Denise Provost

St. Rep. Denise Provost (D-Somerville)

It’s been years since Massachusetts raised the minimum wage it will allow firms to pay their workers. Our state’s minimum sits at $ 8.00 an hour, and that’s nowhere near enough for a family of two minimum wage workers to pay the most basic living expenses in many parts of our State. Rents in particular have increased dramatically in the greater Boston area. So has the cost of fuel oil and gasoline. Even fares on the MBTA have risen 50 percent.

Two bills, H 1757 and H 1701, have been filed, by Representatives Cabral (D-New Bedford) and Provost (D-Somerville), that will raise the pay amount. Cabral’s bill raises the minimum to $ 9.00 an hour this year and $ 10.00 the next. Rep. Provost’s bill is more radical. It raises the minimum immediately to $ 11.00, to $ 11.50 in 2014, and $ 12.00 in 2015. Both bills, along with companion Senate bills filed by Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), now stand before the Masschusetts House and Senate’s Joint Committee on Labor and Employment. Hearings have been held. The proposals all raise the minimum wage for tip-receiving workers from $ 2.63 an hour to $ 6.30.

Already the opposition has begun. The Massachusetts Restaurant assocaition, predictably, is complaining. So are other small business lobbying groups. We disagree with the opposition and support the more radical of the two proposals. We think that $ 11.00 an hour is neither too much nor a detriment to Massachusetts businesses.

Minimum wage wotrkers fo not remove their income from the economy. They do not stash it. Even at $ 11.00 to $ 12.00 an hour they will need to spend every dollar — on vital purchases they must now defer: clothing for the kids, car repair if they have a car, otherwise maybe a car purchase; summer camp for the kids, maybe a new cell phone to replace the old or broken one; maybe even a dog for the household — because dogs make happy those who they live with (and happiness is a good thing for people’s health. Happiness cuts down on employee sick days). All of these deferred spendings, now able to be spent upon, represent an increase in business for the firms that provide such goods and services; business that Massachusetts firms cannot now get becasuse minimum wage workers don’t have it to spend.

Two other objections to Rep. Provost’s radical minimum wage raise merit response:

First : $ 11.00 and $ 12.00 an hour may be vitally needed in greater Boston, where rents are impossibly high and everything including food and transport costs more but in outlying cities of the state it’s quite generous. To which we respond ; actually, even in outlying cities the greaster raise is needed, because ( a ) workers commute longer distances ( b ) live far away from medical care and so — because for many minimum wage families, a car is beyond budget — may need taxi fare; and ( c ) often have larger families than in socially more single-life Boston and thus have a much larger clothing and household supplies budget.

Second : the higher raise is likely to cause fast food retailers, in particular, but also very samll businesses of all kinds, to simply lay off people. The evidence of past raises, though, is that businesses do not downsize; they simply increases prices. Which in turn leads, as has been pointed out, to higher costs for people living on retirement income — costs not easily absorbed. That is true; but Social Security payments include a cost of living increase. It isn’t as great an increase, in percent, as Rep. Provost’s 38 to 50 % raise, but it Is something.

For all of these reasons, we at Here and Sphere support Rep. Provost’s minimum wage increase. People who work full-time shouldn’t have to liver in poverty.

— The Editors / Here and Sphere





I AM MAN……..

“HEAR ME ROAR” would just be way to cliché — so instead I will say

” How you dooooin?”…Now that the girls have giggled and thrown up in their mouths, I can happily begin my first post for Here and Sphere.

Woman are funny, disturbing, wildly attractive, and insanely annoying creatures. They have brilliant minds, and Jedi tricks — their super powers are kind of awesome — also THEY PISS ME OFF TO NO END.

However: without them life would SERIOUSLY be a GIANT boring sausage fest, of gaming, messy houses, unshaven…..well…EVERYTHING….and TOTAL BOREDOM.

