… in early February. We are impressed by the fact that a guy pushing 75 years old – Allen Fletcher – can become so animated by homemade pasta, over-priced burgers, trinket shoppes and artisan beer. But Allen is a rich old WASP – scion of the original owners of the Telegram and Gazette and has millions$$$$ to burn. Rich WASPs have lived well, so they tend to live well into their 90s! Allen obviously hopes to “age in place” – and gentrify an entire neighborhood to accommodate his tastes and hobbies! And he wants to build a monument to his ego so he continues to get attention and air time, is still a Woo player well into his 80s when most people are DEAD.
Drove by Allen’s place a few days ago. It is huge and sucks up a big chunk of a once intense vibrant busy overbuilt Eastern European immigrant neighborhood. The real deal I grew up in:
I wondered how many Worcester folks are gonna buy his overpriced burgers, noodles, tee shirts, cup cakes, etc. Where are these silly customers gonna come from? Certainly not the surrounding neighborhoods.
Q: ALLEN, WILL YOUR PUBLIC MARKET THEME PARK ACCEPT SNAP/EBT CARDS (food stamps)? So that working people and families can buy some of the groceries and meat and such sold at your “public” market? Many of them Black, Hispanic and Vietnamese. Minorities I never see in your Canal District.
Worcester’s REAL public market, that grand old building on Main Street with the marble ram’s head, hanging fowl and cow’s head adorning the top of the building, was A REAL PUBLIC MARKET – built for ALL, especially the hoi polloi! People like my Polish immigrant grandfather who would walk down to Main Street to buy staples he could afford for his family!
STAPLES. AFFORDABLE FOOD. Not your fancy theme park stuff.
Bring in the tourists!
Q: Allen, will you advocate for apartments that don’t rent for $1,400 – $3,000 a month like the ones in your “Public” Market building?
Q: Will you remember the homeless kids under the Green Street Bridge – just 10 buildings down the road from your project?
In Worcester: SO MANY HUNGRY WORCESTER KIDS – SO MANY ANGRY YOUNG MEN WITH GUNS AND BAD TEMPERS … ARROGANT AND IGNORANT – A LETHAL COMBO! … HOW DOES THIS PROJECT make them more aware? IMPROVE THINGS FOR HALF THE CITY? The people living in old three deckers – out of code, owned by landlords who pinch the penny.
We hear Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus may retire in 2 years.
After the fun of ushering in the Woo Sox stadium project and team and all that gentrification, after all the cool negotiating over cocktails in fashionable Woo restaurants, City Mabager Ed Augustus may not want to stick around to face junkies nodding off or shitting by the Green Street bridge … He may not want to solve these problems, be around for gentrification’s after-effects: More poverty, more hunger, more displaced families, more homelessness, more guns. Ed Augustus may not want to deal with these unsexy, not so fun issues! Instead, he may want to retire to his nice summer home on Cape Cod!
My old neighborhood – one of the poorest in Worcester – transformed.
A ride through it yesterday:
How will the wolf survive?
How will the wolf survive all of Allen Fletcher’s good taste?
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– MLK, Jr.
Dear Dr. King,
As we prepare to celebrate your 8th birthday, and also, the 5st Anniversary of the Selma marches, I thought I would write you a letter, to let you know what’s been going on.
I have been thinking a lot about the civil rights movement and the protests that have been happening since the no indictment verdicts came in Ferguson, Missouri, after the murder of Michael Brown and in the murder of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD.
Some people are asking, why are they protesting, what do they want? What do they think protesting and shutting down city streets will do?
My response: What did Dr. King and his supporters think a bus boycott would do? What did they think a 50-mile march would do?
The bus boycott lasted 381 days. For one year and 16 days Black people in Montgomery, Alabama, did not use public transportation! Needless to say, that hit the city in the pocket-book. City officials resisted a long time. Them good old boys did not want those Black folks in the front of their buses. Really!
“Initially, the demands did not include changing the segregation laws; rather, the group demanded courtesy, the hiring of black drivers, and a first-come, first-seated policy, with whites entering and filling seats from the front and African Americans from the rear.
