^ “Secesh” 1860s style : Confederate troops fighting for slavery

The word “secesh” hasn’t been heard much in America since the 1860s, but we read and speak it more and more these days as a small band of rabid anti-government congress-people push the Federal government to a shut-down and a Federal debt default.

In 1860-65 “secesh” referred to the southern states that seceded from the Union, and to their troops. It was northern, Unionist talk, and it still is so, and for very similar purposes.

Then, the issue was slavery. Today it is a whole lot of stuff : Obamacare, Federal debt, immigration reform, minimum wage legislation, food stamps, voting rights, marriage equality, gun control, even the Obama presidency itself : all of which 21st century “Secesh” despises.


^ Robert Barnwell Rhett : the 1860 Secesh “fire eater” — like today’s Secesh voices, he was a media man (newspaper editor)

In 1860, “Secesh” left the Union rather than accept restrictions on slavery. But by LEAVING the Union, 1860 Secesh actually strengthened it — unified it — and made Secesh’s defeat almost certain.

Today’s Secesh is smarter. Instead of leaving the Union and thus making it stronger, Secesh is staying in the Union and destroying it from within. Secesh today is ABLE to do so because, unlike the 1860 Secesh, it is being copiously funded by corporate goliaths through huge-money PACs  and “think tanks”and through ownership of many media outlets, on which the funds-givers program talk show demagogy with a broadcasting reach that 1860s Secesh couldn’t even dream of. Because of this vast broadcast reach, today’s Secesh has supporters in far more states than the 1860 Secesh had any chance of.


^ Secesh 2013 : Charles Koch, the money behind ALEC and much of the shut-down media

In 1860 Secesh in Congress didn’t have the filibuster or the majority caucus or a “Hastert Rule” (in the House) by which its minority view could be forced upon the entire Union. Today’s Secesh has all of those procedural artillery pieces and plenty of media ammunition with which to fight the nation from within.


^ Bryan Fischer ; Secesh 2013’s version of R B Rhett

President Obama and the majority Democrats could give in, but they have chosen not to. At some point a stand must be taken. Obamacare is the law of the land, and good that it is. Gun control measures must come., Immigration reform will come. Minimum wage legislation should come. Voting rights must be assured to every citizen and expanded, not suppressed. Marriage equality kust come to the 36 or so states in which it still remains unsecured. Federal debt should be seen for what it it is : the world’s economic glue, the safest investment, one which almost every financial institution depends upon, and a no-brainer given today’s near-zero interest rates costing the Federal Budget less than 2 % of its total expenditure.

The President and his party are to be congratulated for refusing to let America’s future be extorted by its enemies.

This is America’s future. A nation welcoming, diverse culturally, more economically fair, secure fir those who live with great insecurity, confident of its currency, cleansed of guns and ammo. If Secesh wishes to stop the future — OUR future — let it try., It will fail. Ignominiously.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ Oliver Huntemann : a monster movie’s Mike Mareen ?

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From Hamburg, Germany came DJ Oliver Huntemann on Thursday night to Machine for what, to the best of my knowledge, was his first Boston performance. His two hour set was much heralded by local connoisseurs, but few actually showed up. Even at peak hour no more than 100 fans graced the dance floor, and by 1.30 AM hardly any were still on point. Given that local maestro Jeff LeClair played a short but strong opening set, it isn’t unlikely that he is whom they came to dance with. DJ Melee also played a useful set of grungy grumble house music.

Huntemann gave it his best shot : his own tracks, segued and blended, dark and foreboding and, occasionally, coolly Moroder-istic. His sound was a sound effect : streaks and cello-like strums atop stroll and stride beats and moan-ful rumbles. His textures felt thick, his tempo turgid, his tones a mix of growl and groan. The mood was horror movie; the backdrop, monstrous; the totality, almost Goth — of the overblown, German variety in which fake Shakespearean elocution serves a grotesquely comic rubber-face. It’s been done before, though doubtless few of Hunhtemann’s Boston fans recognized it; German hi-energy disco of the mid-1980s had the same Goth moodiness — think Mike Mareen’s 1985 “Dancing in the Dark” — serving up the disco room as a spaceship moving through a midnight void. Then, it was fun, even giddy, and tempoed faster. Huntemann’s version sounded damaged, dull, defeated.

He used two red Traktor vinyl 12s and pc program and edited his sound sparingly. Many of his own tracks displayed their wares and lived up to their imagistic titles : the Goth-y “Melbourne”; a most Mike Mareen-ish “Decks and the City” ; the airs of “Aire” ; a bit of traipse and Polynesia beat in “Tasmanian Tiger” ; and the self-explanatory Cocoon’ and “Dark Passenger.” Given the ominous tone of his set, Huntemann’s “Hope,” in which the great Robert Owens voices soulfully, was not on the dance card. That was too bad. In that track Huntemann compromises his black vision just enough to win house music fans to his side.

