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Waiting for a bus

By Rosalie Tirella

There he was, looking like something straight out of a Charlie Chaplin movie: a black and white pit bull tied to a bus stop in Green Island’s Millbury Street. Medium built, almost slight, bow legged and wearing a torn, thin, orange sweat shirt that had obviously been worn by a guy when it was in much better shape. There stood the pitbull on this cold autumn day, tied to a bus stop, no room to turn around, lie down etc cuz there was only two feet of leash between him and the bus stop sign. If he had to piss it would have to be on himself. His two front paws were in the front sleeves of the old sweatshirt. The sleeves had been cut, tailored to fit the dog.

The little pit was oblivious to the cars, the people, the city life roiling before him. And believe me when I say Canal District or no Canal District Millbury Street still roils. It did when my mom worked there for 30 years and my sisters and I hung out at the diners and shops there after school, waiting for her to end her day at the dry cleaners, and it roils today as the drug deals go down, the boa constrictor s (really! ) are found blue from cold in the gutter and men and women on the edge try to get through another day.

The pitbull at the bus stop, like all pitbulls, radiated his loyalty, tenacity, stoicism. But he looked funny in a sad way as he waited at the bus stop in that oversized shabby sweatshirt – staring at the neighborhood restaurant/ bar 20 yards away. It was 3 p.m. He had been standing like that since 10 a.m

An old woman from the seniors housing project across the street flung open her sixth floor window and stuck herself half out. I’M CALLING THE POLICE, she screamed, very melodramatic now that she had an audience, me and my gal pal, on the sidewalk below. I’M CALLING THE POLICE. THAT POOR DOG HAS BEEN LIKE THAT SINCE MORNING.

My friend, who lives on Millbury Street, jumped in, just as loudly: It’s like this every day! That poor dog stands like that right there every day!!!

What? I said, still trying to get my bearings because things happen so fast in the inner city. I had just popped over to give my friend a cookbook!

Clearly, we would not be talking carrot cake today.

We would be talking, in the middle of Millbury Street, animal abuse. Neglect. Pain. The usual fucking depressing shit that so often, too often, is the stuff impoverished neighborhoods are made of.

This has been happening all week, my pal said.

He can’t even lie down, I said. The lead is too short.

My pal ran into her building to call the cops.

But as soon as she disappeared and I got back into my car, I noticed a woman, in her late 30s, a tanned, weather beaten woman, yet very beautiful, with long black hair and carrying two plastic bags filled with what I think was clothing, go to the pitbull and untie him and lead him off. She, like the pitbull, was wearing old clothes. She, like the pitbull, felt “street.”

The dog walked by her side, nervously but obediently. Sitting quietly in my car, I could see, because they were only two feet away, that the dog was quit thin under his sweatshirt. His paws scarred. He walked with a slight limp even though he was young.

My heart broke for the both of them. I thought maybe the dog’s sweatshirt had once been yhe woman’s who had such a beauty despite the brown, leathery skin. A homeless street woman, I thought to myself. And I thought I saw her being dropped off on Millbury Street, saw her get out of a car.

My brain began spinning the back story: a street woman being dropped off by a john going to fetch her dog, her one true friend. A former junky just comming back from Merrick Street where she got her dose of methadone at Piedmont’ s methadone clinic. An abused woman being dropped off home after working the day shift at Dunkins. The money she makes she saves for a new apartment, away from her lover who beats the shit out of her. Right now she is couch surfing in Green Island.

I drove off when the woman and pitbull walked by me, and a few seconds later I called my pal who was now in her apartment.

DON’T CALL THE POLICE, I said. I THINK THE DOG BELONGS TO THAT WOMAN. MAYBE SHE’S GOT NO PLACE TO KEEP HIM WHEN SHE’S DOING WHAT SHE’S DOING.

THAT DOG COULD BE THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS TO HER!

My pal squelched my sappy narrative with: NO WAY, ROSE. Then she told me the pitbull belongs to the guy who works in the Millbury Street restaurant/ bar. That the guy just got out of jail. That last year he had another pitbull that was “vicious” and had to be put down by Animal Control. She said he treated his pits like shit.

