Category Archives: Rosalie’s Blog

We 💙 Mayor Joseph Petty!

By Rosalie Tirella

20170115_143004-1
pics: R.T.

We love our Mayor Joe Petty – a good man, a modest man, a family man, a man we’d like to claim our Urban Superman! Since he’s been mayor I’ve availed myself of his services! I’ve called/texted Petty about illegal dumping, drug houses, street lighting problems here on Ward Street – the nitty gritty of inner-city life that you need to stay on top of 24/7, if you want to create a safe, liveable city. I’ve contacted him many, many times. I’d say weekly!!! He and his staff have come through for our ‘hood every time!

And Joe’s talked of the finer things too – stuff we in-city denizens would love to see happen here: a dog park for our pits and huskies and hounds, a sports field for our kids in our three deckers, mounted police on real horses – magical nature! These “good things in life” are sometimes out of our reach – but they blunt the sharp edges of our lives here, take some of the sting out, make people feel GOOD, like we MATTER.

ALL LIVES MATTER!!

But Joe Petty’s only human – we all screw up sometimes…the hot mic, the cold truth (which we may never know)…the evil Gaffney calling for a resignation so he can be our mayor. GAK!

IT’S TIME FOR FORGIVENESS, PEOPLE!

PERSPECTIVE, PEOPLE!

Petty’s done a lot for this town! Let’s let go…let God!

Petty is not a racist or classist – he’s been there for all the diverse ethnic and cultural groups that call Worcester home. For years. He works to turn the cacophony of 21st century Worcester life into JOYFUL NOISE! America! I am proud of him for that – and forever grateful. For me, that’s what city life’s about – DIVERSITY!  The excitement as we discover new and different perspectives, foods, music, religions… I love mixing with all the folks in my neighborhood – I’m the minority here! And, always,  everyone, for almost four years, has been great: Beauty and her little brother, the teens walking down my street, the Latino guy across the street who jumped my car battery just a few days ago, in the brutal cold. Our conversation was pleasant, comfy in the January ice box of Woo! He was so nice to me – and vice versa.

The people just new to America – or almost newbie – is the Worcester of today! Mayor Joe Petty gets that – he embraces our new city – unlike Turtle Boy and his folks who want to see Woo whiter, more upper-middle class … more suburban, with cool stuff to do. Just minus the other REAL stuff! If you cannot dig in and enjoy or at least try to understand the new city, then maybe you need to move on – as Turtle Boy Aidan Kearney has (to Jefferson, MA) – and watch the grass grow green…

I remember one especially fine Mayor Joe Petty moment: It was a weekend a few years ago and he attended a gathering of new immigrants to Worcester – a group whose name I can’t even remember, so obsure to me (shame on me). There were maybe 20 or so folks who came together for the cultural event. All were poor, few could speak English. But there was the news story about Joe at the event. There was Joe smiling and meeting and greeting – letting these people (refugees?!😌) know that they had a seat at the Worcester table. That they mattered.

Of course, Aidan Kearney on his Turtle Boy blog and his minions in the comment section had a field day: What’s Petty doing there? What a waste of time and energy!!! When Woo has so many urgent problems that need solving NOW! What a dope!

But Aidan and his followers, including his biggest supporter the politically conniving City Councilor Michael Gaffney, don’t get it! When the mayor does this kind of stuff – it’s outreach – he is nipping potential urban problems in the bud: Getting new people – especially kids – to trust Worcester govt and all her branches: our police, our schools, our city councilors. Why feel disconnected?, he is telling them with his hand shakes, hugs and food sampling. Why feel alone?

A sense of not belonging makes it easy for kids growing up to join a gang, hate City Hall, eschew voting, embrace damaging parkland, the hood where you live. Better to shower them and all the people with love! We’re a Catholic, Muslim, Old Time Religion kind of town that embraces LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING. We know how to do the right thing. The smart thing! The American thing!

Forgiveness, people! Let’s move on!

Go, Joe, go! We know your a good mayor – a good man! We’ve got YOUR back!

Go, Worcester, go! “Power to the people!”

