Category Archives: Green Island Grrrl

Ronny Stultz – a Unique Find!

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Unique Finds new, improved and BELOVED (by Rosalie!) music section!❤❤❤❤

By Rosalie Tirella

Yesterday, despite the impending blizzard; the previous Friday’s police raid that unearthed guns and a massive pharma-copia of illegal substances of all sorts, sizes, shapes and mind-bending capabilities;  the newspaper stories; the comments section where I was called a money-launderer for a drug biz and the pitchfork-stabbing-into-the-sky crowd demanded LOCK ROSE UP! LOCK HER UP! … I calmly drove to Unique Finds Antiques and Vintage gift shop at 1329 Main St. with the radio blasting  my beloved White Stripes looking for – hoping to find – my pal and Unique Finds store owner, Ronny Stultz. My gentle giant. I had something to give him. He was a friend and an advertiser who was always courteous and respectful to me, never said a harsh word to me, always gave me the run of his place, always let me have a bit of fun. Once a week I’d visit Unique Finds to take pics for Ron’s ICT ads, hundreds of photos, many of which were posted on this website. Pictures of Ronny’s LEGOS collection, his cool vintage toy trucks, dump trucks and cars, Ronny’s Batman and Superman action figures, his furniture, his tableware, his funky rusty industrial equipment salvaged from Woo’s factories and industrial past…

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…  his fun barroom neon signs and airplanes …

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… his used guitars – electric and folk …

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… – and – my favorite – the TERRIFIC UF RECORD section.

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I was always always always! checking out their lps – never stumbling upon an errant pill, bag of heroin, gun or drug deal. Everyone, a little rough around the edges, was always nice and polite to me! Last month I was tripping over carpenters at Unique Finds, regular guys who were building Ronny extra shelves for an expanded record section, dividers to keep all the lps straight and in order, borders to make their presentation look neat and trim. The store’s aisles were being widened as items were rearranged; Ronny was also getting a new, bigger office. The guys, happy for work in these lean times, were doing a good job!

Knowing my pal’s past challenges, I said: “You’ve come a long way, Ronny! You’re making this biz your very own! Looking good!!!!”

Ronny had a Jack White album – new, his, not for sale! – blasting on his excellent Unique Finds store stereo system. He just smiled at me. He was into listening to Jack White. I began to listen to tne lp, too. I was floored – actually catapulted into heaven – when I heard at that moment my FAVORITE MUSICIAN/SINGER SINGING OVER SUCH AN EXCELLENT SOUND SYSTEM! Wow! INCREDIBLE!, I said to Ronny. Wish I had this at home! Jack sounds UNBELIEVABLE! Ronny took my compliment with a shrug of his beefy shoulders and let me photograph him holding the album.

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Mint singer. Mint songs. Mint speakers. Mint Ronny. That IS what Ronny Stultz was about to me. Not a drug pusher! Not a drug taker. But a vintage guy, a Rock n Roll connoisseur! Someone to talk rock and folk music with.

Did you know Ronny used to chat up LUCINDA WILLIAMS years ago, in Texas, after her shows, before you all even knew her name?! Ronny loves her music. Ron knows where Jack White is headquartered and his cool take on vinyl – Jack has his own record factory! Ron still travels to New York City to catch a fave band. A few years ago he hung out with the long gone but eternally iconic rock radio station WBCN’s iconic DJ Mark Parenteau, now unwell and living in Worcester where he grew up. Ronny bought much of Mark’s record collection and music biz memorabilia because Mark too had lived wicked hard and now he was sick and needed money badly.

Ronny Stultz, to me, was – IS – the cool kid at UMASS Amherst that I’d skip a class to hang out with to listen to music …to learn, to get ideas, talk poetry. I did this often as an undergrad at UMASS – with pals John and some pre-med genius freshman, who – ha ha! – had his own robust mary jane-selling biz. “Fred” would have his scales out, weighing the weed – and the WHO’S LIVE AT LEEDS would be blasting and about 10 of us would be listening, hanging on every screech and sigh – discussing the music! John would be making me an audio cassette of the lp, and his eyes would close and his smile turn beatific when it got to the musical parts he especially loved. There was a brilliant kid in our group who walked with crutches, crippled very badly, looked all herky jerky when he walked with his crutches down the long corridor of our floor- but he was perfect when he talked Roger Daltry or the Beatles! His father worked at an embassy in some exotic country. He read about 10 books a week – not on any class syllabus. The kid was a writer! Outcast in our dorm. Lonely. Heavy drinker. But accepted and loved by our gang! He KNEW rock n roll. Made it into our family. It was a mid night gathering…I was the only girl. No sex. Just one of the guys – even though they thought I was cute. I was accepted purely on brain power and because I was as passionate about the music as they were. Most college girls at the time didn’t want to do what I did – get deep into sounds, riff on the poetry of Janis or Cougar or Lennon. They were, like they are today, mostly into relationships, being the tea cup looking for the matching saucer… My boyfriend was a rock n roll lighting guy – an older returning student at UMASS – who did lights for Bruce Springsteen! Billy Joel! He wasn’t looking for the fake girl friend pressure bull shit – he was a pothead who planned on lighting Marvin Gaye’s upcoming concerts! But that gig fell through when Gaye’s father, high on drugs, brutally, stupidly killed his son!

I was an outsider. The UMASS rock music guys saved me. Ronny Stultz reminded me of those UMass music guys. Ronny, like my college pals, respects rock enough to play it right – on vinyl where it gets to you. 

When I look at Ronny, I don’t see a drug seller – I see a vinyl lover.

Ronny Stultz, my cheerleader! Along with his sweet, funky and wise girlfriend – a tough, cool Mama who was my cheerleader, too! We always gave each other a big hug when I entered Unique Finds and away we’d start! Gossiping about guys and how they done us wrong! Wicked fun! And she taught me about life! I remember one of our conversations:

Rose: If you moved the business to Shrewsbury Street you’d get more customers, a BETTER clientele. Sue: Na, I like it here. I don’t wanna be around those people. And what’s the difference between them and the homeless? They’ve just got a place to shit!

Sue was 100% right! The difference between the upper class and the lowest class: toilet-access! All people were equal. No one was better than anyone else.

Then Sue let a poor kid from the neighborhood take a  puppy knick knack home. For free.

I left Unique Finds that day feeling Sue was the new Ghandi.

For me, Unique Finds wasn’t a drug front – couldn’t be! – it was a safe space where Sue, Ron and I, all about the same age, discussed, sometimes with emotion, ex-lovers, love, disappointing fathers, the deep and disturbing connections between parents and kids … sibling rivalry. Ronny, a super intelligent guy – his sister Deirdre just yesterday told me (again!) his IQ is 140-something –  a sensitive soul, knows a lot about love interrupted, maybe lost forever. He’s the son of the late Sonny Stultz of Standard Auto in Vernon Hill. Sonny abused Ronny – emotionally. A good business owner but a bad father. Hurting his son. Making a sensitive kid believe he’s shit. And then Ronny’s motorcycle accident when he was 18. He was, for the intense pain, put on opioids. Sis Deirdre believes Ronny hasn’t been “right” since – that his stretch of legal drug-taking after the accident altered her brother’s body chemistry, made Ronny want opioids FOREVER. Factor in depression. Hurt. Abuse by Sonny. Some people have the psychological and physical template all set up for addiction, thanks to their families. Good people, even great people…set up to fuck up.

Addiction is complicated.

Ronny and Sonny’s history is complicated.

