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, Lowell Sun, MediaNews Group, not-so-fresh thinkin'
Much like you, Lucy the Dog has long wondered when we’d finally be able to pay a fee in order to read the musings of Chaucer the Cat and Lowellita the Walking VD on a website that looks and functions as if it was designed in a grade school computer lab.
Well, according to the intrepid and overgrown Scandanavian doofus Pax Arcana, that day is nigh. If nigh means near, which I assume it does. Though I don’t think I’ve ever used it, and I’ve never looked it up.
In any case, the brain trust of MediaNews Group – which owns The Lowell Sun – is apparently sharpening the final nail for the Sun’s coffin by threatening to charge readers for online content.
In last week’s memo to the staff of its empire, Dean Singleton and Jody Lodovic wrote :
“We will begin to move away from putting all of our newspaper content online for free. Instead, we will explore a variety of premium offerings that apply real value to our print content.”
The Singleton/Lodovic memo rambles on and on, with a list of initiatives that will re-energize newspapers and send profits skyrocketing. I don’t have much to say about them except that they’re wholly uninspired, and I want a refund from BU for my print journalism graduate degree.
If you’re interested, you can click this link to read the NewsMedia Group’s plans. But most of them are likely to have failed by the time you do so.
Tags: Evil Tribune, inflatable rats, Jim Campanini, Lowell, Lowell Sun
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: Lowell, Lowell Sun, Nola Jane, Superintendent Chris Scott, swine flu
I generally ignore such hysteria, but now that I have a vulnerable and precious little creature to protect, I’m admittedly a bit troubled by today’s news that two middle-schoolers from Lowell are the first confirmed swine flu cases in New England. They likely contracted it during a recent trip to Mexico.
Amidst all the deathly implications, I found one quote from today’s Lowell Sun to be particularly disturbing.
Apparently, the mother of the infected children is a teacher’s aide in the Lowell public schools. And, reports the Sun…
“Superintendent of Schools Chris Scott said she was unsure whether the mother returned to work yesterday.”
Uhhhhh, excuse me?
Wouldn’t that be a good thing to know? I mean, the kids haven’t returned to school since last week, and they were tested on Monday. So it should come as no surprise to their mother that they’re sick. Thus, as a precautionary measure, one would assume she should not be going to school.
And one might even assume that the superintendent should be aware of the situation–I was, after all. Perhaps she might even advise the mother to take a day or two off. At the least though, you’d expect Scott to know whether the teacher’s aide (who, I remind you, is potentially carrying a potentially deadly virus) had, yaknow, showed up to work.
Is it really possible that Chris Scott didn’t know? If so, that’s pretty lame.
ED. NOTE: I apologize for the hyperlocal Lowell coverage of late. I realize that our only Lowell reader is my wife, so this is probably a bore for the rest of you. But that’s your fault for not living here in the swine flu capital of New England. There’s a lot to like about Lowell!
Tags: "Tax on Plastic Grocery Bags", Chaucer the Cat, Lowell, Lowell Sun
In this morning’s Lowell Sun, columnist Chaucer the Cat comes out aggressively against proposed state legislation that would, according to Chaucer:
“…tax consumers 5 cents per bag for each plastic grocery bag they use at the checkout counter at a supermarket.”
Given The Sun’s traditional pro-tax stance, it’s surprising that they allowed Chaucer the Cat to stray so far off the reservation. But Chaucer has never been afraid to tweak The Establishment.
“Here’s one for the outrageous pile,” (s)he(?) writes in ‘Plastic-bag tax? Paws-itively nauseating,’ arguing that the tax will force society’s most vulnerable out of their homes and into the aisles of our local Hannaford’s.
“Hopefully, many will be out when this comes up for a vote, otherwise you’re going to be pack-mule-ing your groceries home or living at the supermarket, and that’s going to be very crowded. “
Chaucer also asks who will replace our prune juice, in the event that the legislation passes and the whole world goes to shit.
Tags: Dan Phelps, Flamboyance, Lowell, Lowell Sun, Perez Hilton
“If you don’t know who Perez Hilton is, then I am sorry to be the one to introduce you to him.”
So begins the column “Gay blogger’s behavior shows his own intolerance,” written by Dan Phelps in this morning’s Lowell Sun.
If you don’t know who Dan Phelps is, then I am sorry to be the one to introduce you to him.
He’s a generally harmless white nerd, who is in his late-30’s or early-40’s, were I to guess. He’s a local columnist and not a bad one at that. Or so I thought. But my prior opinion could have been favorably skewed by the fact that he is neither Jim Campanini nor Lowellita. All things are relative.
Before this morning, I’d never been moved much in any direction by Phelps. He leans populist-conservative, I guess, and he’s quite vanilla-ish. (I know, you’d never guess by the picture!)
Today, however, I was a bit taken back by his borderline (if not outright) homophobic screed. Picking up from where we left off…
“He [Hilton] is one of those in-your-face, flamboyangly gay pseudo-celebrities who is famous simply because he writes trash about other celebrities in an online blog.”
