Friday, June 25, 2010

Photos along the Holyoke Canalwalk

I have to say if I had money to invest in a building I'd do it in the Paper City. Projects such as the Canalwalk – the first phase was opened on Friday – along with the high performance computing center and the eventual return of passenger rail make Holyoke more and more attractive.

Here is a random collection of pipes and turbines that now sits near the Canalwalk. I know it has just been dumped there, but it looks like sculpture.

You see nature reclaiming itself even in the center of an urban complex. This patch of plants hides a waterway flowing from the canal. It looks like a typical wetlands.

Looking toward Appleton Street along the Canalway.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Random Springfield photos

I was at the groundbreaking for the new home for ReStore on Tuesday and couldn't help but wonder if the former Sunshine Arts building, which is next door, could find a new use. It doesn't look like it's in bad shape.

High School of Commerce grad Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno wouldn't cave to the demands of the crowd and wear a Tech High School hat at the groundbreaking of the new state back-up data center at the Tech site. Maybe, though, he didn't want "hat head."

I was walking down Bridge Street and spotted this display at a beauty school. It looks like a special effect from an Indonesian horror film. Can you imagine working in the factory that produces plastic heads and hands for these displays? How wonderfully bizarre.

As part of the sidewalk on Bridge Street is this relic of the past. Max Zeller was a successful furrier who had a long-time store on Bridge Street. Zeller is long gone as is his store and the popularity of fur coats.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More fun with mug shots

From today's e-mail, a posting from Sgt. John Delaney of the Springfield Police Department:

"The Springfield Police Department Narcotics Division under the direction of Sgt. Neil Maloney and Sgt. Martin Ambrose conducted an investigation on Cocaine sales coming from the Forest Park address located at 16 Cloverdale Street. The investigating detectives determined that a Kevin Wilson age 38 of 16 Cloverdale Street was living in the dwelling with his girlfriend Damaris Ortiz age 33 and they were dealing large amounts of Cocaine by making 'deliveries' of the illegal narcotic all over the 'City of Homes.' The dwelling was held under surveillance and the officers observed Wilson on several occasions make deliveries in his Taurus and he would bring his two children, age 9 & 10 while he dealt Cocaine to waiting customers in different parking lots located in Springfield.

"Yesterday at 7:00 P.M. the surveillance officers observed Wilson leave his home with his two kids and proceed to drive to the parking lot of "Friendly's" on Sumner Avenue and make a Cocaine sale to a waiting customer. They observed the 'Father of the Year' (its almost Fathers Day) leave the car and make the sale while he left his two kids in the car. The detectives then followed him to Island Pond Road where he made another sale. After the sale they followed Wilson to Wilbraham Av. where they attempted to pull the vehicle over. When Wilson spotted the cops he attempted to swallow the remaining Cocaine. The officers tried to stop the cocaine from being swallowed and Wilson resisted the police in front of his kids. The police retrieved 4.5 grams of Crack Cocaine and he was arrested. The detectives then returned to 16 Cloverdale Street with a Search warrant where they arrested the girlfriend and found the following items ...
85 grams of Cocaine
$3,000.00 in cash
.9mm semi-automatic handgun fully loaded
packaging material
scales and drug paraphernalia
Arrested are......
1) Kevin Wilson age 38 of 16 Cloverdale Street
2) Damaris Ortiz age 33 of 16 Cloverdale Street ...charges....
a) Trafficking in Cocaine 28-100 grms
b) Violation of a Drug Free School Zone
c) Poss. of a Firearm
d) Poss. of Ammo
e) * Wilson is charged with Resisting Arrest
f) * Wanton/Reckless Behavior, risk of injury to child
The children were taken to the Police Station where workers from D.C.F. arrived at station and took custody of the kids.
Both defendants will be arraigned in Springfield District Court today."

wait for it

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If you don't understand it right now, please realize we are seeing a true environmental apocalypse in the Gulf, one that will affect the world for many years to come and create a refugee problem as people, unable to work, must leave and seek work and housing elsewhere.

Security should be in the hands of law enforcement or the National Guard, not rent-a-cops and goons.

This might be the moment in American history at which we have the kind of revolution that Thomas Jefferson wrote was necessary for the health of the Republic. If the Tea Party types were actually serious about fundamental change, if the Progressives were serious about change, this insane corporate/government clusterf*ck should be the trigger.

We can lay this at the feet of the federal government. Consider this : "In 1995, both houses of Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act (S.395), which granted a royalty "holiday" to oil and gas companies drilling in government-owned deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico for leases sold between 1996 and 2000. Specifically, under the program, companies would not have to pay the normal royalties except when market prices reached $34 a barrel for oil and $4 per thousand cubic feet for natural gas. At the time, oil and gas prices were fairly low, and supporters of the bill argued it would provide an incentive for petroleum companies to drill for oil and natural gas inside the U.S." Sourcewatch

Always remember that Bill Clinton was just Republican light.