By Rosalie Tirella

20170129_134243-1-1

I’m the grand-daughter of immigrants…
20160707_113440-1-1
Rosalie and her Polish grandpa many moons ago🌃

All of us Americans, if we look far back enough, or just over our shoulders to our parents, have roots that lead back to other lands, places that often persecuted us, kept us down, treated us like second and third class citzens and worse …

These past few years the blood has flown in Syria – horrible oppression and chaos and war. Maybe President Obama should have sent troops into Syria, U.S. combat boots on the ground, especially after the country’s “leaders” began using poisonous chemicals to kill dissidents, killing the children, too. Horrific. Many Syrian families swarmed into inflatable “boats” to cross the ocean to leave their hellish country for new countries … They had hope. But they were poor…So many of the people, little children!, didn’t make it…

1548
“Turkish media identified the boy as three-year-old Alan Kurdi and reported that his five-year-old brother had also met a similar death. Both had reportedly hailed from the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the site of fierce fighting between Islamic state insurgents and Kurdish forces earlier this year.” The Guardian

When Donald Trump bans Syrian refugees from American soil for months, this can happen…

74889342_Alan_Kurdi_FOREIGN-xxlarge_trans++IbTDq2tM-BCxND-etb_WlJav4wN9nYlMsMPAW02wk7c
“A Turkish police officer carries the young boy who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos.” The Guardian. Photographs: Reuters.

And this …

Omran_trans++ZgEkZX3M936N5BQK4Va8RWtT0gK_6EfZT336f62EI5U
Trauma

Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney has sunk to a new low, and his toxic political shell game could have brought our city to its knees. But instead the people were glorious and rose up and rallied! – HUNDREDS IN A JANUARY SNOWSTORM OUTSIDE OUR CITY HALL! Where, in the snow and raw New England cold, they shouted, NO! NO! NO! NEVER IN OUR CITY! Refugees and immigrants ALWAYS welcome here!

And then, inside Worcester City Hall, people whose roots extend to countries all over the globe got up to testify – tell their family stories. Armenia. Vietnam. Central America. Italy. Ireland. Africa. They were saying: Listen to our stories. The refugee and immigrant stories of today are our stories! AMERICAN stories!

Lovely!

The Gaffney resolution went down to defeat tonight. So will City Councilor Konstantina Lukes’ miserable proposal. A toxic after-thought cobbled together by – get this! – the daughter of Albanian immigrants who owned and operated a diner in Connecticut! (What would your father think of your shit-sandwich, hold the compassion, Konnie? You were the apple of his eye!)

Worcester is not Trumpland! We are not a police state where people are bullied into doing what our impetuous, vindictive, dangerous new president wants them to do! As Worcester Mayor Joe Petty said to the peaceful, yet ebullient (cuz they were on justice’s side😇) crowd before the City Council meeting: He – WE – will not allow WALLS TO GO UP BETWEEN GROUPS OF PEOPLE. In Worcester, the walls COME DOWN!

Go, Mayor Petty, go!!!

No one, no child, should fear that he or she will be forced to leave Worcester, their home: friends, school, church, work, sports teams, a routine they call their own … a place where they’ve begun to realize their unique American Dream!

Power to the people! We, the people, can do amazing things! We did, here in Worcester, TONIGHT!!!

Just every day people …

Go, Mayor Petty, go! Go, America, go!!! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

By Rosalie Tirella

This is how Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney describes tomorrow’s rally for refugees and immigrants. His every word toxic, divisive … DELIBERATELY misleading. He’s a bright guy – full of himself – he knows how to make his every word glow evil:

“Joe Petty, the Mayor of Worcester, calls for a mob to descend on our City to coerce local officials to violate their oath of office.”

Calling Joseph P. McCarthy! Calling Joseph P. McCarthy!

This, on the other hand, is how Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and his office describe the event. Petty is a good, intelligent, sensitive city leader. He’s a great listener, a great bridge-builder between our communities – a perfect fit for the Worcester of 2017: diverse, striving, multi-lingual, up and coming!

20160901_163921-1
pic: R.T.

From the Mayor’s Office:

“Good evening …

“Tomorrow evening, January 31 at 6 PM in front of Worcester City Hall, Mayor Joseph M. Petty, will be addressing a crowd that is peacefully protesting President Trump’s executive actions on immigration and recent, divisive city council orders.

“Hundreds are planning to attend the Solidarity Rally in support of Worcester’s refugees and immigrants.

“The event is sponsored by dozens of organizations.

“All are welcome to attend.”

20170126_161519-1
pic: R.T.

Michael Gaffney, we’re begging you: Get some therapy! You’re not well. The mayoral seat isn’t worth all your scheming, your contorting the truth like a midway pretzel, your scapegoating minority groups … hurting so many people – that means the City of Worcester!

27bierWeb-articleLarge-1

Trump clone Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney and his Resolution (or Revolution?!) of Hatred

20170126_161519-1
You see this big sign when you enter Worcester City Hall from the city parking garage. It WELCOMES ALL TO WORCESTER! photo: R. Tirella

By Rosalie Tirella

Take City Councilor Michael Gaffney (PLEASE!). Has there ever been such a dangerous Worcester City Councilor? Such a loathsome opportunist, cynic, headline-grabber and power-snatcher posing as a city “leader”? A demagogue lurking beneath a friendly, penguin-emblazoned sweat-shirt, force smiling that weird, serpentine smile of his and doing all sorts of nefarious things to my beloved city? Worcester’s  own snake in the grass!