At machine there was not winning but defeat. On and on went the monster mash, the ghostly groans, the B-movie brooding, the painful beat. Off and off went the dancers. Huntemann made no changes to his program;. He played what he plays, what he makes. imaginative it was; masterfully sculpted, brutally painted, a sound quite unusual in today’s track making and certainly more thematic than the sketchy rips of electro skrilling. Huntemann’s almost murderous moods may even portend, as experimental music often does — (Though for those who have heard the German “industrial” music, of 30 years ago, that stands behind what he does, his music may sound as much a reclamation as portentous) — but of such portents Boston dance music fans were having little and none. It would be shrewder, henceforth, to book Huntemann at a festival of experimental new music than at a mainstream dance club.

— Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music




Bill 2467

^ The State House on Beacon Bill : where H. 2467, “By Mr. Walsh of Boston, a petition…” looms mightily over the Mayor election

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Just this morning I opined about the impact that the arbitrator’s large pay raise award to the BPPA might have on the mayor’s race. Little did I know ! Only a few hours after I wrote, Marty Walsh declared his opposition to the size of the award — a perfectly reasonable opinion — only to have John Connolly call a 4.30 PM press conference on the matter.  At which…

Connolly struck a body blow : that Marty Walsh, as a legislator, had sponsored and filed a bill, House 2467, by whose provisions arbitrator awards, of the exact kind now at issue, would be binding even on City Councils. And thus that Walsh’s stated opposition to the award was, in effect, opposition to himself.

The law on municipal employee arbitrations now is that arbitrator’s awards to such employees are subject to approval by the City Councils of those municipalities. If the Council doesn’t approve, back to the arbitrator goes the pay dispute. Marty Walsh’s bill would take that power away from City Councils. An arbitrator’s award would be final.

Walsh tried to explain that in fact his legislation would make an arbitrator’s award binding upon Councils only to the extent that city finances could bear it. But as Connolly pointed out, Walsh’s legislation does not contain that proviso. Though the bill’s language directs the arbitrator to factor several such concerns into his award — and says nothing about HOW the arbitrator does such “factoring” — once his award is made, that’s it.

I was sitting with a friend of mine who’s a Marty Walsh supporter — he even has two lawn signs for Walsh — when the Connolly press conference broke. My friend turned to me and said, “well that’s that. I’m not for him !” I suspect those words were said quite often in Boston late this afternoon.

It’s a very tight spot for Walsh to be in. His own legislation — H 2467 starts off saying “By Mr. Walsh of Boston, a petition…that provision be made for binding arbitration for fire fighters and police officers” — casts in stone an arbitration award that has the whole city up in arms over its size.

He has some serious, serious explaining to do — not the spin syrup that he put out today — and it had better come quickly.

Because in two days or so the City Council hears the BPPA award details and votes on it. And John Connolly will be part of that hearing.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Afterthought :  Connolly’s revelation about House Bill 2467 casts a dark light on a Walsh campaign that has looked, to me, to be heading in a Romney-like direction. Just as Mitt Romney won passage of Romneycare, then proceeded to turn his back on his achievement, as a presidential candidate, so Walsh, whom Labor support lifted into a first place Primary finish, has lately taken to sounding like a chamber of commerce, Club for Growth-type business-recruiting Texas governor. It’s been curious to watch this gradual transformation; one wondered how or even if Walsh could pull it off. It seemed possible, Now it looks hyperbolic..

His campaign is also a case study in why State legislators in the Boston delegation don’t often run for mayor and, when they do, don’t get elected. With H. 2467, Walsh is using the power of the state to override the power of the City. Well and good for the labor unions whose champion he is; not so good for his appealing, now, to the entire City.

Walsh needs to rethink his campaign to;p to bottom, and fast. He has much to offer that John Connolly is temperamentally unsuited to match. His passion is infectious, His respect for everyone palpable, exemplary, But Walsh has to be a superior helmsman as well as a rock solid shipmate. Right now he has lost the helm. Connolly has it.

NOTE : I updated this story at 9.16 AM on Sunday 9/29/13.


^ “a good driver but a legendary fuck” ; Daniel Bruhl as Niki lauda in Ron Howard’s RUSH

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Ron Howard has set his directorial career all over the map. Early on he made a spate of serviceable comedies (“Night Shift” and “Splash”) and took dips into the fantastical (“Cocoon” and “Willow”) before entering a very serious stage that saw “Backdraft,” “The Paper” and “Ransom.” During that stretch Howard also delivered his crowning achievement, “Apollo 13” (it’s a far more competent and complete work than “A Beautiful Mind,” which garnered a slew of Oscars) as well as the ill-conceived reality TV satire, “edtv.” Along the way, too, Howard unsatisfactorily attempted a cinematic adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch who Stole Christmas” and later ventured into Dan Brown territory, directing the lackluster “Da Vinci Code” films. More recently, the man who had once been Opie of Mayberry appeared more than ready for the directorial graveyard after laying the clucking Vince Vaughn and Kevin James dud, “The Dilemma.” But like the hero of his 2005 boxing drama “Cinderella Man,” Howard has come off the ropes with “Rush.” To sit through the real-life Formula 1 speedway drama, one might think they were viewing the work of an emerging auteur just hitting stride with a first big studio budget behind them.

