Category Archives: Blogging

New Digital Images–A Traditional Painter Aims for the 21st Century

Digital Painting, Plum Island Spring, Mary Baker © 2014

Plum Island Spring, Mary Baker © 2014

Jeff Ives, the husband of Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, did the nicest thing.  He put the first four images of the new digital body of work by yours truly, up on Tumblr. I was very moved.

Way, way, way back in December 2012 I wondered out loud on The Newburyport Blog, if traditional painting was going the way of the buggy whip and the typewriter. And way back then, I decided to learn “digital stuff,” and have come up with, what I hope, is the first 4 images of a new digital body of work.

Although The Newburyport Blog got a recent mobile device friendly facelift, my traditional art website languishes in a less well coded world, soon, one day, to be updated with the new digital images.

For the moment, this new art foray into the 21st century, by moi, a traditional painter for so many decades, I don’t even want to say, is on Facebook, and the new images as they get created can, for the moment, be found on the “New Work “Album here (and if you would “Like” the Facebook page here that would be most awesome!!).

Editor’s Note:  My apologies, my hosting server redirected the blog to another place, it has now been corrected.  Thank you so much for your patience.

Have an Opinion and Make People Angry

I came across something to the effect on Facebook of, “Want to make people angry? Have an opinion. Wait.”

This is now my 8th year writing The Newburyport Blog, and I’ve had lots of opinions, on lots of things, and pissed a lot of people off at one time or another. I piss off “Conservatives,” “Natives/Townies,” and, yes, “Progressives.” Conservatives and Townies have one way of reacting, and Progressives have another, equally pesky, way of reacting.

Conservatives and Townies will call me things like “vicious” and “foul,” send me stormy emails, or leave me ranting Facebook messages ALL IN CAPS!!!!!  And accuse me of outrageous felonies and misdemeanors, in print, to the point where I might have a very good case for suing them for libel.  However, since I am among a whole string of fairly illustrious folks that have been accused of libelous actions, I’ve decided to let that one go, at least for now.

Progressives, on the other hand, seem to take to the phone.  I’ll get long and very “intense” phone calls, and when I say, “I think I’ll hang up now,” they call back and continue. An attempt to reduce me to tears is sometimes pursued, and not to rule out possible threats of lawsuits. And sometimes follow-up, guilt-trip emails from young children and college students, in an attempt to get me to change my mind about whatever.

The people who don’t pull these various and sundry maneuvers, interestingly enough, are our local politicians.  Either their possible displeasure is left up to surrogates, or they have developed a thick enough skin, having been in “the game,” to know that people having opinions about things, issues, campaigns and candidates, is part of the democratic process. It’s called free speech.

(And P.S. whether it’s a Conservative, townie or a Progressive that pulls one of these vagaries, believe me, I do not forget.)

Miss Manners has a Few Things to Say on her Facebook Page

Miss Manners, moi, has a few things to say on her Facebook page.

The tone of this election season (don’t even get me started about an illegal, destructive and anonymous flyer and robo-call that happened this weekend) has been so off the charts, that I sat and thought long and hard before putting up the most recent Facebook post about the NRA and the Waterfront. How to make it so that there wasn’t a collective meltdown, uncouth, brawl. Passion about issues is one thing, complete un-civility on the part of the electorate is quite another. It can happen other places, but not on my Facebook page.

And as for setting a “tone” for the upcoming election, the “male” who survived the mayoral primary, has, in my books, done one lousy job. Maybe “chivalry,” in this day an age, is way too much to ask for, even, apparently, in a local election. And I guess being a “gentleman” would be completely out of the question. But being that “uncouth,” as someone who would like to be the leader of Newburyport, our small New England city–you have got to be kidding me.

To show up at a press conference, that one would suppose to have been agreed upon, a press conference that was, I thought, supposed to be about denouncing the underhanded, destructive, anonymous and illegal political tactics that took place over the weekend. To then say that the press conference didn’t seem necessary, and use the opportunity to bash one’s opponent… if I was mayoral candidate Dick Sullivan’s mother, I would have taken him by the ear, not caring how old either one of us might be, and given him a good whoop’n.

Some of the candidates this electoral season have set a tone of “classiness.” Mayoral candidate Dick Sullivan, has not been one of them.