That was followed with "In 2005, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R. 6). which included a variety of provisions to provide royalty relief to oil and gas companies. Environmental and taxpayer groups criticized the legislation. Sara Zdeb, Legislative Director of Friends of the Earth, criticized the legislation as it came out of conference, saying, 'the bill hands over billions in taxpayer dollars to America’s worst polluting industries while shortchanging renewable energy and energy efficiency—proven solutions that reduce our dependence on oil.'[7]"

Another shot from the Bushies: In 2006, Congress passed and the President signed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), coauthored the plan to open 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico and share 37.5 percent of the new royalty revenues, dedicated to coastal protection, with Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. An additional 12.5 percent will be dedicated to the state side of the Land and Conservation Fund, which funds the acquisition of parks and green spaces across the country.[8] An industry-led coalition called the Consumer Alliance for Energy Security applauded passage of the bill and claimed that they “played a prominent role” in winning its passage.[9]

"Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program criticized the legislation:
'America is already the third biggest oil producer in the world. The problem isn’t that we produce too little oil – it’s that we consume too much, using one of every four barrels of oil in the world each day. The smartest way to break our reliance on oil is to increase fuel economy standards and invest in energy efficiency measures and mass transit... Left to their own devices, oil companies will just keep drilling in environmentally sensitive federal land and offshore areas, and fueling their corporate wealth in the process.'"[10]

This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is corporate short-term greed. They don't care how they make their money, as long as it is made.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A pivotal scene from "Metropolis" and a fascinating glimpse behind it.

The wait was well worth it

The absolute joy of being a film fan is seeing something you never thought you would ever see. That’s why I’ve been going to Cinefest for 20 years or so – so I can sit in a hotel convention center and see films that are unlikely ever to appear on DVD or be run on television outside of a 3 a.m. showing on Turner Classics.

Back in the 1980s, I used to attend informal gatherings of several film collectors who had acquired 16mm prints of films discarded from television stations or other sources. There was a thrill of seeing something that was an unknown commodity – a thrill that turned sometimes or horror or boredom as you realized a film had deserved its obscurity.

There are plenty of “lost” movies – movies that are no longer easy to see because all prints have been destroyed or literally been lost. Most of the films of the silent era are gone. They have decomposed through the use of the unstable nitrate film stock or they were actively destroyed to make room in vaults for more contemporary films – films with a value for re-release.

Film fans who are younger than 50 or so don’t realize that especially in the era before television studios re-released popular films to new audiences. A movie such as “King Kong” or “Gone With the Wind” had multiple releases. There was an earning potential with these films.

But silent films? Outside of a handful of archives and specialized theaters there wasn’t much demand. It’s little wonder that so many silent films were “lost.”

The output of one studio, FBO, has vanished aside from just a few titles. Merged and molded into RKO for the sound period, the silent films of FBO were destroyed.

There is a romance about these lost films. Will they ever turn up? Will they hold up to the legend that surrounds them?

There is the Holy Trinity of lost movies, “Greed,” “London After Midnight,” and “Metropolis.” Erich Von Stroheim’s eight-hour cut of “Greed” will undoubtedly never be seen, largely, I think, because the studio cut the film down to a standard length and probably trashed the footage immediately.

Perhaps “London After Midnight” will emerge one day. There are still quite a number of Lon Chaney Sr. fans who would love to see this early depiction of a vampire.

“Metropolis” suffered a fate like “Greed,” in which studio politics took an important work away from a filmmaker and altered it. What’s worse for a work of art – to disappear completely or to exist in a truncated form?

Until the release of the Giorgio Moroder restored version in 1984, I never even tried to watch it despite the fact it was in the public domain and fairly easy to find on cheap VHS.

Some purists might have condemned Moroder for his use of rock music – I think his choices suited the film well – but he was the man who started the rehabilitation of the film and its rediscovery by a new audience and I certainly thank him.

When the restored version of 2002 was released I was privileged to see it in the former Columbia Pictures screening room in Manhattan. I sat there knowing I was watching something no one had seen since the film’s release in 1927.

Not quite.

While that restoration was done with the best material and research available at the time, the newly released restoration is indeed – with the exception of just one or two scenes – director Fritz Lang’s movie.

Not only are scenes long since missing from a near complete 16mm print of the original cut of the film, but for the first time researchers had a blueprint for the editing of the film. While the shooting script certainly gave indications of what scene went where, the final edit, since the studio, UFA, had destroyed it several weeks after the release of the film in Berlin, remained unknown.

Lang was quoted disowning the film and I can’t blame him. Lang apparently never watched the film again in any of its forms – he died in 1976 well before the Morodor version was released.

Was all the effort to find and restore the film worthwhile? Yes, it was as my friend Mark and I discovered recently when we traveled to Boston to see the film at the Coolidge Corner.

The movie as a whole stands a remarkable work. Its visuals are outstanding and amazing on the big screen.

Its theme that the heart must be the mediator between the hearts and the hands – we must remain spiritually connected in the face of technology that can dehumanize us – might seem to some as amazingly hokey, especially from a movie maker known for his gritty American film noir work.

Perhaps its my age or my prejudice to like this movie, I found its message, however simplistic, to have real meaning in today’s virtual world.

Despite its length of two and half hours, the film moves along in its new edition at a good pace. Finally we have the entire story, which makes perfect sense, and we have a complete vision of a future world in which technology certainly has outstripped society’s ability to cope with it.

While some might chuckle at the class struggle depicted in the film – H.G. Wells gave a negative review of the film at its release for its “foolishness, cliché, platitude, and muddlement about mechanical progress and progress in general” – I don’t think we’re all that far away from the kind of divides we see in the film with today's erosion of the middle class and the growing poverty in this country.

The acting in the film drew laughter at some points. That’s to be expected, as the style of acting here is radically different that what audiences are used to today. I do think Brigette Helm did a tremendous job as the virginal Maria and her out of control robotic counterpart. And nearly all movie mad scientists owe much to the archetype created by Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Rotwang.

Although the original symphonic score is appropriate in the film, it didn’t serve the erotic dancing sequence very well. A more contemporary score would have been better there. That quibble is quite minor.

If you have the chance to see the film in a theater by all means do so.