When Sonny died a few years ago, he left ZIP$$ – ZERO – to son Ronny. Left the Standard Auto business to his wife. Deidre runs the biz now. A few years back she read me Sonny’s will re: Ronny. She did this because I felt bad for the way Ronny had been cut out – left with absolutely nothing. She wanted me to understand. She read the pertinent paragraphs to me – they said: I LEAVE NOTHING TO MY SON RONALD. He gets nothing and must have nothing to do with Standard Auto. Ever.

Wow, I said to Deirdre, THAT IS COLD.

She said her dad was doing the right thing. Ronny had fucked up before. Sonny believed Ronny would lose it all – Standard Auto – to drugs.

I said: Maybe not. He’s clean now! He’s a good person. He’s Sonny’s son! Every son deserves a second chance.

Deidre screamed: ROSE, Ronny’s had a million second chances! We’ve cleaned up his shit before … supported his kids. No no no!!!!!!!! NO! Her voice was frayed, tattered.

I tried to understand. … And so Deirdre runs the business these days, is rich and lives in a beautiful house with her family, and Ronny says to me this summer… I know he’s doing the right thing –  going to Spectrum – going to his AA meetings … working HARD TO STAY CLEAN AND SOBER …Ronny says this to me: We have a family house at the Cape and they never once invited me for the weekend this summer. For a day at the beach with my kids. That big heavy handsome face of his dropped. I wanted to cry. Outsider. Interloper. Black Sheep. A guy who wanted to be loved and accepted by his family.

Deirdre  – her parents’ princess … she could do no wrong in dad Sonny’s eyes. Brother Ronny,  the dark prince …

Prince! Did I tell ya Ronny had some great Prince albums at Unique Finds?! And Bob Dylan too – he gave me the double Blond on Blond a few months ago! Dylan always lives on the cusp – so does Ronny. He lives on the edge in a warehouse, on a long dirty dark Worcester street in the ‘hood – where the trucks rumble up and down the roads and sometimes there are drag races …

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… and definitely no manicured lawns.

Ronny gave me my lovely fake-sheep-skin-lined denim jacket so I could deliver InCity Times in the cold without feeling cold.

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I LOVE my Ronny jacket!

Ronny used to give the street people who latched onto UF because they instinctively spotted Ron’s soft heart – knew that he would be a soft touch – food. He bought them their Cokes, fries and burgers at the fast food places across the street, when they walked over to buy him his snack. Gave them cigs and rides. I remember a confused old guy hanging around the office, saying he would be in tomorrow with a loving cup! … Ronny placed the tip of his finger onto the tip of the old guy’s nose and smiling gently said…OK.

Loving cup …

Ron, with his lady Sue’s blessings, gave me cute jewelry to give to my gal pals as thank you gifts – he was a guy who also gave me great relationship advice. Who sat with girlfriend Sue in his office and let me cry – on both their shoulders!

Ron. A guy who, when I said, clutching my Unique Find – an album from the store’s music section that I JUST HAD TO HAVE – I NEED THIS ALBUM! – would give it to me. I have a bunch of UF lps! If the album wasn’t new and could fetch top dollar and I wanted it for free, it was mine. Sometimes I’d be carrying my latest greatest UF album find to Ron’s office to ask for it before I took it so I could add it to my pretty ok lp, 78, CD and audiocassette music ❤❤❤❤collection and there Ron would be … sitting by his desk, stringing a guitar or opening up a STAX CD set. Wow! STAX!, I’d shout, bright eyed and bushy tailed. … NOPE, Ronny would say, looking serious, sensing my coveting his STAX find. Nope, Rose.

Two weeks ago Ronny accidentally gave me one of HIS Elvis albums …

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I had brought it home and was enjoying it when I got the call from Ronny: MY ALBUM. MY ELVIS ALBUM. PLEASE RETURN TO ME.

Oh, boy. Ronny didn’t exactly sound mad – just urgent. I understood. I’d feel the same way if he had my fave Beatles album – the one with “Rain” on it! So I carefully put his lp back into its sleeve – it was a double album too and brought it down to the car with me when I headed to work. It had been in my car for four days … I forgot to give it to Ronny when I visited UF last week and Ronny gave me another lp for the Elvis lp I was gonna return. Which was still in my car.

So when the cops moved in and the guns and drugs were confiscated and Ronny disappeared all I could think of was: I DON’T WANNA LET MY FRIEND DOWN – HAVE HIM THINK I STOLE HIS ELVIS LP! I HAVE TO GET THIS ALBUM TO RONNY!

So yesterday I drove to UF with Elvis in the passenger seat and the White Stripes blasting on my radio. But Unique Finds was closed. I tried the front and back doors. Both locked. Lights out. I felt a wave of loneliness wash over me. I walked back to my car sort of crying.

I drove to Standard Auto and talked with Deirdre and gave her her brother’s Elvis album. I sounded emotional: DEE! PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR BROTHER GETS THIS album! It’s his Elvis double album! – I don’t want him to think I took it!… He loves this album! Deirdre looked upset too and confused, but she took it. She said: No one knows where my brother is.

I think we both thought: Good.

Aidan Kearney’s Turtle Boy blog – a hate-spewing blog that now has nothing to do with Worcester … and Worcester City Coucilor Michael Gaffney still supports $$$$ Turtle Boy (Shhhh! It’s supposed to be a secret!) …

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The same can be said for Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney – he is just as American-Democracy-hating and truth-twisting as Donald Trump. Gaffney is a lying, combative street fighter, just like his hero!

By Rosalie Tirella

So a few weeks ago we were on the telephone with the Holden police – Turtle Boy blogger Aidan Kearney now lives in the Jefferson part of Holden – and has become that Worcester suburb’s bete noire. I will not discuss why I called the good officers on the bad Turtle Boy, but I was surprised when the Holden copper told me he was familiar with Turtle Boy – that he had been getting phone calls about Turtle Boy-Kearney all week long!

I said: Well, hot damn! So you know how it spins with the Turtle! Worcester’s hater is now YOUR hater! Worcester’s community divider is now YOUR community divider! Worcester’s problem is now YOUR problem, officer!

Loathed in Worcester because of his loathesome Turtle Boy blog Kearney can now be loathed in Holden, a much smaller pond with a much larger collective memory. Like all small towns. We are hoping Holden will do to Turtle Boy Kearney what he has done to Worcester and its minority communities – box him in, marginalize him, stereotype him, laugh at him, accuse him of all sorts of crimes and misdemeanors.

Karma’s a bitch, Aidan!

Turtle Boy-Aidan’s exodus from Worcester makes sense: with his son now almost old enough (or old enough) to be going to school – being part of a school system/community – bully boy Aidan Kearney-Turtle Boy did not want to see the pitch forks turned on his kid. And his growing family. Which would happen here. Because he has trashed an entire city! Made a million enemies with his abusive and stupid blog.

Turtle Boy Kearney, his wife, little boy and baby girl had to pack it all up and … run away.

Now Aidan Kearney belongs to Jefferson-Holden – a white, mostly upper-middle class town where he doesn’t come in contact with the “wangstas,” “hoodrats” and skanks that he writes about in his blog every day and sees EVERYWHERE in Worcester and places like Southbridge, Gardner, Brockton, Lawrence … you know, the state’s Gateway Cities, once great factory towns now struggling to reinvent themselves. Kick a city when she’s down – that’s Turtle Boy Kearney’s M.O.

The Turtle Boy has taken a huge dump on these places, Worcester included. Turned our people into cartoon characters that just sit around in Section 8 housing smoking weed, selling their food stamps, abusing their kids, growing more morbidly obese or scrawny by the second. Turtle Boy has taken poverty, mental illness and poor job prospects for uneducated American workers and turned it all into one big dystopian joke that all the haters in Worcester can laugh at, feel superior to.

And Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney supports it all – has for years and continues to do so by purchasing $$$ ads on the Turtle Boy blog.