I digress.

So what do I, the editor of The Newburyport Blog, do about setting some boundaries on The Newburyport Blog’s Facebook page?

As of this morning a “comment policy” is now in place:

“If you do choose to comment on the Newburyport Blog’s Facebook page, please be civil, polite (which could be perceived as a radical concept), and constructive, otherwise your comment will be deleted (even if it slightly crosses the line) and you will be banned (something I really would not like to do); you may (or may not) get a “warning” if I feel that “banning” from this Facebook page is warranted. (How about that for a disclaimer!!) Mary Baker Eaton, Editor of The Newburyport Blog.

(One of the ways to make your comment “polite,” is to use “I,” as in “I feel that this would….” instead of “You,” as in, “You are…” or to have no preposition at all, which can come across as not being “polite.” )”

And I, Miss Manners, mean it.

We Didn’t Have the Green Thing Back Then

I pissed off a lot of people with the “Please Leave My Plastic Bags Alone” post.  I was even asked not to write anything more about the subject (democracy, free speech anyone??), so, at least for now, technically I won’t.

This has been making the rounds on the internet for months and months and months (the source unfortunately is unknown – wish I knew!!), so if you haven’t seen it…

We Didn’t Have the Green Thing Back Then

“Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Milk Bottles, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Milk Bottles, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?”

Baby It’s Cold Outside and Cafe au Lait

Pretty fancy, huh, “Cafe au Lait?”  But really, cafe au lait.

Snowblower

Snowblower

So today we actually get snow. I feel we are blessed, because at least at my house, there is only the 3 of the 5 inches promised, and my wonderful neighbor appears in my driveway with their snowblower.  I have named this wonderful beast (the snowblower, not my neighbor), “Horatio Horn Blower.”  Neither my neighbors nor Horatio seem to mind the moniker.  I was told last night that Horatio, waiting patiently in the shed all summer, was in very good spirits, and in working order. This made me happy.

However, even with Horatio’s heroic undertakings “vis-a-vis” (getting very “european” today) my driveway, there is still shoveling to be done.  And I am glad that it is only 3 inches, because I am not in winter shoveling shape.

I come in out of not being in snow shoveling shape, after an hour or so of cleaning up my dwelling, from snow and ice, with my trusty, at least, 10 year old, ground down, well loved, in need of a replacement, snow shovel.

And I’m starving and want something warm and yummy to drink, but have no hot cocoa in the house, and do not want to go out in search of any.

One cup coffee maker

One cup coffee maker

And my mind wanders back to my mother, and a trip she and my father took me on to France at the impressionable age of somewhere around 14.  I vaguely remember drinking something warm and yummy and very grownup, at the time, called “Cafe au Lait.”

And I bless the World Wide Web and its recipe making capabilities.

I get out my way older than my ancient shovel, one person Melitta one cup coffee brewer, make a strong half cup of coffee with cinnamon and nutmeg added to the grounds (feeling very creative here), fill the rest with milk and a little vanilla extract, and nuke the whole thing in the microwave.

coffee or in this case "Cafe au Lait"

coffee or in this case "Cafe au Lait"

My mother and father’s sprits seem to fill the room, as if I am suddenly 14 and in France with them again, and it is a good feeling, plus my spur of the moment cafe au lait tastes awesome.

And then on the World Wide Web, I find a year’s wrap-up by one of my favorite writers, Dave Barry.  It is good to laugh and to have things put into perspective, drink cafe au lait with such fond memories of my Mom and Dad.  And Dave Barry’s awesome year end “wrap-up” can be found here.  (I’m thinking that “WHAP” may make its way to the Newburyport Blog – you gotta read Dave Barry.)

Plagiarism – Photoshop Take Off

Photoshop Flight

Photoshop Flight

I never, ever would have considered using other people’s images that are in the public domain in my art work, it would be plagiarism for me.  Plagiarism – I would have felt it to be “immoral,” “originality” the only acceptable device. But blogging, doing content for people’s websites, the World Wide Web has radically and slowly changed my whole idea of how to use images. Before starting the Newburyport Blog I never knew about stuff/images that are in the “public domain.”  I now bless the public domain, it makes what I do here and what other people do all across the web a whole lot more interesting. So why not use images that are in the public domain in my own art work? These are images I could never take, either because they are in a geographical location that I would never get to, or with equipment I would never buy.