Let’s break this down.
(1) “one of those”: No one wants to be “one of those” anythings; the phrase inherently conveys a sense of disdain. I mean, really, what are you more likely to hear? “He’s one of those really nice guys who holds the door open and never cheats on his taxes“? Or “He’s one of those pole-smokin’ types“? “One of those” is rarely used in a favorable light.
(2) “in-your-face”: Really? He’s “in-your-face“? I have a link to Perez Hilton on this blog, but that’s only because I’ve been too lazy to update the Blogroll feature. I visit Perez Hilton.com once in a while, hoping to see a nip slip, but it’s not part of my regular online diet. I find it quite easy to keep Perez Hilton out of my face. Every time I see articles about his Miss USA scandal, I ignore them. In fact, I wouldn’t even have read this one, except I thought the headline might be referring to Andrew Sullivan.
(3) “flamboyantly gay”: “One of those” “flamboyant gays”! I’ve had it with all of them! Why can’t they just be nice, non-threatening white nerds like me and Lucy the Dog?
Tags: Lowell Sun, Taking a moment to think of something other than Sarah
But for greatest headline ever written, you’d be hard-pressed to beat this one, which appeared in Friday’s Lowell Sun:
On its face, there’s nothing particularly notable about the headline. It ran above a story about George Hamel, a longtime ad salesman who started at the Sun way back on October 4, 1968. Now, as the headline would indicate, the beloved Hamel is hanging it up.
Except he’s not.
That previous link goes to a cached version of the article. But the now edited headline on the Sun’s site reads: “After 40 years at Sun, Hamel, briefcase, trench coat, keep on selling“.
Apparently, there is a little confusion over there on Dutton Street. So hold off on those “Happy Retirement” wishes. In a follow-up story that ran Saturday, reporter Jack Minch wrote, “contrary to a headline in yesterday’s Sun, [Hamel] does not plan to retire any time soon.”
To summarize: The Lowell Sun ran a story saying that the most tenured ad salesman at the Lowell Sun is retiring. But the most tenured ad salesman at the Lowell Sun is not retiring. And Jim Campanini is still not a very good editor.
Tags: Lowell Sun, Lowellita nip slip, Ricky Gervais
Lucy the Blog has long been a fan of the proofreading gaffes that litter the Lowell Sun. And it seems the rest of the world is taking notice.
Here’s a great video blog by Ricky Gervais catching a Sun boo-boo in a recent article about his upcoming film “This Side of the Truth,” which will be shot right here in “LA (Lowell Area, that is).”
Tags: Jim Campanini, Lowell Sun, Lowellita, NewsTalk LIVE, Why newspapers are doing so awesome
Every Thursday night, Lowell Sun Editor-in-Chief Jim Campanini tackles the issues of the day on NewsTalk LIVE, an hour-long telephone call-in show with a live video stream.
Judging by the number of callers (last week it was one, a pre-scheduled guest), it seems not everyone is tuning into these discussions. So as a service to the public, every week Lucy the Blog will run an excerpt from the previous Thursday’s NewsTalk.
We hope these illuminating snippets will inspire our readers to support The Sun by watching the full broadcasts in all their glory. (To save time, you can speed up the video by clicking the fast forward button. You’ll still understand what they’re saying; they’ll just be saying it in a higher voice.)
Last week’s subject was Valentine’s Day. Campanini’s in-studio guest was reporter Rachel Briere, who doubles as the oft-drunk and seemingly hornyish* Lowellita, and writes an entertainment blog called The Frosting. In his introduction of Briere, Campanini says The Frosting “has been getting national attention” lately — a claim that Lucy the Blog’s investigative team has been unable to confirm.
Today’s excerpt comes about three-quarters into the show, when Campanini reflects on his days as a swinger. It turns out that he and his twin brother were quite the Lotharios, and often employed a fun bit of tomfoolery to get multiple stanks on their hang-lows for the mere price of one drive-in movie ticket.
“Whenever we went out on dates, we had the double date. And we’d go to the drive-in. And uh…naturally the best part of the evening was when we went to the popcorn stand…or to the concession stand. Because then we’d switch. He’d get in the back seat and I’d get in the front. And uh…well, you know. A couple times it worked out and a couple times it didn’t.”
As Lowellita squirms and avoids eye contact at all costs, Campanini goes on to note that the twin brother eventually married a high school sweetheart named Kathy.
“Let me tell you. She could tell the difference between the two of us. One of the only women who probably could. And uh…and uh….she could tell you some stories about uh…about some times when we went out on double dates and we tried to pull the old uh…uh…sneak-a-roo. Kathy always knew. So, so. It was great. Maybe that’s why she married my brother instead of starting a relationship with me.”
Join us next week for What We Learned on NewsTalk LIVE. And remember, NewsTalk LIVE is brought to you by Lowell Cooperative Bank. They’re not just a bank. They’re your neighbor.
*We mean this in the most flattering way possible.
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…