Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A liberal oasis in Western Massachusetts

I’ve known some natives of towns like Northampton - and often they are not as impressed with these little oases of liberalism as I am. I do like these little towns & cities - places like Northampton, Massachusetts; Bloomington, Indiana; and Asheville, North Carolina, Yes, they can have an artificial and precious quality - but they also are home to a lively community of dissent. Nice bookstores. Good restaurants. Street musicians.

Northampton is home to a Smith College, which is adjacent to the downtown. I was staying with Erin, a recent graduate of Smith College. Slept on her couch. She’s a friend of Susan, whose poems I posted earlier. I’ll include some poems of Erin in a separate posting here.

From Northampton, I took Route 9 to Worcester. It’s a pretty road - but not a fast road. It runs south of the Quabbin Reservoir. One of the largest man-made public water supplies in the United States, the Quabbin Reservoir covers 39 square miles and has the capacity to hold 412 billion gallons of water, according to the little fact sheet posted at the visitors center. Four towns were completely moved in the 1930s during the creation of the reservoir.

The creation of the reservoir and the protected area around it was a boon for wildlife. Some of the animals have been shot and stuffed, and now adorn the walls of the visitor center.

Here are some pictures of Smith College, downtown Northampton, Quabbin Reservoir, and some stuffed animals. Oh - and a photo of a diner in Leicester, MA. I liked the Moxie sign. (For those of you who don't know New England, the word "moxie" - which is a little archaic now - comes from this beverage. Moxie was one of those creations of the late 1800s - a mixture of patent medicine and beverage. I lived in New England for years - but I never tried it. It's supposed to be good for ailments ranging from softening of the brain to “loss of manhood,” according to its Wikipedia entry.


Ani said...

If you take a drive north a bit, you'll reach Brattleboro, Vermont, which had the cheek to do this last year:


Brattleboro, Vermont passes indictment of Bush and Cheney

To be arrested in Brattleboro "if they are not duly impeached"

Brattleboro Town Clerk Annette Cappy stands in her office in holding a sample ballot

The courageous people of Brattleboro, Vermont have taken the lead! Frustrated that elected officials have refused to introduce articles of impeachment in defiance of their constituents' demands, the people of Brattelboro voted to direct town officials to draw up indictment papers against George Bush and Dick Cheney for violating their oath of office.

The Brattleboro vote took place during the Tuesday's Vermont primary election. Bush supporters launched a major campaign to discredit the referendum resolution and the organizers. Yet the resolution passed by a vote of 2012 in favor to 1795 against

Neither Bush nor Cheney managed to visit Vermont during their times in office for some reason...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember when this happened. I sincerely hoped that other states would follow VT's lead - but of course - there's only one VT!

Matthew said...

As someone from out west, I moved to Western Mass and understood why people were enamored with the place... when i was a teenager!

I just don't understand the obsession. It's not that amazing. I think Northampton is reliant on a lot of hype and hot air. I'm critical because i've been living here for a few years, and I'm fed up with people that pretend they're on my side (that they're liberals) but in reality are a bunch of money grubbing short sighted capitalists. The disparity and passive racism is disgusting in this area. You have "enlightened" college towns and everything else is urban or rural decay. There are small towns that are disappearing and slummy big cities like chicopee and Springfield that are going nowhere fast. Western MA is truly the playground for the wealthy New Yorkers.

And really? "Indict Bush!" ooh big deal. How courageous.. It's all an image thing. These liberals just give lip service to their own ideals. They're not real radicals or revolutionaries at all. They're armchair activists. I won't give western Ma a big thumbs while the factories leave, the college tuition goes up, and the public schools get worse. Western MA is a paper tiger that can't or won't recognize its own flaws.

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