Photoshop Bird 3 (thanks Bobby)

Photoshop Bird 3 (thanks Bobby)

And photoshop (see earlier entry on fine art, painting in particular, going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter), what one can do in photoshop in a few minutes would take me years to do as a painter. It’s irresistible. So I’ve started experimenting. And how fun!! Like being in a candy store for this artist.  A photoshop take off, a lovely New Year’s present for moi.

Newburyport LHD Political Reality

I am now going to piss off Newburyport preservationists!  Ooops!

The final report of the Newburyport LHD Study Committee (LHD = Local Historic District) is absurdly fair.  The five members did backflips to accommodate feedback from the community and from the Newburyport City Councilors. Backflips, cartwheels, you name it, right from the get go. And despite all of that, on an up and down vote it’s not going to fly. That’s just the existing political reality.

The leading member of the “Say No to LHD” group, its heart and soul, who got up in the first informational meeting a year a go, disrupting the entire meeting and storming out, vowing to stop the LHD, has done a remarkable job. It’s definitely a “Wow.” It appears that the end most certainly justified the means. Trashing people’s reputations and character, personal attacks, threats of law suits (most recently in a comment in the Daily News), presenting information early last winter (good tactic starting early) that was and is simply not true, has worked. Congratulations.

The final version of the LHD ordinance has finally gone to the Newburyport City Council, a meeting will take place this Thursday, October 25, 2012, Newburyport City Hall at 7PM.

As I see it, the political realities. (The boundaries of the proposed LHD are High Street, the gateway to the city, and downtown Newburyport from Winter Street to Federal Street.)  Lob off the North End of High Street at the Kelly School, and put those folks out of their misery.

There is unanimous support along the South End of the “Ridge” to Willis Lane (which is roughly across the street from Fruit Street).  Shorten High Street from Willis Lane to the Kelly School, maybe include St Paul’s Church on the other side (but, good grief, don’t cross the street!).

And protect downtown Newburyport.  After all that HUD Federal money, please, does anyone dispute that the restoration of downtown Newburyport is the reason that Newburyport has become the thriving place that it is today?  Really, not to protect downtown, good grief.

When Governor Deval Patrick came for a visit at Cafe Di Siena (February 2010), I asked Newburyport City Councilor Tom O’Brien if he would vote for the Newburyport LHD, and his response (this was before all of the hullabaloo), “Of course Mary, there’s been too many tear downs.”  This statement was witnessed by Newburyport City Councilor Barry Connell, who with a wink and a smile by both Newburyport city councilors, pretended to write down this vote for the LHD by Councilor Tom O’Brien on the back of his hand.

So why not have have a “No Demolition” zone/overlay for the entire Newburyport Historic District, that would also include “interior demolition for exploratory purposes,” which, for example, lead to the unfortunate creation by a developer on Pine Street, for which the neighbors are suing the developer and the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals.

Can the Newburyport City Council come up with the equivalent of the “Wisdom of Solomon?”  Can they do it in one night?? And what will they say, now that they get the chance have to have a say.  It will be really fascinating to watch.

Walking with Dogs in the Greater Newburyport Area

First it was learning about the Happy Chickens blog, and now learning about a blog about dogs – “Walking with Dogs in Greater Newburyport, (off leash experiences in the Newburyport area),” by Kim Kudym.  Kim’s blog is an an exploration of the area’s gorgeous places that can be shared with a canine friend. How fun!

Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym

Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym, press image to enlarge

And how fun not only for dog owners, but anyone who would like to explore the area, with dogs, children, family, friends or just on your own.  Very cool!

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym, press image to enlarge

Kim has started to post photos of outings in various places. Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, and Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury – and they just want to make you go out there and start exploring!!  There are also many Newburyport favorites including Cooper North Pasture and the Little River Nature Trail Newburyport, to name a few.

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym, press image to enlarge

A great addition to the Newburyport blogosphere!!  Thanks Kim!!