Gaffney’s one of the few advertisers  left – including a gun seller and a place where there had been a murder. Gaffney is in fitting company!

A peek today at the once porn-ad-choked Turtle Boy blog shows us a gray, square ad with a “click here for a free consultation” typed over it. You click on the ad and you see … Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney! It’s an ad for Gaffney’s ambulance-chasing lawyering business.

Typical Gaffney charade like this one which the media uncovered a few weeks ago …

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Up until a  few weeks ago, for years, Gaffney had his decades-old photo and lawyer ad on the Turtle Boy blog, plainly visible, with the words “Attorney Gaffney” written for all to see.

Now the Gaffer is ashamed of being aligned with the Turtle (which he is) – now sees the Turtle-Boy-Gaffney-bond as a liability (which it is).

But not quite.

Gaffney still needs Turtle Boy Aidan Kearney and his followers/readers – many Worcester voters. Gaffney still needs his evil cheerleader and mouth piece. So maybe he can be Woo mayor some day!😱😱😱😱 So Gaffney creates and pays for $$$ a Secret Turtle Boy ad. Slippery as always!

So WHAT IS MICHAEL GAFFNEY – a city councilor who is so ravenous to be mayor that he will do or say anything, no matter how nefarious, to accomplish his political goal – REALLY SUPPORTING?

Besides the usual Turtle Boy hatred … this recent Turtle Boy blog post made me especially sad, reminded me of what Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney really stands for:

The recent Turtle Boy Aidan blog post I am writing about today was written by Turtle Boy a while ago. It’s about a little girl … around 7 years old who is identifying as a little boy. AG Maura Healey is supporting the little boy and his family – in the face of the Trump administration’s cruel roll back of transgender folks’ rights (kids will be physically hurt, bullied, deprived of expressing their true voices because of Trump!) Aidan-Kearney-Turtle-Boy, as in the dark on this issue as Donald Trump and his nightmare of a Cabinet are, just had to chime in on the news. The header of his recent post:

Maura Healey Using This Confused 7 Year Old Who Thinks She’s Transgender As A Political Prop. Is The Most Disgusting Thing I’ve Ever Seen A Politician Do”

Turtle Boy-Aidan’s evil post begins:

“If your 7 year old girl says she’s a boy, what do you do? Pump her up with hormones, feed into the delusion, and give yourself the SJW medal of honor. Tell her that boys have penises and they’re disgusting and then give her a popsicle.”

And more nuggets of ignorance from the Turtle Boy blog post:

” … Trump announced yesterday that he was rolling back President Obama’s executive order that forces schools across the country to allow any student to use any locker room, so long as they declare themselves a member of that gender beforehand. I know, the horror. But the fact of the matter is that in states like Massachusetts the bathroom and locker room rules will not be changed … .”

” … Seriously, this girl’s parents should be ARRESTED. This is sick and twisted.”

 ” …. disgusting political stunts I have ever seen, Maura Healey brought up an 8 year old girl to condemn Trump for coming after her 7 year old “brother” Jacob, who has a vagina and is in fact a girl. This is really the most vile thing I have EVER seen a politician do:”

“Seriously, this girl’s parents should be ARRESTED. This is sick and twisted. They allowed their eight year old daughter to be Maura Healey’s political prop.”

“Right now we’re here to talk about why it’s important for your sister to undergo dangerous hormone therapy so Mom and Dad can pat themselves on the back for being progressive. Because for you puberty will be a natural part of life, but for your sister puberty is a disease and the only way to prevent this disease is to load her up with puberty-blocking hormones, because science and biology are bad.”

InCity Times was the first newspaper in Worcester to support and write about transgender folks and their fight for civil/human rights – see our story on Jesse on this website. So we come to this issue with a special passion! Turtle Boy Kearney is WRONG ON SO MANY FRONTS here!!!: No one can force a human being to be a certain sex; most trans people ALWAYS felt who they were meant to be – from teenie tiny kidhood! No one forces transgender folks to take hormones! – parents do not inject hormones into their kids!  Most trans folks CHOOSE to make hormone therapy a part of identifying. And their desire to be who God intended them to be can be made a living hell by family, community and society if people (like Turtle Boy) don’t understand the issue. Contrary to what Turtle Boy writes on his blog, a kid self-identifying is not pulling some gag to mess up society and invade the “wrong” restroom – it’s a real and true THIS-IS-WHO-I-AM moment. It’s the need to USE THE CORRECT RESTROOM! To be HONEST with society! This can be so difficult in today’s America that psychotherapy is often a big piece of the transgender person’s “coming out.”

The amazing thing for me is not Aidan-Turtle Boy’s usual bashing, cruel and totally stupid, misinformed, DANGEROUS and possibly hate-crime-inducing take on the issue but THAT A BLUE COLLAR GUY, a TURTLE BOY reader!!, actually brought the EVIL of this Turtle Boy post home to me months before Aidan even wrote it … . The guy is a TB rah rah reader but he’s also married to a wonderful woman – a school principal. A year or two ago the guy told me his wife, the school principal, had a boy in a kindergarten class in her school who was identifying as a girl. He was serious when he told me this. Trying to understand. Thinking of what that really meant – for the 5 year old, for her family, for her teachers, for her classmates. How could the girl be supported at school? How could everybody learn? Accept? Love? He was so serious as he told me all this. As a dad with young kids he may have never thought about the issue, but he knows little kids don’t – can’t – lie about something like gender. Now that his wife, an educator, a professional with college and post-college degrees and psychology courses galore under her belt, was grappling with the issue, he was, too. Trying to figure it out. In a real way. This blue collar rough around the edges guy. He made me proud!

The fact that this guy is not getting his “facts” from the fucked up Aidan Kearney-Turtle Boy but from his wife, a pretty wonderful person, a caring human being wanting to do the right thing, makes all the difference. We wish this could happen to all the Turtle riders – including Michael Gaffney!

But it won’t. Turtle Boy and Worcester City Councilor Gaffney exploit the crises, revelations, changes and growth in Worcester. No room for illumination here, folks! Screw a BETTER WORLD! These two guys, each having his own motives that overlap, always muddy the waters, create sadness, perpetuate ignorance and fan prejudice. We’re certain every multi-cultural, diverse American place – WHICH IS EVERY WHERE in the U.S. – has a Michael Gaffney and Turtle Boy to sow the hate. Just as America has Donald Trump and his evil mouth piece and cheer leader, Breitbart editor Steve Bannon. They exploit the fears and prejudices of folks who long for a white, straight Worcester and America …

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photo: Worcester Historical Museum

… a place that never really existed.

They kill community.

They kill people!

I write this because … Years ago, when I was a little girl growing up in Green Island, there was a woman – big, vulgar, brassy, tough – who had two daughters in their late teens. I’ll call them “Betty” and “Jane.” Jane was movie star beautiful – long blond hair, lovely pink 1970s lip-stick-slathered lips, pearly white teeth and beautiful smile. When Jane walked down Lafayette Street in her tight, faded bell bottom blue jeans and pretty blouse tucked in HEADS TURNED. She was always polite to my mother and me and my two kid sisters – fans who ooohed and ahhed at her loveliness like everyone else in the neighborhood – when we passed her on the street walking home from school or from the dry cleaners where my mom worked 60 hours a week as a “counter girl.”

Then there was daughter Betty. Betty was tall and lanky. She wore no make up and had short hair – a boy’s hair cut. Her stride was loping and she wore  boy jeans. As a little kid I wondered if Betty was a young man but I never asked Ma. I just kinda followed her lead, which was: She was always nice to Betty – treated Betty exactly the way she treated her sister Jane: with respect, politeness, the same “hello!” and beautiful Ma smile …

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Rosalie’s mother had the prettiest smile!

