Category Archives: Rosalie’s Blog

Worcester political gadfly Paul “Paulie” Collyer …

By Rosalie Tirella

… is, like Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney and his (Collyer’s) lawyer, local right-wing attorney Margaret Melican, and local hate-blogger Turtle Boy-Aidan Kearney: Deeply Negative and BULLYING. Especially when it comes to our City Manager, Mayor and District 4 City Councilor and, when you think about it, Worcester in general.

Paul Collyer is a political player wannabe who gets zero traction in Worcester (or his hometown-base Somerville) and is eternally frustrated because he is bellowing and no one is listening. So he lashes out. At the mayor, at the CM, at the D 4 councilor.

Paulie’s pissed that no one in Worcester – or few folks – ever jump on his Paulie urban agenda bandwagon – with all its negative and BULLYING bells and whistles – noisy as hell. Paul Collyer has tried – FOR YEARS – to hog the Woo urban conversation, and the locals, after they get to work with him say on the Chandler biz association or some other civic group, all come away with just one thought: Collyer’s a nut. A colorful nut – but a NASTY, BULLYING nut. An ultimately dangerous nut. A nut who is not what he appears to be… A showboating nut, too. Big turn off for most Worcester folks, who have blue collar roots and can be modest…

Collyer got his urban-agenda way with former City Manager Mike O’Brien – a guy who gave Paul his ear – and our inner-city neighborhoods the finger – after being brain-washed by the charming Collyer. The Paul-Mike bromance was on! Beers together at night under the stars! The jokes! The laughs! The sharing of hopes and dreams and French fries! O’Brien, thanks to Paul Collyer, began to think Worcester’s road to urban renewal was/is Somerville’s – Paul’s homebase. Worcester is MOST DEFINITELY NOT Somerville! Somerville, at this point in its history, has become a suburb of Boston – Cambridge #2. Worcester is a GATEWAY CITY – filled with immigrants from all over the world. And their kids and grandkids.  Its urban challenges are very different  from Somerville’s because of intense poverty,  childhood hunger, the opioid crisis, a struggling under-educated workforce lost in the new global economy, refugees … Yeah, the educated, well off millennials are attracted to the new Woo and her new restaurants, stores etc and the kids are setting down roots. That is a good thing. But with gentrification comes a two-tier city: the haves and have nots…

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Green Street

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Green Street

Worcester cannot become a mini Boston or New York: the well off and very poor – and no middle! Worcester is a compassionate city! City leaders will not forget the least amongst us! And they are working to grow a working class!

But I digress! Back to Paul and Mike! Former Woo City Manager Mike O’Brien was all ears when it came to Collyer’s urban agenda and quickly lost his feel for our city – and lost his job (that is, he was no longer a good fit for Worcester, could no longer lead her – everyone saw this – so he quit and moved to a ‘boro). O’Brien lost his feel for the heartbeat of Worcester – after following Paul Collyer’s advice. The same is happening to City Councilor Mike Gaffney, who has become  Collyer’s mouthpiece at City Hall. The same goes for Gaffney’s wife, Coreen, who is challenging Woo District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera – Paul’s arch urban nemesis. Coreen is probably running against Sarai cuz Paulie told her to – charmed her hat into the ring, so to speak. Coreen’s really Paulie’s political tool – not her husband’s – as I wrote earlier!

Last night at the Woo City Council meeting when the Council evaluated the City Manager and a few weeks before that, all of Collyer’s reactionary foot soldiers took a hit! Down went Margaret Melican from her ZBA dream cloud! Down went City Councilor Konnie Lukes when she, an old bag who’s out of touch with the new Woo, tried to save Melican, another old bag who’s out of touch with the new Woo! Gaffney sounded insane last night when he read his evaluation of City Manager Ed Augustus – emotionally over wrought, in pain, like he was reading his eval with a knife sticking in his right eyeball. On the social media front, Collyer’s not so secret FB page – Worcester’s Dirty Secret – where he writes about Woo trash and recycling gets no traction with officials, so Paul has gone rogue on it and instead writes about/trashes City Manager Ed Augustus, Mayor Joe Petty and D 4 City Councilor Rivera – anyone who is not drinking the Paulie Koolaid. He is brutal in his incoherent way.

And now this: TOTAL REVOLUTION! Paul’s been stymied, he’s stuck … SO HE HAS STARTED ANOTHER FACE BOOK PAGE – CHANGE WORCESTER!

(can’t we change Paulie?!😈)

Paul’s new Facebook Page has, for its profile picture, a red ballot box. His home page commands: GO VOTE. We are presuming for all the candidates/city board candidates that Paul Collyer wants you to vote for: Michael Gaffney, Margaret Melican, Coreen Gaffney, etc. Paulie even did his own little City Manager evaluation last night, along with our city council: he gave EVERYBODY a D+.