Michael (Mike) Gaffney’s goal?

Pure raw power.

And to overthrow the Democrats who, for the most part, have run this city for decades.

Gaffney wants a Republican-lead Worcester and he, already the head of the city’s Republican committee. wants to be crowned her king.

Screw the  fairly progressive Democratic Gateway City we all live in and pretty much love. Welcome to carnage-strewn Trumpland! Welcome to Gaffney shitsville where people, especially minorities, are thrown under the bus daily.

If we aren’t smart and vigilant, Gaffney – with the help of his friend and personal public relations machine, the racist, classist Aidan Kearney of Jefferson, the evil voice of the hate-spewing Turtle Boy blog  – could become our next mayor! Think I’m kidding? Worcesterites are getting used to Gaffney’s creepy, slippery ways. And he’s smart: people often don’t realize he’s playing them, playing on their deepest prejudices when he decides to run hard with a (wedge) issue on the City Council floor and wants their support. Or when he conflates two issues and ends up scapegoating a minority group. Or when he just fucks with our heads, sowing racial intolerance and chaos.

Forget about leading a  complex, diverse, very cool Gateway City! Gaffney is all about hatred.

Gaffney, a relative newbie to the Worcester City Council, is the exact kind of morally bankrupt asshole you’d expect to be vomited up during these toxic Trump times! His ideas, his speeches, even his supporters are all taken from the Donald Trump playbook. Our insane PRESIDENT😰😫😫 has made it ok for politicians like Gaffney to behave in racist, divisive, bigoted ways. Trump has, perversely, validated their un-American-ness! Because he’s the biggest fascist!

So Gaffney throws a bomb on to the City Council floor every other week!

He traumatizes the City of Worcester with his red herrings for mere political gain and to weaken the city’s present power structure. Gaffney’ll pounce on any issue – or create one – that he thinks will hurt our mayor, Joe Petty, and make him (Gaffney) the hero. Gaffney will say anything or float any nutty, racially explosive idea to gain the upper hand. Usually it’s one that is somehow connected to vulnerable subsets of our people – for example: the minority-run Mosaic Group or City Councilor Sarai Rivera and her property. Gaffney beat those issues and people to death. He was able to be so merciless because both issues’ main players were people of color. And there are lots of bigots in this town (all Turtle Boy readers) who cheered him on!

Now we’ve got the latest Gaffney-manufactured shit-storm, another racial and ethnic hornets nest, with our weakest brothers and sisters (many children) at its heart: Next city council meeting City Councilor Michael Gaffney is ASKING THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL TO WEIGH IN ON SANCTUARY CITIES. TO, IN A VERY PUBLIC WAY, DECLARE THAT WORCESTER IS OR IS NOT A SANCTUARY CITY. Gaffney is demanding that his City Council colleagues  sign on to – or not! – the anti-Sanctuary City resolution he has so craftily crafted!

What garbage. What bull shit. What a way to make the City Council fritter away the city’s time! This has nothing to do with making Woo a better city! Gaffney has set up this situation up so he can WIN POLITICAL POINTS – and he wins either way!

He hurts Mayor Joe Petty and the Dem power structure in town no matter how the council votes. Just bringing this shit resolution on the council floor opens the floodgates to race baiting, group-hating and soul-sapping arguments between Woo residents and among Woo City council members. Rotten words and hurt feelings will rule the day as we rue the day!

Gaffney does not give a fig that he teases out all kinds of racist feelings in our community,  exploits people’s deepest prejudices and obfuscates the real issues.

He willfully chooses to make things murky! He uses people. He keeps Worcesterites from understanding each other and learning the truth about each other!

On Gaffney’s watch there is no bending that arc towards justice! Just more hatred in hate-filled times.

So, this is what the Gaffer’s true intentions are:

1. To get the mayor and city council to say: YES, we’re a SANCTUARY CITY.

2. To get the mayor and city council to say: NO, we’re not a SANCTUARY CITY.

If they go with #1 they make all their constituents happy and do the right thing, but the City, thanks to President Trump, loses millions of dollars (except for cops) in federal funding. Also: the more conservative folks in Worcester, plus all our racists and bigots, will hate them and try to vote them out of office in November.

If they go with #2, their constituents and supporters will be devastated and Worcester’s most vulnerable folks will be scapegoated, sent back to violent lands, torn apart. They will be broken-up and broken-hearted. We’ll get the federal monies, but we’ll lose a good chunk of our collective soul.

In the meantime,  a crazy, evil, confused and confusing debate swallows up our city.

Thanks to City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michael Gaffney.

For Gaffney to create this kind of civic havoc is wrong.