My gal pal is great but sometimes her inner city stories

reflect her fears, her demons, her needs…

What was THE TRUTH? How best to help a malnourished pitbull tethered to an innercity bus stop? A sad, dirty, possibly sick pit wearing a tattered orange sweatshirt. A dog left to stand, STAND, for four hours in the cold, hence the sweat shirt. Or was it to cover up wounds/scars? Looking comical with its white paws, delicate paws, jutting through the sleeves of that orange sweatshirt, the body of which hung low, almost touching the pavement, as the pitbull and the woman walked down Millbury Street. Like a clown.

Pitbulls are genetically tailored to be aggressive with dogs. You have to really work with them to make them ok with other canines. And sometimes it never happens. But they are great with people. Fantastic with their families. I read somewhere they were bred to be so tractable with folks cuz when they were in the middle of a bloody fight in the fighting pit and an owner wanted to extricate his dog from the bloodbath, he needed a dog who would allow him to pick him up, grab him, pull him out of the fight. The American pitbull type dog of the early twentieth century was smaller also, making it easier for owners to pull them out of the fight pit. This dog on Millbury. Street seemed a throwback to that era. Loyal, stoic, obedient, focused on his masters.

So. Today I will try to write a happy ending to this story. I will meet with some friends and try to come up with a few bags of basic dog food. Big bags of Purina. I will take the cozy, pretty green plaid sweater I bought Jett, my husky mix, and put it in a gift bag, along with one of Jett’s leashes and collars. Maybe I’ll put in two or three collars. Jett has about 13 collars , a real woof wardrobe. He wears his collars with his usual high spirited state of mind, but he hates sweaters and cries like a two year old human baby when I put them on him. They may as well go to his distant cousin, the Millbury Street pitbull. I will probably throw in a blanket, too.

Then I’ll go to Green Island with my doggie goodies and butt my nose in where it has no business being.

Cuz that’s what we Green Island Grrrls do.

Sweet! (got this email re: our InCity Times website yesterday!)

“Nice site”

Rosalie,

Just wanted to tell you I stumbled across your website while looking for stories yesterday on Spag’s, one of my great childhood memories. Started reading and just wanted to let you know I found it engrossing. I think hyperlocal sites are the future of journalism and you seem to have a good handle on what it should be. Good read, good coverage, good stuff.

Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter

CommonWealth magazine/MassINC

Boston

On the road!!!

By Rosalie Tirella

That’s me (below) in my shack (in my bathroom) in Quinsig Village! Just last week! Heading out to do InCity Times stuff! As you can see, the rag has kept me fairly trim – lost another five pounds this spring, thanks to runnin’ ICTimes and my high-energy Husky mix, Jett, who always needs to be walked.

We will be celebrating InCity Times’ (the newspaper’s) 12’th anniversary next month! Not this issue, but the next! I THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART! It is still soooo wonderful to drive around the city I love, meeting people I love, putting together a paper I love! I relish the smiles and the mischievous grins I get whenever I put down a stack of  ICTs! You get me, like a good friend or cousin would! Validation from so many folks who love my columns on my mom, our stories, our perspective. And nothing beats hitting the streets of WOO and getting: “Jeez! You’re Rosalie?! You look nice! Much nicer than, um, than – ” “Than some of my columns?!” I interject, grinning. Some of my readers expect me to be this huge person, with this huge, scary dog! Then they meet me and Jett and are pleasantly surprised!

This website has been around for around four years and is a blast (for me)! Love posting my fave songs for you! As you can tell, I am a frustrated hippie musician!

Just checked the Googleanalytics site (don’t check it very often) and learned this website has 1,800 or so unique readers! This makes me feel good, too! InCity Times’ perspective – out there proud, a tad pugilistic, but drizzled with da love!

More hell for the animals of Ringling Bros. Circus! Please, Mr. President, help them!