It’s easily one of Howard’s two or three best films, and the subject matter, while held in check by history and fact, zips along supercharged by the immaculate production, detailed craftsmanship and dead on performances. The men of subject, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, better known as Thor) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), are Formula 1 deities of the early 70s back when household names like Mario Andretti and James Stewart were just getting off their training wheels. Both men were born sons of big European money and both were spurned by their families when they opted to go into something so lowbrow as auto-racing—but that’s where the similarities begin and end. Hunt, a hedonistic Brit off the track and an unbridled force guided by instinct and gut on it, has a need for speed and a flirtation with death. His appetite and personality present bigger than life and fill the screen over the roar of the engines. To put it all in perspective, one fellow racer advises Lauda, who is about to go on a date with the racetrack manager’s ex-wife (because she had an affair in the back of an ambulance with Hunt as her husband stood feet away unknowing), of the act he’s following and adds, “He’s a good driver, but a legendary fuck.”

Lauda, a tacit German who speaks too bluntly for his own good, earned his way up as technician, retooling cars and making them faster by retrofitting them. He and Hunt initially tangle in the lower Formula 3 ranks and re-ignite their rivalry on the bigger stage when Lauda is driving for Ferrari and Hunt is wasting away a foppish British Lord’s largesse and having champagne in the pits. For three years the two vie to be best driver in the world. Lauda, the calculated practitioner, achieves the seat twice but at all times, Hunt is right there ready to take it from him, until the 1976 season, when Hunt leads a coalition against Lauda — who wanted to have a race in the rain on a tricky course aborted, and Lauda, on a tricky hairpin, ends up in a wreck and trapped in a fire that burns him at over 800 degrees for more than a minute.
“Rush” smartly does not let the races become epic events. They’re terse. They make their point. In their own way, they’re mini wonders of film making, brilliantly staged, shot and choreographed. The montage, like the drivers, is efficient and minimal (no extra weight or pomp, just muscle and skill) and the stellar sound editing puts you right there on the track and nearly makes you wish for a pair of ear plugs as the cars rev up and vroom around the track. I’m not sure if I’ve ever walked out of a film and said this should win an Oscar for sound editing, but this is surely one.

The drivers are given soul by the women in their lives and by how they value each other. Hunt goes through women like grease rags, though he does marry the super model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde), who in a fit of frustration leaves him for Richard Burton, and Lauda marries a woman (Alexandra Maria Lara) whom he meets at a party he can’t fit in at (because he’s socially inept and would rather be reworking his car in a garage). It’s one of the film’s best scenes when her car breaks down in the Italian countryside and she tries to get a car to pull over for a ride by showing some leg, but the car that eventually does pull over, pulls over for Lauda because it’s full of three racing enthusiasts who consider it an honor to let Lauda drive their car. To that point she had no idea who he was, and after that, it’s love at first swerve.

While “Rush” is a brilliant sparkle, and perhaps relief to Howard, it’s really Hemsworth and Brühl and the chemistry between the two actors that make the film go. With another set of players and a different driver behind the wheel, this might have been a flabby bio-pic without any punch and pull. But something magical has rolled out of the hangar; all cylinders fire in unison. Given the road map, there was little room for error. Howard and the boys punch it home with gusto.
— Tom Meek / Meek at the Movies



^ Payday for the Police — the arbitrator says so

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My first reaction to the award, by an arbitrator, of a four-year pay raise of 25.4%, has already been published by Here and Sphere’s big-name media rivals : it saddles the incoming mayor with a big headache.

True enough. But it also impacts the campaign going on now, something that none of our media neighbors has addressed at all. Here’s why, and how:

1. It poses a big problem for Marty Walsh — and also an opportunity: IF he grabs it. First, the problem : Marty is already perceived as “the union guy.” He can NOT go lightly on the police award. Nor can he go tough, for no one will believe him. He can avoid the issue altogether and say it’s a City Council issue — which it is; but that hardly shows leadership.

Yet Marty knows how to show leadership — in a big way. He did it with his City Hall sale proposal. Big leadership here would be to address Police department reform, top to bottom, new Commissioner included, as he has already done at Mayor Forums. If not now, when ?


^ Marty Walsh : handed a lemon, needs to make lemonade


^ John Connolly : opportunities aplenty in the police award… and the Boston Teachers Union

2. For John Connolly the issue is simpler but not risk-free. People know that he doesn’t favor this award. He will likely say so, and that the Council must reject it. But that won’t be enough. He should use the matter to talk about Police Department reform generally, including diversity in the higher ranks and what sort of a Police Commissioner he is looking for.  Take the long-term view, for sure. it will comport with Connolly’s follow-the-consequences approach to school reform.