This new Paul Collyer SECRET nutty Face Book page is just another WORCESTER’S DIRTY SECRET, without the trash – though I’m sure Paulie will get around to shoveling plenty of that in soon enough! Into his new Woo-altering social media SECRET SPECIAL platform! Ha ha ha!😂😂😂!

To Paul: Good God, man! You’re 54 years old! Grow up! Nut up! Stop playing with the lives of the people in the second largest city in New England! For your ego’s sake. Just to win. Please! Go away! Marry Susan and buy a bowling alley in the Catskills and live happily ever after! That’s the ticket 4 you – really! – Paulie!! Or: Just run away … run for dog catcher … in Wakefield. Take your super conservative, poor-people trashing, bullying, dystopian urban world view and go! To any city or town other than my beloved Worcester💗💗💗!

Three-decker porches (or: The Green Island slumlord, Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes)

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Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Below: Check out this ol’ photo from the Worcester Historical Museum! Embrace the glorious porches! When so many of our city neighborhoods had sturdy, even beautiful, decorative, back and front porches … You could park 4 or 5 of your old kitchen chairs on them, invite family and socialize … Or you could just amble over to a city park.

Children eating something (July 7-8,1953) GC 538
photo: Worcester Historical Museum

Below: Worcester’s Green Island – my neighborhood – today! Very few front porches – most of them have been torn down.😥😥😥 The ‘hood loses some of its social spiciness! I remember as a kid standing on our back porch chatting with my next door neighbor who was standing on her back porch. You could also stand on your porch and yell up or down to your upstairs or downstairs neighbors who were hanging out on their porches!

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Ward Street

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Siegel Street

Harding/Endicott streets …

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… Streets most likely named after, like all the streets in my ‘hood – some of the oldest streets in the city💙 – Revolutionary War poo-bahs or Worcester industrialist hoo-hahs. I was born on (French general) Lafayette Street, my kid sisters had friends on nearby (General) Lodi Street. Was Harding Street the namesake of some military dynamo-killer, too?

Ahhhh, but I digress! Check out the new beautiful porches in my neck of the ‘hood! Take note of what the NEW landlord has done to Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes’s old (as in former) slum building on Harding Street: he’s torn down Lukes’s former, God-awful, rickety, dangerous, paint-peeling-and-faded, OUT OF CODE, eye-sore slum porches! He is putting new beautiful ones up! Ones that aren’t baby/toddler death traps! Yay!💗💗💗

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The new landlord has actually HIRED capable contractors – a move the cheapskate Lukes would abhor – who expertly REBUILT AND REPLACED Konnie’s old crap last week. Just a few months after buying Konnie’s urban mess…the one she and hubby Jim turned a blind eye toward FOR YEARS as she, on the City Council floor, preached urban core revitalization, tidiness and brightness yet owned the shittiest rental property. Of course, she and Jim lived on the swanky Woo West Side and vacationed at their Cape Cod home – far away from us hoi polloi!!!

Hah! Konnie, Ms. Crusading City Councilor … at Worcester City Hall railing against the disrespect shown inner-city Worcester at every turn, but shitting all over her in “real life”! The hypocrite!

When I saw the new porches being built the other day, I shouted: “GREAT JOB, GUYS!” to the crew working so hard in the summer heat wave. I gave them a thumbs up! They grinned and shouted back to me! The new porches: so safe and in compliance – a definite lift to the Harding Street/lower Endicott Street area, these pressure-treated, sturdy back porches!

Here’s what the porches used to look like (for years, up until a few months ago), when City Councilor Konstantina Lukes owned them/the building:

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Pathetic.

Jim and Konnie’s other rental property, a few streets away in Green Island, made the newspapers as photogs rushed in to take pictures of her apartments with their gurgling, non-functioning toilets and a single light bulb hanging from a cord in a kitchen – the only “light fixture.” Like in a 1940s prison movie.

Why did Konnie even pretend to care about Worcester’s urban core when she so blatantly hurts us?

Why is she still on the Worcester City Council?

Aside from Lukes’s voter-catnip always lowest residential tax rate stance, what does Konnie Lukes really stand for?

At this point in her overly long Woo political career,  nothing. Lukes is simply a REACTIONARY who adds zippo to the urban conversation. She was always the City Council naysayer: now she’s morphed into someone dangerous. Some one, like Turtle Boy-Aidan Kearney and his brigade, who shouts NO! to the new Worcester and the challenges she faces: refugees from the Mid East, Africa and other war-ripped regions; poorer people; hungry children – 1 in 4 Worcester kids goes to bed hungry; folks with no entry into the working class; heartless, absentee, do-nothing landlords in place of the old non-greedy, pretty nice, property-loving Worcester three decker landlords of just 10 years ago … a city core unable to right herself because the new global economy is just not there for the regular folks who live here.

