Fashion shouldn’t really be ‘to die for’

Editor’s note: I’ve made some sentences bold.   – R.T.

By Paula Moore

It seems ridiculous to have to point this out, but animals are not just fashion accessories. Yet so often, that seems to be how they are viewed by the industries that make money off their fur or skins.

Rabbits on angora farms in China scream and writhe in pain as workers tear the fur right out of their skin.

Sheep used for wool are left battered and bloody as workers in shearing sheds punch and kick them and cut off wide strips of flesh, causing gaping wounds.

And cows are often skinned alive for leather, kicking and crying out in terror, because slaughter lines move so fast.

It’s tempting to blame such cruelty on consumers’ apparently insatiable demand for “fast fashion,” which forces suppliers to produce the greatest volume of fur and skins in the cheapest way possible.

But as a new PETA eyewitness investigation reveals, even on the other end of the fashion spectrum—the so-called “luxury” market, in which handbags sell for tens of thousands of dollars each—animals are treated as nothing more than commodities, forced to live in filth and senselessly killed.

PETA investigators in Texas and Zimbabwe documented the appalling conditions in which animals are raised and killed for “luxury” bags, belts and watchbands.

In Winnie, Texas, there’s an alligator factory that sends skins to a tannery owned by Hermès, which makes the famous Birkin bags. PETA’s investigator found alligators there kept in fetid water and dank, dark sheds without sunshine, fresh air or even basic medical care. At just a year old, they’re killed and their skins are sent to France and made into “luxury” items such as watchbands.

As PETA’s investigator documented, sometimes the slaughter process was badly botched. Workers  repeatedly shot alligators in the head with a captive-bolt gun and stabbed conscious alligators to try to dislocate their vertebrae—even though a manager had admitted that “reptiles will continue to live” through that.

Some animals were still conscious, kicking and flailing, even minutes after workers tried to kill them.

After they were cut into, the alligators were briefly bled and then dropped into a bin of ice water. But because some alligators had survived the attempts to slaughter them, they may have instead drowned or died of hypothermia in these bins.

In Zimbabwe, at the facility of one of the world’s largest exporters of Nile crocodile skins, tens of thousands of crocodiles are confined to concrete pits from birth to slaughter. They are never given the opportunity to engage in natural behavior, such as digging tunnels, protecting their young or searching for food as they would do in the wild.

They are stunned and then killed by having their necks cut, a wire rammed down their spines and their brains scrambled with a metal rod.

If left alone, not killed for fashion, Nile crocodiles can live to be up to 80 years old. But at this facility, they are slaughtered when they’re only about 3. That’s when their belly skins are the optimal size to be used for handbags.

It takes two to three crocodiles to make just one bag.

Most of us will never buy a $50,000 Birkin bag or even a $2,000 watch. But whenever we choose any fashions made of skins, fur or wool, animals are the ones who pay the price. The only way to ensure that we’re not buying into cruelty is to leave all animal skins out of our wardrobes and choose animal-friendly vegan fashions instead.

Heading out to a holiday weekend celebration today? Bring FLAG CAKE!


Chef Joey helps you make every celebration more … celebratory!  


Text, recipe and photo by Chef Joey

This is the easiest cake in the world to make!

For chocolate cake, add 6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder.

For lemon or orange cake, add 1/4 cup juice and reduce the water by 1/4 cup and add the zest of the fruit.

For vanilla cake, add 1 extra tablespoon of vanilla flavoring.

2014 verizon phone 005_1

Basic cake:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar (add chocolate at this point for chocolate cake)
Sift together in a bowl and add
1 cup oil (vegetable preferred)
2 eggs

Mix the above together well. It will be pasty. Sprinkle 2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp baking soda on top.

Pour 2 cups of HOT WATER on top, then 1 tsp vanilla.


Pour into two 9″ greased and lined pans or a 9″ x 12″ greased and lined pan.

Bake at 375 for 20 – 25 minutes, depending on your pans. Test with a toothpick. Remove from pan and let cool.

Top with fresh whipped cream and strawberries and blueberries!

Enjoy! Happy Birthday, America!

Support for students, job opening …


perfection, from an American master …



For the 2015-2016 school year, Bottom Line is recruiting our first class of Success Direct students to enter our Success program in their first year of college!

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Abby’s House is seeking a part-time Accountant!

Join our organization and support our mission to provide shelter, housing, and advocacy to homeless, battered, and low-income women, with or without children.

Responsibilities include: developing, implementing, and maintaining accounting systems, policies, and procedures; performing a variety of accounting transactions; compiling, analyzing, and reporting accounting data for management and board committees.