If both Walsh and Connolly can turn the police award lemon into police reform lemonade, the cooking looks less favorable to Walsh when we turn to the Boston Teachers Union (BTU):


^ The BTU’s Richard Stutman : his (and his team’s) decision could decide the future of Boston school reform — and the election

Walsh simply can NOT, politically, come to terms with the BTU. Having “tied his hands,” as the Boston Globe put it, to labor, Walsh has no perception room at all to accommodate the City’s major public employee Union. He almost MUST adopt the program of school reform that business leaders want. After all, how is he to gain any traction at all in Wards 3, 4, and 5 — where most of the City’s business leaders live, if they live in the City at all, and where he was beaten 2 to 1, 3 to 1, even 4 to 1, by Connolly on Primary Day — if he does not go all-in with school reform ?

Not surprisingly, Walsh has begun to talk more and more about recruiting businesses — going to other cities and states to do so — to come to Boston. This is language we usually associate with Governors of Texas and South Carolina. It’s Chamber of Commerce talk. It’s certainly a good idea for a guy perceived as a labor voice — as Walsh says, if there’s not business, there’s no jobs. But it’s an agenda that implies a school reform in line with what technology-savvy businesses want to see happen. They’ve made it plain that locating in Boston means having a pool of school graduates who can at least do entry-level jobs — something that Walsh has talked about in detail at Mayor Forums.

Walsh’s union base isn’t the City’s unions — except for the Firemen of local 718. his core support — his door-knocking army — is the building trades, who work for private businesses. Good jobs for their children is what they want, any way that Walsh can get them. Reform the schools as “philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and non-profits,’ in the language of a BTU objection, puts it ? If that’s what it takes, yes. It gives Walsh a pathway out of Downtown-vote poverty.

Meanwhile, John Connolly has made enough of an impression upon Boston’s business community that he has loads of political room to work out school reform with the BTU. It would be the only union in his orbit. Keep in mind that school reform isn’t this election’s number one issue because corporate education reformers made it so. It is number one because Connolly made it his theme.

For this very reason, I suggested in an earlier column that the BTU should have endorsed Connolly as one of its two primary picks, saying something like “we differ with Connolly and how to reform our schools, but we endorse him simply for having made schools the election ‘s top issue.” Now, it appears, that discussion is actually taking place. And for good reason. Connolly was a public school teacher; his children attend public schools; and he has the trust of the business community and of Boston public school parents. If either candidate can credibly reach — SHOULD reach — a working accommodation with the BTU, it is he.

Will Walsh take the police award lemon and whip up a winning lemonade ? Will Connolly and the BTU reach an election-winning accord ? We will soon find out.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

MEEK AT THE MOVIES —- Don Jon (3 stars)


^ the lady killer and his ‘eleven” — Joseph Gordon-Leavitt courts Scarlett Johansen in “Don Jon”

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So you’re a lady killer and you’ve got abs and a workout routine that challenge The Situation (not to mention a bit of his Jersey gym rat accent too), so why live the life of a chronic masturbator when you can have any babe in the house? A good question and pretty much the rub of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s plucky rom-com, where he not only tackles the role of the buff Jersey boy of the title but also makes his feature debut as both writer and director.

The film’s intrepid protagonist is so tagged Don Jon (a play on his first name, Jon coupled with that of the notorious lover, Don Juan) by his boyz because he always scores, though in private his ideal sex partner is ten minutes of internet porn and a tissue. Even after landing a nine (on a ten scale), it’s not untypical for Jon to slip out of bed as the conquest du jour snoozes and fire up the laptop for a quick porno boosted topping off.

Sex addict, porn addict? “Don Jon” is not so concerned with that as with Jon’s journey from meandering man-boy into manhood. That transition gets a strong directional pull one night; while out prowling the clubs, Jon lays eyes on the comely Barbara (Scarlett Johansen giving her best and most sex bomb performance to date). She’s an arguable eleven (that ten scale again!) who’s interested in Jon, but won’t let him bed her without a proper and long courtship, and she adroitly knows how to keep him on the hook without letting him in for a night cap. Barbara’s also a life planner and isn’t so thrilled by Jon’s dead end job in an electronics store or his lack of education; so, to even get in the game, Jon’s got to sign up for night classes and take Barbara to meet his parents. These ultimately prove to be loaded and fateful propositions.

Much in the film carries the tang of stereotype and cliché (think “Jersey Shore”), but as it washes over you and takes hold, you realize there’s much more going on than a couple of greasers looking for hit-and-runs. It’s about letting go, finding yourself and connecting; a sly subversive charm that Gordon-Levitt has (through skill or beginner’s luck) infused into the script. Barbara’s gum smacking challenges and demands piquantly put Jon on edge; and, as director, writer and actor, Gordon-Levitt isn’t afraid to deprecate himself or let the other players take center. Jon’s outshone by nearly every other character in the film. Barbara’s a strong cup of tea with her blunt bimbo-esque garble and clingy sweater dresses. Then there’s an overly tanned and toned Tony Dana and Glenne Headly serving up devilish fun (and archetypal puns) as Jon’s working class parents, while Julianne Moore adds a soft, human touch as a troubled older woman in one of Jon’s night classes. Their relationship moves in surprising and affecting ways that educes the reluctant heart in the brash braggadocio.