For him to create a scenario, under the guise of his stupid SANCTUARY CITY RESOLUTION, divides folks. It pits one group of people against another, magnifies our slight differences and attempts to erase our shared humanity.

It’s just not right!

As we say here in lower Vernon Hill: Michael Gaffney’s a PIECE OF SHIT.

Love you, “Mare”!

27PAULEY-articleLarge-1

Mary Tyler Moore as the lovely but always approachable and real (and funny) Mary Richards…

By Rosalie Tirella

She made having a career look fun! She made the news industry look fun! Being female, single and on your own was an adventure! – not scary, though sometimes lonely. You felt the pathos because Mary Tyler Moore was such a great actor.

You didn’t need a man to make you happy. You could have handsome boyfriends visit you from out of state! You could still keep your career because the Pill was invented 10+ years ago and recently made available to single women who, at least in Mary’s world, knew you couldn’t have it all and didn’t try to have it all. That lie happened in the 1980s, in tandem with the horrific power skirt outfits that were designed to mimick men’s suits, down to the frou frou sash ribbon you wore as your “tie” over your white blouse. Mary Richard’s world was pre-DRESS FOR SUCCESS. You could wear white go go boots and mini skirts to work and throw your tam high into the Minneapolis air! You were an independent woman!

Mary Richards was a success at her job, but she always looked sexy at the office. She didn’t have big boobs or wear low cut sweaters. She just had that gorgeous, willowy body – the body of a former dancer, which Mary Tyler Moore was. Mary Richards could walk-prance her way into your heart. She looked graceful walking from one end of her apartment to the other end in her bathrobe! She made the mundane single woman stuff look glamorous in that beautiful body of hers. Legs long and lean … toe, heel, toe, heel … shoulders slightly curved,  arms loosey goosey by her sides  …

The beautiful Mary Richards showed American women you didn’t need to act all desperate and creepy and manipulative with men if you were over 35 and still unmarried. You didn’t need to have an agenda. You had YOU! You were the carnival ride! The giant M – for “Mary” – tacked on to Mary Richards’ apartment wall confirmed the fact! And, if you watched the show every week like I did as a kid growing up in Green Island, you got the point: Your happiness stemmed from YOU. If you couldn’t walk alone through a city park during winter and not sparkle like the icicles hanging from the tree branches, then you hadn’t made it after all.

You had your job, with co workers who were like family; back at your apartment, you had your upstairs and downstairs neighbors – gal pals Rhoda and Phyllis – another family to tell your problems to, to share your dreams with, to critique your wardrobe with …

Even in our cramped three decker tenement on Lafayette Street, watching the MTM Show while sitting on the old red vinyl couch my mom brought back to Worcester from her 10-year stint as a housekeeper for the Bishop of Springfield (probably his old office furniture), I felt empowered. I wanted to be Mary Richards. I wanted to “turn the world on with a smile/… take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.”

“WELL, IT’S YOU GIRL! AND YOU SHOULD KNOW IT!”

I hummed along to the Mary Tyler Moore Show opening theme song every week – even though I knew all the words by heart. “R,” for “Rose,” tacked on to a secret place in my heart!

LOVE YOU, MARY! THANKS FOR SHOWING SO MANY OF US THE WAY!

– Rose
20170106_135148-1-1

 

Some thoughts on “Ma,” President Trump and his (my???!) America

20170122_162051-1

Rose and George.       pics: R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

Tonight I’m holding tight my late mom’s George Washington calendar from the 1940s (above). Like many young poor folks of the Great Depression and World War II – kids who knew they were lucky if they were eating a square meal a day –  my mom was resourceful. For example, she collected her own “art” from the free or inexpensive advertising lit all around her: With trusty scissors in hand she cut out and saved grainy black and white photos or colored illustrations (often muted – not very colorful at all!) from school and church calendars, Hollywood movie fan magazines and sheet music cover pages, church prayer cards – even Polish Christmas wafer wrapping paper  – anything  that captured her young imagination. My mother loved music and drawing. She was very good at sketching! She used to draw pictures for me and my sisters when we were little kids. We’d sit and watch Ma as she quietly created her art for us with an old number 2 pencil: a little girl with pigtails, a little kitten with ball of yarn, a cherub perched on a cloud … the cliches of her day, beautifully  rendered. I remember in our Lafayette Street flat, in a closet  – now lost forever! – the huge poster Ma drew in pencil of one of her beloved Boston Red Sox batters in mid-swing!  She was 12 – a total baseball freak! – when she drew it and it was a fine sketch! But I have none of my mom’s big sketches – usually made for a St. Mary’s School project – only lots of her “clipped art” – all in pretty ok shape for gussied up scraps of paper three quarters of a century old!