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

Britain’s last remaining “circus elephant,” Annie, recently packed her trunk and went to live her final years on hundreds of acres of rolling lawns on a country estate. Her retirement came after the release of undercover video footage showing that circus workers kicked and thrashed her and jabbed her in the face with a pitchfork. Annie is almost 60 years old and has spent her life in a circus, which, for elephants, means “in chains.” The look on her face as she was forced to pose with the circus owner is enough to break any kind person’s heart.

Meanwhile, Ringling Bros. is still dragging its “beast wagons” around the U.S.

Anyone who cares about animals should stay away from this, the “Saddest Show on Earth.”

Three elephants who are traveling with Ringling – Karen, Nicole and Sara – suffer from what veterinarians say is chronic lameness and other problems, including arthritis, cracked toenails, which make putting weight on their feet painful, and scarring on their chins, the result of being struck many times by bullhooks — weapons resembling fireplace pokers with a metal hook at one end. Forty-two-year-old Karen also has a type of tuberculosis that is communicable to humans. She was banned from entering Tennessee earlier this year, but other states have failed to take similar action, putting children at risk and surely exacerbating the stress on Karen’s immune system.

Pop star Pink has written to President Obama, urging him to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture to act to stop circus cruelty. She included with her letter a copy of the 16-page complaint that PETA has filed with the USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) detailing three cases of egregious animal abuse by Ringling.

The incidents are shocking.

Riccardo, an 8-month-old baby elephant, had to be euthanized after breaking both his legs while being put through a rigorous “training” regimen.

Clyde, a lion, baked to death in a boxcar when Ringling refused to stop the train — simply because it was running late — to cool him off and give him water during a long journey through the Mojave Desert.

Angelica, another elephant, was beaten by one of her handlers, despite the fact that she was chained and could not move.

These are all violations of federal law and need to be acted upon.

In 2006, the USDA assured then-Sen. Obama, who had contacted the agency on behalf of his constituents, that if violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) were found, prosecution would follow. The agency’s own investigators found AWA violations and recommended enforcement action, but nothing happened.

In the case of Riccardo, Ringling employees were quick to say that the baby pachyderm broke his legs while playing and that he hadn’t begun training, although it was later revealed in a lawsuit over beatings inflicted with bullhooks that Riccardo had in fact been undergoing a training program and had had ropes tied to his legs and trunk when he fell.

In the case of Clyde, a former Ringling lion handler described in an affidavit how Ringling tried to deceive the USDA by installing a sprinkler system inside the boxcar in which Clyde perished after the fact. According to USDA investigators, Ringling also refused to hand over crucial evidence, even after receiving a subpoena.

There is much more, but the key issue is whether our new OGC General Counsel Ramona E. Romero will do the right thing. As Pink points out, it is high time that the USDA made good on its promise to protect animals used and abused under the big top. Elephants may be the symbol of the Republican Party, but people of goodwill on both sides of the aisle should stick up for these sorely abused animals.

Ingrid E. Newkirk is the president and founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Yes! You can leave a comment at our ICT website!

By Rosalie Tirella

We’ve heard some grumbling about not being able to post comments on this website. I called my web people and they said not true! They explained to me that if you want to leave a comment after reading an ICT story, you must first:

* click on the title of the story

* that click will get you the ICT story and comment box and the end of the story

* next, you must register at Word Press

* after you register, you can leave your comment, which will still be read (by moi) prior to posting

Even though our blogger commentators are very different from our InCity Times newspaper letter writers (ICT newspaper readers/writers are a different group, totally – they dig the paper and often write lengthier pieces on subjects that matter to them. Blogger types tend to carp/be critical/play gotcha … .), yet it’s still good to get feedback.

Hey, exercise your First Amendment rights, guys and gals! The filmmaker Michael Moore gave his nemesis – a guy who has an-anti Michael Moore website – $12,000 so the blogger didn’t have to choose between running his anti-Morre website and paying for his wife’s cancer treatments. Moore is one of my heroes. So in honor of Mike M. … And if your comment is interesting, we will run it in InCity Times.