As Gordon-Levitt builds the film with emotional layers that take root with earnestness, there’s always a jab of good humor in nearly every scene, even if it’s a quick cutaway to Jon’s mounting mass of wadded-up tissue balls in the ubiquitous wired mesh trash can next to the laptop. The compendium of comedy also gets boosted by Jeremy Luke and Rob Brown as Jon’s posse and Greek chorus; Brie Larson adds tartness as Jon’s adolescent sister; she’s a constant reminder of teen angst and boredom as she sits at the dinner table, tacit and unengaged even during bursts of raised voice hysteria, which is common place at Jon’s parents’ house.

In its sweet quirkiness “Don Jon” plays out like a Woody Allen comedy from the other side of the tracks with sharp sophomoric wit stepping in for highbrow satire. It’s an impressive outing for Gordon-Levitt as a nascent filmmaker even if the film doesn’t have a satisfactory “happy ending.”

— Tom Meek / meek at the Movies



^ John Connolly — Marty Walsh : two irish names but men who could hardly be more different

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Who will win on November 5th and become Boston’s next mayor ? The punditry has already begun. Most of what we’ve read talks about “communities color” and how on Tuesday Boston voted once again for two Irish white guys who now need to find a way to win said communities’ votes. True; but very simplistic. There are a lot more votes that Walsh or Connolly need to win. 64 % of those who voted on Tuesday voted for somebody else. Many November voters did not vote at all. Probably as much as 80 % of those who will vote on November 5th did not vote for the two white irish guys.

What must Walsh and Connolly do about it ? And how do I assess the obstacles they face ? Here goes:

1.Marty Walsh on Tuesday was pretty much a locally dominant winner; John Connolly on Tuesday was fairly much a broadly based vote-getter. Walsh’s vote was passionate, Connolly’s cool. Cool votes count as much as hot ones.

Despite his first place finish, Walsh’s challenge is immense. Though he swept cleanly the precincts of his seaside base — from South Boston to Savin Hill to Florian hall — he turned out 45 % to as much as 71 % of the voters in those precincts, by dint of a vast field organization of door knockers. That card is now played. He can increase his base vote by some, but not by a lot. Yes, he won as much as 77 % of the vote in his “base.” But 77 % of 80% of all voters in his base, say, isn’t that much more than 77 % of 71%.

As for outside his base, Walsh barely registered in some very key places. Take a look :

( a ) Ward 5 (Back bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway ) ——— Walsh 224 Connolly 1426
South End & Downtown (Ward 3 Pcts 6,7,8
and ward 4 Pcts 1-6, Wd 8 Pcts 1-3, ward 9 Pcts 1-2)………………………………………………………                               Walsh 545 Connolly 1909

TOTAL DOWNTOWN AREA ………….          Walsh 769 Connolly 3335

In the Primary, these precincts turned out an average of about 22 % to 25 % of their registered vote. In November these precincts always turn out in much bigger numbers. Even an increase from 25 % to just 40% — there will likely be more — would raise Connolly’s advantage over Walsh from 2564 votes to over 4000 votes. at 50% turnout the margin would increase to 5128 votes.

( b ) Ward 20 (West Roxbury and much of Roslindale)
………………………………………………………………… Walsh 1763 Connolly 4074

This doesn’t on the face of it look so bad for Walsh in Connolly’s home neighborhood. But looks deceive. Connolly faced a strong other candidate, Dan Conley, living in Ward 20 too and taking about 2500 votes (I am estimating, the City of Boston Ward and Precinct unofficial results for some reason leave Conley out). In addition, Ward 20 turned out 49% of its huge number of voters. In November, Ward 20 can turn out at least 70% — 17,000 to 18,000 voters — and Dan Conley will not be on the ballot. At 17,000 votes, a Walsh 3500 Connolly 13,500 result is entirely feasible. Even a more likely Walsh 5000 Connolly 12,000 result would give Connolly a larger margin than the entire vote turnout in Walsh’s home Ward 16.

Add a conservative Connolly margin of 5000 in the downtown areas, and he now has a bigger margin — 12,000 — over Walsh than the likely entire turnout from Wards 16 and 7, Walsh’s two strongest Wards.

( c ) East Boston, Brighton, Ward 19 (Centre Street, Jamaica Plain; plus a small part of Roslindale)

Even with the support of State Rep. Liz Malia, Walsh fared not so hot in Jamaica Plain. In East Boston, Connolly had the endorsement of State Rep. Carlo Basile. Basile delivered. In Brighton, to which neither he nor Connolly had any local claim, Connolly was the clear winner :

Ward 1 ………………………………………………….. Walsh 762 Connolly 1214

Curiously, in this once banner “Italian” Ward, Rob Consalvo did not dominate Tuesday. His vote total barely matched Connolly’s. Turnout, too, was shockingly small : about 28 % . In November, all this will change. Historically, East Boston has consciously “delivered” the bigger part of 6000 to 7000 votes to a preferred, usually Irish, contender. It was famously so in 1959, when Ward 1’s vote made the difference in John Collins’s upset win over the much favored John E. Powers. In 2013 it is unlikely that Ward 1’s top politicals can “deliver” the Ward to anybody; yet with a much higher turnout — that much the ward’s politicals can do — and Rob Consalvo out, plus a clear preference for Connolly, as it stands today he will carry “Eastie” by about 1400 votes : say 4200 to 2800.