So in the spirit of these brazen, self – starting, and completely  bewildering Goddesses…. <—-(hoping I scored points there, though doubtful) — I give a peace-offering of sorts. INFORMATION, yup that’s right…. I may even break guy code here — so hopefully no one puts a hit on me. IF I live to see another day, MEN — Will at some point thank me….. I PROMISE…


Q. Numero Uno) Why in the hell does it take so damn long for a guy to take a crap?

A. Well my lovely Fast Crapper’s, and power pusher’s of the world;                  1.) WE ENJOY THE DAMN SILENCE. The reason that porcelain god is called a “Throne” is — for when we sit upon it We are one again King of OUR castle.  ”If” we share a domicile, that means that at some point…..YOU WON. We surrendered our hearts and spare key, to the woman we knew should be ” Our Queen”. 

2.) The Solace of the “poop room” helps us to think…. ( Yes we really do that thinking thing….smart-ass) It’s a “Turd World Country” but it is rich in plushCottonelle butt paper. Plus there are hand-towels..neatly folded and perfectly placed hand-towels (that we KNOW we are NOT supposed to touch — since they are simply there to look pretty.)

3.) THERE ARE NO RULES…Other than the hand-towel NO-NO!!!! In the “Palace of Poo” we men are FREE. We are allowed by human-ism, and possibly god given right — to obnoxiously fill the air — with our rancid man-ufactured, possibly toxic, tear-inducing ass perfume. AND THERE…..It is acceptable….even encouraged.

4.) Finally and most honestly –IT FEELS GOOD….. There I said it.. After all we worked hard for that feeling of accomplishment. After stuffing our faces behind the backs of our beloved queens, and slowly digesting our gluttonous bounty — it feels GREAT to know….. OUR CRAP STILL WORKS……….


Your Friend: Lost in Mans-lation


It is before 6 AM, I am up but that is not the point.
The point is WHAT BUSINESS does a frickin’ telemarketer have calling me before the looser birds start singing? Oh let me guess it’s afternoon in your cuntry right? F U
….so here is how this convo went…..
Telemarketer: ((in annoying peppy voice))—- “HI is this Hayther Cornwall”?
Me: (( unimpressed i haven’t even had coffee yet voice))–“NO IT IS NOT , this is Heather Cornell” …and proceed to spell it…”H.E.A.T.H.E.R as in ARE YOU SERIOUS????”….You get the idea I’m sure.
TELEJERK: “WHEEL I HAVE AN EXCITING EDUCATION OFFER FOR YOU,” (begins to ramble about continued education at some random school I’ve NEVER heard of….)
ME: “Excuse me cheer captain, can I ask you a question?”
Teleasshole: ((Cheery as ever))” WHY OF COOOUUURSE.”
ME: SOOOOO your a telemarketer correct?” ” how long?”CheeryB’***: “Why yes I am” “and 12 years this July” ( clearly proud of herself)

Me: So then if this” college’ish thing you speak of is so great, WTF are you calling me for from your minimum wage job?” ” shouldn’t you be all rich and ha I (stuck it to the man) by now?”…

.” P.S. it’s 6 am where I am!!!!”Slightlylesscheerychick: ((((SILENCE)))

Facepalm WOOOW happy Sunday face people !!
— Heather Cornell , direct from sleepy bed




We see them on a daily basis — the disheveled, homeless person wandering the streets. For most of us, a first reaction to seeing our fellow human being in such a state is, “what set of circumstances brings a person to this condition?”

Or, “I have heard that this is a lifestyle choice. But why would anyone willing choose to live this way? “

This to many of us is the face of addiction and alcoholism.

Living on the streets and not seeking shelter is a choice often made by those who use drugs or alcohol.   Most shelters turn away people seen to be under the influence; yet to those who continue to “use,” enduring the perils of nature and dangers of living on the street is a price worth paying .

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, those who estimate the cost of drug and alcohol abuse peg it at over $600 billion annually.  Breaking this huge amount down, we find $ 193 billion spent for illicit drugs, the same amount for tobacco, and $235 billion for alcohol.  From these immense dollar totals alone, we can conclude that substance abuse is not limited only to unfortunate men and women living on the margins of our society.