Although African Americans represented at least 75 percent of Montgomery’s bus ridership, the city resisted complying with the demands. To ensure the boycott could be sustained, black leaders organized carpools, and the city’s African-American taxi drivers charged only 10 cents-the same price as bus fare-for African-American riders. Many black residents chose simply to walk to work and other destinations. Black leaders organized regular mass meetings to keep African-American residents mobilized around the boycott.”
This is so powerful!
And then Selma, 10 years later!
Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination in voting on the basis of race, efforts to register black voters met with fierce resistance in southern states such as Alabama .
In early 1965, you and SCLC decided to make Selma, located in Dallas County, Alabama, the focus of a voter registration campaign.
As you well know, Alabama Governor George Wallace was a notorious opponent of desegregation, and the local county sheriff in Dallas County had led a steadfast opposition to black voter registration drives. As a result, only 2 percent of Selma’s eligible black voters (300 out of 15,000) had managed to register.
You won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and you drew international attention to Selma during the eventful months that followed.
On February 18, white segregationists attacked a group of peaceful demonstrators in the nearby town of Marion. In the ensuing chaos, an Alabama state trooper fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young African-American demonstrator. In response to Jackson’s death a massive protest march from Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery, 54 miles away was planned. A group of 600 people set out on Sunday, March 7, but didn’t get far before Alabama state troopers wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas rushed the group at the Edmund Pettis Bridge and beat them back to Selma. The brutal scene was captured on television, enraging many Americans and drawing civil rights and religious leaders of all faiths to Selma in protest.
You also led another attempt to march on March 9, but turned the marchers around when state troopers again blocked the road.
That night, a group of segregationists beat another protester, the young white minister James Reeb, to death.
Alabama state officials (led by Walllace) tried to prevent the march from going forward, but a U.S. district court judge ordered them to permit it. President Lyndon Johnson also backed the marchers, going on national television to pledge his support and lobby for passage of new voting rights legislation he was introducing in Congress.
Some 2,000 people set out from Selma on March 21, protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that Johnson had ordered under federal control.
After walking some 12 hours a day and sleeping in fields along the way, they reached Montgomery on March 25.
Nearly 50,000 supporters-black and white-met the marchers in Montgomery, where they gathered in front of the state capitol to hear you and other speakers including Ralph Bunche (winner of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize) address the crowd.
“No tide of racism can stop us,” you proclaimed from the building’s steps, as viewers from around the world watched the historic moment on television.
A movie based on the events of SELMA [was released last year]. Can’t wait to see it with my children, family, friends and their children. Because this is a piece of history from which we need to learn.
“We are faced with marches, protests and boycotts as we face the continued brutality of the police force against young people of color, who end up dead instead of in jail. Not only people of color, but the majority are.
We are developing a network of organizations and advocates to form a national policy specifically aimed at redressing the systemic pattern of anti-black law enforcement violence in the US. We are demanding, that the federal government discontinues it’s supply of military weaponry and equipment to local law enforcement. We are advocating for a decrease in law-enforcement spending at the local, state and federal levels and a reinvestment of that budgeted money into the black communities most devastated by poverty in order to create jobs, housing and schools. This money should be redirected to those federal departments charged with providing employment, housing and educational services.” www.BlackLivesMatter.com
Dr. King, the exposure of the injustices via the internet is world wide. It is so hurtful when these police officers are not found guilty of murder, when the murder took place in front of millions of people.
We are still striving to do this non-violently, but the blind are still so blind. We have our demands and are voting and trying to work through the system. A lot of our friends are still silent. We are trying to help our White allies understand their privilege. We are tired of burying our children. Things have improved since the 1950s and 1960s but, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King! Your words still ring true in this day and time. We need your spirit with us, to help guide us, more than ever! Please stay near.
Martin Luther King Jr. holiday next Monday, January 20. I liked this interview:
In it MLK talks of the early progress … he talks of his boyhood experiences …. Such as: when he was a little kid his two best friends were white boys. At age 6, when MLK was a bit older and went over to their house to play with them, the adults there began to make excuses: No, they aren’t home. No, they can’t come out to play right now. Once a white woman in a department store slapped his face – said he had stepped on her foot (he didn’t). His mother, who was with him at the department store, was upset, went to look for the woman … She was gone.