… My mother never lectured us. And she never ever bad mouthed or made fun of anyone. She led by example. Taught us through her deeds. And when it came to people in our already diverse inner-city neighborhood Ma was the Statue of Liberty! A beacon of beauty and hope!

So we kids followed Ma’s lead! “Hi, Betty!” we’d chirp, if we saw Betty walking down a street in Green Island. “Hi, Jane!” we’d chirp if we saw her sister walking down to the park.

The girls always smiled and said “hi” back. Though Betty’s smile was never as wide as her sister’s. She always seemed serious. Day after day. Year after year.

One day, Betty kind of disappeared. We still saw Jane in the ‘hood, but never Betty. She was gone. Maybe I asked Ma about it, maybe I didn’t. But we did learn that Betty had hanged herself.

This shocked me and my sisters. Betty was a part of our world, always nice to us – polite in a rough neighorhood filled with bullies. Now she was gone!

In many ethnic urban neighborhoods different kinds of folks took their lives. We called them “ghosts.” A Polish immigrant who never “got” America, never adjusted to life here on any level, who was always in his apartment and always looking so unhappy. A street person who drank and drank and then collapsed dead drunk in the bushes by the PNI club on Lafayette Street to sleep  it off every day. … One day I asked Ma if I could give the guy a blanket. She said “Yes” and gave me a nice clean full-sized baby blue blanket to give to him. I ran out of our flat and walked up to him – he was all tottering disshelved mess, his fly open – and gave him the blanket. From Ma and me. No words exchanged. Just the doing, the deed. He took the blue blanket and went to his bushes behind the PNI, by the fence, to collapse. The boys in the neighborhood saw the giving of the gift, walked over to him, stole his blanket … and stoned him. Threw rocks at him. I never saw the old guy again.

Aidan Kearney aka Turtle Boy and Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney are those Green Island boys today, here in Worcester, in the 21st century.

Haters. Bullies. Killers, the both of them.

*****

Steve parked in Rose’s space … TRUMP DEFICITS WILL BANKRUPT AMERICA

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Cece, you can’t hide from the fact Trump is President – at least until his treasonous ties to Russia are fleshed out.   pic: R.T.

By Steven R. Maher

President Donald J. Trump has received plaudits from conservative pundits for his February 28 address to Congress. Polling the day after shows the speech was well received by an extremely wary American public.

Why? Because Trump got through one speech without it deteriorating into a public relationships disaster. He didn’t ask the Republican Congressmen to sucker punch the Democrats sitting in the Capitol, as he asked supporters to do to dissenters at his campaign rallies. Trump controlled his emotions, and didn’t descend into a manic diatribe of rantings and ravings about his opponents. He spent the last several months launching personal attacks on Congressional Democrats, especially Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. But Trump had the nerve to ask the Democrats and Schumer to work with him, and compromise their deeply held beliefs.

Trump, of course, did not offer to compromise his beliefs. He didn’t offer not to build the wall on the Mexican border, if the Democrats agreed to other Trump border security proposals. He didn’t offer to not bankrupt the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in exchange for a military build-up. The only people Trump sees as having to compromise are the fools who don’t agree with him.

What he didn’t say

What Trump didn’t say was more important than what he did talk about. The biggest problem facing America isn’t Obamacare, which obviously needs to be reformed. America right now spends more on its military than the next seven top military spenders in the world combined. A military buildup isn’t necessary when NATO dependents are kicking in more money, as Trump claimed to Congress.

The biggest problem facing America right now is balancing the budget and saving Social Security and Medicare for the next generation.

During the campaign, Trump talked of America’s $22 trillion national debt in apocalyptic terms. He said another $2 trillion in deficits will put America beyond the point of no return. Trump is willing to rack up more debt for his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan alone. And how does Trump intend to pay for the trillions of dollars in tax cuts for wealthy Americans who don’t need the money?

What Trump is proposing has already been tried by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. One can excuse Reagan on the grounds that the country was mired in dire straits, the Soviet Union was winning the Cold War, and Americans had lost faith in their country. Reagan also agreed to raise taxes to reduce the deficits in his first term, a magnanimous flexibility Trump is totally unprepared to replicate.

George W. Bush in 2001 inherited an America at peace with a balanced budget. In a tremendous act of stupidity, Bush destroyed the budget surpluses with idiotic tax cuts and the invasion of Iraq.

And where was the Tea Party while this was going on? Totally silent. They didn’t care about the trillions of dollars in deficits Bush ran up. Only when Obama ran up deficits to save the country from going into a depression, did they suddenly discover deficits would hurt the country. Where is the Tea Party now? Noticeably silent as Trump prepares to add trillions to the national debt. These people were phonies all along.

Trump, having been elected without being the hostage of special interests, was in a unique position to take the politically unpopular steps to return America to budgetary surpluses: raising taxes and cutting spending. This writer was impressed by Trump’s saving the taxpayers $700 million on an airplane contract. This is where Trump could have done his best work, saving taxpayers’ money on inflated contracts and corrupt vendors.

Instead, Trump is taking America down the same sorry road of W. Bush. When countries like China and Japan stop buying American bonds, the bondholders will eventually cut off the money flow, and then this country will be facing problems we can only imagine.

This writer is not taking a scintilla of comfort from the fact that Trump finally got through a speech without making a total fool of himself.

Donald Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress …

By Rosalie Tirella

… Tonight (9 p.m.)! So LATE NIGHT’s Stephen Colbert will do his show LIVE – that way he can dish up a heapin’ helpin’ of “Crazy ol’ Donald Talks to Congress” for all Americans to laugh at! Except it’s no joke – Donald Trump is PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and has immense power over our lives!!!!!!

We’re worried …

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pics: R.T.

… on edge.

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Everything about the Donald is deeply disturbing. Yet his personality, his romp through American history, like a Mack truck barreling through the Alzheimer’s unit of a nursing home, is addictive. Like good-bad reality TV!

Most everything Trump does is reprehensible – like RESTART THE ARMS RACE and act like it’s a good thing!!!😱😱😱😱😱😱 But many Americans give him a pass. He brings fresh hell every day, but the hell is filtered through the goofy, oblivious, avuncular Trump personality. And we Americans – or at least 80 per cent of Republicans – indulge him! Like he said during the presidential campaign, he could shoot a person on Fifth Ave and his supporters would still adore him, still vote for him! That’s because they like – even more so now – the Trump personality: direct, raw, oblivious, authentic, approval-seeking, open-wound grasping, boastful, pathetic, combative, vulgar, vulnerable. A fascinating personality – like falling down an infinitely long rabbit hole that’s lined with Silly Putty.

Did I tell you I watch Donald on the official White House You Tube channel right before I go to bed each night? It’s like saying your nightly prayers to the Patron Saint of Non Sequiturs and Insane Asylums. Screw the Hail Mary’s! Saint Nut Job is more fun! And definitely NOT educational! I am drinkin’ the fuckin’ fucked up Kool Aid, America, and lovin’ it! Melania, Sean “Spicey” Spicer, Steve “Bat-Shit Crazy Scary” Steve Bannon, Kelley Ann Conway – they’re all on the White House TV channel! And I’m not gonna bother spell-checking their names cuz these deplorable characters don’t deserve ANY respect!

Yet Donald Trump seems to want to do good for Americans – like bring back and create good-paying jobs for the working class (I LOVE THAT), but then he goes and does the worst possible thing – like gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One of the first executive orders “President” Trump signed allows companies once again to dump toxic chemicals and sludge into our streams! Why would any self-professed American patriot do that to American land? Our polar bears will probably go extinct on Donald’s watch, along with lots of other less sexy fauna and flora. Trump will go down as one of the worst presidents for the environment, for the planet, and the good reporters of our GREAT national press  corps (an American treasure❤🇺🇸🇺🇸 and RIGHT🇺🇸💙 written into our constitution) will be there to catch every last salamander’s gurgle and birdie’s peep for help! Trump’s goofily oblivious style seems to inoculate him –  allows us to allow him to destroy our streams, mountains, deserts – from sea to shining sea!