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The OIF adds a few links to this pinch collar that he bought for his new dog. I’m not a fan of this type of dog collar, but it helps control a powerful pup with a high prey drive (like Bosch) when he’s out for a walk.

The OIF named his new dog after the German tool company cuz his dog’s a German Shepherd dog and he’s a contractor/carpenter who uses Bosch Tools. Perfect!


I gave Bosch this baby blue collar. It used to belong to my Nova Scotia retriever, Bailey. Bailey, a huge, rust colored beauty passed away 6 years ago. He used to look so handsome wearing this blue band! So does Bosch! I think my gift touched the OIF because he and the late Bailey were best buds!


Bosch looks like an adorable teddy bear from this angle!


But he’s a GSD! An older dog, close to 11. Big dogs don’t live much longer than 12, but I nagged the OIF into getting him because Bosch’s been in a kennel situation for 3+ years (his owner died of cancer). He has been tough to place in a home because of his high prey drive, age and size.


But now he’s heading into a new life, a life of  high protein, premium dog food, excellent medical care, comfy digs, sleeping on the bed and the sofa with the OIF (the OIF spoils his dogs), two good walks a day, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE …


…. thanks to the OIF, who opened his heart and wallet (today we went to the vet right after we got Bosch and the OIF dropped $250 for a wellness check up, some preliminary blood work, etc. Next week vaccinations, stool sample tests, most likely deworming … and another $250 bill. Then in two or so years when Bosch begins to falter the OIF will throw money at all the dog’s medical problems like there’s no tomorrow – anything to keep his beloved Bosch around for another six months. They will be in love with each other! – and Bosch will become a canine money pit. And it’ll be traumatic for the OIF to lose yet another great German Shepherd dog. And so soon! He always told me: dogs don’t live long enough! They leave their human companions too soon!

The OIF sees the paw prints on the wall. He’s had 8 German Shepherds! Still, he committed to Bosch.

He doesn’t think he’s doing anything all that wonderful.

He is.

– text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Fourth of July, Green Island style!

editor’s note: I’ve been working on a Fourth of July Green Island Grrrl column for you, but it’s only half-written. It’s going to be a little late. The Old Injun Fighter and I are spending the afternoon together getting ANOTHER German Shepherd dog for him and his beloved Anna, his GSD! She’s all alone now that Sparky has passed away. She is so lonely! The OIF is still hurtin’!

A 125-pound German Shepherd dog with wicked high energy! That’s the solution! That’s who we’ll be picking up today! I was up all night trying to wrap my brain around this “jaunt” … but no matter how intensely you plan, with a German Shepherd dog the size of a black bear (GORGEOUS ANIMAL) you always say a little prayer. I will be driving. I will be drinking a ton of coffee. The OIF and I will be bickering. The dog will be??? Pray for me, the OIF and the beautiful German Shepherd dog! 

For this morning, this is the best I can do: a GIG July 4th column I wrote a few years back, which I still like a lot.       – R.T.


By Rosalie Tirella

I’ve celebrated the Fourth on a blanket in Boston listening to the Boston Pops and guest vocalist Johnny Cash. I’ve celebrated the Fourth at East Park here in Worcester. Always a lovely time.

Last night I was thinking about my Green Island Fourth of July’s – the years when I was a kid and lived with my mother, father, sisters and grandmother in “the Island”:

I am a little kid – about 9 – and I am standing on our three decker’s back porch. Third floor. It is the afternoon and the sun is shining sweetly. I am looking at “Val,” the buxom middle-aged lady who lives across the way from our rickety three decker in her rickety six-unit building, on her third-floor porch. A big, weed-choked, empty lot lies between our buildings but that is all. The vegetation hasn’t kept Val from inserting herself into ours – everyone’s – lives.

She is wearing a negligee today – for the Fourth of July. I can see it from my back porch. She is on her back porch talking loudly. I swear I can see her bright red lips from my third floor porch! In 10 years I will have learned the word “slatternly,” and it will remind me of Val … but today I am a little kid so Val is just … Val.

Val is very drunk on this special national holiday – in a very happy, friendly way. She is talking with anyone who passes by her building, her ta ta’s damn near falling out of her negligee as she leans over her porch railing to chat up passersby who always chat back. I am standing on my porch, quiet as a mouse, not even smiling because I know Val can be scary sometimes. On a few occasions she has battled with my granny, called my granny, also feisty, a DP – Dumb Polack – during one of their shouting matches held across their back porches. DP, my mom tells me, really stands for Displaced Persons, what they sometimes called immigrants. Val is being mean when she yells DP at my granny, who doesn’t miss a beat and yells back: KISS MY ASSY! and turns her plump little dumpling shaped butt to Val – while standing on our back porch – and tap, taps her butt which is covered in those sweet all flannel nighties with little pink rose buds on them. Bapy – Polish for Granny – wore those flannel nighties year ’round – even in the summer.

