A Haunted Harbor

ANTHONY: You learn some crazy shit about those lighthouses. Been up there since when this was all basically England. Since this was all basically Yorkshire, or Shropshire, or some such shit. Like there’s this one out in the harbor? The space right beyond it right, you sail into it, and you can’t hear anything, it’s like a, like a black hole?

Anthony’s referring to the lighthouse in the Boston Harbor called the Boston Light that was originally built in 1716 and a part of the ocean past Little Brewster Island called the “Ghost Walk.” Many legends are connected to the lighthouse and ghost walk. Read this for more info:

Boston Light is the oldest lighthouse in America, originally built in 1716 on Little Brewster Island at the entrance of Boston Harbor. It’s no surprise that a number of legends are associated with such a historic landmark. After all, it has borne witness to countless
shipwrecks near the island as well as the drownings of its first two keepers
shortly after taking their assignments. Many believe that Boston Light is
haunted–and with good reason. Apparitions have been seen drifting through the
lantern room, feline mascots hiss at unseen presences, unexplained footsteps
are sometimes heard, and cold spots have been widely reported.Several miles east of Little Brewster Island, there’s a peculiar area of the ocean that locals call the “Ghost Walk.” Here
there seems to be some sort of atmospheric anomaly that prevents sound from
entering the area. Even the enormous bell from Boston Light cannot be heard in
the Ghost Walk. The phenomena received so much hype in the late 1800s that a
team of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology was dispatched to
Little Brewster Island for an entire summer to experiment with foghorn signals
in an attempt to reach the area in question. No signal–not even with the
largest horn or siren–was able to penetrate the mysterious sound barrier. It
remains unexplained to this day.

Source: Haunted Massachusetts: Ghosts and Strange
Phenomena of the Bay State by Cheri Revai, p

Anthony’s Comedy Act Inspiration, Pt. 2

ANTHONY: I do got this show.

NICOLE: Like music?

ANTHONY: No jokes. Stories. Jokes really.

NICOLE: Yeah? Say a joke.

In addition to Chris Tucker, Dave Chappelle, a comedian known for his self-titled comedy show, The Dave Chappelle Show (2003-2006), also dealt with complicated racial issues in his sketches, which created a complicated relationship with his audience.

Here are some bits from his show:

Anthony’s Comedy Act Inspiration

ANTHONY: As long as you got drumsticks and gravy and stuffing then it’s going to be O-Keedoke for sheezle mistokey.


ANTHONY grins.

ANTHONY: It’s for me act. I’m writing all my funny lines down for my new comedy act.

Comedian and actor Chris Tucker (b. 1971) would be one of Anthony’s contemporary influences in the 1990s. Here are some videos from his stand up routines as well as scenes from his Rush Hour series.

  (Rush Hour clips start at 4:30)

Enquiring Minds

Enquiring minds, huh. I read my wife’s in the can. You know what I want? I want to know when that Alien Baby grows up, you know. They got tons of pictures of this Alien baby for years, that kid oughta be in junior high by now, right?

The National Enquirer is an American supermarket tabloid that specializes in sensationalist celebrity news. They are known to pay sources to provide tips for stories, a practice that is derided in most mainstream publications, as it encourages people to submit things that aren’t true.

Here are some covers from 2009, when this scene takes place (and check out our previous blog post about Tiger Woods):

Though I couldn’t find any examples of alien baby stories, here are some real National Enquirer articles dealing with extraterrestrial subjects: http://bit.ly/1fYsMcg  http://bit.ly/19dn9FQ

Despite a lot of crazy articles, though, the Enquirer does get things right now and then. NPR, introducing an interesting 2008 episode of Talk of the Nation about why, when the National Enquirer broke the legitimate story of John Edward’s affair, the rest of the media ignored it for so long, writes,

You probably know the stock in trade of the National Enquirer — alien babies born to all-American families, Bigfoot sightings, celebrities’ cellulite and botched plastic surgeries — supermarket checkout line perusing par excellence. I know I usually assume the stories are fakes, and it’d be hard to blame you if you do too. This time, however, the Enquirer bested us all when John Edwards, subject of months of Enquirer coverage for his (then-alleged) extramarital affair, came clean in the mainstream media. Oops.

