Jeremy, We Need to Talk

I’ve offered you rides after various council meetings, and you’ve always turned me down, saying you could just walk home.  So I kind of got the impression that you were a guy in his early twenties, living in an apartment near downtown, barely making ends meet at a weekly paper.

I had the feeling something was up when I parked in the Water Street municipal lot for the Worcester Mag on Tap event and saw a “Reserved for Jeremy Shulkin” sign where a meter should be.  Perhaps the Lexus in that spot should have told me all I needed to know.

I thought you were different.  I’ve never seen you wear a beret.  You don’t live in a former elementary school.  You don’t pontificate on urban architecture.

And then I read this.  You have a laminated card!  People know your first name! You look down on your dominion from the comfort of your large office, complete with leather-upholstered chair!

So I did what any rational woman would do.  I sent the members of my club (you may know them as the “snob mob”) to ransack your offices; hey, I needed some spare change and half a sandwich.  And — because this is how we kick it, Island-style — I asked them to take your boss’s laptop. And, you know, pack heat, because you never know what kind of yuppie riff-raff you’ll find at José Murphy’s.

Let this be a lesson to all of you would-be alt-weekly journalists, who think you can just rake in the millions while filing articles about education policy and fire victims without any consequences.  Just think of what me and my peeps are going to do the next time you write an earnest editorial about how welcoming people have been!

(Note: if you know what this is inspired by, you know what it’s inspired by.  I’m not linking to it.  And — to the person who wrote the original — why don’t you try being constructive for once, instead of tearing people down?)

Which Came First: the Valentine or the Heart?

Jeff wanted to know whether the heart in the Worcester seal had anything do with Esther Howland’s valentine business.

So, I decided to use the Chat with a Librarian service.  It took a few days to get the answer because of the research required, but it came to me via email (answered by Joy Hennig) and here it is:

Ivan Sandrof, noted Worcester historian, has this to say about the origin of Worcester’s motto:

“The motto came first. It was noted during the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of Worcester County on Oct 4, 1831….One of the speakers was Levi Lincoln, a former governor and later Worcester’s first mayor. In a tribute to Chief Justice Isaac Parker of the Supreme Court, who had died a short time before he said, “It was the wish of his heart that the county of Worcester should remain one and indivisible. Whatever changes may, in evil times, await it, in honoring his virtues there will be no division in the ‘Heart of the Commonwealth.'” Lincoln’s speech contained the first recorded reference.”

I hope this answers your question. The quote was taken from our clipping file under the heading “Worcester Seal”. Clipping was undated.

Right Time

There was a discussion on 508 this week about the origin of “Right Time, Right Place” (specifically, this song).

The origin of the slogan appears in the Telegram first in 1996.  (Note that this campaign cost $1.6 million.)  This inspired a Dianne Williamson column on slogans.

Four years later, in 2000, Susan J. Black, the city’s marketing director, built on this theme with a $510,000 marketing campaign that presumably included the song.  According to that article:

The jingle was the brainchild of Joseph Flynn, regional vice president and general manager of Citadel Communications, which owns four radio stations in the area, including WXLO-FM.

The jingle was put together by Brian Silva, president and owner of Sound Marketing [of Gloucester].

(That article also includes full lyrics.)

Jim Dempsey reimagined the jingle in a column (and resurrects another one — “Wake up to Worcester” — which reminds me why I like to sleep in).  This is why I miss seeing him in the Telegram:

The marketing plan from that same campaign addressed the problem of how to sell the city to its own residents. What was required, the plan concluded, was “a packaging and promotion program,” a “multi- faceted program of activities and communications” and a “consistent unified media advertising program.”

Now, isn’t that amazing? The folks whose business is promotion and advertising tell us that the answers to all our woes are promotion and advertising.

Maybe they have lived so long in their catchy, up-tempo, positive worlds that they simply cannot see that “Target Worcester” sounds as if people would want to shoot firearms at us.