For City Councilor Konnie Lukes – on the heels of the tragic deaths of the 2 Woo babies this past week, for her to intimate on the City Council floor that their deaths were a “refugee” problem is pure evil. A la the Turtle Boy brigade.

Konnie Lukes needs to go – not run for City Council and win office for the umpteenth time. Several years ago she told me she would not run for public office if there were new candidates she liked to replace her (read: reactionary, like Konnie…Calling Michael Gaffney and his tool, Coreen!!) I was pleased with Konnie’s decision. She was in her early 70s back then and had almost a half century of public “service” under her girdle belt. But Lukes can’t let go of the spot light – and all the free perks$$$ and the almost $30,000 per year Worcester City Councilor “stipend.”

This city has left Konnie Lukes and the Turtle Boy creepos way behind. And they cannot adjust to the new reality … . Konnie, like Aidan Kearney,  no longer “gets” her city, cannot embrace her new people/cultures/challenges. Her ignorance, her anger, her belief that to solve our social problems all we need to do is lock folks out of/turn folks away from Worcester, an IMMIGRANT CITY, is a REACTIONARY move. Dangerous.

This city’s evolution is about way more than Konnie’s old porches …

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… but Konnie’s old porches are a good place to start.

For all the single 💗💗💗moms out there, this Father’s Day …

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Friday: Saying “hello” to Jett! pics: Rose T.

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💙💙💙

🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺

I wrote this column for my Dad several years ago. – R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

Ever since my father died (about two months ago), I’ve been seeing him every where. When he was alive, he made about 1,000 entrances in my family’s life. Married with kids but not wanting to be married with kids, my father lived with my mother, two sisters and me some months and was Missing in Action (MIA) during others. He was as tentative as the junk yard dogs he loved so much (and owned).

Some of his entrances were comical – like the time he waltzed into our Lafayette Street apartment with some Frank Sinatra LPs and sang “I Did it My Way” to me. My mother had sent him out for a loaf of bread!

But most of his entrances were cruel, small, mean. He made my sisters, my mother and me cry and succeeded at that so well that we eventually learned to … simply dismiss him — cut him out of our world the way you cut the bruise out of an apple. We went on with our lives, worked around our peripatetic “Daddy.” My mother held down a 60-hr-week job to pay the bills, we kids went to school, held after-school jobs, applied to colleges. My father popped in – for weeks or months.

Very confusing.

Then, after all these years, my father died in the nursing home two months ago. And Bingo! He’s now larger than life for me – omnipresent, so to speak.

As I drive around Worcester selling ads for my newspaper, InCity Times, with the radio blaring and paperwork to the side of me, I see him. I’m eight years old; my sisters are six. It’s Easter afternoon and my father strides into our Green Island flat, chomping on a big cigar. My mom has my two sisters and me sitting in our three little kiddie rocking chairs waiting for her to get dressed. We’re going to Easter Mass! We wear new pastel dresses with butterflies embroidered on them. My mother “set” our hair the night before, and now our straight brown hair bounces happily around our faces in “baloney curls.” In my father strides, enraged. We had not seen him for almost … forever. We did not know from which land he strode – not the sweet and holy world that my mother and grandmother had created in our apartment, a world filled with prayers to the saints, rosary beads, homework papers, rules and pet hamsters! Was my father going to hurt anybody this time, I asked myself?

No! He was going to have his picture taken with the Easter Bunny! God love my wonderful, hopeful, dreamy mother, she had my father sit in the grownup rocking chair in the kitchen. She would put the big, vinyl Easter Bunny she had bought at the five and ten and blown up (to our merriment) near the rocking chair where he sat. Then she told us little kids to “sit on Daddy’s lap.” We would all say “cheese” on the count of three! It would be a great Easter picture!

I was only eight but thought my mother mad. No, I would not get on Daddy’s lap! No, I would not be in the Easter Bunny picture. My sisters – twins and safe in their look-a-likeness – happily clambered atop my father. Then my mother lifted her little Brownie camera, peered through the little viewer and said, “One two! Say Cheese!” and snapped the picture.

Today I look at the square little photo from the ’60s and see two little gangly girls in pretty dresses in baloney curls looking exactly alike and smiling widely. Each one straddles one of my father’s legs. The bottoms of their dresses fan out over my father’s lap. And there’s my 30-something father; he’s wearing a striped muscle shirt. His hands are on my sisters’ knobby knees and he stares into the camera, looking … trapped. His rugged handsomeness blows me away! When I was a little girl he seemed the ugliest person in the world!