Why – HOW – did we go so wrong, America?!!!

Parlee parked in Rose’s space: Our America is fighting back!

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Parlee🌸💙, left, at a community event!

By Parlee Jones

Peace and Blessings InCity Times People!! It’s been a while since I have put pen to paper, so let me officially say … HAPPY 2017!!! We are two months in and there has been sooooo much stuff
happening in our country and our world!! Good, bad, pretty and ugly! I have so many thoughts running through my head that I don’t even know where to start!

On the homefront, here in Worcester, I’m concerned in the work I do at Abby’s House for Women because of the lack of affordable, decent housing and options for folks who are struggling – single folks and families – in our city. And the stressful conditions put on individuals and families trying to access shelter through the system.

Rents in Worcester have become unaffordable as absentee landlords seek out people with Section 8 and other subsidies so they can charge the highest rent allowed. Those without vouchers or other subsidies have no other options than to pay market rent. Usually more than 50% of their income.

In single income homes this is a lot of money when you have utilities and other day to day expenses. Wage slavery. All issues not even discussed in our presidential election. Homelessness and affordable housing.

So, America has a new president. I think I was in a state of shock when I woke up and Donald Trump was the President of the United States.

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I could list all the decisions he has made thus far that I feel are anti-human, but I know we all know what he
has done and is doing. It is all that we see on our social media and on television. I hope you are getting
some of your information from PBS programming!

Now I’m going to focus on the POSITIVE thing that has happened because of Trump’s decisions. Folks are waking up!!! They are protesting. They are
calling local and state and federal government officials to state their discontent. They are signing petitions.
They are showing up for their fellow man, woman and child. All for different issues or multiple issues ~ women’s health, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia, misogyny, immigration.

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Saying NO to classist, hate-mongering, racist bully Aidan Kearney, the Turtle Boy blogger (whom Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney financially$$$ supports), on the Worcester Common!

It’s all or nothing at this point.

We have to join forces for basic human needs.

If you are showing up for one or two events and not all, you may have to
rethink that. The Women’s Marches on Saturday, January 21, were AMAZING. All 52 states had protest marches. All 52 states had numerous cities that had marches! Fifty five other countries had protest marches in numerous cities in each country. Countries such as Antarctica, Belgium, Austria, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, India, Lithuania, Kenya, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru,Portugal, South Korea, the list goes on. Over one million people world-wide!!! The show of support is remarkable! Now we just have to keep it going. Conversations have to be had on
how we have to show up for each and every injustice. Not just those that hit close to home. Each and every
one.

For some folks, showing up for the march was the limit of their activism. Others will continue the conversation.

Just keep an open mind through this particular conversation … Listen. … One way to get involved is to attend a SURJ meeting. Worcester is lucky to have a SURJ chapter. Showing up for Racial Justice, SURJ is a national network of groups (working in conjunction with Black Lives Matter) to organize White people for racial justice. https://www.facebook.com/SURJWorcester/

It is important to push for the understanding that racism is ‘prejudice plus power’ and therefore people of
color cannot be racist against whites in the United States. People of color can be prejudiced against whites but clearly do not have the power as a group to enforce that prejudice.

I know I have been actively protesting since the murder of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. And have been protesting numerous murders and deaths and injustices since that time. We’ve been marching and protesting.


Go, Bill Maher💙💛💛💙💙, go📢💐📢!

I don’t say these things to belittle the March. It was amazing. But certain things that happened in Worcester, our fair city, extinguished my desire to “fight the good fight.” I was blessed to be a part of a conversation at the Collective GoGo with a group of people who were all up and down the east coast for protests and marches. They shared their experiences and I was rejuvenated. Their passion and desire for justice on ALL issues, not just certain ones, is what gives me hope. Their energy is
amazing. Amanda, Anne, Nori, Christopher, Drew and all the others who shared their experiences have me
hopeful for what is to come.

My sister Tracy, my daughter Sha-Asia and I were actually present at the first Million Woman March in October 1997 in Philadelphia. It was a beautiful event!

Did you know there was one?

As we move forward under this new presidency, we have to remember a few things … We have forgotten that we belong to each other. Yes, I have said this before, and it is a motto that I try to remember daily. That we all belong to each other, and we are all just trying to make it home.

Our America is fighting back. As I sit here typing this article, there are, again, protests all over the United
States, in protest of Trump’s immigration policies and his ban on Muslims entering our country. We’ve got to fight to ensure that the statue standing in the middle of New York Harbor never comes down!

WE THE RESILIENT FINAL WITH TYPE !!!
By Ernesto Yerena

Shepard-GreaterThanFear
By Shepard Fairey

City Councilor Mike Gaffney: a bowl of PURE, SICK, TWISTED EVIL with a turd on top! … Or: Can Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney sink any lower than he’s already sunk? (YES!!!!) … Or: Gaffney’s jumped the shark, knows he’s taken a drubbing in Woo and his mayoral dreams are dust – so he’s gone bat-shit CRAZY!

By Rosalie Tirella

Mad Man in Chief Donald Trump’s got nothing on Worcester’s Sicko City Councilor Michael Gaffney.  Woo has never seen a politician quite like him – the dirtiest fighter we’re likely to step over (eeek!!!) in a generation, a guy so hungry to win the Woo mayoral seat he’ll use his slippery smarts to spread malicious lies about his political opponents, incite racist reactions … throw our fair city under the bus, splattering bodies left and right – especially if they belong to our most vulnerable communities. Makes no difference to the Gaffer! As long as he wins!

Just when we were thinking: Gaffney’s sanctuary city bull shit resolution – meant to devastate Mayor Joe Petty and catapult him – the Gaffer – into the mayor’s seat in November, forget about sowing crazy, divisive seeds in our community – blew up in his face sending him to ICELAND to vacation and realize the error of his ways … He’s back!!! WITH EVEN CRAZIER SHIT!!! It’s as if the crystal Iceland beauty did nothing for his soul – he may as well have vacationed in a vat of shit. I’ll take it a step higher (or lower): Gaffney’s even more vindictive and mendacious AFTER vacation! Forget about “putting things in perspective,” “counting your blessings,” or just having plain ol’ fun while on vacation. Gaffney in Iceland = a vindictive asshole hatching more nefarious political schemes. Too bad if the public is misled!

So…right outa the box, he is on his FaceBook Page linking Mayor Joe Petty with the anti-fascist protest yesterday in downtown Worcester. The protest got a bit hairy, like protests often become when America starts flexing its democracy muscles … These days that’s happening thanks to the (Russian-induced?!) election of Donald Trump. It’s like OUR COUNTRY IS IN THE MIDDLE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, and every day there are protests in cities and towns great and small – including Worcester – that reflect an America in crisis. In Worcester, at yesterday’s protest, a reporter was allegedly assaulted by a protester.  A handful of protesters were arrested.

STOP THE PRESSES! says GAFFNEY in two of his posts! I SEE THUGS RUINING WOO AND AMERICA! I SEE VIOLENCE ROCKING WORCESTER! A  vulnerable GIRL reporter was slugged!!! AND IT’S ALL MAYOR JOE PETTY’S FAULT! HE STARTED ALL THIS! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP!!!

Is there a well padded booby hatch we can throw Gaffney into?