This interviewer next turns to the bus boycotts. MLK says the bus drivers were often rude to the Black passengers and that often times Blacks would put their bus fare$ into the fare box at the front of the bus and then have to get off the bus and board the bus through the rear door! Or how the first 10 seats on the bus were always reserved for whites, so that even if there were no white people sitting in those front bus seats, Blacks still had to stand. They had to stand over empty seats!
This interview is powerful. Listen – HEAR MLK.
Worcester will have its MLK breakfasts and events this weekend and next Monday – this is GREAT! BUT WHERE ARE WE NOW WHEN IT COMES TO RACIAL JUSTICE IN WORCESTER?
City Manager Ed Augustus just made the economic development head of Worcester – Traynor – the creep who allegedly called a black man a f***n ni**er IN THE CITY HALL GARAGE – our TOP CITY OF WORCESTER LAWYER!! Traynor is replacing retiring head city solicitor Moore. There was no public investigation of Traynor’s alleged racial slur – no suspension, nothing – he GOT A PROMOTION! HIS DREAM JOB! … Also, several months ago: City Manager Ed Augustus said he WOULD OPEN UP HIRING PRACTICES IN WORC GOVT. That the city job searches would REALLY be open and that to combat systemic racism, he, the great and noble Ed Augustus, would do the right thing: Providing two job candidates were equal in their job qualifications, Ed would HIRE THE BLACK PERSON – AND NOT the white person or city hall insider. To break down our racist system …
Yeah, right, Ed. You’re so full of it! There are so few Black teachers working in the Worcester Public Schools. So few Black librarians working in the Worcester Public libraries! We get lip service from you and City Leaders – hypocrites who give yourselves and pals the jobs, the economic – and political power – in our city.
Worcester – Thousands of firemen and firewomen from all corners of America lined Temple and Green streets this early afternoon – six deep – to bid farewell to WFD fireman Lt. Jason Menard who died going above and beyond the call of duty last week while saving two lives in a fire on Stockholm Street. An American hero, he gave his life for theirs.
The hundreds and hundreds and hundreds!! of firemen honored their Lt. Menard through music, pageantry – and by bussing into Worcester to stand for two hours in the raw New England cold, a hint of drizzle always in the air, waiting, waiting for the casket set atop the fire engine, a casket covered in blue to solemnly pass before them to give the final salute … Yet their spirits were high! They were strong! – together!! – mitigating their loss through bonhomie! And sometimes swigs of beer from the bottles they got at the barrooms that line Green Street!
Before the procession came through, a gaggle of firemen (fire chiefs?) walked all the way down Green Street, in the middle of the street, inspecting their men who stood on the sidewalks on either side … and to order the men, in clipped tones of voice: “LOCK IT UP! LOCK IT UP!” The hundreds of firemen immediately fell into silent attention at the barked commands. They stood looking American: black, white, Latino, Italian, Vietnamese, Irish, gray haired, long locks, male, female, heavy, skinny …
Men in their navy blue dress firemen uniforms and white gloves hugging each other in the thin gray sunlight, slapping each others’ shoulders in the cold. The badges sewn on the sleeves of their coats and jackets signified where they were from: New York City, Baltimore, Boston, Millbury, Shrewsbury, Rhode Island, Washington state.
The final salute … crisp, in unison, to shout to Jason as he rode atop his wreath-bedecked fire engine: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU, brother! Thousands of us! You did not die in vain!!
Lots of minority WSC candidates on the ballot yesterday – and voters came out for them! … A new Quinsig Village polling spot – the new Blackstone River Visitors Center/museum…
How ironic that ol’ incumbent – Tracy O’Connell Novick- got reelected to the Worcester School Committee yesterday (all the Irish surnames running for Worcester School Committe did), and the first phony sentences out of her mouth were:
The community will be the priority!!!…
And…Strong outsider campaigns run, but incumbency is a tough nut to crack!!!
OF COURSE IT IS, YOU NUT Tracy!!!! Who better to know than you? When you were on the Worcester School Committee last go around and then Worcester Mayor and School Committee head Joe O’Brien WAS PUSHING FOR DISTRICT REPRESENTATION ON THE WORCESTER SCHOOL COMMITTEE, you voted against it!!