When I’m on the road, I look out of my car window and think I catch my father’s eyes. But it’s just some old man.

“He’s dead!” I tell myself angrily and shake my head as if to shake out the images of him. Then four or so hours later I see my father walking down Shrewsbury Street (his favorite street) and I have to remind myself all over again.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he was not living with my mother and us. Mom had stopped giving him second and third chances a decade ago. My sisters and I had moved out of the apartment in pursuit of higher education/careers. So it was a shock to see him walking past the fish and chips joint on Grafton Street, red-faced, his nylon jacket unzipped, billowing out behind him. He wore no shirt that raw, autumn day and he looked dazed. Then there was his neck: as big as a basketball. The lymphoma had set in.

And yet my father went walking around Worcester – his hometown that he seldom traveled outside of –as if nothing unusual had happened. It was one of my aunt’s – his sister – who had found him in his mother’s old house, lying in the darkness, and said: “Bill, you’ve got to go the hospital.” And then he did – quietly and with some grace – because he knew he was dying.

Sometimes I look out my car window and see my father after the cancer ravaged him. I see a helpless old man – my father after the chemo-therapy, the radiation, the blood transfusions. The chemo treatment took all his curly thick hair away and left him with silver, wispy locks my aunt would cut in a bowl shape. Gone was all his wild, curly red hair that rode high above his already high forehead in some grand pompadour, the wild “do” that lead my feisty old Grandma (she was my mother’s mom and lived with us and loathed my father) to nickname him: “The Red Devil.”

Run, devil, run! There you are standing outside the Commerce Building on Main Street, waiting for the bus. There you are walking out of the Millbury Street fruit store, eating a juicy plum and throwing the pit into the gutter. There you are eating the same juicy plum over our Lafayette Street kitchen sink, my sweet mother looking absolutely smitten by you. You have no time for dishes, meals served on plates. Family sit-down meals are not part of your universe. “Gotta get outta here!” you used to say. “Here” being: our Green Island flat, poverty, a wife, three kids, responsibility.

You want to leave – I can tell. But I just can’t let you go, Daddy!

Turtle Boy hate-blog (Aidan Kearney’s) former lawyer, booster, and frequent “poet” Margaret Melican says she loves this city and wants to be on the ZBA…

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What’s really battin’ around in old Margaret Melican’s heart? pic: R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

Why would the City of Worcester appoint Margaret Melican to a City of Worcester board when she’s been such a big supporter of hater Aidan Kearney and his hate-spewing, fact-denying Turtle Boy blog? Turtle Boy – that putrid blog that has ushered in an era of political ugliness, divisiveness and racism in our city that can only be compared to the hate-filled, fact-denying Trump White House!! TB – a blog that has worked tirelessly from day #1 to ruin the lives of Worcester’s prominent people of color: Melinda Boone, Sarai Rivera, Brenda Jenkins…the list goes on. And TB’s supporters cheer Aidan on – “ride the turtle” in glee! They say and act on the racist thoughts in their hearts, the ones they used to keep a lid on. Turtle Boy/Aidan Kearney is all about freaking out over and hating a diverse, multi-cultural Worcester. Melican is in that camp. Besides being the “poet laureate” of Turtle Boy, she was Aidan Kearney’s lawyer, represented him in court where she poked fun at a visually impaired Black guy! Ha ha! She is NOT the meek lovely lady she pretends to be in the video below. What a phoney! She has called other lawyers screaming into the telephone – they have had to hang up on her. She is beyond Republican or Religious Right – she is vindictive-friggin’ nasty!

Melican is someone WHO DOESN’T SEE THE NEW WORCESTER. She can’t and won’t – like Turtle Boy – accept it!

So how can she represent it?

If Melican supports Aidan Kearney’s racist, classist, woman-hating Turtle Boy blog that is her American right.

But the City of Worcester does not have to appoint her to the ZBA.

The City of Worcester is looking for the right fit.

In 1950-Worcester, Melican may have been a good fit.

In 2017 Worcester, she is definitely NOT!

Why should Melican be given the chance to represent Worcester on any level – a city whose schools are majority-minority?, a city that grows more diverse by the day?, a city where 1 out of 4 of our kids goes to bed hungry? In other words: A COMPLEX CITY.

Why does Margaret Melican support Worcester City Councilor/Senator Joseph McCarthy act-alike MICHAEL GAFFNEY, a sneaky cynical Woo pol who is as nasty and divisive as his buddy, Turtle Boy?