Gluten Free BLT – Bacon Bowls – No Bread

Bacon Bowl - Megan Reardon, of "not martha"

Bacon Bowl, courtesy of Megan Reardon, of "not martha"

In my web-searching for nothing in particular, I came across this “thing,” this amazing “thing” that I’ve never heard about before.  And for folks who are looking for gluten free stuff (or just anyone), well how cool is this, a BTL bowl, a bacon bowl, a BLT without bread!!

I encountered this amazing “thing,” bacon bowl on a blog called “not martha.”  And from what I can make out the idea has zipped around, (I am late to the bacon bowl world, but I bet lots of other folks may be late to the bacon bowl world too!), but it looks like, from what I can make out, it all started with Megan Reardon, or “not martha,” (not Martha Stewart??).

This is not my photo, it belongs to, and is courtesy of Megan Reardon, who lives in Seattle, and writes “not martha.”  To learn how to make these amazing bacon bowl wonders press here.

George is Grinning and Orren Fox

George

George

George is grinning, huge wide smile, and those of you who have been readers of the Newburyport Blog for any length of time know that George is usually a glum sort of fellow, even with his passionate romance to Georgiana Tadpole (if you really would like to know about any of this frog stuff please press here).

Instead of telling the readers of the Newburyport Blog what is making George smile so hugely right off the bat (although he’s not smiling in the picture, I couldn’t get one of him smiling), I’m going to start at the beginning.

Way, way back (“in the day,” I’m not sure if it’s that far back) in 1990 I painted a whole bunch of paintings for a major New York show, oil on panel, and the panels warped (I used the wrong kind of panel – never did it again).  Panic city, you betcha.  I went to what was then Wendover Woodworks on Liberty Street in Newburyport, and one of the owners, Andy Willemsem saved my sorry soul by making some absolutely gorgeous frames that solved the warping problem and saved yours truly.  It was then I met Andy’s partner in this wonder furniture creating place, Henry Fox.

About 15 years ago, wandering around my Newburyport neighborhood, I ran into Henry Fox, who told me the harrowing tale of his son, born 3 months early with a host of medical problems who had been saved by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MassGeneral in Boston, and had just been moved to one of the more local hospitals.  I later shared this story with other families who had critically ill new borns, including my most wonderful neighbors, who found themselves and their newborn son also at MassGeneral. (The young man is now happily running around our neighborhood.)

Andy Willemsen moved on and Henry Fox named his wonderful furniture business after his two sons, “Fox Brothers.” (Still there on Liberty Street in Newburyport, still amazing.)

Fast forward to 2012, yesterday, a “new” or “new” to me, George and I being 5 years late to the story (not quite as bad as my late arrival to the David Sedaris planet, see earlier post, but not so good)  local Newburyport blog called “Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs,” by a fifteen year old young man called Orren Fox.

I’m thinking Fox?? Fox?? Henry Fox?? The timing’s right.

And sure enough this blog is written by Henry’s son Orren, the one in intensive care 15 years ago.  How cool is that, but it gets so much better.

Scrolling down the blog’s sidebar the young man has been interviewed/written up by the Huffington Post, NPR, Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe to name a few, and has been to the White House, March 7, 2012,  for “Know Your Farmer Event.”

I’m beginning to join George in grinning from ear to ear about this young chicken farmer and organic food activist.

“Margaret Mead would have loved Orren.  A soulful and gifted young man who has done more to help make a positive impact by 15 than most folks do in a lifetime.” From Do Lectures.

And Orren has added bees, in “Bee Happy” – check it out here.

AND Orren has serendipitly gone into business with his brother Will (with a little help from Dad) making “FoxBoys” longboards, skateboards in the most glorious shape, a little like a boat, read and see all about them here.

And Orren Fox is so media savvy as to make grown “social media” folks weep – along with the Happy Chickens blog there are the Facebook pages that one actually enjoys looking at and reading, and twitter accounts.  But it may be in the blood because his Mom, who gave birth to him all those many 15 years ago, is Libby Delana, the founding partner of Newburyport’s Mechanica, the next generation branding firm.

So if you are discouraged by the news or local or federal politics, life in general, go investigate Orren Fox, a young man who transcends the sustainable movement.  It doesn’t matter if you are dark “green,” light “green,” in-between or orange; right wing, left wing, moderate or independent.  When you read about this fantastic story, you like George, will be grinning from ear to ear and doing a dance in the end zone of your choice.

Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) as a Musical

I’m liking this whole Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD) mess as a musical (see previous post).

It could open with a Tom Salemi, one of Newburyport’s esteemed bloggers, character singing a solo, “Keep it Classy” (based on Tom’s great essay, “Take the Bagels, Leave the Petition,”on Newburyport’s LHD in Newburyport Today).

The stage is dark except for Tom’s character,  and then in the background, lights come up come slowly, we have two ladies in front of an establishment handing out fliers.  Their musical number is called “Fines, Fines, the LHD will Bankrupt You.”

And huddled at the front of the stage are preservationists (Newburyport preservationists tend in general to be meek and mild, “fierce” is not an adjective I would give to most Newburyport preservationist. “Fierce” goes good with some of the the anti-LHD folks, but not most preservationists, so that’s why they are huddling).  Lights come up slowly on them, and their musical number is, “It’s not True, It’s not True, It’s a Lie.” (Clearly this will be an ensemble piece.)

So Tom’s character is singing “Keep it Classy,”  while the two anti LHD women are singing “The LHD will Bankrupt You”, and the Newburyport preservationist are singing “It’s not True, It’s a Lie.”  And then everyone freezes, you know the way they do on stage.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

And what I’m picturing here is having someone dressed as Mark Twain, maybe with a sign hanging across their chest so the audience will get it, walks on stage, spot light on him, everyone else is dimmed out.  Doesn’t sing, just looks at the audience and says, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

The Mark Twain character walks off, and the Tom Salemi character sings one last  line of “Keep it Classy?” with a question mark in his voice, and then the lights fade out on all the characters. (Irony here, how elitist!!)

First possible scene of the new possible Broadway hit, “LHD-Bombshell,” (still a working title-the “Smash” thing again, see previous post).

Tom Salemi’s Latest Posts

I like the last two posts over at Tom Salemi’s Newburyport Posts.

The first one  “Give it Time,” on Jared Eigerman’s immensely sane Letter to the Editor in the Newburyport Daily News.

Our hope is that the councilors can cut through the noise and emotion and debate the pros and cons of the LHD concept rationally.”

And Tom’s second one today, “Wasn’t them” the decisive response in today’s Newburyport Daily News to what Tom labels “one of the oddest letters of the LHD debate,” which, as he points out, got 10 comments, and Tom wonders:

“Ah, the end of Anontyranny. Anonymousity?

Still working on it….”

A New Blog in Town

There’s a new blog in town. The NRA Today (Newburyport Redevelopment Authority).

The very first entry says:

The next few months promise to be exciting time for the city. With the arrival of spring comes an opportunity to complete the renewal of the city’s waterfront, creating a space for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

As the process unfolds, we’ll post details here allowing residents to chart our progress. We’ll keep an update list of our meetings and hearings with the hope that you’ll attend and share your thoughts and hopes for the two central pieces to Newburyport’s historic water front.

If you’re unable to attend our meetings please examine the minutes to our past meetings. They’re compiled on City Hall’s web site. You’ll find a link to the minutes and our meeting agendas to the right.”

NRA land c 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, press to enlarge.

NRA land c. 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, press to enlarge.

And in the background of the new NRA blog there is a very cool photograph of downtown Newburyport, NRA land c. 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury (press the image to enlarge).  You can see all the buildings that existed before the demotion that took place in 1968.  If you look real closely you can see where Bossy Gillis’ gas station is still standing (see previous post), next to the firehouse.

(If you download the photograph, would you make sure to give the Historical Society of Old Newbury credit. Thank you.)

Content Syndication and SEO at The Newburyport Blog

George looks at me and says, “Dahling…”

“Dahling” George? “Dahling?” First it was “Oy Vey,” and now it’s “Dahling.”

The frogs pow-wow around my computer.

The frogs pow-wow around my computer.

The “Oy Veh” thing was suspect enough for me and the readers of the Newburyport Blog that your wonderful Newburyport “pedigree,”  George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall, might be suspect.  But what in the world has the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog been watching? (And, really, do buttoned up old Yankees [not many buttoned up old Yankees around these days, at least they seem to be dwindling here in Newburyport], say “Dahling,” I don’t think so.)

