Tag Archives: Bikes up! Guns down!

TC! TC! (Or: So go the bikers, so goes the city)

By Rosalie Tirella

A motorcycle guy gets his chest blown away on lower Chandler Street this past Saturday night. His soul is thrown off his bike and floats to Heaven like some inner-city feather. And that is the end of his dream called life. His Saturday night, all Saturday nights. No more bodegas, pizzerias, BBQ chick, cell phone shacks, dreamy sunsets, kisses, or cold cheap beers with friends on a summer night.

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photos: Rosalie Tirella

The beauty of life in the here and now, in Worcester, gone forever. Poof. Like magic it disappears from him just as mysteriously as it came to him.

His 46-year-old body, however, is no feather. It dies a horrific death from massive internal hemorrhaging, crushed bones … the blood must be washed from the cement … physical and emotional shock. The pain keeps coming no matter how hard the EMT kids work on him.

A Honda plows into him on Chandler Street, and he plows into a Nissan. 2,000-pound hunks of moving metal.

What could he do? How could he win?

A slow motion dream for the dying man, this accident on the corner of Wellington and Chandler streets, but not for the gawkers. The witnesses know it is over – in seconds – at one of Worcester’s most deadly intersections. An urban space where many cars  often speed up as they race to the tony West Side of the city, drivers pretending not to see all the poor Latinos, Whites and Blacks who live in the crummy three deckers and apartment buildings that line the street. They criss cross it every day – at all hours. They walk, run, stagger across the wide 4 -lane Chandler Street. Sometimes they’re on bicycles or pushing baby carriages or holding the hands of their little kids – the 5 year olds holding on to Papa or Mama tight with one small hand and covering their ear with their other soft little hand.  The traffic is too loud for them!

The poor cross their busy street to get to the  street’s local restaurants, Chandler Elementary School, the Family Health Center inner-city clinic/urgent care, Community Health Link mental health center, a homeless shelter, the several storefront Pentecostal churches, friends’ houses. As a driver, you have to go slow, you have to be AWARE at all times cuz life comes out at you from all angles on Chandler Street. Four or so years ago, I was the center of mayhem as I rescued a stray cat at the exact intersection where the biker was killed. It was a young cat, really an older kitten like my Cece (black too!),

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and I almost got us both killed running out of my car into traffic, scooping up the kitten and running back to my car with the kitten clasped to my chest. But it was OK. The neighborhood folks – the community – were good and had my back as I navigated the stream of cars.

If only I could have saved the biker – but how?

They called him T.C…. Family, friends, the community, prayed TC did not suffer long. Of course, he did. A bunch of biker kids and men and their friends rode up to the site of his death a few days ago to mourn …

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… They left their not so pretty neighborhoods to gather at the not so pretty intersection of Wellington and Chandler streets to say GOOD BYE, TC!  To pay tribute to a fellow biker. To connect with him – and each other.

If you read my columns, you know I love these outsiders, inner-city bike guys and gals who cobble together these unlicensed, unloved sometimes kooky sometimes cool urban motor babies. They take their lives into their hands when they ride them. But it’s all they’ve got on a lovely summer day in the ‘hood. They want to feel free like the wind. Can you blame them? You were young once too! Their motto? Bikes Up! Guns down!

The bikers are loathed by Woo’s conservative crew … people like Paul Collyer (the Somerville-based political gadfly who runs FB pages CHANGE WORCESTER and WORCESTERS DIRTY SECRET where he posts Turtle Boy/City Councilor Mike Gaffney racist rants) and his toxic political allies, the always race baiting Woo City Councilor Mike Gaffney and Turtle Boy-Aidan Kearney who always gets the ugly ball rolling with a post that fires up people’s racial and socio economic prejudices and fears. Collyer, Turtle Boy, Gaffney AND PREZ DONALD TRUMP, cannot accept a global, often poor, always multicultural America, Worcester…a world that is messier than they’d like to see. These guys want to shut voices down … or they do not understand…know how to listen to the new global urban landscape.

The Worcester Police force knew how to listen to the TC crowd! The Worcester police officers who went into the big crowd on that summer day and talked softly and dispersed the group without so much as raising their voices understood the community’s pain. They did not fan the Collyer/Gaffney/Turtle Boy flames of hatred, racism, ignorance. Nope. THEY WERE OUTSTANDING police officers who did an excellent job of keeping the situation from blowing up. They got traffic moving again, kept everybody calm and, best of all, respected the bikers’, outsiders’, pain, feelings. They smiled, chatted, WORKED smart so the situation did not escalate…THEY DEFUSED THE SITUATION. Kudos!

Watch the videos. They make me sad. A bunch of bikers, people of color, mostly poor, mostly cut off from the mainstream…scores of them gathered  at lower Chandler Street and riding their bikes up and down where TC died. They did “burns” in his honor and chanted TC !TC! TC! and made more videos on their cell phones to share, to tell the world TC MATTERED – ALL LIVES MATTER! In a video you see one big black guy looking choked up, confused, softly muttering TC, TC … and shaking his head. Not the face of violence.

Not at all.

The TC “wake” was political, was peaceful, was REAL. It was a statement. It was a love song. Like a bird on the wing.

Rose parked in YY … Got this pretty angel at Unique Finds Antiques and Vintage store …

… open TODAY and every day!

Until 7 p.m.

Unique Finds Antiques and Vintage gift shop – 1329 Main St. – Worcester!

