Category Archives: Rosalie’s Blog

Tweaked#2: Worcester is MIA re: a sizable BLACK MIDDLE CLASS!

By Rosalie Tirella

A very late breakfast with Cece …

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pics: R.T.

… who still refuses to sleep/play in her new kitty bed!

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… Thinking about my city, Worcester, and how she, unlike many mid-sized American cities, has no African American middle class!!

Look around your Woo lives, Woo peeps!

Do you see – like I saw when I lived in Hartford and Springfield – hundreds of African Americans making their way across the urban landscape in crisp suits, polished shoes, brief cases swinging by their sides, ready to lead a city? Are they, with their college degrees,  their professional credentials, entering City Hall meeting rooms to join City Manager Ed Augustus to add their voices to our civic conversations? So we navigate the 21st century TOGETHER?

Where are Worcester’s solidly middle class Black neighborhoods, like you see in so many American cities?

Where are Worcester’s black school principals, black teachers, black librarians?!

No where. Or: their numbers are so puny they can’t have a huge effect on Worcester civic life – or life in general. Every day life. Where we forge our identities, our beliefs.

When I lived and worked in Hartford and Springfield as a young woman years ago I was the minority. Most of the teachers, social workers and city leaders that I interacted with were Black or Hispanic. Black teachers, librarians, school principals, social service agency directors, site managers and social workers. Politicians. Eye-opening for a gal who grew up in white, Irish Catholic Worcester!

And guess what?

There was nothing radical about my co-workers/friends! They did not hate white people. They were proud to be Americans. They believed in a meritocracy. They were open to me, nice, polite, real. Wanting to collaborate because we were working TOGETHER to help all people in our city! These Black professionals were well spoken, thoughtful and family-oriented.  They looked at learning, the school experience, child care, city safety the way I looked at the issues – or the way you’d see them!

But because Worcester doesn’t open its doors to  Black/Latino professionals, racism blossoms here. The worst kind of racial stereotypes rule!  People here don’t see a Black professional class, so they don’t know one exists. Our city grows more diverse by the day, and yet we still have Worcester Public Schools (at the elementary level) stuffed with all-white-teaching staffs! Our public library and its branches still have so few African American and Hispanic staffers. The Greendale Branch Library looks like it waltzed out of 1950! Pathetic!!

The situation, if you compare us to similar cities, IS NOT NORMAL!!

It just feels that way to most folks in Worcester because our racism, our separate state of being, is all they know – and feel comfortable with. It is their milieu. Their “norm.” Poor BLACKS – they too live in this weird racist home zone that reflects a skewed picture of Blackness. They can feel hopeless, depressed, less whole, less self confident living in this world, in Worcester.

Worcester – a city that excludes so many folks of color – politely and not so politely. Repeatedly. Since day #1. No matter how many community meetings the city hosts. No matter how many “official” pronouncements come from City Hall, the City Council and School Committee – all proclaiming we are an OPEN TO ALL city!

No matter if the U.S. Department of Justice!! calls us out and comes to Worcester to help right our wrongs.  We hold more polite, controlled community meetings … the City Manager makes more promises … even hires a City Diversity officer, Malika Carter, to help make us whole, to bring Blacks and other minorities into the picture. But she gets our game soon enough and quits her high paying City of Worcester job. Most likely Carter left us only after only a year and half because she realized the City Manager gave her no real power to effect  real change in our city. She was just the city’s fake badge of honor it awarded itself to make itself feel better about itself … the titular head of … nothingsville!

Factor in the racism of these perennial Worcester slugs:  

The Turtle Boy (Aidan Kearney) blogger who destroyed the lives of so many black and minority professionals in Worcester … lead the charge to harass them out 

and his rogue lawyer/Turtle Boy blog poet laureate Margaret Melican (cousin, so he says, to local hater Brendan Melican) who supports the Turtle Boy poison

and race-baiting/nightmare of a human being Worcester City Councilor (and mayor wannabe) Michael Gaffney who some people have called: “pure evil”

and Change Worcester and Worcester’s Dirty Secret FB pages author – “anonymous” blogger-crank conservative Paul Collyer, a political gadfly who has attacked Worcester City dems, a progressive City agenda and Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera – incessantly and  mercilessly … for months and months and months …

and, well, you’ve basically got yourself a Woo shit sandwich! A racist shit sandwich! And it is not going away any time soon because these creeps actually have forums, platforms, bully pulpits, reach so many Worcesterites so they can stoke their class fears and racial prejudices. They incite hatred for poor people, homeless people, addicted people – our community’s weakest members!