TRACY O’Connell Novick, YOU VOTED AGAINST CRACKING THE INCUMBENCY NUT! All the school committee members at that time did! No one joined Joe O’Brien in making the School Committee more inclusive, more representative of the people of our city! Reflecting minorities, folks – children – from our working class and poorer neighborhoods. People who see up close: the child hunger, teen pregnancy, health challenges, domestic violence and abuse, the lack of resources … AND ALL THE GREAT STUFF … ALL THE POTENTIAL! Let’s make the Worcester School Committee mirror our Woo City Council: 5 district members and 6 at large members.
Tracy, you live on Olean Street – on the city’s West Side. An added perk: you also live at the nature nook – Cascades – so you LIVE RENT FREE COURTESY OF THE TAXPAYERS, IN THE CUTE HOUSE THERE! Now you can make almost $15,000+ a year as a member of the Worcester School Committee, courtesy of the Worcester taxpayer
Why would you give up some of that entitlement by pushing for District Representation on the school committee – even though you said incumbency is a tough nut!
Doing the right thing means you may be off the school committee next time – it means new city candidates, new city voices, Woo folks from under-represented Worcester neighborhoods and communities WILL HAVE A CHANCE … It means they will get elected to the school commityee. The numbers, as you know, are there.
Why is running in a district make it easier to get elected? Because people are running in their neighborhoods and surrounding neighborhoods – folks know them, and they know up close and personal the challenges/issues of their communities. AND running a district campaign DOESN’T COST AS MUCH MONEY as city wide because you are running in your DISTRICT – not ALL of Worcester. Fewer signs, flyers, letters, etc.
DR is a great way to bring minorities … working moms and dads … the working class and poor – NEW VOICES – into our public school conversation – making CHANGES, VOTING FOR REAL CHANGES in our Worcester Public Schools. Most likely these new voices will be THE FOLKS WITH KIDS OR GRANDKIDS IN OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS!
So stop giving cheap politician lip service to what you denied the city schools, and the voters, several years ago, Tracy O’Connell Novick! You help stop STRONG, OUTSIDER/MINORITY SCHOOL COMMITTEE CANDIDATES from serving on the Worcester School Committee!
Inside my neighborhood’s visitor center/polling site – a history of the disenfranchised!! Working to/demanding they get their FAIR SHARE!
Yes, Blackstone River Road/Greenwood Street can get a little dirty…but ya gotta look beyond the refuse and dumped carpets to … read the signs! New places to vote today in my neighborhood – not at the church, which used to be the old QV Community Center:
We are asking you to vote for Joe (Petty): Re-elect Mayor Joseph Petty
And we are urging you to vote for the diverse and progressive City Council candidates we have been shoving down your electoral throats for two months!
SPECIAL NOTE: We are begging you to reject – NOT VOTE FOR – candidate DONNA COLORIO – the woman behind Worcester’s re-elect Trump cabal and a member of the nefarious Tea Party, Worcester branch. A candidate who can see good in President Donald Trump – a devil who should be in prison, not seated behind the Resolute Desk – must not be elected to help lead a diverse, urban, often challenging city like ours!
Donna Colorio is THE WRONG CHOICE! The scary thing: she could win a seat on our city council – sit in that big ol’ chair in the Levi Lincoln room soon to be vacated by long-timev City Councilor Konnie Lukes (who chose not to run for re-election)! During the preliminary election Colorio ran neck and neck with candidate/former city councilor Tony Economu. She could overtake him! … PLEASE, WORCESTER VOTERS! We are urging you to VOTE FOR neither candidate – VOTE FOR ETEL H! A NEW VOICE THAT WE NEED! Tony is nice but pointless. DONNA COLORIO IS CRAZY CONSERVATIVE – AND WILL HURT OUR CITY! VOTE ETEL! NEW, YOUNG, ENERGETIC, COMPASSIONATE! Etel is member of MOTHERS OUT FRONT, a grassroots women’s group that has clamored for safety, re: gas leaks by our city schools and in our neighborhoods. They have gone up against the behemoth gas co – and won! Etel is a mom who wants safer, more diverse Woo public schools! And neighborhoods! She CARES ABOUT OUR POOR AS WELL AS MIDDLE CLASS TAX PAYERS! She wants to include everyone in the city’s rebirth! VOTE ETEL for Worcester City Council!