On a similar note, here’s a list of 11 seemingly unbelievable stories that turned out to be true (including the Tiger Woods story, as discussed in a previous post).

Daughters of the American Revolution

Gloria: My aunt Frances did everything right. Exactly two weeks before my birthday she’d send a little card, a little invitation. She’d take me to the swan boats, high tea. I’m sure, I’m wicked sure (she laughs) my parents thought she’d rub off on me, have me marrying a banker and swapping recipe cards with my sister Paula whose personal goals include getting swallowed whole by the D.A.R.

The Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.), was founded on October 11, 1890 in order to spread patriotism, historical preservation, and education throughout the country at a time when women were excluded from men’s organizations. These are the organization’s three main goals:

Historical – to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American Independence; Educational – to carry out the injunction of Washington in his farewell address to the American people, “to promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge, thus developing an enlightened public opinion…”; and Patriotic – to cherish, maintain, and extend the institutions of American freedom, to foster true patriotism and love of country, and to aid in securing for mankind all the blessings of liberty.

DAR members volunteer more than 250,000 hours annually to veteran patients, award thousands of dollars in scholarships and financial aid each year to students, and support schools for underserved children with annual donations exceeding one million dollars.

As one of the most inclusive genealogical societies in the country, DAR boasts 175,000 members in 3,000 chapters across the United States and internationally. Any woman 18 years or older-regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background-who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership.

To join the DAR, you must be 18 years or older and have direct lineage from an American Revolution patriot. Here’s a video from their YouTube channel.

View more videos from the D.A.R.’s YouTube channel here.


A History of Feeding America’s Children

CLIVE: We was all fired about about LBJ and it was spring time and we thought we was gonna go make a difference and we both signed up to hand out the free lunch.  For the summer, when there’s no school and kids go five, six hours no food cause they ain’t got much at home. Summertime came and they had me drive the van with the lunch and they had Gloria Giosa, once we pulled up to the pool or the playground, hand out the free lunch and we got to talking that summer and turns out we saw a lot more things eye to eye than we even thought—

The National School Lunch Act was passed in 1946 after congress determined that providing school age students with a nutritious meal was important enough to warrant securing federal funds every fiscal year. In addition to federal funds, the states are also required to contribute financially to the operation of the program.

 “The need for a permanent legislative basis for a school lunch program, rather than operating it on a year-to-year basis, or one dependent solely on agricultural surpluses that for a child may be nutritionally unbalanced or nutritionally unattractive, has now become apparent. The expansion of the program has been hampered by lack of basic legislation. If there is an assurance of continuity over a period of years, the encouragement of State contribution and participation in the school lunch program will be of great advantage in expanding the program.

“The national school lunch bill provides basic, comprehensive legislation for aid, in general, to the States in the operation of school lunch programs as permanent and- integral parts of their school systems…. Such aid, heretofore extended by Congress through the Department of Agriculture has, for the past 10 years, proven for exceptional benefit to the children, schools, and agriculture of the country a a whole, but the necessity for now coordinating the work throughout the Nation, and especially to encourage and increase the financial participation and active control by the several States makes it desirable that permanent enabling legislation take the place of the present temporary legislative structure…. The educational features of a properly chosen diet served at school should not be under-emphasized. Not only is the child taught what a good diet consists of, but his parents and family likewise are indirectly instructed.”

There are three types of lunches: Type A, Type B, and Type C. This is a graph that shows types A and B:

                  Type A Type B
Milk, whole 1/2 pint 2 pint
Protein-rich food consisting of any of the following or a combination thereof:

  • Fresh or processed meat, poultry meat,cheese, cooked or canned fish
  • Dry peas or beans or soy beans, cooked
  • Peanut Butter
  • Eggs
2 oz.½ cup

4 tbsp.