Mini-Trumps!

Worcester is, at this point in its history, stuck – it’s a city that can not move forward, cannot honestly embrace people of color. Poor Blacks and Latinos. Middle class Blacks and Latinos with college degrees and more, folks who’ve relocated from the South or  the Mid West, altered their LIVES, to take a high paying job in city government … only to face an intense backlash. From Turtle Boy. From Gaffney. From half of Worcester.

Heart-breaking.

Worcester Public Schools Superintent Melinda Boone was harassed out of her job. Turtle Boy and Gaffney lead such a horrific Melinda Boone witch hunt/hate fest that she moved out and on. The Latino assistant WPS Superintendent who applied for Boone’s job got kicked in the nuts – so he got himself another job and moved on, too. The Harvard-educated, so smart, so savvy, so cool Latino man who applied so whole heartedly for our City Mananger job … realized city leaders were really holding the slot for  Ed Augustus and he was just a … diversion. So what if he and the other CM candidates took weeks out of their LIVES to apply for the CM job, fly out to Worcester, interview for the job, meet and greet city poobahs, visit Worcester for extended periods of time to get to know us? It was just a fancy dance meant to distract from what was going on behind the scenes.

Malika Carter, the woman Augustus hired in February 2016 to spearhead the city’s diversity outreach and inclusion efforts, can now join that Black/minority professional graveyard that Turtle Boy has on his blog!

And Woo stays intolerant, narrow-minded, unfair, unjustinequitable … choose your adjective.

For how much longer?!

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New to me! Enjoying MG tunes this Sunday!🌞

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Sunday afternoon!

Enjoying Mary Gauthier tunes with my critters!

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Cece and Lilac have always got to be “center stage” – they’re such pushy characters! They push Jett away, literally off my bed! With their cute – cloying – ways!

But I’m closest to the one furthest away … the Jettster❤❤. My little husky- mountain-feist mix. With a little coyote thrown in for good luck! (Jett’s a rescue from Appalachia, land of the coy-dogs!)

Jett❤❤❤! So regal!

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So tough! So emotionally lean. Not asking for anything but always thinking of me, aware of my situation. Jett always has my back! Literally inserts himself between me and any stranger, barking like a madman. In the city, in the country. I like that. He makes me feel safe …

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Still, the ol’ J-dog is pushed away by pushy young ‘uns!

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He finds himself on my bedroom floor – no matter how hard I try to bring him in. I call Jett!, he dutifully jumps up and settles by my thigh. I tell Lilac and (sometimes) Cece DOWN! But in a few minutes the old dynamics have reasserted themselves: Lilac snoozing heavily by my side, her head on my stomach. Cece curled in a ball by my head. Jett is back on the hard floor (where he doesn’t even sleep on his blankets). … Lilac and Cece are suffocating me!

Today, we are all in our places, with sun shine-y faces! Listening to my new musical discovery (3 days old!) – the AMAZING Mary Gauthier. She sounds a lot like Lucinda Williams, a personal fave, even works with Lucinda’s producer. But Mary’s got a voice, a perspective, all her own! She’s gay, ran away from home at 17, lived on the streets, became a successful chef/restaurateur!, got addicted … then clean and sober. Her music was born of the chaos, hurt and … love. Always love …

Her songs are lean and beautiful, like my Jett’s soul …

Gauthier has been around for a long time but I missed her greatness! Until a few days ago! I was listening to my boom-box radio on my kitchen window sill …

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… and she came on! WOW! Raspy voiced, killer images … . Such a story teller! A GIFT! For free! To me! To anybody willing to play with their radio dial.