(There’s more about “Wake up to Worcester” here and here, and a revisit of that same motto nearly fifteen years later; also, lyrics to a song called “Fair Worcester” via Jim Dempsey.)

What I Learned from Blogs This Week

Administrative Stuff
I’ll be putting up a few items on the Virtual Assignment Desk for next week.  If you register at the WorcesterActivist site, you can update this as well.  Hint hint.

If you don’t have a blog but want to report on something, let me know and I’ll post it here.  Also, please feel free to send in nominations for “What I Learned from Blogs This Week.”  I tend to collect news-ish items during the week, but please let me know if I’ve missed anything of note.

Contests & Other Publicity
Worcester Mag’s Best of Worcester has a category for Best Local Blog.  Vote your conscience, as long as your conscience directs that you vote for Wormtown Taxi!   (Also, Albert Southwick for best columnist!)

Thursday, February 25 – 7:30 p.m. at AAS — Researching and Writing African American Biography: The Life of William Wells Brown

 Pecha Kucha, vol 4, Saturday night.

What I Learned This Week

508 turned 100.

Bill on super markets, task forces

Tracy on the possibility of a new charter school in Worcester, and follows the Central Falls story.

Sean finds no fault with Robert Z. Nemeth this week.  I also nominate him to evaluate every local candidate’s website, as he did with Karyn Polito’s.

Jeff on the T&G’s anti-cop agenda, WooTube controversy, and the omnipresence of Thiro trucks.

Paulie discusses housing loans and the Dismas House Family Farm.

The abyss between left and right, and the need for a senator’s clarification.

Victor on a weekend in the literary life of Worcester.

MassMoments discusses Esther Howland.  (Also, AAS on hairy valentines.)

The need for a Worcester TARDIS; “Worcester Illustrated“; the best T&G letter of the year; CitySquare rumblings; tracks, sightings, and more tracks; the city recycling rate; a reminder that I need to brush up on my Finnish.

Telegram.comment of the week
Sean pointed out the comments to the article on Jill Stein.  While I was tempted by some of the comments referring to “moon bats”, I think the “George Washington died of an STD” non sequitur of this comment puts it over the top:

Presidents Day is finally here and not one headlined article.
Two great presidents,one was murdered,the other died of syphilis,how sad for both. — Happy Holiday

The Week in Tirella
Sean did it for me.

The Week in Southwick
This column is Southwick at his best.  I’d been meaning to read The Naked Quaker, so I was glad to hear a glowing review of the book from him.

Albert Southwick always seems to bring up topics that I’ve been thinking about.  We were watching the second installment of Faces of America, and I was overwhelmed by the story of Kristi Yamaguchi’s grandfather.  I can’t imagine that it was comfortable for her to hear about the sufferings of her ancestors (rights taken away, relocated to internment camps, the inability to become citizens for a ridiculously long time), but I’m sure it was equally wonderful to hear all sorts of great stories about their successes.

My husband and I talked about whether I’d ever be interested in doing genealogical research.  I said at some point, I’d put together what’s rattling around in my head, for the benefit of our children, but that I wouldn’t go to the old country to do any additional research.  I don’t think there are any records to be found.  Even if there were, I’d be afraid of what I’d find.

Many of the celebrities profiled can be proud of their ancestors.  Their ancestors worked hard, were positively profiled in the New York Times (as in the case of Queen Noor) and escaped forced famines (as in the case of Stephen Colbert).   I don’t get the sense that anyone profiled in the series was worried that their ancestors left their countries of origin not to make a better life, but because they’d done something so bad that coming here was the only option to save their skin.  And that’s what I worry about, with a certain side of my family.

What I appreciate about Albert Southwick is that he’s very honest — here and in other places — about his family’s history of owning slaves.  It’s very easy to be proud of your ancestors, and it’s very easy to only see the best in those long dead.  It’s much harder to know their flaws and wonder if those flaws could just as easily have been yours, had you been in the same circumstances.