Ma made good use of her finds, like the sleek, smart crow who weaves bits of shiny gold ribbon into her cozy nest … She taped some of the art to her bedroom walls, used some pieces as book marks for her prayer books and sent some pictures to friends, instead of store-bought greeting cards. But mostly she saved her paper jewels – a poor girl’s dreams – in a  small, wooden brown chest in her family’s Green Island Bigelow Street tenement and later in our Lafayette Street flat. The contents became mine when Ma died.  I gave the small painted brown chest (painted by my grandfather) to one of my sisters.

The chest, I believe, was a kind of hope chest for Ma, a love song to America in which she kept all her American dreams. America was new to her family – her parents were Polish immigrants who experienced the promise –  and ugliness – of America. My grandfather worked like a slave in a textile mill in Douglas and, to relax once he got home, played the harmonica and smoked the unfiltered cigarettes he rolled for himself using his own little white square smoking papers and little cig rolling machine, a funny looking little contraption that Ma used to work in the mornings, to roll her Dad’s cigs before he went off to work. Cigs he could smoke during break … My mother’s mother, my “Bapy,” raised five kids, cooked everything from scratch, prayed every hour on the hour, went to mass EVERY day, but outside her Catholic faith and family, was lost in America. If not attending church or friends and relatives’ Polish weddings she stayed home. Praying and cooking.

Ma was the baby of the family, and the apple of Bapy’s eye. So she grew up an optimist and focused on the bright spots: special memories from her Polish immigrant church by Kelley Square, like her First Holy Communion prayer book which I have! (below), …

20170122_165206
A photo of Rose’s mom with her First Holy Communion children’s prayer book! (Cece got a hold of its back cover and Lilac ate it!)

… postcards, prayer booklets and stamps from her 10-year stint in Springfield as a housekeeper for the Bishop of Springield, pretty little gifts that her big brother – my Uncle Mark – brought back from Japan after he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. I especially love the calendar cover my Uncle Mark gave Ma (from his ship – probably taped above his bunk): a sexy Miss America hanging from a huge American flag. A gorgeous but stern Lady Liberty wearing an oooh la la blue diaphonous robe that showed her perky little breasts and “mound”! My uncle was pretty good looking and a bit of a ladies’ man. Ma teased him when he came home from the war with blond hair. She believed he dyed it – he said the tropical sun bleached it. This Lady Liberty was right up his alley! – worth fighting for! I ended up with the picture and crudely framed it a few years back. Saint Lady Liberty – the patriotic pinup gal proudly wearing her Virgin Mary-blue sheer gown over shaved pussy! AMERICA = #1!!!😄

20170122_173222-1

But I digress! Back to GW! My mom was a huge George Washington fan because she was born on his birthday – February 22! And because he was America’s first President – perfect to her –  America’s God, back in the days when the ideas of America and God were entwined in complex, beautiful, dangerous ways. My mom, true to her generation, and I, like all Baby Boomers, grew up hearing the George Washington grade school lessons/myths, almost Biblical: George Washington at Valley Forge in the winter, leading his troops …they wore torn boots, their frozen feet wrapped in cloth…The young George Washington chopped down the cherry tree when he wasn’t supposed to but said: I CANNOT TELL I LIE! IT WAS I WHO CHOPPED DOWN THE CHERRY TREE!

Ma and I were getting the boiled-down-for-the-plebs American history lesson: George Washington had a TON OF INTEGRITY. What we didn’t know: When some of the colonists clamored for him to be King of America for years and years – because he was such an outstanding military leader and first President and the times were so chaotic – Washington said: No way! That’s not what this country is going to be about! There are no kings here!

At the bottom of my mom’s George Washington calendar picture, it reads: “The love of my country will be the ruling influence of my conduct.”   –  Washington

Wow.

20170122_182839-1

Can you imagine these words coming out of the mouth of our new President, Donald Trump?  Can you imagine the IDEA even blooming in that narcissistic, almost insane brain of his? (Neither can I!) He is someone who wants to buy America’s love, on his terms only. LOVE DONALD – OR ELSE!

For me, Trump’s inaugural speech was Hitler-esque. Dark, foreboding, fist-pumping, military might-extolling, self-aggrandizing, self-idolizing … maniacal. I’d never read or heard an inaugural speech where America, the land of George Washington and Mrs. Tirella!, was painted in such ugly terms – “American carnage” and “tombstones” stretching from sea to shining sea! No wonder wife Melania chooses to live in NYC – and keep her little boy safe by her side. To live with such a sick man always peering into the abyss (or is it just a pose, a con so that Trump can trash America only to lay claim that he saved her? ), a husband with such a soul-shrivelling world view, dipped in Trump gold!, is too much! I predict Mrs. Donald Trump will be a sexed-up version of the late Mrs. Harry Truman: No thanks, White House, I pass! I’ll live somewhere else. Mrs. Truman was the epitome of post-WW II frumpiness; Mrs. Trump is the epitome of 21st century foxiness. But they’re cut from the same cloth: at heart, small town girls freaked out by the prospect of living in the hub of the world’s Super Power. War. Peace. Laws of the land. It all begins with the stroke of the Presidential pen. Scary, for some people.

