About Race, Name, Religion

This could be a true story or just another made up one. But I think it is very possible that it actually happened: A friend forwarded me a post from the Club Mekons yahoo group. The following is an excerpt from the post.

“[…] the following story from someone who was canvassing for Obama in a predominantly white, blue-collar part of Pennsylvania:

The canvasser was met at the door by a woman. Asked who she was planning on voting for, she said, “I’m not sure – let me ask my husband.” So she yelled back into the house, “Who are we voting for?” From inside the house the husband yelled back, “We’re voting for the n*gg*r!” And she repeated that – in the same words – to the canvasser.”

I really don’t know what to think about it. Is it racism or is it not? They may be using the n-word, but they are voting for him. Is it bigotry? One thing you cannot accuse these people of is hypocrisy. The kind of hypocrisy that sometimes underlies the political correct, as a constant search for an euphemism; like in “people are not fat, they are big”. But I digress.

Of course not being a hypocrite does not necessarily make one right. Does the action of actually voting for Obama cancel out the implied racism and/or bigotry of the use of the n-word? Are actions stronger than words? But still the word echoes of bigotry. Is Obama for these people a better n* than their next door neighbor? Is that the point?

The whole issue of race was never really central in this election campaign, and I liked that. But the thing is that there are still other issues that reek of bigotry. Rumors like Obama being a Muslim or Obama not being able to produce a birth certificate cause aparently he wasn’t born in Hawai. Even here in our supposedly liberal Massachusetts I hear the same stuff and people aparently believe in them. I had this exchange the other day with somebody from work, a man in his sixties who holds a prominent position:

– “(…) both of the candidates are stupid. And Obama is a muslim”, he said.

– “No, he’s not a muslim, he’s a christian”, I said .

– “No, he’s a muslim, I’m not voting for a muslim; and his name “”Obama“”, gimme a break I’m not voting for a guy named Obama“.

Sounds a hell lot like those times in another century, when his ancestors could not get a job in this city because of their Irish last name. History repeating…


Interpreting East Somerville

I am very happy that one of my photographs, “Cross Street Bridge” (see East Somerville post) was selected for the Interpreting East Somerville photo exhibition! Interpreting East Somerville is a community photographic exhibition presented by East Somerville Main Streets. The exhibition will open at the Somerville City Hall on Thursday, November 20, 2008 and will go on until January 2009.

I look forward to the exhibition!

East Somerville

The other day I was out and about in East Somerville taking pictures. I submitted three of them for consideration for the Interpreting East Somerville juried exhibit. I used to work at a building at the boundary of East Somerville and I always found the area pretty diverse; some parts were gritty, some parts are nice residential areas. It’s a very densely built area. The people you see walking through the streets are a diverse crowd, too. In my photographs I focused on the built environment.

These first two pictures are from Florence Street. The first one could have been somewhere on Beacon Hill. The second one is two buildings down from the first one, a whole different world.


 This is a house on Glen Street, which I’m sure has been photographed lots of times, especially at night with all lights on. I wonder how long it took them to put all the lights and decorations up!?

The next one is at 60 Tufts Street. I don’t know what kind of building this is (residential, offices?). I think it’s a unique building to East Somerville, looking like better suited somewhere in California. I like the contrast of the white and blue, reminds me of the Mediterranean.

Around the corner from 60 Tufts Street is the Cross Street bridge. Looks like it needs some work, hopefully just cosmetic touch-ups and not structural integrity related work. At the background you can see the McGrath Highway bridge. Both bridges go over the rail road tracks.

On Broadway there are lots of colorful storefronts:

This old Fire House is also on Broadway and now it houses the Cross Street Elderly Center


2008 Boston Bike Film Festival

Last Saturday was a bicycle-centered day for me: in the morning I did the 3-hour long Tour de Somerville bike ride, then rode my bike to work and later I went to the Brattle Theater for the 2008 Boston Bike Film Festival. When I first heard about it, I got a little confused cause there had already been a bike film festival in Boston in August, right? Yes, but it looks like these are two different festivals: Back in August there was the Bicycle Film Festival 2008 , which takes place in different cities all over the world and in August it visited Boston. This one was the 2008 Boston Bike Film Festival, which was going on Friday and Saturday. I didn’t make it to Friday’s screening. The Saturday night event was surprisingly sparsely attended. In my discussions with other people, we felt that the event could have used better promotion and advertising. I also heard that even the films line up wasn’t finalized until very recently. Maybe the Red Sox were playing that night was a factor too. Oh, well…


There were six short films shown. One was really bad, the majority mediocre and two of them were very good. Now, I have a soft spot for short films and filmmakers, and I don’t want to be harsh or anything, but some of the films needed some serious editing. One of the films I liked best was Danny Madden’s “Another New Bike”, which was well shot and edited, with a clear plot and very well acted by the young actors. The Emerson College student’s short was funny, cute and sharp.


 The best of all, and I think quality-wise at a whole different level was “Full Cycle” a short documentary about the Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree that showed what it takes both physically and mentally to compete at the highest level of World Cycling. Obree built his own medal-winning bike from parts of washing machines, and while he was breaking records at the race, he battled manic depression and was suicidal. This BBC Archive Documentary by director Russell Walker was sharp and honest. The cinematography was exceptional, the editing tight. The documentary stroke a balance in showing both sides of Obree: the outside, that of the winner biker (hard work and training, breaking records and winning medals), and the inside, that of the struggling man trying to understand why he’s unhappy after winning, recognize the problem and find a solution. A very good short documentary!


In all I think the event should have been more advertised: I am sure there are a lot more people in the Boston area interested in both bicycles and short films. Hopefully next year they’ll do better.


Tour de Somerville 2008

Tour de Somerville is an annual bike ride organized by Somerville’s Bicycle Committee. The 2008 Tour de Somerville was held on Saturday October 18, 2008. It was a 15-mile long ride mainly along the outer edges of the City of Somerville. You can view a map of the ride and cue sheet at http://somervillebikes.org/.

I initially thought it was going to be kinda chilly, but it turned out to be sunny and pretty comfortable. The ride started at 10am at the Seven Hills Park and ended at 1pm at Kenney Park. The pace was rather slow, but it was accomodating to the diverse crowd of bikers, meaning all ages and various fitness levels.  It was really nice having Somerville Police officers riding with us, which meant that the roads belonged to us (yay!!!) and generally made the ride safer.

At some point we rode along the Mystic River Parkway (Route 16):

At some point later we stopped at Broadway and Bristol Pearson Road

waiting for Mayor Curtatone to address the crowd. He showed up with one of his super cute sons

She had the coolest helmet on:

Later on we stopped at the Somerville Boys and Girls Club’s Blessing of the Bay boathouse by the Mystic River for refreshments 

where I snapped this picture of the youngest (I think) participant of the Tour, with Mom, Dad and one of the police officers

I guess around 100 people joined for the ride, and I am sure they enjoyed it. I met some new people and even had the chance to say hi to bassist Pete Sutton of the Ray Corvair Trio. A pleasant Saturday morning indeed!

Buy Now Says Buffett

Well, looks like this it the time to buy, not to hold on to cash. Thus spoke Warren E. Buffett in an op-ed article in the New York Times and who am I to disagree? I’ll start investing again.

His simple rule that dictates his buying: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”