George and the twins pow-wow around my computer.  They point out to me that another site  is getting a whole lot of credit for stuff that I write on my blog, even images, good grief.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the Newburyport Blog going out the window.

George rolls his eyes at me and continues, “Dahling, how could you have known? Stop beating yourself up.”

(George has obviously been watching some sort of combination of Dr. Phil and Bubbles Devere [aka Matt lucas], good grief!)

George, I’m not “beating myself up,” so get a grip. These folks could not have been nicer.  They wanted to promote the Newburyport Blog, and put at least, count’m, 5 links back to the blog on every post they syndicated!  Who could ask for more than that!!

But what do do.  With some sadness, I get in touch with these kind folks, and ask them if they would take all the content down that is from the Newburyport Blog. Sigh. And maybe Google will sort it all out in a week or so, and Google would realize that, moi and the Newburyport Blog writes this stuff.

The twins, aspiring political consultants for The Newburyport Blog

The twins, aspiring political consultants for The Newburyport Blog

“You could have done your homework, you know.” Say the Twins (aspiring political consultants to the Newburyport Blog).

“Say what?”  I say, and am in a little bit of a huff. Twerpy little frogs!!

But they are right. And this is from Google itself (which I had never seen before).

“Syndicate carefully: If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.”

Who knew. I would feel weird asking someone not to index (i.e. having their stuff show up on Google etc.) stuff on their sight, even if it was my stuff. And from a technical point of view, it could be mighty hard, especially if folks would be using a blogging software like WordPress.

So Google puts one in one weird dilemma.

Newburyport Postcards of Wolfe Tavern

State Street, Wolfe Tavern in the foreground and the YMCA below. Press image to enlarge.

State Street, Wolfe Tavern in the foreground and the YMCA below. Press image to enlarge.

In chit-chatting on The Newburyport Blog about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD), the subject of buildings that used to exist in downtown Newburyport comes up.

One of the literally gaping holes in downtown Newburyport, is the parking lot on the corner of Harris and State Streets where the Wolfe Tavern once existed.

And I wasn’t sure when the Wolfe Tavern was demolished, but in doing some research it was demolished by its owner in the fall of 1953. Real late.  Wow, I thought it was much earlier.

Postcard of the Wolfe Tavern, Newburyport, MA.  Press to enlarge.

Postcard of the Wolfe Tavern, Newburyport, MA. Press to enlarge.

Wolfe Tavern, at the corner of State Street and Thread Needle Alley was destroyed, like so much of downtown Newburyport in the great fire of 1811.  And shortly after, the tavern was reopened on the corner of Temple Street and State Streets. One Temple Street (demolished in 2006 by the Five Cents Savings Bank, see earlier post here) was an addition to the Wolfe Tavern (see info on the City of Newburyport’s website here).  In 1814 the Wolfe Tavern moved to the Col. John Peabody’s house, the one that is in all the postcards, at the corner of Harris and State Streets.

The upper post card shows what State Street used to look like. Wolfe Tavern is in the foreground, followed by the YMCA (which burned down in 1987, see earlier post here).  The postcards are pretty cool.

Local Historic District (LHD) and High Street in 1971 from P.Preservationist

High Street, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

High Street, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The P. Preservationist has written a fascinating story about the effort to have High Street be a Local Historic District (LHD) in 1971.

The P. Preservationist has gone to the Newburyport Archives and done some mega research.

Everyone here at the Newburyport Blog, me and the frogs, are mighty impressed. This is definitely a must read.

P. Preservationist points out that there are differences today:

First, we have far fewer Townies present today and they represent a minority in our political scene.  Second, our demographics have changed.   We have a large percentage of people who have moved here precisely because of the historic neighborhoods.  Third and most importantly, the class structure that so bedeviled Bossy Gillis and John Marquand no longer exists.”

High Street, © Sally Chandler, 2004, Courtesy of "Historic Gardens of Newburyport"

High Street, © Sally Chandler, 2004, Courtesy of "Historic Gardens of Newburyport"

He has a marvelous quote which, as he points out, is reminiscent of today:

“High Street resident, Elizabeth L. Whiting complained, ‘Surely informative ideas of the many, gently and rationally expressed, deserve as much attention than the ideas of the latter [opponents] which are presented in deliberately caustic and irrelevant oratory.’ ”

You can read the whole post here.