I love when an artist gets to me for the first time! Moves me in a way that most singer song writers/bands don’t because … I’m old! Hundreds of concerts, records, CDs, radio-to-my-ear days (on the beach, in the bedroom, in the car) have left my ears a little jaded (I’m slightly deaf in the left one). I’ve heard it all! Or I tell myself: So and so sounds like this person but is a weak replica.

My great musical loves, many discovered in my youth, like so many of our true loves, have come and gone. Or so it feels for the moment.

But then it happens! You’re driving down a Worcester road. You hear Nirvana on your car radio for the FIRST time and even though you’re already in your early 30s and feel middle-aged, you just gotta PULL OVER, STOP going to wherever you’re going and think: THIS IS FUCKING GREAT! I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYONE LIKE THIS BEFORE! WHO CAN THIS BE? The song, the artist (Kurt Cobain) got to you, the way most songs, places – even people – don’t!

And the next day you’re at Strawberry Records on Front Street asking the kid behind the cash register: WHO IS THIS? because you never got the band’s name on the radio. You sing the kid a snippet of the song: NO, I DON’T HAVE A GUN! NO, I DON’T HAVE GUN!!!

You are making a fool of yourself but don’t care. Neither does the kid. He listens, understands, gets you the Nirvana audio cassette. You tell him you wish it were an l.p. – he says nope – but you still leave Strawberries floating on air!

Hearing Mary Gauthier for the first time, a few days ago, was, for me, like hearing Nirvana for the first time: WHOA! Or the Beatles’ RAIN for the first time … or pogo-ing around my UMass dorm room many years ago as PUMP IT UP played on my turntable. I’m a college kid in Amherst, skipping bio class but hanging with my dorm’s pot supplier and a brilliant English major who uses two crutches to walk and drinks heavily. I’m on fire with Elvis. The second one! He is gonna play at UMass!! My boyfriend, a lighting guy for major rock ‘n’ roll acts, got us tickets. We’ll be going to the show!

Mary Gauthier has been around for a long time, and I listen to music ALL THE TIME. How did I miss her???

I think I heard a few of her tunes on the radio – but not her strongest ones, for me – the ones that grabbed me by the ass!

Everything, for me at least, has always started with a song …

And listening to music takes me to places, like Sigel Street in my beloved Green Island …

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… to the crappy three decker where the little baby died recently. My friend’s friend saw the little one taken to the ambulance on a stretcher. He said, IT DIDN’T LOOK TOO GOOD.

No, “it” didn’t. Because it was dead.

And you think: malnutrition, drug-addicted parents or just a mom sleeping with her fragile babe in her bed … and then tragedy, born of love and poverty.

So the city gets a $$$donation and increases the number of baby boxes it gives to poor parents from 10 to 500.

Or you look at all Worcester’s neighborhood community gardens …

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… and ask yourself, why are our kids still so undernourished? Why do 1 in 4 Worcester kids go to be hungry?

You see our city swimming pools – only three for the second largest city in New England!! Fuck our spray parks! Glorified sprinkler systems designed to save the city mucho bucks! The kids know the truth! I was an inner-city kid many many moons ago – I used to go into the Crompton Park city built mud-hole to splash around and cool off. That was before the City of Worcester had the vision and compassion to build several magnificent swimming pools in our neighborhoods! What a summer thrill for me! Swimming EVERY DAY IN THE NEW CROMPTON PARK POOL WITH MY KID SISTERS!

These days it enrages me to see the long lines outside the Vernon Hill pool on hot summer days …

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… the Puerto Rican babies often held by too chubby grannies, scores of people old and young (most of them poor) waiting in line for an hour or more in the hot late July sun. … waiting to take a dip. Tney – or the cue of folks behind them, most brown-skinned and from all around Vernon Hill – can’t enter the pool area because it’s filled to capacity. That is the law – health and safety regs.