Why would Margaret Melican expect the diverse people of this city to trust her judgement?

Watch the tape of the meeting/her interview…She is flaunting her old Woo Irish aristocracy roots and EXPECTS THEM TO GET HER THE ZBA GIG!

BUT IT IS 2017, Margaret! A NEW WORCESTER, ONE WHERE a member of THE OLD IRISH CATHOLIC WOO GUARD like you CAN NOT EXPECT TO BE HANDED THE KEYS TO POWER just because you feel entitled to them! And from your behavior, I think you’re a pretty shitty Catholic!

Watch Melican’s interview below! Click on the link and hit top-left box. … It’s at around 2 hr 8 min into the meeting.

And P.S. The Mayor of Bizarro Worcester is Brendon MELICAN!

Brendon, a guy who has been hating us from day #1. Another … Melican … a nasty guy who felt entitled (for 15+ years) to destroy ICT because it belonged to a poor working class Polish-Italian-American gal from Green Island and not someone … like him.

I say: THANK YOU, JESUS!

Worcester HAS changed!

The prigs and priglettes are on the way out!!!

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Wild flowers

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crushin’ on spring!🌸

This Tom Petty song is for every Worcester inner-city kid cruisin’ on his/her crazy ol’ bike/ATV/mini motorcycle – reveling in the not-yet-oppressive city summer! Their funky mobility: celebratory and salutary!! (for the kids – and for me, a fan!) Their jaunts: poor kids connecting to sky, sun and the pretty green things growing by Dumpsters, underneath lamp posts, in slips of side yards in our urban core. Their style: city kids pedaling away on their banana or mountain bikes, doing their cool pop-o-wheelies, when they hit the right stretch of street! Sometimes all together! Like a show!

Worcester cops and city officials: Let’s embrace our wild flower kids of spring and summer! Let’s stop demonizing them! Let’s work to make the illegal bikes legal for their riders; let’s stop confiscating bikes when they BELONG to the kids!

Go, Worcester wild flowers, go!!!

– text+pics by Rosalie Tirella

Hello, old friend …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Yesterday was Memorial Day. So I visited my ol’ pal Tony Hmura. You know all about him, if you’ve been reading my columns these past 16 years. Tony – despite being a septuagenarian when I first met him – is one of the true rock ‘n’ roll guys, along with the OIF and “Just Joe,” my first serious beau (only 3!😢😢). By that I mean Tony embodied the spirit of rock music his whole life: sex, freedom, an unfettered mind and body. Three-somes?  Tony had them! And showed me the pictures! A juicer? Tony was concocting his own health potions years before the hippies mashed their first soy bean. He loved animals – especially cats…

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Cece!💙💙💙💙

… but he was suspicious of people, society. He was a gun guy. A few months before he died I found a pistol – new, silver, angular, heavy, loaded – under the seat cushion of his Lazy Boy while cleaning his living room. It was hidden under his blanket, next to an old Play Boy magazine. His easy chair (along with his gun) was strategically placed before his TV set – and front door. He watched his Humphrey Bogart movies – and front door – in Boggey style.

Tony did not give a shit what anyone thought about him. He did as he pleased, often living outside the law. He carried razor blades in his pants pocket at all times and once suggested that I do the same. He gave me a lesson in how to use a razor blade – cut up and fast. Like this, like this! he kept yelling at me. “God, Tony!” I said. “Put that away!” He didn’t. He showed me his three-some photos right before Christmas! He always carried them in his shirt pocket. The good old days. “Put them away!” I’d yell at Tony, alarmed. Yet fascinated. So Mick Jagger …

Tony surely went his own way, a loner dancing to his own crazy beat. But he always had – not at all obvious to most folks – his own wild moral compass. I recognized it early on, which is why we became friends. Like me, he grew up poor in Green Island, and his childhood haunted him. Through grit, pluck and smarts Tony pulled his entire family out of poverty – as a kid! He eventually made himself and his sons rich. But he always carried himself like a little sewer rat – same as me.

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Rose has baggage galore …

And he never forgot his roots. Giving money to every poor South Worcester guy or gal who crossed his path with a sob story. And, like me, his psychic pain roared unabated. No matter how good things were. We got each other on a deep level – often with just a phrase, or a sigh. I miss that.

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Tony, about 12 years ago. He had his WW II plane painted on the back of this leather jacket. Which he wore in all seasons.

Tony was a gunner in a bomber plane in World War II. He was a gunner because he was a little guy and gunners had to be small so they could crouch in the small sides of a fighter plane. Tony flew a ton of missions – the U.S. military kept increasing the number of missions the guys had to fly as the war dragged on. He was shot down twice and survived because he was so brutally smart. A SURVIVOR like I have never known! You felt it buying a cup of coffee with the guy! (no sugar, cream and two ice cubes, for Hmura!) He served his country with a tough grace that most people just don’t have. No judgements. It’s just a fact.