Every November — World Vegan Month—compassionate, health-conscious and environmentally friendly individuals revel in the growing interest in vegan living. And this month, there’s even more reason to celebrate. Both The Economist and Forbes predicted that 2019 would be the Year of the Vegan, and their proclamations have pretty much been on the mark. Vegans have been sprouting up all over, as more and more people become aware of the ethical and ecological ramifications of animal agriculture, as well as the health hazards of eating animal-based foods.
According to Veganuary, a charity that inspires people to go vegan for January and throughout the year, a quarter of a million people in 190 countries pledged to go vegan in January 2019.
If you weren’t one of them — or you’re not already vegan — why not pledge to go vegan for World Vegan Month? You’ll improve your health, help stop animal suffering and combat climate change, all while expanding your culinary horizons. Researchers from Oxford Martin School believe that if everyone went vegan, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds, avoid 1.5 trillion dollars’ worth of climate-related damage, and save up to 8 million human lives (not to mention billions of animals) by 2050.
And you won’t be on your own if you give meat, eggs and dairy foods the boot. In 2017, 6% of Americans identified as vegan — an increase of 600% in just three years — and the number is likely even higher now. The new generation of “beefy” veggie burgers has been flying off supermarket shelves and restaurant griddles like the proverbial hot cakes. Americans spent $670 million on vegan meats from 2017 to 2018, and the food industry organization Dining Alliance found that sales of vegan meats in restaurants have increased by 268% over the past year. Sales will continue to skyrocket, according to UBS, a financial service company, which forecasts that the vegan meat market will grow by 28% a year and reach $85 billion by 2030.
A growing number of young people — including those who may be paying for their own meals by 2030 — have reason to rejoice this World Vegan Month. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the nation, began serving vegan meals in all of its schools in the 2018 – 19 school year. Other California schools, as well as schools in New York, Florida and Maine, have recently started offering vegan options, too.
Eating animal-based foods is old school. Even meat companies, including Hormel and Smithfield Foods—the largest pig-killing company in the world—have launched lines of vegan meats. There’s a vegan fast-food war going on, too, with well-known companies trying to win customers over by introducing meat-free meals. And it’s working. KFC sold out of Beyond Meat vegan chicken, which it recently tested at a KFC near Atlanta, in just five hours.
Subway offered a Beyond Meatball Sub (made vegan by forgoing the cheese) at select locations in October, Mexican food chain Del Taco recently joined Chipotle in offering vegan meat options, and UNO Italian restaurants just added a vegan menu, complete with the Beyond Burger and Daiya vegan cheese on its pizza.
And that’s not all. Las Vegas-based vegan butcher NoButcher opened its first brick-and-mortar store on October 19. It offers vegan turkey, bacon and pepperoni along with vegan pulled pork and Mediterranean grilled vegetable sandwiches.
America is clearly hungry for change. Heck, thinking about all these vegan foods has left me famished. I plan to plant myself at a vegan-friendly restaurant (or two) this month. How about you?
Graham, Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Home, located in – and serving – inner-city Worcester! For decades! CECELIA file photos: Rose T.
Peter Stefan, owner of Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Home in Main South, is being crucified by the City of Worcester and the State of Massachusetts for bodies left untreated in his funeral parlor! (AND BEING LAUDED BY THE COMMUNITY – ALL the Worcester County folks who have been helped by Peter – for his compassion!)
I mean no disrespect, but these CITY AND STATE LOSERS, through legal loopholes and general disdain for good deeds and kind hearts, HAVE NOT ALLOWED PETER TO DO HIS JOB – to JUST CREMATE THE REMAINS!, already! City of Worcester’s lawyers, led by head-hack DAVID MOORE, have sat on the paperwork they need to sign off on so Peter can cremate the bodies. The State of Mass keeps playing games with Peter, too – inspecting his funeral home and slapping him with injunctions BUT NOT ALLOWING HIM TO CREMATE THE BODIES! Just let Peter do his job! – lay to rest the unclaimed, probably homess, family-less, dead who have, sadly, been decomposing in body bags at the funeral home, for months. Governor Charlie Baker: Stop dismissing the tribulations of the poor – and help a man WHO IS TRYING TO HELP the indigent!