So cruel on the part of our city leaders. But Why should tney care? How can they relate? Their kids are driven to the beach or local state parks or the Greendale YMCA for dips in the cold, refreshing water. Or maybe they’ve got a swimming pool in their backyards for the whole family to enjoy! They don’t understand what it means to wait in line for an hour in the hot summer sun to take a dip … To be poor. To have no political connections. To be on the outside looking in …

Mary Gauthier does. Grateful❤

Shelter from the storm

Text and pics by Rosalie Tirella

I am prepping my shack for the city’s July 4th celebration.  It’s super, stupid early – like most Woo civic festivities – TONIGHT. Grrrr!

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… My critters, always the cute, if sometimes unwilling, holiday props, are scooped into the silliness:

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Then I see …

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… a picture painted by “Joe,” an alcoholic, sometimes homeless guy, who was living in a Worcester flophouse the day he gave his painting to me a few years back. Very sweet and graciously. I said “thank you!!” and gave him a big hug and later mailed him a pretty thank you card. I think Joe was drunk when he painted his little masterpiece.

Joe was/is a creative guy! He paints on the cheapest canvas – cardboard he finds – and his pictures are usually pretty small in size – for economic reasons. The one shown above, now hanging on my bedroom wall, is the biggest he has: a foot by a foot and a half. He makes his own simple wood frames, too. He tries to sell his paintings – framed – for 10 and 20 bucks. Very affordable prices!

I don’t think Joe, who can get so drunk that he stumbles and slurs his sentences, has sold one of his paintings.

Even though they are all colorful and happy: paintings of animals – wild and domesticated. Paintings of city scapes and nature … sunsets. No one wanted to go up to his little gallery/studio in his room in the flophouse to check out his work. He had his paintings tastefully mounted on one of his room walls…waiting…

I thought of Joe when I took the photo of this homeless girl on Green Street the other day …

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… a regular there, under the bridge.  Always with a book by her side – her armor. I drive down Green Street every day – often I see her reading her books. I think: a soulmate…a fellow lover of words.

I took  the photo in the middle of a heat wave. She, like the other young people who hang out peacefully under the Green Street bridge, was wilting in the heat.

I called my friend Dorrie M., a great friend to the homeless, to see what we could do to help.

Rose: Dorrie, does she have a place to shower and cool off?

Dorrie: Yeah, they do. All the kids there do…they’re fine.

Dorrie was not about to tell me where the secret showers were, she was not about to betray the kids’ trust.

I ended the call feeling reassured.

I often drive by “the girl reader” as I call her and wish there were FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE COURSES FOR HER and her friends offered in our new downtown. Boston has just made its public colleges FREE TO ALL BOSTON KIDS. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made ALL PUBLIC COLLEGES IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK TUITION-FREE FOR ALL OF THE state’s young people. He is wise. He knows: the global economy demands it. And NYC and Boston and other big world class cities cannot have a two-tier society: the very poor/homeless and very rich.

Look at this pic I took, another Canal District photo:

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On Green Street. The man is sleeping on the hard concrete!!, next to a Mercedes-Benz!!

America🇺🇸😥

This guy tucked inside a Kelley Square doorway – it was raining buckets of rain! – told me or any one who cared to notice that he was a Celtics fan! I took his photo with that in mind. He made me sad, but I smiled at his New England sports mania!

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Worcester, we need to, begin thinking of the summer heat waves yet to come and how we as a community are going to help our homeless – folks often mentally ill, runaways from abusive situations, addicted souls… They don’t want to be stuck in some shelter. They want to feel free! Their American right – as long as they don’t hurt other people. These kids and adults are hard core – the ones who refuse shelter and, for the most part, have their communities in and of the streets. They have their own beats …their own special places…their schedules. They don’t mind living outdoors in the summer…

How to keep these folks hydrated and their body temps regulated in 90 plus degree humidity?

How to keep the old ones from dying on Worcester streets.

How to give them more DIGNITY.

I suggest, and city leaders are looking into this: a city run campground for the chronically homeless. A clean safe space with cots, showers, porto-potties, water, donated food…a few caring city social workers and a cop with a big heart. America is Trumpland now. It will only get meaner.

Governor Cuomo and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are bulwarks against the Trump Storm. Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus and the Worcester City Council must be the shelter in the Woo storm for our homeless, our street kids, my “reader girl,” who most days looks so pretty sitting under the Green Street bridge reading her books…

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!!