The slick, deceptive Gaffney put a photo of Petty at a Washington DC rally in his FB page post along with a few of yesterday’s Worcester protest photos – to make it look like Petty was at yesterday’s protest.  And Gaffney worded his post – and his previous one about the protest – in such a way that it looks as if Petty was not only at yesterday’s protest but incited the violence at the march. Caused the violence!

Petty wasn’t at the protest. Most likely he was enjoying the three-day weekend like the rest of us.

Presidents Day Weekend.

Here’s a screen shot of one of Gaffney’s FB posts about yesterday’s protest:

Petty-Screenshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaffney did this during a weekend America honors our greatest Presidents – politicians like FDR, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt.

Sick.

He’s made Donald Trump, his political role model – not Teddy or Abe.

And it’s this way with all devils like Trump and Gaffney: They sense the good guy/gal qualities in people/voters – and go in for the kill, thinking the people are too stupid and naive to see the truth, that they can be easily lied to and manipulated. They spin their web of lies because they believe their opponents or the people are not gonna “catch on” or fight back because they won’t be able to wrap their heads around all the noise, confusion, convoluted fake facts they’ve created. A win for the Trump’s and Gaffney’s!

Don’t bet on it!

Michael Gaffney, like Donald Trump, will be called out and exposed by the press and a wise hoi polloi EVERY time he does something wicked, illegal … low-down low.

Today, on Presidents Day, when we remember and honor our great presidents, City Councilor Michael Gaffney chooses to slither beneath us, swollen with his own green puss of lies and hatred for American Democracy.

Drain the swamp.

Chef Joey in Rose’s space … Supa Zupa!🎸

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Soup’s on!

Text, photos and recipes by Chef Joey

SOUP!

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Soup (and photo) by Chef Joey!

Ok, why is society so hooked on “ON SALE” items that are mostly GMO-filled atrocities? We have the simplest ingredients that are so natural and INEXPENSIVE and loaded with protein and vitamins, but they go neglected by the mainstream.

If kale were not pushed on television, no one would know it existed. Arugula became famous in the States in the 1990s. Odd. Thank you, Travel Chanel. Now Quinoa is a super food … oldest grain in the world. Thank you, cooking shows.

Here are two recipes using Old World ingredients. The stock can be made homemade – so I will give you three recipes actually. … Or you can use canned and up your food cost by a couple dollars.

The base of these dinners for six is less than $10 per person. These recipes are all VEGAN, back to the earth. Thank our ancestors because that’s why we are here. And stop taking shortcuts on nutrition!

Vegetable Broth

2 potatoes chopped

2 leeks cleaned and chopped

2 carrots peeled and chopped

2 onions peeled and chopped

2 turnips peeled and chopped (cut in half, then slice, then cut slices)

2 celery stalks, chopped

a handful of cherry tomatoes sliced in half

salt

Place all the veggies in a pan with 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to simmer, for another 30 minutes.

Let it “rest” for another 15 minutes.

Take a potato masher and press down on the veggies. Strain the mixture into a bowl – and there is your stock for six people. Double or triple, as necessary.

Recipe 1 – Garbanzo (chic pea) and Spinach Soup

4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 celery stalk chopped

1 carrot chopped

1 cup garbanzo beans (cooked are cheaper 89 cents a pound = 3 pounds cooked) $1 a can/cup

3 cups spinach, chopped fine

1 cup soup pasta (ditalini is my favorite)

Salt and pepper

Here is the easy part: bring the stock to a boil. In a sauté pan add 3 tbsp oil and the carrots, onion and celery and sauté 5 minutes until soft.

Add the spinach and salt, pepper mix and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Add this and the beans to the stock and cook for a half hour.

Then add the pasta to cook for 6 or seven minutes to al dente because it will continue to swell. Drizzle with 1 tbsp oil and serve.

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Pal Joey’s pal eating veggies!

Recipe 2 – Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup

Foot note: lentils are dry beans and need to be soaked for 3 hours before cooking OR boiled for 45 minutes in water prior to using. Also: cooked lentils substitute nicely for any meat in a recipe!

6 cups veggie stock

4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 large clove of garlic chopped

1 celery stalk chopped

1 carrot peeled and chopped fine

1 bag (12 oz or 16 oz) or head Swiss chard finely chopped

1 cup lentils soaked for 3 hours prior

2 tbsp (optional) or a handful of cherry tomatoes sliced

½ cup rice (I like jasmin)

salt, pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup

In a large pan bring your stock to a boil.

In a sauté pan, add the celery, onion, carrot and garlic. Cook over low heat with 3 Tbsp oil.

Add ¼ cup broth to prevent burning, for about minutes.

Add the Swiss chard and cook an additional 5 minutes or less until it wilts. Then add this to the stock, with the lentils and tomatoes (your choice). Bring to a boil.

Add the rice, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook for 15 minutes or so until the rice is done.

Ladle into your soup bowl and sprinkle with cheese.

Enjoy!

Steve parked in Rose’s space … MUSLIM BAN MAY BE TRUMP’S BAY OF PIGS

But first 😄😂 …

********

By Steven R. Maher

President Donald J. Trump was humiliated when the 9th Circuit of Appeals upheld the injunction blocking his executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim majority countries. Trump should be happy that he learned such a valuable lesson on the difficulties of governing this early in his Presidency.

Trump is not a man used to losing. This was a painful experience for him. Trump strikes one as a man who loathes the agony of defeat. The lesson Trump derived from this episode will likely restrain him from launching such ill-thought and ill-conceived blunders in the future.

Bay of Pigs

Fifty-six years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a similarly disastrous decision. In April 1961, Kennedy authorized the CIA to implement an invasion of Cuba, to overthrow Fidel Castro, by 1,400 Cuban exiles armed and trained by the CIA.

Kennedy had been in office 90 days when the invasion took place. Just as Donald Trump campaigned on protecting America from Islamic extremists, Kennedy campaigned as a staunch anti-Communist who would do what was necessary to overthrow Castro. The plan called for Cuba pilots to pretend to defect, twice bomb the Cuban Air Force airfields, and then land in Florida and ask for asylum. Kennedy choked as the invasion became imminent and cancelled the second air strike.

Several of Castro’s jet fighters survived the first air strike and wrought havoc on the invasion fleet. Castro, who had an army of 200,000 soldiers, quickly crushed the invasion. The CIA put incredible pressure on Kennedy to invade Cuba and rescue the exiles but Kennedy refused.

Conservatives came down on Kennedy like a hammer, accusing the President of fecklessness, lack of maturity, and a host of other defalcations. “No event since the Communization of China in 1949 has had such a profound effect on the United States and its allies as the defeat of the US-trained Cuban invasion brigade at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961,” wrote Howard Hunt, the ex-CIA agent arrested in 1972 as a Watergate burglar. “Out of that humiliation grew the Berlin Wall, the missile crisis, guerilla warfare throughout Latin America and Africa and our Dominican Republic intervention. Castro’s beachhead triumph opened a Pandora’s Box of difficulties.”

The same CIA bigwigs who created the Bay of Pigs concept had in 1954 overthrown the government of Guatemala using a similar plan. Earlier, they had overthrown the government of Iran. They were the experts. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously supported the invasion. Kennedy was a young President, and he thought the experts and military, by din of their experiences, were right.

Learned Lessons

Kennedy took away from the Bay of Pigs ignominy and several harsh and painful lessons. Kennedy became a more thoughtful President, less willing to trust the advice of the military and “experts.” General Douglas MacArthur told Kennedy he was lucky to have learned so much from an operation like the Bay of Pigs, where the strategic cost was small.

Trump, like Kennedy, had made campaign promises to his followers. Where Kennedy had vowed to rid the hemisphere of Castro, Trump had vowed to rid America of Muslim terrorists. Both ended up early on embarrassing themselves.