Remember the 1980s and the AIDS epidemic? When no one knew what the AIDS virus was all about? Well, none of the city’s funeral directors would touch the AIDS victims! Too afraid of catchin’ sonething from the bodies! ONLY PETER RESPECTFULLY EMBALMED AND BURIED/CREMATED the victims, the dead. Only he looked at them – and saw their suffering. And he welcomed their grief-stricken boyfriends, lovers and family members – into his funeral parlor for lovely, loving wakes and ceremonies. Filled with love – not hate. … The men (and women) who died of this new, scary illness, AIDS, were treated WITH DIGNITY and GRACE by Peter!
Remember all the homeless folks who have died in Worcester’s abandoned railroad box cars, with exploded propane containers by their sad, forgotten, burned beyond recognition bodies?! Well, Peter went down to the bowels of our city in the middle of winter and picked up the lost ones – and laid them to rest – with dignity and respect!
REMEMBER PETER’S charitable ways, WORCESTER CITY SOLICITOR DAVID MOORE👿👿?! And city council members!
WHO HAS PAID FOR the free podiatry clinic at the Worcester Senior Center? Year after year? “SAINT” PETER!
Who has helped Worcester’s lost, downtrodden and homeless for YEARS? Peter Stefan!
Who used to go to Nissan’s bakery and buy A TON OF DONUTS, BREAD, PIES AND OTHER GOODIES for the downtrodden and drunk/high homeless of the old PIP wet shelter, in Main South! And was best buds with exec. director Buddy B? For YEARS!! Worcester ICON Peter!! He is OLDER AND STILL NOT WISE to the scum-bag Worcester and Boston bureacrats’ games – head and paperwork shenanigans!
Peter has been the poor man and woman’s guardian angel for decades! Living Jesus’s gospel for decades – in a God-less world! But don’t worry! All of Worcester has rushed to Peter’s side! To defend him! They are: Singing his praises! Telling their Peter stories!
Worcester and Boston – sign the proper papers already so Peter, sensitive and compassionate, a city legend, can continue doing Jesus’s work for his community!
Imalay, her hubby and their children! photo submitted
As the holiday season approaches, many of us get ready to get into our end of the year routine. It’s almost religious the last three months of the year: we repeat what we do, usually taking out winter clothes while looking through last year’s holiday decorations.
Almost everyone celebrates Halloween, and there are people like myself who decide that the month of October isn’t just about Halloween. I guess in the eyes children Halloween is that one night where they can dress up as their idol or favorite hero to hunt for free candy. As for high school kids, the fun of Halloween comes from enjoying the thriller with friends attending haunted attractions or parties – candy is the last thing in a hormonal teen mind.
As a kid my mother used to get us our costumes ahead of time just to black mail us to be behave for the whole damn month of October!
As a kid, the month of October is just Halloween time. Once you become an adult, you realize that there are other things that get celebrated, like breast cancer awareness. The month of October celebrates many things from fluffernutter to hookah; most recently the nation has made progress on renaming Columbus Day into indigenous people day. It’s been a slow progress and many people are hoping as these changes occur that they are also made in the history lessons in our schools.
I’m stuck in a dilemma where I don’t see the point of celebrating a satanic holiday. But because it has become commercialized, I feel obligated to participate for the sake of my kids not feeling left out.
Reading this you’re probably thinking: she must be a Jehovah witness. But I am not! I say satanic because as the world keeps changing we have to recognize that Satanism is now known as a religion. Anywho!? I just see it as a waste of money to buy costumes for three kids that will only wear them once – and those costumes run up to $20 per costume! Coming from a mom of three I feel like the $60 I’m willing to give to a store can be more beneficial for my own debts.
