, trash, and shit, everyone looked delighted.  I walked downtown, and people were actually smiling.  We’d made it.  We were out from under the burden of winter.  And now, like the garbage and feces, we could finally show our face.

At Lucy Larcom Park next to the high school, I sat and read by the canal, wearing just a light sweatshirt.  A Lowell High ROTC team practiced marching drills nearby, but it looked very new to them.  They didn’t have uniforms or fatigues – just their baggy pants and oversized sweatshirts.  Nothing about the boys and girls looked like a ‘type’, and certainly not a type that you would expect to join ROTC.  But they had.  They were learning the foundation of discipline.  Walk in step.  Stand up straight.  Speak when spoken to.  Yes, sir.  No, sir.canal1.jpg

This will be the first step for some of these kids.  They will sign on to the armed services, and some will end up in war, and I found myself watching them like a proud but frightened father.  Do you know what you’re doing?  Are you sure this is what you want?  It’s only ROTC, I know.  But at this pace, we’ll be out of full-timers, reservists, and national guardsmen before we get a chance to liberate Iran.  It’s hard to look at them in formation and think about anything other than the 3,000+ who’ve died in Iraq.  At one point, they were kids too.  At one point, they were just learning how to walk a straight line.  What happened?

As I watched tomorrow’s soldiers, the Cuckoo’s Nest walked by.  They were special ed students – maybe about a dozen of them – walking the grounds with a few teachers, all of whom were younger than 30.  I watched the teachers with the same curiosity that I’d watched the ROTC kids.  What are they doing?  Why subject yourself to this?

One teacher looked like Jenna Bush, and had those extremely pointy-toed shoes.  Very nicely put-together.  Very fashionable.  She walked alongside a large black girl, who obviously had some type of mental affliction.  And they were engaged in what looked to be a legitimate and meaningful conversation.  By that I mean Jenna wasn’t condescending to the girl or talking to her in any way other than as a friend and as an equal.  It was quite beautiful.

I have neither the patience, the courage, nor the desire to be a special ed teacher or a soldier.  But I appreciate them and we are lucky to have them.  At that moment, intoxicated by the return of sunshine and warmth, I wanted to hug them all, as well as anyone else who would let me.  The ROTCies, the teachers, the cuckoos, and all the strangers in between.  Spring was coming.  I felt alive and well and priviledged to be among the brotherhood of man.

Then two feet of snow fell.  Two days later.  It may not have been two feet, but whatever it was, it was a lot.  And it seems like much more from where I sit.  The condo maintenance crew plowed a small mountain in front of our unit.  Essentially, I could open my second-floor window and step right onto it.  The Puerto Rican kids climb it and toss each other off, and I yell from my window, “Get off my snow, you meddling hoodlums!”moody.jpg

“It’s our snow!” they respond, taunting me.

With any luck, that pile will melt by July.  But I can’t see that happening.

To envision that would be to harbor some degree of hope.  And while logic dictates that spring will soon arrive, hope is hard to find.  That was a cruel turn of events last week.  A glimpse up the skirt, followed by a swift kick in the shins.  Where do you get off pulling a trick like that, God???

Today it’s cold and no one’s smiling.  Everyone’s in a rush.  Everyone wants to kill.  The ROTCies want to kill.  The cuckoos want to kill.  Six-foot icicles hang from the gutters, sharper than Jenna’s boots.  They look menacing up there, barely hanging on.  Those icicles want to kill.  And I want to kill too.

I walked to the post office yesterday, huddled under a hood and wool cap, with tears welling up from the wind.  A half-full school bus was stopped on the side of the road, idling for whatever reason.  My eyes connected with a kid who couldn’t have been 7.  He squinted his eyes in one of those hard ghetto stares, and pointed at me yelling, “You got beef, man? You got beef with me?”

Yeah, I do got beef, kid.  You don’t know the half of it.



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  1. Wah.

  2. i will start by killing you. dead.

  3. […] Stadium looked gorgeous in H-D, and as Jeter’s game-tying single rolled past second base, I finally felt the hope that’s been missing since the sun disappeared in November.  Perhaps I will see the day when […]

  4. […] month from now, I’ll be whining.  Three months from now I’ll be losing my mind.  But today, I’m grateful to live in New England, where we experience all four seasons, for […]

  5. Savvy post , I was fascinated by the info . Does anyone know where my business could get ahold of a fillable IRS 2555 form to type on ?

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