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If you’re looking for anything critter-centered and want to HELP WORCESTER’S HOMELESS DOGS AND CATS, buy your NEW collars, leads, tags, cards, toys, refrigerator magnets, calendars at the WORCESTER ANIMAL RESCUE LEAGUE, Holden Street, Worcester!

They’re open 7 days a week!

Call them at (508) 853-0030 for more info!

Visit their website, where you can see pups and kitties up for adoption: worcester-arl.org

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Just a sampling of what you’ll find at WARL!

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Beautiful city cat#1

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Beautiful city cat #2

Go, beautiful Worcester, go!!!

Pics/text:R.Tirella

A no-brainer, Worcester: Guns down! Bikes up!


By Rosalie Tirella

A few columns back I wrote about the BIKES UP! GUNS DOWN! guys: how, while on the road in Worcester one night, I saw about 20 of them riding through a city intersection on their dark, dusty, lunar-landscape bikes…no headlights, no blinkers, no reflectors, no mufflers, no nothing, just tires on hunks of metal and the youths straddling their glorified urban go-carts like Greek gods astride thuderbolts! They were loving it! The freedom of it! One kid, the leader, stood up while riding, punched his fist into the air as the herd of bikes crested the hill to swoop down into the belly of the ‘hood. The other guys, following his lead, whipped out colorful bandanas and let them fly in the breeze. The scene felt transformative: they were no longer poor, inner-city youths without hope, without direction, without the dough to buy new motorcycles or those pointless baby mopeds that the rich kids, the Millennials, ride around on – more toy than bike. Nope, these Worcester young people got “creative”… and silly slapped their poverty and bested the moped-riding middle-class kids –  some as old as 34/35! – to make something MAGICAL.  They were not riding something store-bought, shiny and new, a marketing tool like you’d see in some insipid style blog. These kids were Urban Poetry at its most sublime. The look all their own. Their reasons for riding deep. Nothing fake or derivative about these guys. Through riding their lunar bikes they were saying: Who has time for guns and killing when you’re in the eye of THIS hurricane, with the summer wind softly caressing your body as you rumble like hell through all the places that please you/repel you? How can blood beat riding in the night with your friends, under cover, under the radar, outside the law?

Remember what Dylan sang: To live outside the law you must be honest. Or something like that, which means …

WE NEED TO KEEP THIS BIKER MOVEMENT MOVING.

Today, while gassing up, I saw this:

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Guys with bikes on a UHaul pull. They were walking amongst the several colorful bikes they had, like cowboys rustling a herd of cattle. One guy had the gas nozzle in his hand and was gassing up the several bikes they were hauling. A guy with long hair and forearms festooned with tattoos seemed to be the leader. He was driving the  vehicle that was pulling the bikes.

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I told him I liked the movement, the politics behind it: Screw the guns and the killing, LET’S RIDE, MAN!!!!

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He smiled. I asked him if it was ok to take pics. I didn’t want to get anyone into trouble or make anyone feel uncomfortable because I believe what these guys are doing is BRILLIANT. In a totally organic, homegrown, up from the roots move these guys, with no funds, no support, no nothing are solving their problem, STEMMING THE KILLING. By riding around on junky bikes they are saving our junky city.

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Who wants to play hoop with a bunch of middle-aged cops trying to reach them where no one really can?  Who wants to listen to some middle-class social worker from Holden drone on and on about a youth rec program?

No one. Not really.

This is their answer to their reality. To the drugs, the shit apartments, the shit jobs. Better than some social worker cuz IT’S THE GUYS HELPING EACH OTHER. Better than a church program cuz they’ve made their own church. What is CHURCH if not a community built around non-violence/brotherhood/love??… a community whose members support each other, keep each other safe, minister to each other?

The church of dirt bikes! If Jesus were here, he’d ride!!!!

It is a shame the pointless Worcester Millennials putter around on their fancy mopeds because they can lay down the $$$, while these kings and princes, just because they are poor, are chased down by the police and are the topic of Worcester City Council subcommittee meetings: HOW CAN WE STOP THIS? HOW CAN WE BRING THESE GUYS DOWN? WE MUST CONFISCATE THE BIKES! They’re stolen! They’re hot!

No, they’re not! according to the guys I met.

The guy with the long hair told me: “EVERYTHING YOU’RE READING IS WRONG.” Looking at his bikes, he said, “You can’t steal a 200…” … his voice trailed off.

I CHOSE/CHOOSE to believe him.

I took a few more photos, then went back to my car, where Jett and Lilac were waiting for me. Lilac, my new dog, tends to eat the upholstery if I’m gone for longer than 5 minutes …

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She is young and high-spirited … a little wild, which is WHY I LOVE her. Her mayhem is her magic. I try to work with and through her mayhem because she is, when all is said and done, beautiful.

Just like these dirt-bike-riding youths. Why kill youngness? Why kill spirit? Why annihilate an expression of hope? What happens to a dream deferred? Why take away their junk bikes? They’ll pick up junk guns! Why not work with them, not against them? There is already so much working against them! Why not give them: headlights, reflective gear (you can by reflective adhesive tape at the Dollar Store) … a break? Why not hold repair workshops to help bring their bikes up to snuff? Why not dedicate some stretch of city land to them so they can ride and have fun? Country kids go out, climb on their bikes and just ride the back roads and fallow fields outside their homes. I’ve seen this. It’s primal.

It’s not fair that the GUNS DOWN! BIKES UP! youths are society’s targets. It’s classicism and racism and dream-imploding.

We can do better, Worcester!

GUNS DOWN! BIKES UP!

BIKES UP! GUNS DOWN!