What has been working for me is making a family movie night – having our own candy and snacks, taking the concept of costumes and making them into warm PJs. I have younger children so this has worked for me, but as they get older things change. Having a curfew or a good idea of your kids Halloween plans can be helpful for the older kiddos.
Have a safe and warm Halloween … Happy Candy Hunting!
“Collusion” a novel by Newt Gingrich and Pete Earley, by Harper Luxe, New York (2019, 512 pages).
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
When I first saw this book, I was drawn to the title (“Collusion”) and to one of the names on the byline: Newt Gingrich. I thought it was a defense of Donald Trump during the Mueller investigation. When I saw the words “A Novel” and, upon the strong recommendation of the librarian, I decided to take a chance and checked the book out.
Newt Gingrich is not my favorite politician. He approaches issues from the Trump right – I am on the other side. Yet Gingrich here has written a fantastic novel about a conflict between U.S. and Russian intelligence services. I couldn’t put it down. It is truly amazing that someone who supported Donald Trump could write a book like this!
The name Trump doesn’t appear in this book. The President is not portrayed here as a raving lunatic, sitting in his sun tanning booth, tweeting out insults at 3 a.m, and given to making bizarre statements.
This is a novel about a Russian secret police effort to set off a chemical weapon inside the U.S. Capitol building, with the help of a domestic American terrorist organization called Antifa. If you like spy versus spy stories, this novel is for you. Gingrich weaves into the tapestry of this counter-intelligence tale a surprising number of current issues: the ongoing war against terrorism, the opioid epidemic, and other issues fresh out of the daily newspapers.
But Gingrich’s mind appears to be mired in the 1980s cold war, an era seen by Republicans as the golden age of Reaganism, peace and prosperity. He dedicates the book to the journalists killed by Vladimir Putin; quotes Putin on the first page as saying the Cold War never ended; and concludes the novel with long lists of Putin’s victims who were killed since Putin emerged as a Russian strongman in the early 2000s.
Gingrich’s background as a former Speaker of the House and Congressman, as well as Washington DC insider, equipped him with the knowledge of how the intelligence agencies work, and he was able to draw into the novel an understanding of opioid addicts, cyber-warfare, and other modern technologies incorporated into the computer age. The reader can learn a lot from this book.
The White Hats
The Good Guys:
• Former Navy SEAL Brett Garrette. The supposed hero of this novel, Garrette became opioid-dependent when he was treated with pain killers after he was badly burned while conducting a raid into Cameroon to free hostages held by Boko Haram. He becomes an opioid and then heroin addict. He is depicted as putting suboxone tabs under his tongue while on stake-out. Nonetheless, Garrette’s disease surfaces at the worst times: he is often fighting both the Russians and his withdrawal symptoms from opiates simultaneously.
• CIA Director Harold Harris, who lies about Garrette’s episode in Cameroon. This leads to Garrette being dishonorably discharged after serving an 18-month jail term.
• U.S. Senator Cormac Stone, whose son was killed during the Cameron raid. Because of the way Harris misrepresented Garrette’s actions, Stone holds Garrette responsible for his son’s death. Stone is out for revenge, which clouds his judgment.
• Thomas Jefferson Kim, a cybersecurity expert who provides critical assistance to Garrette during the effort to stop the weapons of mass destruction event.
• Antifa member Aysan Rivera. This is the one thing I take issue with Gingrich on this book. There has been no credible evidence tying the real Antifa to the Russians. That Gingrich is portraying Antifa as useful idiots and Russian assassins speaks more to Gingrich’s fears than to his knowledge.
The Bad Guys
The bad guys are General Andre Borsovich Gromyko, the Russian President’s chief adviser; Russian President Vyachesian Leninovich Kalugin; and Deputy Russian foreign minister Yakov Prokoyevich Pavel.
The story starts off with Pavel’s daughter and son-in-law being assassinated by the Russian secret police using a highly toxic poison, supposedly by Gromyko acting through the FSB, the Russian secret service. Pavel then announces to the CIA his desire to defect with his grandson; the grandson is his only remaining family member. What follows is a nail-biting book of twists and turns sprawled out over 500 pages. Never once did the reviewer feel bored by what he was reading. The book ends on a surprising note that I am not going to reveal here!😉