Funny, but here on Ward Street these past couple of days, it felt like the kind of America Donald Trump painted in his inaugural speech. Very different from the Ward Street my mom walked down as a young girl with her Polish mother as they made their way to their Polish church, Our Lady of Czetchowa, a church that still stands and which I can see from my kitchen window …

20170110_094451_HDR-1-1

These days Ward Street is Heroin/drug Central of Worcester. Last year I wrote about the big drug bust next door (complete with confiscated cash –  40K! – and weapons – machine gun!!!) But we’ve got the low-level drug runners, too, here in our ‘hood: Kids (usually boys) 15 and 16 years old who hop on to their beat up bikes to pedal to our inner-city backyards to do drug deals. In like 5 seconds! These kids don’t live in our houses, just use our backyards as office space! – out of the way, hidden places to sell packets of heroin. A quick sale. Money exchanged for smack. Then they put their ear buds back into their ears and  hop on to their bikes and pedal away wicked fast! The deal goes down in seconds!

A few days ago I saw such a speedy transaction occur in the yard adjacent to ours. The kids, both boys, about 16 or 17 years old, were there during school hours. They had come on their bikes and I had come upon them! They looked and acted hard and business-like in a way many of our neighborhood kids don’t look and act. Lots of kids in my neighborhood are sweet, skinny, sad, fun loving. They’ll smile at you and tell you about their little adventures or pets. But these two kids? Uh uh. It was so easy to see.

One of the kids looked surprised and miffed to notice me at the periphery of his deal. The other kid, scrawny and tall, looked frightening in his hardness. When he saw me, he unzipped the front of his thin jacket and his hand went to a shirt pocket. I thought: He’s going to shoot me now.

So I chatted him up. Played the un-hip, oblivious middle-aged lady. The box that society puts you in.

“Don’t be afraid of my dogs! They’re friendly!” I said, smiling.

With a cold, dead-already face, making perfect eye contact with me, he said, direct and serious: “I’m not afraid.”

Chilling.

A day later I saw the  same kid, his pale ghoulish face smiling as he rode away lickety split on his bike, being chased by a police cruiser in the middle of our downtown. The cruiser’s siren was off because it was the middle of the afternoon, but all its lights were pulsating.

The kid was in the middle of a gang of kids – 20 or more youths – all on bicycles! Three or four of them wore Halloween masks, pale, scowling ghost masks that covered their entire faces. Lurid and other worldy… Four or five of them wore cotton bandanas over their faces – right up to their eyes – so you couldn’t see their features. They looked like they had rolled straight out of some sci-fi Western! But they weren’t galloping through Dodge on horses – instead they were riding, herd-like and hard, on our Main Street, yards away from Worcester City Hall, on ramshackle bikes! Laughing! Free! Most likely – at least a few of them – armed!

I was mesmerized by this dystopian image coming straight at me (I was in my car driving by the Hanover Theatre), straight out of the Donald Trump playbook. I pulled over and the group of kids – they filled the entire street – rode past me. They were laughing and talking easily among themselves, as the police cruiser chased them. I saw and heard my ghoulish kid barking out something to the other youths. He was smiling. High on an adrenalin high. He felt safe – and cocky – in the herd.

Had they just robbed somebody? Mixed it up with another bandana-, mask-wearing group of kids? Or were the cops just pursuing one kid? – a definite challenge when he’s in a large pack of kids, all on bicycles. Bikes are the perfect getaway vehicle – they  can easily go up and down one-way streets, go off and on sidewalks, sail through back yards and city parks, be carried up flights of stairs and stashed in apartments …

As I watched this wild little spectacle, I saw how these kids showed ZERO fear. They acted like outlaws! And like their Wild West counterparts, they  were indeed misfits – unhealthy outsiders, bedraggled and maybe unloved – still riding to their next adventure. With a few firearms thrown in for good measure.

The herd sailed right by me, then the police cruiser.

I found myself rooting for the kids. Their nihilism was so honest! They were America … America’s underbelly. Her lack of love for her poor, especially her poor children. One in five kids go hungry in America! That means Worcester, too. … The Worcester factory jobs are gone for their un-skilled parents – men and women who read at the third or fourth grade level. Minimum wage jobs don’t begin to pay all the bills. Parents feel trapped, go MIA. Our public schools sometimes become holding pens for these kids, a safe place to eat govt funded, free breakfast and lunch and, sometimes, a place to rest or sleep, if there’s violence/drugs in the family.