Granny is not battling Val today. Granny is inside, sitting in her easy chair we have set up for her in the kitchen, at the head of the kitchen table, a place from which she candrink her cup of coffee, eat her egg sandwich and see and comment on all the household happenings. She has been sitting there my whole life! I love her with all my heart!

But I digress. Val is out on her porch today in her negligee because it is the Fourth of July, a special day – for her and America. Val has turned and gone inside her apartment, a flat that is also home to her wimpy boyfriend, gorgeous blond 18 year old daughter from another guy, and two huge attack dogs: a German Shepherd and Doberman. Both fierce. Both having chased me up a fence more than a few times. Val doesn’t believe in walking her dogs to do poop. She just lets them out, they rush down the three flights of stairs like noisy moose and shit and pee in the little front yard and rush back upstairs. Val has them trained to a tee.

Val has come out of her flat – this time she is carrying her portable record player. I am watching all this from my back porch – not saying a word, not even smiling. Just waiting … . Val puts her record player down, hooks it up to a bunch of extension cords and I see her going back in, cord in hand. Then she comes out with a record album – a big one. I am guessing it is the same one she played last year, has the songs which we – the entire Bigelow Street neighborhood – heard last Fourth of July: patriotic tunes. The kind you can – like Val – march around on your Green Island porch to. Later I would learn these songs were written by John Philip Sousa.

Val puts on her lp. Cranks it up! Da da da da da da de da da! La da da da de da da! Boy, this music is good! Very up beat! I am tapping my feet! I look across the way and see Val crack open another beer and take a sloppy swig and lie on her reclining beach chair on her porch. I can see her relaxing through the slats on her porch through the slats on my porch!

The music is great! Val is getting drunker. …

It is a few hours later and Val is singing – to the entire neighborhood! The folks in our hood are getting ramped up! People are coming out and throwing chairs and sofas and old tires into a big pile in the empty lot a few lots down from Val’s place, diagonally across the way from our three decker flat. I go in doors and crow to my mom: THEY ARE GETTING READY FOR THE BIG BONFIRE, MA! To myself: HOORAY!

My mom, careworn, grimaces. She doesn’t say a word, never voices her disapproval of Val. But I know she is not thrilled with the situation. Sometimes she is the one who will call the Worcester Fire department when the flames of the big bonfire grow too huge and lap up the July night air and orange sparks fill our Green Island night. The fire has never spread cuz the neighborhood kids and adults have kept it in check with big poles that they use to poke at it. But the flames still worried my mom …

But the eve has just begun! I so want to be a part of the celebration and throw some of Bapy’s rags onto the bonfire! She has so many that she wraps her arms in for her arthritis. Old country ways/cures die hard in Green Island. … Bapy never really changes her clothes. Just gives herself sporadic sponge baths and peels off old rags and puts on new ones. She always smells fecund. I love her odor! I still miss her Bapy smell!! If only we could re-smell all the people we have loved through the years. The men I have been with, my late mom who held me to her heavy Heaven Scented perfumed breasts as a child and a teen, my Bapy’s immigrant odor, my long-gone dog Bailey’s gamey scent … .

Anyways, the bonfire was being readied for the big night, but my mom would never let me join in the mayhem. It was all a little too wild for us. We were the good kids. My mom the perfect mom who worked so hard at the dry cleaners and went to church with her three girls every Sunday. My mom knew everyone in the hood and was always polite and talked with folks, etc – she was not a snob. But, she liked to tell her girls, she would never sit and have a cigarette with the ladies, like half the women in our hood did – visiting each other in each other’s tenements, gossiping about folks, bitching about cheating husbands and boyfriends. My mother was busy raising her girls as perfectly as she could, making sure they went to school every day and did all their homework and got all As and went to bed early and ate well. She had no time to wallow in her poverty – or her husband’s wild ways. She – we – transcended the shit.

So, there I was, stuck on our third-floor porch. An observer. My sisters would be home from Crompton Park soon. They would love this spectacle, too! Not as much as I did. But they would hang out on the porch, eating Freeze Pops, their lips ice blue from the sugared ice treat – and watch.