Ward 21 …………………………………………………………. Walsh 362 Connolly 631
Ward 22 …………………………………………………………. Walsh 818 Connolly 832
TOTAL ………………………………………………………………..      . 1180                  1463

Brighton’s turnout was tiny. In Primaries it always is. In November, the turnout might double and still be small. Connolly’s advantage isn’t much, but it is an advantage and takes away from Walsh a possible chance to cut Connolly’s huge vote margins in the Wards I have already assessed.

Ward 19 ………………………………………………………. Walsh 542 Connolly 1007

Many Ward 19 votes went to other candidates on Tuesday. Still, unless they break decisively to Walsh, and adding a modestly higher turnout — to maybe 55 % — than Tuesday’s estimable 42 %, Connolly still stands to win the Ward by a good 1500 votes. Not a lot, but at this point Connolly doesn’t need a lot more.

All of the above leaves it — with one exception; see below — up to Boston’s “communities of color,” concentrated in Wards 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, part of 13 and 15, 17, and much of 18. It’s a lot of the City’s voters, maybe 25 % — greater, taken together, than Ward 20. On Tuesday, Walsh and Connolly won almost an equal share of what little vote in these communities did not go to Charlotte Golar Richie, John Barros, and Felix Arroyo. If on November 5th communities color divide their vote equally, Connolly almost certainly wins. What are the chances that Walsh can turn a palpable majority of voters of color in his direction ? As of today, I cannot tell. My friends think that a decision here will not be made until after one or two of the upcoming three debates. I think they are right.

But let us say that even after the debates, Boston’s voters of color poll equally for Walsh and Connolly. Does Walsh still have a chance ? Yes he does.

I’ve left one big region out of the discussion : the part of Ward 18 that Mayor Menino lives in. it is said that Menino cannot stand John Connolly, and Connolly’s loss to Walsh in Hyde Park and Readville bears out what is said :

Ward 18 Pcts 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23)
————————————————————————– Walsh 647 Connolly 542

In Menino’s home precinct (20), Walsh beat Connolly 97 to 34. Of course the overwhelming majority of votes in the precinct went to local hero Rob Consalvo. He won about 2500 votes in the whole region. It is assumed, probably correctly, that Consalvo will support Marty Walsh. If I assign Consalvo’s 2500 local votes three to one to Walsh, and increase the turnout from 45 % to 60 %, Walsh wins Menino’s home area by about 1800 votes.

With this 1800 vote victory, a 10 point margin among communities of color, some increase of vote in his home area (South Boston especially), and a strong debate showing leading to a decent majority among voters who did not vote at all on Tuesday, Marty Walsh can win the day. But it will not be easy.

Marty is respected by all who know him, has a civil rights record second to no one, and has the utter loyalty of labor (other than the Teachers Union). He needs to run an almost perfect campaign. He needs to tell us about his 16-year record at the state House. He needs to show that he speaks the language of business, and its plans, as authoritatively as he talks that of labor.

Walsh needs badly to expand his reach at least into areas where he wasn’t blown out : Tom Menino’s half of Ward 18; Jamaica Plain; Brighton (Ward 22); the North End; and Ward 10 (Mission Hill precincts). He would be well advised to borrow from Dan Conley’s excellent, neighborhood-oriented recommendations list of administrative reforms. He needs to get Felix Arroyo and Rob Consalvo aboard.

John Connolly’s strategy should be “steady as you go.” Continue to do exactly what he has been doing, but also present a convincing plan for administrative reform — Dan Conley’s neighborhood by neighborhood list, but also reform of the Police and Fire Departments. Connolly needs to get some sleep before the debates and come out passionate and and in command as he already has shown he can do.

Can Walsh do it ? Yes he can. But John Connolly is no punching bag. He can do it too. He speaks as eloquently as Walsh does, seems to understand the culture better, and draws voters of all ages and both genders much more readily than Marty Walsh has so far shown.

It is going to be a terrific six weeks, isn’t it ?

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

ReciPee’d OFF!!