Trump’s America! The one he says he wants to save! Here in Worcester! Here on our Ward Street and Main Street!

His solution to a deep, generation-spanning societal ill, often sealed with depression, PTSD or other mental illnesses? More police. Good paying jobs.

I don’t think two –  or even three – Worcester police cruisers chasing the masked kids through our downtown would have changed the narrative. Saved the kids.

Maybe good paying, WPA type infrastructure jobs would help. Young people or their parents working on rebuilding our bridges and highways a la Franklin D. Roosevelt for good pay … Yes, that may make things better. So that our families, instead of developers or investors, can buy and live in the three deckers in our  old blue collar neighborhoods. Like it used to be on Ward Street, Perry Ave, Endicott and Sterling streets – all over lower Veron Hill and Green Island! Homeownership 101. The rhythm in all our Gateway Cities for most of the 20th century. The American Dream!

Trump is right: The global economy has left behind thousands and thousands of neighborhoods like mine. Millions of working-age adults who live in them! I don’t believe in all the Moral Majority crap: poor families are Godless and gone to pot – that’s why their neighborhoods are “bad.” Most parents in my neighborhood try to love their kids – I see their love displayed daily, despite the harsh circumstances! – but the pressures keep mounting on them –  from all sides… . Families implode.

Good paying jobs for our people will help. Tremendously, to use a Trumpian word!

Maybe the Donald is onto something. If only he’d drop all his nefarious baggage…

4823

Happy MLK Jr Day! … Let’s do better, Worcester!

mlkihaveadreamgogo
MLK delivering his I HAVE A DREAM speech to America … and the world.

By Rosalie Tirella

Something happened to Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy when the school teachers got a hold of him (and us). The teachers – that is most of them – were well meaning but hopelessly naive (and fearful?) when it came to the murdered civil rights leader and his legacy. Maybe they got stuck on one speech – only watched or listened to his “I have a Dream” speech and none of his other speeches and sermons, all fiercely political, tough minded and demanding … demanding America to change. In a deep, fundamental way …

Maybe they heard the part in his I Have a Dream speech – a history-making sermon he delivered before 200,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. in 1963, before his March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – and got stuck on one image in the speech – the part when MLK says he dreams of the day little black children can hold hands with little white children in peace. Being school teachers, these words plucked at their heart strings, the image moved them. And so they unwittingly turned MLK into a kind of sweet nursery rhyme character. Milquetoast for the masses – masses of school children who grew up never knowing, hearing the real Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK’s I Have a Dream speech is not, in my opinion, even one of his greater “sermons”! Go listen to MLK on fire!! – go find and listen to his many sermons and speeches on You Tube and YOU WILL BE BLOWN AWAY. You will be awestruck by this tough, courageous, political, loving, religious, funny, brilliant, charismatic, REVOLUTIONARY, ERUDITE preacher man!

Like WOW.

For me, MLK was as great an orator as Lincoln. And, miraculously, he was part of our world – the second half of the 20th century! If you’re a Baby Boomer (like me) or older, you remember him: you got to see, experience his presence on the American scene. And he was Olympian! I remember watching the TV, just a little kid, mesmerized by this Black man with the sonorous voice who could bring thousands of people to their feet – listening to him, singing with him, marching with him. My late mom revered MLK – and Bobby Kennedy. Through the TV news, their speeches to her, to all Americans,  made a difference. These two men, both highly educated, both wealthy, one Black, one Irish American, spoke to my poor single Polish mother in Green Island. They were a balm to her emotional pain, her family’s poverty, the difficulty, sometimes brutality, of her life. Their words, along with her Catholic faith, gave my single working mother strength to keep working those 60 hours at the drycleaners for minimum wage – never getting overtime, always making the extra money under the table. They helped give her the fortitude to make sure her three little girls were well cared for and going to Lamartine Street School EVERY DAY and studying hard and getting those As on their report cards so they could go to college on scholarship! They helped her keep her dreams for a better future alive.  At 45, 55 … 75 years old she would tell me: My Rosalie, I liked the Kennedy’s but Bobby better than Jack [Kennedy]. Bobby was more emotional. He was with the poor. He felt for the poor. …..My Green Island mini history lesson! Besides the hard life lessons I was living/ learning each day!

20170102_123414-1
Rosalie’s late mom…

MLK and Bobby Kennedy were so special to the poor, the disenfranchised of America! Not just Black folks. These two men knew – KNEW! – how hard it was! They loved us, were fighting for us and we knew it!

