Sunday, September 19, 2010

Which City?

Salem is a great town to walk around in. Fall is a great time to walk around Salem. Salem, Massachusetts has a lot of history. Of course, the big thing everyone remembers is the Salem Witch Trials. Not exactly something to be real proud of. However, Salem took this lemon and made a witch's brew!
Quite a few years ago, the town decided to tie their woeful witch history to Halloween. They came up with a number of spooky events and christened the two weeks before Halloween as "The Haunted Happenings". They had a public relations hit.
They kick off the Haunted Happenings with a night time parade through downtown. A lot of the spectators dress up in costumes and its tons of fun. It's a lot of fun for kids, as long as their not too squeemish. Some costumes can be graphic.
The trouble is, after a couple of decades this witch thing has gone a little too far. It seems that every shop downtown is nothing but witch junk. There's witches, actually folks dressed as the traditional pointed black hat witch, walking up and down the streets handing out brochures to psychic readings, wax museums, horror shows and macabre boutiques. Halloween is fun but, come on already. Did I tell you, Salem has a lot of history?
How about a few more shops that highlight the maritime history of Salem. Salem was a major seaport at one time. Yeah, there is a pirate museum but there could be much more. The town is trying to capture seafaring days by reconstructing Derby Wharf to look as it did in the 1700's. However, there needs to be much more to balance off the witches and goblins. But, you know, that Dracula's Castle is wicked cool.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'd Like to Help, Son, But You Don't Even Vote

Hey, did you get out and vote this week? Oh, that's right, this was only a primary. Why bother voting in those things, right. There's no winners in those races. Primaries don't matter, the real election is in November.

Hello, this is part of the democratic process! We call ourselves the greatest democracy in the world and here in the state of Massachusetts less than 15% of the voters turn out to the polls. Turn out was reported to be very light across the country.

As a nation we should be ashamed of ourselves. We tout the advantages of democracy to the rest of the world. We send our young kids to fight wars to uphold democracy and over three quarters of the country doesn't give a shit that elections are going on. This is the shining example of self governing we would like others to emulate?

Be a part of your community. Be a part of your government. Be a part of solutions. Take part in democracy, it would suck to lose it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Kid and his Comics

I read comic books. I love comic books. I have had a relationship with comic books for a very long time. I can honestly say that my appreciation for the printed word came originally from the pages of Green Lantern, Aquaman and Thor rather than any book assigned by teachers.

I can still remember as a kid the pleasure of opening up a new comic fresh from the corner store. The labors that went into obtaining that book were great. Comics cost twelve cents at the time and those twelve cents didn't come easy. Soda bottles had a two cent return on them back then and I remember scouring the neighborhood looking for six bottles in order to have enough to secure a new issue of Detective Comics featuring Batman. Of course, every other kid in the neighborhood was scrounging for the same number of bottles. Ah, but that's one of the reasons you made friends.

With a friend, who might be as good a scavenger as you, you could round up a dozen bottles or more and you had a great afternoon of reading ahead of you. The trick was to make sure you made friends with someone with the same tastes in comics.

However, I was pretty flexible when it came to the various titles that were out there. I started out with the typical Superman and Batman stuff. Early on, I stayed with a lot of what DC had to offer. I read The Flash, Green Arrow and Sgt Rock. Later though, it was Marvel Comics that hooked me. Marvel had a different style of writing and characters that seemed more alive. Marvel let you into the thoughts of their characters and damned if they didn't seem to be thinking a lot like I was. Some characters, Spiderman in particular, seem to be going through the normal problems of being a teen or young adult. Yeah, you might have superpowers, but you still have to get a date for the prom! So, I kept reading the comics right along with my assigned reading of Moby Dick, Tale of Two Cities and Julius Caesar. Of course, by now I had to suppliment the bottle hunts with a Sunday paper route. I needed more comics and they went up to 15 cents.

My desire for comics did wane a bit as I went through high school. After all, I needed to line up a date or two myself. Later, when I found myself in the service, I had a chance to rekindle the craving. Servicemen stationed overseas end up with a lot of down time cooped up in the barracks. The Post Exchange store realizes this as well as anyone else. So, they provide a lot of reading material. Yes, men left to their own devices will purchase a fair amount of glossy magazines of a certain genre, however that can only occupy just so much of your time. So, the Exchange also stocks comics, lots of comics. And, there is always a lot of reading, swapping and collecting of comics going on in all branches of the service.

Eventually, you move on and get on with living your life. Work, marriage, mortgage, kids, it takes up a lot of time. And, time seems to get more precious as it moves along. But, recently, I've made it a point to set aside a little time for an old fond pastime.

I still read comics and I still love comics