So yesterday, Memorial Day, when I went to his grave and saw his tombstone adorned with just that one classy beige cross AND ZERO AMERICAN FLAGS, I knew I had to get busy! I drove to the Dollar Store and bought a bunch of American flags, stars and plastic flowers – for Tony. For Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

I really did it up for Tony!

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Sure, it’s not the most artistic looking tomb in the cemetery, but it’s what Tony would have loved: bold, in your face, colorful, red white and blue and a mess of Old Glories! The gaudiest, freakin’ most patriotic tomb stone in the whole cemetery!!

Just what Tony – a Type A personality all the way – would have loved!

And I put a red plastic rose on his stone so he’d know it was me, Rose.

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See? There’s his plane – a perfect replica – etched onto his tombstone.

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And in back his birthday. He lied to me about being born on the Fourth of July! But that’s ok – the lie was out of love for country!

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I like how Tony’s death date isn’t engraved onto his tombstone… It’s like he hasn’t died! Or refused to go!

Keep rockin’, Tony! Keep flyin’ above the clouds!💗💗💗💗💙🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

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Skin deep

Pics and text by Rose T.

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Rose, an old broad …

… knows, from experience, there is more to a city than meets the eye. Take any city. Take Worcester …

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A few days back, Millbury Street …

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Vernon Street:
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Symptoms of acute poverty …

But dig deeper:

In Main South:

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Green Island:

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❤❤❤❤

Coes Pond:

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South Worcester:

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Instead of acting like a whiny little bitch … OPEN YOUR EYES AND SEE THE GOOD AND THE BEAUTIFUL IN MY CITY!

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St. John’s Church

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Youth Grow teens

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Piedmont – Chandler elementary school

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Smiley face – designed in Worcester.

Go, City Manager Ed Augustus, go!!

GO, WORCESTER, GO!!

“Ma” – always in style, always in my 💗

Photos by “Ma” and her sis

By Rosalie Tirella

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photo: R.T.

I’m having an early lunch, in my big kitchen, in my lower Vernon Hill flat. Looking straight at “Ma” (with me at the park) and thinking back to her big kitchen in her Green Island flat, where I grew up, where Ma used to throw some great birthday parties for us kids.

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Here I am, at the head of our paper-table-cloth-covered kitchen table (the “table cloth” bought special at White’s Five and Ten on Millbury Street for this special occasion!), basking in all the attention. I’m sitting in the “queen for the day” chair, our old needs-a-paint-job creaky, cracked wooden chair taken from our back porch. We had four green wooden chairs in our apartment – to be tucked under our green kitchen table. No dining room – or dining room “set,” a staple in all Mad-Men era homes but absent from poor ones like ours. So there was no dining room table from which to pinch dining room chairs for our guests. So Ma would run to our third floor back porch and grab the late Jaju’s (Grandpa’s) wooden chair, along with a couple of benches he built 10 years before.

It was all very rough hewn! See! I still have the tin cup Jaju made for himself, with the door hook handle. He used to drink his cheap vino from it. He loved to work with his hands. His carpentry projects included: wood swings for our bedroom doors, a long gliding patio swing for our front porch. Most of them made from scrap wood. He even made me pink Play Doh horses with my pink Play Doh!

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photo: R.T.

Jaju, a Polish immigrant who worked his whole life in the textile mills in Douglas and Dudley, felt besieged in his new country, America. He missed the “Old Country” and played sad Polkas on his harmonica in the evenings, from his bedroom filled with the thick furling grey cigarette smoke from the cigs my mother used to roll for him, in his little rolling machine. Unfiltered, of course. I used to have a small package of his cig papers somewhere in my desk drawer – they were so fine and delicate. Tracing paper that left no traces of Jaju … He died of cancer, just an illiterate “Polack” factory worker to most folks… (not to me, my sweet Jaju!)

Back to my birthday party… A fine time was had by all – me and my cousins and my aunts and uncles! Pin the tail on the donkey games! State Line potato chips for the kids! Pickled pigs knuckles in big clear jars – a Polish peasant delicacy! – for the adults! My birthday cake from Widoff’s! My purple, ribbon-trimmed dress from Jack and Jill’s kiddie clothing shop on Green Street!

Ma’s beaming down on me, straddling my kid sisters on her strong legs. The babies are twins! No one can tell them apart, except Ma! Ma LOVED all little kids.