False Statements on the “Say No to LHD” Mass Mailing

Disclaimer here:  Dr. Heersink who wrote a Letter to the Editor on on February 27, 2011 is my favorite doctor in Newburyport. As a doctor he is amazing.  I just happen to disagree with his stance on the proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

In the letter, among other things, Dr. Heersink defends the “Say No to LHD” (which he is a member of) literature that was mass mailed (2,700 pieces of mail) about 10 days ago.  The frogs and I on the Newburyport Blog have put our heads together and where to begin to counter all the allegations made in this disingenuous mailing.

Now usually I don’t like the comment section of the Newburyport Daily News, but the Newburyport Daily News has clarified their comment policy recently, so it looks like I won’t be called a “Nazi controlling zealot” any more, because that would be “racist and abusive.”  So whew! (I hope.)

There was a reply to Dr. Heersink by “GloryBe456″ (another poster thought it was moi, not so).  It’s a little strident for the Newburyport Blog’s taste, but since it makes so many points that the frogs and I agree with, I thought I would quote it on the Newburyport Blog (and it may capture the anger and frustration that is out there with “Say No to LHD”).

GloryBe456  (Whoever you are, and the spelling was corrected by moi-I am the Editor of The Newburyport Blog after all.)

“If Dr. Heersink is a member of “Say No to LHD”, then he should know that, considering the people he’s working with, the errors are not inadvertent, but on purpose.

If the members of this group knew city law, they would know that all members of all boards and commissions have to be city residents.  But, “inadvertrently” they stated in their mailing that LHD commission members didn’t have to be.

Another “inadvertent”  error is that people are going to be fined left, right and sideways if they do something the LHD commission doesn’t like.  Well, isn’t that interesting – did you know that the ZBA, Planning Board and Conservation Commission and Tree Committee and Building Inspector can levy fines, too? Guess when the last time was that happened?  That’s right, never.

Yet another “inadvertent” error was that all work requiring a permit will force homeowners to go in front of the LHD Commission.  Oh, really? WRONG!!!! a small fraction of work currently requiring a permit would require review by an LHD Commission.

Shall I go on?

Funny, the “Say No” group states that LHDs will DECREASE the value of your home.  At the same time, in his letter, Dr. Heersink, a Say No member, states that it’s irrelevant if the LHD INCREASES your property values.  Really? Which is it, Dr.?  Show me your data, Say No, that LHDs decrease property values.  You can’t.

Let’s keep going – “Say No” claims that “no construction, alteration, moving, demolition, etc.” will not be permitted without a “certificate of approval”.  WRONG AGAIN!  It’s called a “check off” at the building department that what the applicant is looking to do doesn’t come under the LHD commission’s jurisdiction.  Same was planning and zoning stuff is taken care of now.

Another incorrect “fact”. That the study committee has agreed to a “phased approach” to implementing the LHD throughout the national register historic district. WRONG! there is no ‘agreement’ to “phase in” more of the district.  IF anyone wanted to try such a thing, the ENTIRE process that the study committee has gone through would have to be started ALL OVER AGAIN – and good luck with that!

Costs of owning your home will increase by being in an LHD. WRONG! they are not requiring expansive features, finishes, etc.  Like vinyl siding? You’ll SAVE money in the end by not installing it because you won’t trap moisture in the walls of the house (which would lead to mold and moss growth, sheathing that will never dry out and have to be replaced – the removal of these things later will end up costing you way more than you think you “saved” on painting and regular maintenance had you not put it on to begin with.

Finally, all of the things the “Say No” people have listed as “at your expense” and “at the homeowner’s expense” are NO DIFFERENT than how the ZBA and planning boards work now.  the building inspector himself has ordered people to hire structural engineers “at the homeowner’s expense” if he sees a problem with a project.  So, stop the fear-mongering. Better to spend your time learning how your government works first.”