Relationship Advice

Sincerely Hey Lady

Hey Lady:

My fiancee Matt and I are recently engaged, he is about to graduate soon from Harvard, and I will follow next year. We just moved into our first apartment just of campus. I come from a very low income household and put myself through college with grants, loans, and hard work. Matt on the other hand comes from money. He is definitely used to the finer things in life, and he was raised to have a certain mentality. He is a great man don’t get me wrong, but then there’s his MOTHER; I don’t even know where to begin on this subject. His mother was introduced to me after a year of dating. As a freshman I did not see all the red flags of a serious “Mamma’s Boy”. Early into my Sophomore year I began to see some things that made me wonder, but now it’s become a nightmare…

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^ And now the political theater begins : Marty Walsh

112,804 Boston people cast ballots in yesterday’s Preliminary Election. That’s way less than the 157,041 who voted in 1967’s equally intense mayor primary, but it IS more than voted in 2009’s FINAL. It’s a good number, and not far short of the 119,000 we predicted would vote.

You all know by now the result. Marty Walsh, with 20,838 votes, made good on his election-eve claim that he would “top the ticket.” John Connolly finished with 19,420 votes — in second place. Charlotte Golar-Richie finished third — 3900 votes back of Connolly; Dan Conley finished 2800 votes behind her, and Felix Arroyo took the fifth spot some 1900 votes behind Conley. John Barros finished a close sixth, 750 votes short of Arroyo. Consalvo and Ross finished seventh and eighth.

For the 12 primary hopefuls, it was a polite campaign. No one wanted to go negative and this excite the others’ supporters to come out in larger numbers. Indeed, that 112,804 people turned out to vote in a love fest is a credit to the civic-mindedness of some 30 % of Boston’s registered voters. It was far different in 1967, when there was passion and drama all over the campaign, anger between candidates, riots at times in the city, and unrest the rest of the time.

We can do without the riots, but everything else that made 1967 such a Shakespearean campaign we need plenty of. We need debate, we need anger; we need the two remaining candidates and their supporters to go at it hammer and tong. Because Walsh and Connolly really are very different men with very different agendas and support bases. None of it should be glossed over with pretty talk and grins. If the huge differences between these men do not collide with the sound of shoulder pads and helmets clanging, so to speak, it will man hiding these differences in the closet, to taint the administration of whomever wins, and to make the winner’s agenda distrusted from the start.


^ thespians all : john Connolly

As for analysis, here’s how we see yesterday :

1. The “base” vote. Walsh did much better in his South Boston/Dorchester “base” than Connolly did in his West Roxbury/Roslindale homeland. But Walsh did not have to compete with a seriously strong candidate in his base, as Connolly did with Dan Conley. Had Walsh had to give up 30 % of his home vote to a competitor, as did Connolly, Charlotte Golar-Richie would be in the Final today, not Walsh.

2. East Boston, Charlestown, North End, Downtown. These areas were to be John Connolly’s trump, his claim to city-wide strength, and so they were. He beat Marty Walsh convincingly in the region. But the turnout here was small. Connolly’s field organization did not do the job here that it should have. Had turnout in this region come even close to that in Ward 20, Connolly would have finished convincingly in first place.

3. Communities of Color. Despite valiant efforts, neither Walsh nor Connolly broke 75 votes in any precinct of Wards 8,11, 12, or 14. Nor in most precincts of wards 9, 10, 17, and 18. This entire region — maybe 25% of the City — now stands up for grabs, with no obvious inclination in either man’s direction.

That said, John Barros should be on John Connolly’s first-call list right now, and Felix Arroyo on Marty Walsh’s. The supporters of each have a natural place in these respective campaigns. Charlotte Golar-Richie’s support, however, is the prize — and the mystery. Her agenda fits, more or less, with both Walsh’s and Connolly’s.

4. School Transformation. It was Connolly’s mantra, and it carried a lot of weight. But not enough. As Walsh well said on election night, “I am not the one-issue candidate in this election !” Connolly should immediately, if not sooner, grab the administrative reform issue that made Dan Conley a serious contender. Connolly should in particular pick up Conley’s brilliant series of neighborhood brochures listing specific administrative reforms, most of which hit the bulls-eye. Conley and Connolly are natural allies. If Connolly hasn’t called Dan already, he should do so NOW.

5. Unions. Huge, football fan-like support from union activists gave Marty Walsh a big Primary day field force. They got their vote to the polls. Nonetheless, Union support is not a strength for Walsh going forward. Labor activists can get 20,000 voters to the polls. They cannot get the 80,000 or so which will likely be needed to win in November. Unions generate strong opposition even in progressive Boston. No one liked the pressure the Firemen brought to bear on the City budget at their contract time; and the Big Dig, albeit an economic boon, is not forgotten for huge cost overruns in part generated by Union wages. Personally, I have no problem at all with union wages; hard working people deserve great pay. But the Unions that negotiate such pay often use tactics that alienate large swaths of people — who do not forget. Walsh needs badly to convince those who did not vote for him that he is not Walter Reuther.