My father would disappear for the day. Celebrate in his own fashion, I guess. He was as crooked as some of the guys in the hood, but he played out his crookedness in other parts of Worcester. I suspect the East Side of town. What my mom and us kids didn’t know wouldn’t hurt us.

… It was dark out now and Val was singing up a storm and marching around her porch. La di da di da!!! Bang bang! Someone had lit the bonfire and everyone was gathered around it! Except for me and my kid sisters. We were on our back porch eating Freeze Pops, mesmerized by the flames – they must have been two stories high! The folks in the hood out did themselves this year! It was like something you would see in an old Western movie – the Indians roasting an elk on a spit they had set up over the flames. People’s faces orange from the glow of the flames. Very primitive and real.
“Come out here, Ma!” I yelled to my mother. “Ya should see how big the bonfire is this year!!”

My mother was indoors getting our clothes ready for the Fourth of July cook out we would be having at our Uncle Mark and Aunt Mary’s the next day. They lived in a a cute pink ranch house in the Burncoat area – a nicer part of town. My mom liked this part of the Fourth best of all. A day off she could celebrate with her favorite sister in her sister’s big back yard, my Uncle Mark grilling hamburgers and hot dogs on the big three legged grill he had stoked with those black brickettes he always doused with lighter fluid. Yum, yum, yum ! We were all pre-vegetarian in those days – ate meat, Nissaan white rolls and buns, potato chips, soda, Cheez-Its … the typical American BBQ 1960s fare. Heaven!

Ma would have none of it. She was busy making sandwiches for the cook out at Uncle Mark’s. She wanted us in bed early for tomorrow. We kids would have none of it. The flames were roaring! So was Val! Some jerk threw too many old tires on the bon fire, so now the air smelled awful! It was thick with gray smoke. We kids started coughing. Ma came out and took a look. Her mouth fell open. She looked at her three silly girls and frowned. I knew … She was calling 911.

In a matter of minutes the Worcester Fire Department had come and the fireman were hosing down the bon fire with their big hoses. The flames were doused out! Smoke was everywhere.

BOO! BOO! BOO! shouted all the kids and adults at the firemen. You could hear their laughs, too.

“Boo, Boo! Boo!!!” my sisters and I yelled from our back porch, laughing. “BOO! BOO!”

It had been, as usual, a fab Fourth of July!

Tonight! City of Worcester Fourth of July Celebration! Best fireworks in Central Mass! Plus: patriotic tunes played by symphony orchestra!

Once again …



TONIGHT! Thursday, July 2

3 p.m. – 9:30+ p.m!

East Park! (Shrewsbury Street)


This is a huge, spectacular, classy, musical, fun, family-friendly, FREE Fourth of July city bash in one of Worcester’s most beautiful parks!

The Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra will perform before and during the fireworks!

On the beautiful East Park stage … just perfect for a symphony orchestra or … summertime Shakespeare in the park (hint, hint, hint, City of Worcester!)!

3 p.m. – kids’ activities and games near the recently renovated, beautiful East Park kids playground (the park’s spray park will open a few days after the celebration!)

Hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and drinks!

7:40 p.m. – American flag-raising!

Then Music by the orchestra!  American classics! Patriotic tunes, some of which have been around since George Washington’s presidency!

Hear the songs American bands played during the American Revolution, Civil War… . When you’re a kid you love to march around to these tunes! When I was three years old, my mom got me a little drum and for my soldiers cap she opened up a paper bag and rolled up its edges so it fit snuggly around my head  … She did the same for my kid sisters who dutifully marched behind their  “general” in our big Green Island kitchen!


 In your 20s the music feels a bit dusty, a bore, unless you’re in your school’s marching band … . Then … adulthood…you’re in your prime and the music just whops you over the head! Spirit raising!  Jubilant!  Proud and defiant! You think: HOW DID THESE WILD and CRAZY AND BRILLIANT DISSIDENTS DO WHAT THEY DID?! AMERICA! What a concept! I mean, The balls of it! And then you think, longingly: How primal – pristine –  the natural America was back then: Wolves, mountain lions, bob cats, buffalos, grizzly bears galore! You yearn for a deer to cross your path as you run InCity Times, for the deer to stand frozen, staring at you, its bobbed  white tail up like a little flag…

Then … the Fireworks – 9:30 p.m!!!! … hundreds of people staring up into the cobalt sky, the symphony orchestra playing Francis Scott Key while red, white and blue and green and fuchsia dandelions, stars, rockets burst open in the Worcester heavens above the hushed Worcester crowd. … People going home singing …

A magical Worcester summer night.


Be there!