Digression: On jams–not the preserves.

A brawl or a melee of some sort — my dad used to call them — jams.  “Be ready,” he said. “To take cover or get out.  And make sure you always know where the exits are.”

This past week coming home from work on the subway train nearly got caught in a jam.

The blue line didn’t have any delays, and we had just stopped at Airport station (unlike the film not the stop before Wonderland).  A group of high school aged kids were talking and being kind of loud, they all had large soda drinks from Burger King with them.

No one paid them much attention. School is pretty much out, kids are blowing off steam and either starting summer jobs or perhaps summer school after the July 4th holiday.

Two (2) girls were slight, blondish and haughty, there were four (4) boys pretty homogenous and then there was him.  Mr. Ringleader, the head of the clique or this group of thuggish kids, about six (6) feet tall wearing shorts and a tee shirt with a baseball cap of some sort.  White Nike sneakers with black or dark gray socks.

Anyway just before the train door’s closed — Mr. Ringleader threw his soda cup now apparently except for ice — right through the doors and onto the edge of the platform.  Which means it will melt and become a slippery puddle, etc.

Was sitting a few seats down from where the girls were standing and hanging onto the overhead strap.  Sort of shook my head a little thinking how rude and awful when a woman about my age — because entered the “ma’am era” awhile back, was standing next to the door, and she took her earbuds out and said to him, “You didn’t just really do that did you?”

This lady though was no “ma’am” but a tough cookie.  Reminded me years ago of girls in groups Papa Gino’s pizza in Revere after the movies — all I had to do was walk in with assorted friends, before they appeared, multiplied and threatened to beat us up simply for stepping in the door.

Oh I thought, been here before, here it comes.

But to my surprise Mr. Ringleader did not curse at her, he frowned and said defiant: “Yeah right.”

She continued, “There are trash cans all over the place and now someone is going to have to pick up your crap.”

And got really quiet.  Felt like all the guys in the train car were just watching and waiting for the Ringleader’s next move.

“Yeah right,” he said again, but agreeing more and signaling his friends, “Uh huh — That’s right.”

Snickering ensued.

“You think that is funny?”  This woman asked in full Joe Pesci mode but he ignored her.  She put back her earbuds and said, “I fear for our future.”

For the rest of the way they talked and snickered — the girls sort of looked at me like: “Just try to say something to us.”  Gave them a solitary dismissive frown and then looked away ignoring them until my stop.

Of course they got off at my stop.  And was worried they hailed from my town. Was wondering if they were children of folks I went to school with growing up?

Hung back and they got off first.  They did not queue to wait for the bus to my town, and they walked up the hill out of the station and into the street — looking over their shoulders — not sure why.  Maybe they figured someone may have texted transit police — and actually I have to see if you can do that.

The girls crossed over the traffic bridge going one way with one of the boys the other three and Mr. Ringleader walked over the pedestrian bridge toward the intersection, where I’m presuming they crossed against the lights and played in oncoming traffic.

Entitled, bad behavior which is common, and we see it everyday.

Luckily there was no gun, or knife, and it didn’t get physical.

Still a jam is a jam.






Digression: Father’s Day 2017

People are still looking for my dad. After his chemo he always wore a little cap, sort of like a driving cap/golfer’s cap, here in Boston some folks call them scully caps.  But he favored ones that were slim and often I would buy six of them in Filene’s Basement or Marshall’s then then he would only keep one, and I’d return the rest. Sometimes my mom would sew/taper them — more like the style of the caps certain veterans wear.

People knew him from his caps, from cleaning our beach next door, watering the flowers out front, and in the summers, sometimes on the weekend mornings he would set up a little yard sale at the end of driveway.  Would talk to them as they walked by with their dogs, or just alone out for a stroll.

They see me especially, when I wear his old jackets and an old painters cap over my hair pinned up. These days I’m working on getting ready for when we are cleared to fix our seawall which collapsed in December 2016.  Finally got engineers and we are applying for permits.

From context or perspective, I’m about the same height and from the distance, they see me out there, and on the beach cleaning, and walk over and they stop and ask who I am or ask did I buy the house?

Has been over two years since my dad passed away in November 2014 — still explaining the very short version how he became ill with a lung disease (a long term side effect of his chemo) — pointing out the bench we dedicated in his memory, so people can look at out the water.

People are sad to hear it and say nice polite things.  They nod about the bench agreeing he would have liked that and noting that they will stop and sit there when they can.

Digression. As simply as that — it becomes personal.

Thoughts that hover around me today — are when “an attack” becomes personal. When they — whoever they are — attack your home town, purposely and with vengeance.  Something that means a lot or something very typical, something we often take for granted, something they — who ever they are — fear or despise along with no conscience.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, heard from folks that had been absent from my life for 10, 20, and even 30 years.  There is a little mental list I keep. And I let them know I wasn’t there on Boylston Street, and I had been across the river. On a belated celebration of my birthday, my friend and I went to see this indie movie and about an Australian singing group during the Vietnam War, and at one point there was a scene of their show turning into all running and explosions. Remember saying to my friend: “My goodness this sound system — feels like the building is shaking.”