But white suburban middle class teachers sometimes don’t get it or maybe these days all Americans – out of complacency or intellectual laziness – don’t get it. Have forgotten the guts, the raw nerve, the visionary goals, the tough messages of MLK and Bobby K. These men were so outside the box they were perceived a threat by the rich, the powerful in this country … the people who called the shots in our small towns and big cities. South AND North. I believe MLK knew he was going to be killed (listen to his sermons!). He just didn’t know when. Which gave his life urgency: SO MUCH TO ACCOMPLISH – so little time to do the work! he must have thought to himself. Genius that he was, he crammed 1,000 lives into his cut-short one. He was just 39 years old when he was shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel!

Just like Jesus, another revolutionary, who also took the bullet, via crucifixion. Jesus too was tough, political, pro poor folks and outsiders. Hence: Dangerous. He preached about a New World Order, like MLK. Through nonviolence and love. An even bigger threat! Now how do the nefarious Nixons and Romans wrap their heads around that???

Jesus and MLK threatened the status quo on so many levels: racially, politically, economically, and yes, even sexually (remember Mary Magdalene?😉).

Of course, America killed MLK.

And we are killing him still. – today!

On the local front:

Where are the Black school teachers in our lilly white Worcester Public Schools? Many of our elementary schools have 100% all white teacher staff. Have for decades.

Where are our African American librarians in the Worcester Public Library and her branches! Remember: Worcester is becoming a majority-minority city, yet her “public servants” in no way resemble, reflect her public!

Why?

Because white people just  don’t wanna give it up. Share the perks and the power. Just like in 1965.

Shame on Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus for all the lip service but failing to walk the walk!

The Black Lives Matter movement and their peaceful protests here in Worcester?  Squelched.  By City Manager Augustus. Backed by police with guns and the threat of jail! Just like in 1965.

Worcester police beating the crap out of African American men and city leaders are still just thinking about body cameras for cops and for their police cruiser dash-boards. And where’s our civilian review board? How serious are Worcester city councilors taking police brutality? Do they really want to stop police brutality? ….Just like in 1965.

What about the high-ranking City of Worcester employee who called a black person,  as the person was driving into the Worcester City Hall parking garage and he was exiting City Hall, a “Fucking Nigger”? Was he ever fired from his city job? Put on leave?  Was the public even allowed to see the city records on this very public city incident by this public employee whose salary is paid for by the public? Nope. Hush, hush!

Compared to the cities of Hartford or Springfield, cities where I once lived and got to see a TRULY racially integrated city workforce, Worcester is woefully, shamefully behind the times.

But there’s plenty of blame to go around. One of the Worcester people who could have righted some of the injustices, or at least the ones in our public schools, was Stacey Luster. Luster, a prominent city African American, is the former Human Resources Director for the Worcester Public Schools. She was responsible for the hiring of our public school teachers and could have changed Worcester’s school teacher landscape in an important and city-shaping way. Truly diversified the Worcester Public Schools teaching staff! But she didn’t. I learned this early on, strangely enough, not at a public hearing or public meeting at City Hall but outside my old pal, the late Tony Hmura, outside Tony’s sign shop, in his driveway! On Canterbury Street, in the middle of the ‘hood! Stacey and her husband owned a building on Canterbury Street near Tony’s shop and (I learned later from Tony) Tony made a sign for their building.

So…I  was driving into the Leader Sign parking lot to visit Tony and I see Stacey’s husband leaving the shop. An unexpected surprise, in light of the fact the City of Worcester had just hired her to be the new Worcester Public Schools Human Resources Director. Its first African American one. I say to him, right off the bat, because I’m so enthused and happy: HI! ISN’T IT GREAT?! ISN’T IT GREAT THAT YOUR WIFE IS HEADING HUMAN RESOURCES IN OUR SCHOOLS?!! NOW SHE CAN REALLY BRING IN BLACK TEACHERS AND REALLY DIVERSIFY OUR SCHOOLS!!!!

Her husband looks at me and says: We’ve got a mortgage to pay. When she was in public office, but not now.

Translation: His wife wasn’t going to rock any Worcester status quo boats. She wanted to keep her City of Worcester job and her HUGE City of Worcester paycheck. Screw advancing her people, exposing minority kids to important role models …Screw bringing Worcester out of 1965!

Pathetic.

Which should remind us all HOW GREAT Martin Luther King, Jr. was!

He died for his people!

He died so black teachers could teach in Southern schools.

He gave his life so Stacey Luster could have a high status, high paying job in the Worcester Public Schools!

Forget the losers!

Honor, MLK! Celebrate, MLK! But most important, LISTEN TO HIM!!!

His message is UNSTOPPABLE!

P.S. Can you imagine? MLK just stopping by to give a little talk to your junior high school?! Wow.