The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA) in 2012

Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archives, Ancient buildings demolished during Urban Renewal, The Unitarian Church on Pleasant Street in the background, Press image to enlarge

Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archives, Ancient buildings demolished during Urban Renewal, The Unitarian Church on Pleasant Street in the background, Press image to enlarge

My fellow blogger Tom Salemi over at Newburyport Posts has taken a major civic plunge.  No tip-toeing into the Newburyport civic world for Tom.  Nope, a full dive, right in.  Last week Tom Salemi’s appointment to the NRA (Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, not the National Riffle Association) passed the Newburyport City Council unanimously.

Everyone here at the Newburyport Blog, me and the frogs, are mighty proud.

It would be hard to pick a more controversial board or committee in our fair city of Newburyport than the NRA. (This is a vast understatement.)

The lots that the NRA are in charge of, have literally been fought over for the last 40+ years.  And if P.Preservationist is right, “It is known that the Committee for the Open Waterfront are cracking open their old file cabinets and rallying to restart their efforts.  This sounds like a huge brouhaha coming!”  And that would surprise me not in the least.

I‘ve always thought that the issue of the waterfront, the NRA’s two dirt lots down by the waterfront, would never be resolved in my life time (to see long ago post, press here).  Maybe this is the golden moment, who knows, we will see.  But I am not holding my breath.

I’ve always thought that those two dirt lots are cursed (the history is so complex, who could begin to explain). And in my wanderings to find stuff about the proposed Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD), which includes downtown Newburyport, I came across the picture in this post (I think it was taken in 1968, but I’m not 100% positive), in the Newburyport Public Library Archives.  The caption reads, “First Unitarian Church on Pleasant St. rises from area cleared of ancient buildings as Newburyport’s urban renewal program moves ahead.”  And the photograph looks as if it is taken way, way back from the Unitarian Church, on those two dirt lots. (If you press the image, it will enlarge.)

The photograph is haunting.  It is a reminder to me that when stuff is gone, it is gone for good. All those “ancient” houses gone for good.  And I always wondered if that area, not to sound silly, is haunted.  It has been so difficult to get anything accomplished over the last 40+ years, so many people have tried, that I really and truly wonder.

(If you download the image would you please give The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

“Say No to LHD” Campaign

It is possible that only Tom Salemi could approach the whole Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) thing with humor, marked with wisdom and humility. (Alas, the Newburyport Blog‘s experience is what my fellow blogger recommends in his Newburyport Today article, that we be “a community” and “stay classy,” might not actually be possible in what has been dubbed, and what I thought had disappeared, but has seemingly been resurrected, “Cannibal City.”)

A bagel

A bagel

Tom opens his article with his experience of being aggressively approached in front of Abraham’s Bagels by one of the “Say No to LHD” folks on their anti-LHD campaign, at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, as he was trying to get some breakfast (great bagels from Abraham’s Bagels, a thumbs up from this born and raised in New York, New Yawker, who knows from bagels, a “blow in,” a “newby,” moi, who has “only” lived here, in Newburyport, for 31 years) for his family.

In his piece in Newburyport Today, Tom Salemi (the author of the well loved blog, Newburyport Posts) writes, “But let’s all do this right.  Let’s handle this with the same grace that we’ve employed with the IBEW protests.  We don’t need to roll in the mud.”

And I agree with Tom, what is necessary is “an informed and engaged public,” Tom’s words.

And what Tom Salemi points out with grace and dignity, is at this point, the “Say No to LHD” folks are giving people information filled with inaccuracies and omission of the facts.

And, yes, this makes it difficult to have  an informed and thoughtful discussion.

I guess aggressively handing out information in front of Abraham’s Bagels was not enough. The “Say No to LHD”  folks have made a mass mailing-2,700 pieces of mail (which one of my neighbors, when they received the mailing, thought was going to be an anti-drug missive), including the flyer handed out in front of Abraham’s Bagels, full of misinformation, scare tactics and omission of the facts.

As one friend said to me, on one of my many walks around my beloved historic city, “It’s hard to get a positive message out there when the default reaction is ‘No,’ and you are dealing with lies” (their word, not mine).

You can read Tom Salemi’s article at Newburyport Today, February 16, 2012, “Take the Bagels, Leave the Petition,” here.

The online petition in favor of Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) can be found here.

For quick facts about the LHD press here.