And of course it was, from the bombs going off across the river, but we had no idea until the film ended and went to a nearby restaurant. Wasn’t until the trial and the release of the milk and cookies run to Whole Food Market video with the time stamp — realized how close our paths crossed via local traffic in driving back to my friend’s apartment.  As simply as that — it becomes personal.

Every time I walk up Boylston Street, I think of that innocent little boy and the women that died there, and the many others that left there without their arms and legs.  All because they were out on a beautiful day, running or watching a race, a time honored tradition, in one of the most beloved parts of our city.  As simply as that — it becomes personal.

And I remember all the photos and videos of all of those brave people at the marathon running toward the explosions. Frantic pulling down clothes off racks for tourniquets, random folks in line at our hospitals to give blood. To note with the bombers still at large at that point, everyone went to work that next day, by public transportation: bus, subway and commuter trains from all diverse neighborhoods — having no idea if another attack was imminent.  Everyone stood up and pushed back. As simply as that — it becomes personal.

Later that same week — the firefight in Watertown, MA and the subsequent lock down.  A dear friend called me from Brooklyn and said: “What the hell is going on up there?”  Which was a good question.  Told him I did not know but whatever it was — obviously coming his way since they had just announced shutting down the Amtrak train to New York City. As simply as that — it becomes personal.

After it all happened, realized how small my city really is and my belief in the theory of six degrees of separation became firmly rooted.  Years later our city continues on watchful and mindful amid the unspoken personal contracts during our daily commutes.  As simply as that — it becomes personal.

Today, my thoughts are with those who perished on June 3, 2017. To all the people in London trying to identify people missing or wounded.  The emergency services personnel including police, ambulance workers who train and train to deal with these unspeakable acts.  Regular citizens who took to social media and offered shelter in their homes, or who were locked out of their homes because of this violence. All those in Manchester and London — who will never feel the same about London Bridge, that particular concert hall, tube station, or about those certain streets and pubs, that have experienced all this violence.  As simply as that — it becomes personal.

Literary Digression: Anne with an “E”

Via Lithub I read an interesting essay/editorial at the Atlantic magazine online, which discussed the new Netflix series, adaptation of Anne of Green Gables.  The author talks about how after viewing the adaptation and then re-reading the book, she got more of a sense of the darkness.  In the new adaptation there will be more of a focus on Anne’s past via flashbacks — suggesting perhaps PTSD from her orphan years.  The author also sort of dismisses I think the beloved CBC’s adaption that ran on PBS for many years.

While I realize that Anne came from a dark and unstable background, I think it is her unending optimism that sets her apart — as misguided sometimes as it may be.  Kindred spirit has been part of my vocabulary since I read the first book, and also “getting into scrapes.”  For some reason I had a stretch of strange, little accidents and/or scrapes back in my late 20’s–which resulted in minor injuries and visits to the emergency room–on the last one I said to the nurse doing the intake interview, “I just keep getting into all these scrapes–thinking I’m going through this Anne of Green Gables phase or something.”

And without missing a beat she looked up at me and asked: “Well you didn’t try to climb up on the roof pole did you?”  Yes you know you live in a well-read city, when your ER nurse gets your Anne of Green Gable  reference.

Generally, these days I’m not sure about all these adaptions.  To be clear, I have nothing against book to film, or book to TV adaptions.  If done well they can be a nice companion of sorts to the original book.  But I feel like we are perhaps re-visiting  and recycling things a little too much and in the process to do this revisiting/recycling, putting darker/different shades of meaning on them — really moving away from the original books.  Full disclosure here, I don’t have Netflix or Hulu so I may not see any of these more recent literary adaptations unless they are rebroadcast later on regular cable/television — years later, etc.   Here is a URL if you want to check out the editorial/essay at the Atlantic:



Excerpt: Jane Austen The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly (upcoming book).

Essay/excerpt about Jane Austen including: her life, previous Austen biographies re: their sources, problems with documentation, her letters, and also the large influence of media/adaptations of Austen’s books, and various other subjects.  Little bit long for standalone excerpt/essay — via the site — Lithub — Excerpt from the book: Jane Austen The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly — URL: http://lithub.com/the-many-ways-in-which-we-are-wrong-about-jane-austen/

And a little update  — the ladies/folks, over at Jezebel.com are also kicking around some theories about this coming book as well as — Sense and Sensibility and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women.

Here is the URL/Link– http://pictorial.jezebel.com/dont-forget-your-mary-wollstonecraft-while-reading-jane-1795220001 —