That said, the construction workers and the Firemen at least have strong ties to Boston people, ties that remain, at least in part, because these Unions are led by shrewd political leaders (of whom Walsh himself was one). The same cannot be said of the Boston Teachers Union (BTU). It endorsed two losing candidates — Felix Arroyo, justifiably; Rob Consalvo much less so — and now stands out in the cold. Neither Connolly nor Walsh are likely to enact the BTU’s agenda, especially its opposition to charter schools — schools backed by a huge majority of Boston voters — a meaningful longer school day, giving principals power to choose their teachers, or the seniority rules that caused 2012’s “teacher of the year’ to be laid off because he was junior in time on the job. Had the BTU acted shrewdly — by endorsing Connolly, for making the schools a prime issue, saying something like “we differ with Connolly on how, but we agree with him on the need for reform” — it would now be in a strong position to see some of its agenda included in the Connolly package. Didn’t happen.

6. A majority of the November winner’s vote will come from people who DID NOT vote for him yesterday. How does a candidate win the votes of those who did not choose him first ? One principle cries out : these voters will now vote for the candidate they DIS-like less. Thus the need that I presented earlier, to run a negative campaign; to DIFFER with the opponent, passionately. And there is plenty to differ with, for both Connolly and Walsh. Plenty on many fronts.

—- —- —-

A Final word from me : the campaign trend that I most reject is already developing : both campaigns are becoming institutionalized. Television theater. Connolly’s already had done so. Now Walsh’s too. This I hate. It makes the campaigns look phony and sound plastic. We have enough Plastic Men in our politics. I do not want to see Walsh or Connolly standing on a stage with an American flag behind them, like a President — which they aren’t — and what looks like a diversity audience at an Oprah show. Diversity is wonderful, but in such calculated displays it looks like window dressing. Let’s see Connolly or Walsh on stage by themselves, with no flags or fooforaw, just them, speaking to us all out in the crowd, on the street like a jury of 175,000.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ Prisoners — of their own panic. Hugh jackman and Jake Gyllenhall

—- —- —-

The film’s tacit title has a multi-faceted meaning, primarily referring to two young girls who are kidnapped off the street in a rural Pennsylvania town on Thanksgiving Day, but also to the parents of those kidnapped : who grow frustrated with the sputtering police investigation and take matters into their own hands (they take a person of interest and hold them captive). It also catches the homicide detective, who is constantly tripped up by the interfering parents, an unsupportive higher up, and the burnt out working class town that has suffered through decades of tragedy.

It’s a broad net, probably broader than screenwriter, Aaron Guzikowski (the Brockton native who penned “Contraband”) ever intended, but the material in the hands of Denis Villeneuve (whose “Incendies,” a haunting 2010 exploration of arcane family roots in the Middle East, garnered an Academy Award nomination) everything is narrow and focused, and rife with tension. That’s “Prisoners”’s gift and bane, eternal dark bleakness. Take either of David Fincher’s serial killer flicks, “Zodiac” or “Seven,” and you’d have a good idea what Villeneuve is shooting for.

As much as “Prisoners” gives the Canadian based filmmaker a big budget to work with and break into the mainstream, it’s also a showcase for Hugh Jackman to do something other than be Australian or bear metallic spiked claws, and he doesn’t let the opportunity waste. The affable Aussie plays Keller Dover, a hardworking, recovering alcoholic who runs a small carpentry business and has a survivalist’s stockpile in the basement. We hardly get to know him before his daughter and her friend (Erin Gerasimovich and Kyla Drew Simmons) are snatched off their quiet side street in a flash.

The suspected vehicle, an old RV, gets cordoned off by the police pretty quickly, but it’s empty. The girls are nowhere to be found and the driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano) possesses the mental facilities of a ten year-old and can’t give a straight answer. Plus there’s not enough evidence to hold Alex on, and Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), the lead investigator who boasts a 100% solve rate, can’t get any traction as the clock ticks onward and Keller grows increasingly anxious. Throw in a few strange chance encounters with Alex and Keller blows a fuse and abducts him, holding him hostage in an abandoned apartment complex where he begins his own brand of torture based interrogation.

If that prospect sounds unlikely, as the two men are under constant scrutiny, and a massive search for the two girls continues, Villeneuve, Jackman and Gyllenhaal sell it well and they get help in the form of a near catatonic Maria Bello as Keller’s wife and Terrance Howard as the aggrieved father of the other girl who becomes greatly conflicted when learning of Keller’s devious initiative. The plot has some nice underpinnings, too, that keep the macabre edginess pinned at high : namely the whisky pickled priest with a sex offender tag and a few skeletons in his basement and the ghostly wisp in a hoodie who out runs Loki through a maze of backyards, dog pens and the freeway as if warming up for a parkour contest. Then there’s Melissa Leo as Adam’s kind adoptive mother, remaining relatively calm throughout and forever trying to sell the beat up muscle car on her front lawn.

It all works seamlessly for more than three quarters of the two and a half hour running time, mostly thanks to Jackman’s frenetic father always ready to bull down a door and Gyllenhaal’s calm sobriety. They’re the good cop, bad cop that propel the nightmare with human context, but when it comes time to lay the cards down, the order of sensibilities and logic hits a nearly groan worthy snag.

There’s much to admire in “Prisoners,” it’s just too bad it becomes bound and hobbled by the same rope it uses to pull us in.
— Tom Meek / Meek at the Movies