Trump’s executive order banning was written poorly and rolled out catastrophically. “The details of the president’s executive order ― as well as the timing and the confusion that accompanied the rollout ― are disconcerting,” Bush Presidential adviser Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “The administration issued its policy Friday afternoon, a time normally used in Washington to bury bad stories. Moreover, it came unaccompanied by briefing papers and talking points, and no officials immediately explained it. It took two hours before reporters received copies of the final order ― and another two before White House officials answered their questions.”

Rove wrote Trump should have realized what would happen: “Chaos and controversy predictably followed. Thousands of protesters turned up at airports around the country. Lawyers rushed to courthouses and were rewarded with judicial orders hobbling the policy’s execution. The administration reversed itself a day later, allowing green-card holders to be exempted on a case-by-case basis. Now imagine if the president had waited and implemented the policy carefully and deliberately.”

Defeat is so rare for Donald Trump that he will probably learn some painfully necessary lessons from the botched ban. Like Kennedy, he will likely to be less trusting of the “experts” who advised him on the Muslim ban. Trump now understands that his policies will be attacked in court and, at times, defeated by his enemies.

Chef Joey in Rose’s space … InCity Yum Yums: February is a funny month

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Chef Joey keeps it cozy in February with tasty treats!

Text, photos and recipes by Chef Joey

February is that funny month: it is shorter than the others and has a “Leap Year” attached to it. Here in New England there can be a roller-coaster ride of seasonal activity – from mild almost spring- like weather to frost-bite severe. We seem to be mirroring storms that graced us in 2015, not as severe yet, but just as menacing.

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Chef Joey’s Vinny and Mikey lounge on the couch. Spoiled babies💙!

Some useless trivia: Because February is only 28 days long, it can actually have no full moons. The last full moon in February was in 1999, and the next gap is predicted on the 2018 astrological calendar.

It also is the host month of Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday,” literally translated), the kick off to Lent by Ash Wednesday followed, for some people, by 40 days of giving up something (albeit excused one day for St Patrick’s Day, March 17). Ironically, Fat Tuesday is the last day of February this year on the 28th, making March 1 Ash Wednesday.

Having grown up in France, this day was a build-up event. Basically eating everything that is fattening for 7 days before the fast!

We in the south of France made crêpes. In the middle country, they made Beignets or small doughnuts, and in Northern France, folks made waffles. All three meals are synonymous with the much celebrated day. Carnivals take place all over France. Carnival is a Latin word deriving from carnelevare, literally meaning “Lift out the meat”!! The following 40 days of fasting were virtually meat-free; butter and eggs were sparse in meals, as well.

In France, February 2 is always National Crêpe day, called “La Chandeleur.” It is a family event that involves Crepes, a gold coin and a flipping contest. My grandmother would make the crepe batter, and we all got a shot at flipping our delicate pancake. Tradition has it that if you flip the crêpe successfully, you won’t have any money problems. Oh, but there is a catch! You hold the coin with the hand you write with and flip your crepe with your other hand. It keeps things fun.

So, for French Crèpes, you make a simple batter:

1 cup flour, sifted

2 eggs

½ cup milk

½ cup water

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp soft butter

Mix the eggs and flour together …

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… adding the milk and water slowly. Add the salt and butter and whisk until smooth. In a hot skillet, add a tsp of butter, or cooking oil for savory crêpes coat well. Add ¼ cup batter for each crepe and tilt the pan so the batter swirls out – the back of a ladle also helps to spread it out.

Cook for about 1 minute or until the sides are brown. Lift with a spatula to loosen it and cook the other side. Stack them on top of each other and cover with a cake pan (for height) or a piece of foil.

Crepes can be savory (salty) filled with ham and melted cheese, or sweet, say filled with Nutella or something as simple as strawberry jam.

********

COOKIES!!!!!🍪🍪😍😍

This is the easiest cookie recipe you will ever need for your entire life! The base is magic! And the fillings are what you want. When you make them from scratch, it takes 20 minutes and costs less than 20 cents a cookie. So bake a batch for your loved ones – they are nutritious and healthy.

You can add cinnamon, raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, glazes, frostings. Or you can roll this cookie dough out and get creative with cookie cutters. Or just roll into small balls for the perfect cookie.

You will need:

1 pound of soft BUTTER

1½ cups sugar

3 eggs

2 ¾ cup flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

Mix the sugar and butter until light and fluffy …

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… add the eggs and mix well.

Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add flour mix in small batches – mix well.

Use a small ice-cream scoop to form round balls and place dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 mins in a 350-degree oven.

I make these cookies all the time for my foster daughter, and when she says, “Papa, I want a cookie!” I know she is getting good stuff. Tomorrow, when we’re snowed in …

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Chef Joey’s backyard, winter 2015 …

… I may make a few dozen 😉!

Steve parked in Rose’s space … InCity Book Review

But first:

*******

The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World

By Derek Chollet, (2016, Perseus Books, 262 Pages)

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

Journalism has often been called the first draft of history. With that in mind, former Obama administration official Derek Chollet has evaluated President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Chollett covers an enormous number of issues, personalities, and events in a short 262 pages, a concisely written book and that will be a valuable resource for future historians.

Unexpected foreign events often arise during a Presidency. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, drawing the U.S. into World War II, and changing the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Soviet Union installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, leading to the missile crisis and John F. Kennedy’s finest hour. 9/11 pushed George W. Bush into being a different President than the one he campaigned as. While Bush’s unexpected event was in his first year in office, two of Obama’s problems came late in his second term: the catastrophic insurgency of ISIS, and the ominous resurgence of Putin’s Russia.

Disasters inherited

Barack Obama inherited an America facing the abyss. As Wikipedia put it: “The bursting of the US housing bubble, which peaked at the end of 2006, caused the values of securities tied to US real estate pricing to plummet, damaging financial institutions globally. The financial crisis was triggered by a complex interplay of policies that encouraged home ownership, providing easier access to loans for subprime borrowers, overvaluation of bundled subprime mortgages based on the theory that housing prices would continue to escalate, questionable trading practices on behalf of both buyers and sellers, compensation structures that prioritize short-term deal flow over long-term value creation, and a lack of adequate capital holdings from banks and insurance companies to back the financial commitments they were making.”

America hovered on the edge of another Great Depression:

• By January 2009 the economy was shedding 800,000 jobs a month.

• American families were losing 100,000 homes a week as home values plummeted and entire neighborhoods, particularly in the inner cities, were devastated.

• The banking system seemed ready to implode, with major financial institutions like the Lehman brothers going bankrupt. Hard core conservatives urged the U.S. government to stay out.

• The automotive industry ran out of money. Cash burn was so bad that General Motors told the White House it had on hand only two weeks of money left to operate. The potential loss of jobs from this one problem alone could be counted in the millions.

Mitt Romney wrote a tome in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”, saying the U.S. should not save the auto industry. That the “supply chain” – the subcontractors and factories manufacturing components for the auto industry, located mainly in the “Rust Belt” states that voted in 2016 for Donald Trump – would die and could not be revived, did not worry Romney.

The Long Game

It should be borne in mind that these were just the domestic issues Obama faced. It says nothing about the foreign affairs calamities facing the U.S., including ongoing wars tying up 175,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It is hard to think of a president who entered office facing more challenges of historic magnitude,” commented Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Obama set out to play the “Long Game.”

“The defining element of Obama’s grand strategy is that it reflects the totality of American interests – foreign and domestic – to project global leadership in an era of seemingly infinite demands and finite resources,” writes Chollet. “This is playing the ‘Long Game.’”