She loved animals, too. Cats, kittens, puppies … dogs, especially. Here’s her fave dog (not any of mine!) – ROCKY, her brave, beautiful and loyal Doberman pinscher from her Springfield days. I wrote about Rocky last year – the beloved, vicious-to-everyone-but-Ma-and-my-aunties Dobie who died trying to get back home to my mother and my two aunts. Rocky had bitten several folks, so he had to be given away to a farmer, miles up north in the country. But he broke free and ran back home to Ma and her sisters. One night they found big old Rock at their door, bleeding from the mouth. He died at my aunt’s feet – he just had to get back to his favorite mistress!

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Here is Ma outside Worcester City Hall, wearing – like all women of the late 1950s/early 1960s – her pretty gloves…

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I still remember them! – will never forget them! – crumpled at the bottom of her closet on Lafayeytte Street, in a box, with her nice jewelry – of no use to her now, living on Lafayette Street, working 60 hours a week at the dry cleaners, a single working woman with three little girls and an ailing mother (Bapy) to care for. When I was a little girl, I used to take Ma’s gloves out of their box and flatten them out on my lap to admire them. They were the epitome of all things feminine! They were powder pink, soft, so pretty with delicate, pale blue stitching along their edges. I’d brush them up against my cheeks and smell them! They’d smell like musty moth balls! I loved that smell! It was of hidden secrets! A special past! Ma’s glamorous days!

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Did you know my new monthly, Cecelia, coming out next Friday, is named after my late mother?💗

Happy belated Mother’s Day, Ma!! I love you!!

Late-afternoon Gaffney musings …

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

Hanging with the mutts …

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… and Miss Cece …

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… drinking my java, thinking about local politics – thanking the dear sweet Jesus that former Worcester mayor, city councilor and school committee guy Joe O’Brien is coming out of his new-daddy-hood cocoon to run for public office again. Yeeeehaaaa!!! He’s running for Worcester city councilor at large, which means:  Mayor Joe Petty, who’s running for re-election, will, once again, win the mayoral seat and Joe O’Brien – because he’s well liked and a smart, compassionate and effective public servant – will be second highest vote getter and become the Worcester City Council vice chairperson, KNOCKING COUNCILOR MICHAEL GAFFNEY OFF THE COUNCIL VICE CHAIR PERCH, a perch he milks to no end! YAY! 🙌 🙌 HOORAY! Yipee! Reason enough to REJOICE that O’Brien is running  for public office! We are so sick of councilor at large Michael Gaffney – he’s brought Woo political discourse  to a new,  toxic low! Plus, by being vice chair, he trots out his mayor-in-waiting schtick at every turn. O’Brien’s strong win will make him #2, the new vice chair and …. keep Gaffney off that dias at City Hall! Rip the mayor’s gavel out of the Gaffer’s cold, clammy hands! Take the pinch-hitter title away!

Again, reason enough to be ELATED that Joe O’Brien is running for city council!!! (he’d never run for mayor this election cycle because he’s Petty’s friend and political ally.) But there are other reasons to be thankful for our soon to be new city council vice chair: First, O’Brien will be the antidote to the poison that is Michael Gaffney. Every time Gaffney uses race or class  to hurt one group of folks to win political points with the Turtle Boy brigade or twists the truth in the sickest ways a la sicko prez Donald Trump, O’Brien will call him out. Call out his twisted lies and counter them with TRUTH.  O’Brien is an articulate, progressive policy wonk who went to Harvard. He’s also a regular guy/dad/husband who loves/lives Worcester 24/7. He’ll brook no bull shit from Gaffney. For example, we could have used Joe a few days ago: The Gaffer was on his video channel crying over the fact that our City Council went on record supporting a statewide living wage of $15/hour. His cynical, slimey Gaffney intimation? That the living wage is a nefarious Socialist plot to subvert democracy! My late great mother who worked her whole working life for minimum wage and wanted a LIVING wage for the folks who came after her was NOT a Socialist! She LOVED AMERICA! SHE WAS A PATRIOT. She once told me SHE WOULD DIE FOR HER COUNTRY! Gaffney is no American patriot. He wraps himself in the American flag and sticks a WPD badge on his lapel to create the image of patriotism. It’s all marketing. For votes. Gaffney, like  Donald Trump, is a power-hungry con artist who lies to people to  win elections. Joe O’Brien will, on the council floor, rebut Gaffney’s slick lies.