About drug and alcohol abuse, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service states this:

“Many Americans believe that drug abuse is not their problem. They have misconceptions that drug users belong to a segment of society different from their own, or that drug abuse is remote from their environment. They are wrong. Almost three quarters of drug users are employed.

“A majority of Americans believes that drug use and drug-related crime are among our nation’s most pressing social problems. Indeed, about 45 percent of Americans actually know someone with a substance abuse problem.”

Imprisonment dogs the substance abuser in America. Our nation’s Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the free world.  We imprison 743 of every 100,000, compared to 96 out of 100,000 in England and Wales and 71 per 100,000 in France.  The Center for Economic Policy Research says that 60 percent of all US prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent crimes.

Much of that 60 percent goes to prison for relatively minor crimes – because “three strikes” laws require lengthy mandatory minimum sentencing no matter what..

A criminal-system response  to the disease of addiction arises from our society’s perception that substance abuse is a moral failing rather than a medical condition.  By no means am I suggesting not holding people accountable for their actions. But accountability in the case of substance abuse should emphasize treatment and recovery.

The cost to our society  of substance abuse goes well beyond dollar figures.   Those afflicted with drug problems fill our emergency rooms, kill people through accidents and contribute towards violent crime.  Violence often arises from the intoxicating effects of drugs and alcohol.

We need to seek out and find alternatives to the familiar but wasteful, crime and punishment approach toward the scourge that substance abuse puts upon our civil society.  We do not punish people with diabetes, lactose intolerance or cancer.  We treat them.   Addiction is recognized as a mental illness, and often, in some cases it is a combination of both mental and physical ailments..

There are many collaborative efforts being forged to create a culture of treatment for drug abuse as a  chronic condition rather than one of punishment.   In upcoming blogs I hope to highlight and bring attention to those who are pursuing this course.

— John Shea III / The Way Home


photo of Eric Snowden : courtesy

The recent revelation that America’s Federal government has access to everyone’s phone calls and all internet traffic on the nine most-used websites has shocked our nation. It should. The NSA and CIA claim legislation authorizes them; that the procedures for using such access are rigorous and scrupulously followed. Do you believe them ?

Less than a month ago it was learned that the Department of Justice, searching for whoever leaked intelligence info to the Associated Press, subpoena’d all of the AP’s phone records over a two-month period. Not only phone records relevant to the leaker, but ALL the AP’s phone records. Do you think that was justified ? The DOJ says that the subpoena was perfectly legal. Should it be ?

All of the above actions, most likely, would make sense, and be consented to by the nation,l if we were fully at war. During the Civil war, the writ of habeas corpus, as basic to free people as it gets, was suspended — and after the War, this suspension was upheld by the Supreme Court. World War I, not only anti-war actions but even anti-war speech was prosecuted. During World War II, blanket censorship of mails was put in place. Few complained; were gravely at war, and in war, many of the usual liberties of a free people understandably take a time out.

After the attacks of 9/11, our nation once again moved to a war footing — understandably so. The Patriot Act curbed many of the liberties of a free people and imposed rigorous searches upon anyone boarding an airplane — or even using a library book. Crossing the Canadian border now required a passport. The e-mails and phone calls of non-citizens were snooped on. As long as the emergency after 9/11 lasted, most Americans consented.

Still, in all the above cases ecept the aftermath of 9/11, the incursions upon basic liberties of a free people lasted only for a few years, after which the curbs were stopped. But not this time.

This time the American people are being asked to live long periods of our lives with many of our liberties curbed — get frisked and searched at an airport or the entrance to a court house and then tell us that your liberties aren’t being curbed — and our private communications available everywhere and always to government officials.

There is no limit to who these curbs impact. All of us are being treated as potential enemies, potential terrorists. The government’s position is that it cannot trust us. None of us. We are all suspects.