Chollet describes Obama as a political version of Warren Buffett, who became a billionaire by buying up companies with a strong market base but which were financially weak. When the economy got better, the values of these investments skyrocketed. Buffett made his billions by looking not at these companies’ value at the time he bought them, but what he expected these entities to be worth over time.

“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field – not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard,” observed Buffett.

Obama believed the U.S. overextended itself by pouring so much manpower, equipment, and money into Iraq, instead of hunting down Al-Qaeda and its leaders. Obama thought the U.S. should shift America’s focus from the Middle East to the Pacific Basin; rebalance America’s projection of power, putting as much emphasis on diplomacy and economic sanctions/assistance as Bush did on the use of military force; and reset America’s alliances with NATO and Russia.

To go into every topic Obama’s administration dealt with would fill up this entire newspaper. We’re going to look at some of Obama’s foreign policy successes, his failures, and draw some conclusions.

Disarming Iran

Historians are likely to regard the Iran nuclear treaty as a hallmark of Obama’s administration. When Bush left office, Iran was moving full speed ahead on its
nuclear program. Obama convinced the Russians, Chinese, British, and French to impose sanctions that devastated the Iranian economy. Since the July 2015 signing of the treaty, Iran has removed weapons grade uranium, reduced the number of centrifuges by two thirds, and removed the heavy water reactor at Arak and filled it with concrete. For the moment, Iran has been disarmed. That is no small achievement, and may be one a bellicose Trump could build upon.

Disarming Syria

In August 2013 Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons against opposition held territory, killing 1,400 civilians, including women and children. Obama had warned Assad in 2012 that doing this would be crossing a red line. The only nation willing to back the U.S. in using military force was France (derided as the seller of “freedom fries” during the Bush era). Britain’s parliament voted against participation, and the American people overwhelmingly opposed involvement in a third Middle East conflict. Congress refused to authorize military action by Obama. The Republican Congressional war dogs made macho denunciations of Assad, but wouldn’t vote to authorize U.S. military action against the Syrian tyrant.

Chollet cited other problems related to using military force to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons. There were 50 sites containing 1,300 pounds of chemical weapons, dispersed around Syria. Neutralizing these would require heavy air and naval attacks along with 75,000 ground troops. There was a danger Assad’s military would collapse under such an assault, and hundreds of tons of chemical weapons fall into the hands of ISIS/Al-Qaeda. After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that the matter could be resolved by Assad giving up his weapons, the crisis was resolved diplomatically.

Chollet writes: “Without a bomb being dropped, Syria admitted to having a massive chemical weapons program it had never before acknowledged, agreed to give it up, and submitted to a multinational coalition that removed the weapons and destroyed them in a way that had never been tried before.”

Obama lost face because he drew the red line and didn’t take military action against Syria. But he achieved the maximalist objective of disarming Syria. Reagan faced a similar situation when 250 Marines were massacred in Lebanon by terrorists in 1982. Instead of doubling down, Reagan prevented America from getting dragged into a quagmire by “redeploying” the surviving Marines to ships offshore. Both Presidents did what was best for their country, even if it meant a personal loss of face.

Bin Laden and the drones

Obama’s Presidency reached its pinnacle in May 2011 when Seal Team Six descended upon Osama bin Laden’s lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed the Al-Qaeda leader. Few Americans knew that Obama had played a key role in planning the mission. The plan originally call for the Seals to go in without helicopter backups. Obama insisted that backup helicopters be situated in reserve not far from Abbottabad. These proved crucial when one of the Seal helicopters crashed while landing.

Obama used the same strategic approach to get America out of Iraq and Afghanistan that Richard Nixon used to get the U.S. out of Vietnam: advance the air power while withdrawing the troops. Nixon used B-52s and laser guided ordinance to bomb North Vietnam into signing a peace treaty. Obama sent American drones on hundreds of missions to kill Al-Qaeda and associated terrorist leaders. Some criticized this because of the civilians killed in the drone strikes. However, by and large, it did disrupt Al-Qaeda’s ability to launch mass casualty attacks on the U.S. homeland.

The Russian Reset, Part I

With all the noise being generated over Trump and Vladimir Putin, Obama’s “reset” with Russia has been widely viewed as a failure. However, when the policy was first implemented in 2009, it did lead to some successes. This was due to the fact that Putin was not the Russian President; Dimitri Medvedev was, and he wanted to work with the United States. With Medvedev’s help, the U.S. organized the sanctions against Iran; agreed to destroy one third of Russia’s nuclear arsenal; supported setting up supply lines to Afghanistan that avoided a volatile Pakistan; and voted with the U.S. during the U.N. debate authorizing the use of military force against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Now, let’s look at some of shortcomings of Obama’s Presidency.

Syria

According to the mainstream media, upwards of 500,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war and millions have fled to Europe. Obama appears to have done what he could diplomatically to stop the carnage. But faced with the obduracy of Syrian President Assad, the lack of allies who supported intervening in Syria, the U.S. had no good choices. If it supported Assad, the U.S. would be siding with a blood thirsty dictator. If Obama opposed Assad, ISIS and Al Qaeda might take control of the country. His critics charged that he could have supported moderate Syrians earlier, but there was a problem with vetting these groups.

What Obama should have done is establish no fly zones in Syria where Syrians fleeing the conflict could be protected. This would also have stopped large masses of Syrians from fleeing to Europe.

Iraq

When America troops left in 2011, Iraq by and large was peaceful. The emergence of ISIS could not have been foreseen by any American President. It was with a few thousand guerillas that ISIS attacked and conquered huge swaths of Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, with its million residents, stated Wikipedia, “the Iraqi army had 30,000 soldiers stationed in the city, facing a 1,500-member attacking force.” With such favorable odds, the ISIS force should have been smashed. Instead, the 30,000 Iraqi soldiers abandoned their U.S. equipment and fled.

Few were clairvoyant enough to anticipate the total ineffectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces, equipped with billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment. From a few thousand fighters, ISIS grew to an armed force of 30,000 men as wannabe Jihadists from Europe and the Middle East swelled their ranks. They were armed with the American weapons left behind by the fleeing Iraqi army.

Libya

In 2011 there was yet another U.S. intervention on “humanitarian” grounds in Libya that turned into a mission to overthrow Gaddafi. After Gaddafi was killed, Libya descended into anarchy as warring factions fought each other. The U.S. was prodded into action on Libya by its European allies; Obama should have insisted on a post-war NATO occupation force from these allies to assist Libyans in setting up a stable government.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposed intervening in Libya, saying: “Can I just finish the two wars we’re already in before you go looking for new ones?”

The Russian Reset, Part II

In 2012 Vladimir Putin took back his old job of Russian President. Putin’s animus against Hillary Clinton stems from this episode; Putin apparently believes that Clinton ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to clandestinely block his return to the Russian Presidency. In any event, Obama’s measures to persuade Putin to stay out of Syria and the Ukraine were unsuccessful, and this must be regarded as another Obama shortcoming.

Closing thoughts

History will give a much fuller judgment on Obama when the facts become available. Since Obama’s foreign policy was set up with the intention of yielding long term benefits, a historical perspective will be necessary to evaluate Obama. The failures he had, particularly in the Middle East, rose from his fervent desire to keep the U.S. out of another war.

Obama may well be remembered by historians for two things that didn’t happen on his watch. First, he kept the economy from imploding. The car industry was saved, the banking system made solvent, and a slow but painful process of economic revival took place. Second, he didn’t get sucked into another quagmire like Iraq. The 175,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have been reduced to 15,000. Yes, it wasn’t a perfect Presidency. But considering the near collapse of the economy in 2008, Obama did well in keeping America from falling into the abyss of a second Great Depression, and from being drawn into another grinding war. History is likely to view Barack Obama very kindly.