Second, Mayor Petty, along with most of the other city councilors, is doing an admirable job at keeping Worcester, a Mass Gateway City, open to and PROUD of immigrants…making our public schools strong and the portal to a middle class life, a life of knowledge and a never-ending quest to LEARN MORE. Our parks are beautiful, our inner city ‘hoods need help, but we are all trying. Downtown may yet prove to be our own urban dance party – singing and swinging to a million different voices! I cannot wait! Michael Gaffney is the political thunderclap over our urban dance party. Immigration, refugees, a global multi-cultural Worcester, a Woo struggling with poverty and hunger in many of its quarters…Gaffney, like Trump, exploits all this and plays to people’s economic fears and racial prejudices. O’Brien is just the opposite – he will help lead the city council – and city! – to higher ground. He will help bring people together – not divide, to conquer.

Here are last night’s Bill Maher video clips. Maher, one of America’s most gifted satirists, has Trump pegged. But you can extrapolate and apply his satire to Gaffney, on a much teenier political scale, of course. Spiritually, Trump and Gaffney are identical twins:

Good discussion:

But enough Gaffer talk! On to:

Mike Gaffney’s wife, Coreen Gaffney. She is running for the Worcester District 4 City Councilor seat – a seat her fat patootie will NEVER warm! Not for one milli-second! Once again, the Gaffneys know/show no shame. Coreen, the wife of toxic Michael Gaffney – a politician who gets his political steam from castigating minorities, refugees and Sanctuary Cities – runs for office in Worcester’s majority-minority, mostly inner-city District 4. (And, no, Mike, it is NOT sexist to write in news stories and headlines that Coreen is married to you. IT IS NEWS-WORTHY.  You’re a CONTROVERSIAL COUNCILOR and you GET  YOURSELF INTO THE NEWS every other day. Think of it like this: If Hitler’s lover ran for Vice Fuhrer, wouldn’t you want to know that she was Adolph’s squeeze?) Yeah, D 4 could use better garbage pick up (more often – and street sweeping, too!), but that doesn’t mean we throw the district (my district!) out with the unrecycled water bottle!

Smile, people!

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This November the dynamics of the Worcester City Council are gonna change – for the better!!😄😄😄😄💗💗💙💛

What would be so bad about weekly street sweeping/cleaning in our urban core, courtesy of the City of Worcester?

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

Or a daily garbage patrol on the look out for abhorrent stuff like the illegally dumped garbage, pictured below? I took these photos of Millbury and Endicott streets yesterday. Now that the slobs at the slobby Endicott Street house I have been whining about for THREE YEARS have been removed by the authorities (police wearing bullet-proof vests), there are no more heaps of trash in front of the place. But we’ve got other offenders on the street:

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These contractor bags I wrote about last week are STILL “cooking” on Millbury Steet!!:

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That’s why we have a rat problem:
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Cece and Rose’s  rat “sub.” (if you squeeze its front paw, it sings “Little Drummer Boy”😉)

What does all the garbage, blatantly “on display” in our city, say about Worcester? We have better public schools than all the other New England Gateway Cities, but many of these lesser urban hubs look so much cleaner than Woo! Our parks are many and beauteous, but you forget their lush gorgeousness when you have to cede the sidewalk to a mountain of garbage!
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Our West Side homes rival Wellesley’s, but visitors get the wrong impression of Woo – and don’t want to commit to our city – after they do a bit of exploring and come upon sights like this one:

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Our garbage/dirty street problem is deeper than “cosmetics,” and I’ve written about the culture of poverty here. But, on the most basic level, we must treat our trash as a cosmetics challenge! More street sweeping – especially in District 4. More garbage trucks, more often – especially in D 4. ASAP!

A few more reasons for all the trash? There are so many more people stuffed into gerrymandered (extra rooms and apts) three deckers these days. Way more than when I was a kid. And today everyone has his or her own car. And the diversity is truly amazing! So many cultures from all over the world live here! So many people from different countries, each guy or gal or kid with his/her own way of discarding their crap. THE CITY MUST START EDUCATING THE POPULACE! We must all get on the same trash-disposal/recycling page!

Downtown Worcester is coming along …
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Every striving city needs an attractive, bustling downtown. We applaud what CM Ed Augustus and other city bigwigs are trying to do. The naysayers have it wrong: it’s not either/or – either our neighborhoods or our downtown. IT IS BOTH … AND THEN SOME! I hope our reimagined downtown becomes more than a place that houses and caters to the well off. I hope we have all kinds of restaurants and stores for all kinds of people! When I was a kid growing up in Worcester, I loved Denholm’s (window shopping) and the Mart (real shopping)! Class war did not break out between the kids from Green Island and the matrons from the West Side! People in downtown Worcester were not in their silos! People pressed up against each other – the ideal America! You couldn’t say the same thing for Worcester City government or the City workforce or our neighborhoods, but downtown was a mosaic. Even as a little kid, I felt the electricity!!

Reclaim the spark, Worcester!