This attitude, if allowed to continue, will corrode the loyalty of the American people, and it should. Loyalty only works when voluntarily given. Loyalty induced by an official wearing a uniform or a CIA badge is no loyalty at all. Loyalty checked out by search and frisk is no loyalty at all. Loyalty proved only by an invasive eavesdrop is no loyalty at all, not even when that eavesdrop is legislated and made “legal.” Legal it may be; freedom it is not.

The fight we are in with terrorism — most of it initiated overseas, most of it (but not all) Islamic — is not a “war’ any longer as we understand the term “war.” No armies are clashing by night — and the armed forces we still have in Afghanistan are coming home. No navies are slugging it out; no air forces are bombing each other’s cities. The fight against terrorism is handled today by police apparatus and the regular courts with the help — maybe — of the FBI. The injuries caused by low level terrorism can be grievous — witness the horror of Boston on Marathon Day. But it was simple police work that responded and apprehended the two “perps,’ and it is in Federal Court that the surviving suspect will be tried, with full civil rights for his defense.

It is our glory as a society that we assure full civil rights to a defendant in a terrorism matter. But must we the American people have to be such a defendant in order to have our civil rights ? Ought not the entire nation to be assured the same, and our civil liberties as well ? Including our privacy ?

The Federal government needs to trust the American people. It really is that simple. If it won’t,  will eventually decide not to trust IT.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere


photo (28)


Master re-mixer Dave Aude’ made a rare Boston DJ appearance last night at Club Cafe. The more than two-hour set by Aude’ was a highlight of Boston’s Pride Week. On the same night that Roger Sanchez, equally masterful as Aude’ and for just as many years, was dropping a two-hour set at a club not three blocks away, Aude’ rocked a dance floor full and excited.

There’s no mistaking what Aude’ does. He remixes pop bop dance tracks almost always featuring girly girl singers. In the studio, no one does it better, not many as well. His sound is creamy smooth most of the time but occasionally slap-nasty. Beats race along, synthesizers chirp and whoop, and the girl singer puckers her message of love-me, of go-away, of have fun and dance with me.

And so it was at Club Cafe. Aude’ played spiffy girl dances and nasty ones, hits new and old (Cazzette and Afrojack, but also early 1990s stuff such as Inner City’s “Good Life” and parts of tracks that echoed Snap, Ya Kid K, and Haddaway), and a long chain of racy giddy girls’ nights out — all of it segued with a smooth hand. He sound nudges the entire body. There’s roll and rumble, step and tiptoe for the legs and feet; shimmy shake sound effects for the hips and chest; and voices cute, chirpy, teasing, grungy — these and more; Aude’ has remixed an almost who’s who of star and wanna-be star girl pop voices — for the head and neck. In Aude’s sound each gets center stage only to give way — effortlessly in a dissolve mix, teetering on a quick cut — to its sonic companions.

Using the scantiest of equipment, two CD players and Club cafe’s stripped-down mix-board, Aude’ still managed to juggle his three-part sound without one flat moment, missed cue, or off-base segue. There were jet streak effects, twisty riffs, moody breaks, melodic serenades; sometimes he shaped his sound as a sharp slash, a kind of sword dance. But mostly he delivered his signature : girl going giddy, soprano soaring, heart a flutter. It was a night of girl talk and girlie action delivered mostly to boys for whom girl things are a necessary freedom to love and be loved in.

There is nothing simple about girl feelings. That’s why dancers — boy or girl — who embrace girl moves adore them. Aude’ focuses his sound and subject matter as narrowly as any DJ this writer has seen; yet at Club Cafe he made it serve an almost horizon-less expanse of tones, moves, talk, and beats. The many young DJs who play girl-voiced pop bop to party people often settle for sameness and surface. Not Aude’. His mixes at Club Cafe went inside a melody and turned it around and out, this way and that, changing on the fly and doubling back. Challenging, Aude’s rhythm action sure is, to a girl playing vixen, vamp, or Betty Boop. At Club Cafe Aude made sure that all of his chosen singers commanded her chosen role — and his chosen music.

— Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music