1 oz.¼ cup

2 tbsp.


Raw, cooked, or canned vegetables or fruits, or both ¾ cup ½ cup
Bread, muffins or hot bread made of whole grain cereal or enriched flour 1 portion 1 portion
Butter or fortified  margarine 2 tsp 1 tsp.

In 1966, the Child Nutrition Act was passed into law. This law included extending the Special Milk Program, starting the Pilot Breakfast Program, and centralizing all school food programs.  Read more here.

Guidelines for families who qualified for free or reduced lunch had to be established at the beginning of each fiscal year. As of July 1, 1970 the poverty threshold for a family of four was an income of $3,720 or less a year.

In 1968, an amendment to the Child Nutrition Act created the Summer Food Service Program. The SFSP is a federally funded program that provides free lunch for children who live in low-income areas when school is not in session.

The Open Road: the Life of a Trucker

FRAN: You should go back to school. You should see how many credits—
ANTHONY: Nah, I’m thinking the open road. Me behind the wheel, on the open road. You can train to haul one of those big rigs in like no time, see the whole country right? That’s it, that’s what I’m gonna do.

Trucker Training:


In order to receive a Commercial Driver’s License, the state of Massachusetts requires that you be at least 21 years of age and have not had your driver’s license or right to operate taken away by the Registrar.

From the MA DMV about Commercial Driver Education:

If you want a Commercial Driver’s License, you’re going to have to pass some tough federal and state requirements. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) requires you to take and pass a 50-question exam, with a minimum of 40 correct answers to pass.

And that’s just to get the learner’s permit. Obtaining a Class A or Class B CDL requires you to pass a road test that will encompass a vehicle inspection and driving in a closed course and on the road.

Many CDL applicants take classes at private truck driving schools. These classes offer both classroom and hands-on instruction and are designed to help you pass the written and road exams. The schools even provide trucks and licensed instructors to help you pass the exam.

The good news: You can learn everything you need to know in 10 days to two weeks and classes are offered regularly. The bad news: These schools can be expensive. Expect to pay $5,000 and more to attend one of these sessions.

CDL Career Now lists CDL training facilities in and around Boston.


On the Road:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) specifies that truckers are limited to 11 cumulative hours driving in a 14-hour period, following a rest period of no less than 10 consecutive hours. Drivers employed by carriers in “daily operation” may not work more than 70 hours within any period of 8 consecutive days. These stipulations are put in place to make sure that drivers’ abilities are not impaired by exhaustion.

Some drivers are paid by the hour, and some by the mile.

For information about life on the road, check out www.lifeasatrucker.com

Pahk the Cah in Hahvahd Yahd

Our excellent dialect coach Liz Hayes sent along a series of videos as touchstones for the sound of the fictional town in which SPLENDOR is set.

Some are available for embedding here, but not all, so follow the links.

Let’s start with THIS ONE, which may be particularly helpful for Gloria.

Here’s a great one of Somerville’s Mayor Joseph Curtatone:


In general, the SomervilleCity TV YouTube channel is kind of a gold mine. Check it out HERE. (After all, it includes gem like THIS!)



LBJ and the Great Society

CLIVE: School. Yep, yep. That’s how your mother and I got to talking. One day in civics they do whole lesson on LBJ, you know LBJ?
ANTHONY: Well, yeah, I—
CLIVE: Great Society. Have and have nots and til then Gloria Giosa barely gave me the time of day, right? She had herself a little after school job down the town hall and soon’s the bell rang off she go but one day Gloria Giosa and I got to talking and it turned out Gloria Giosa and I saw things eye to eye. We was all fired about about LBJ and it was spring time and we thought we was gonna go make a difference and we both signed up to hand out the free lunch…

Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, promoted a series of domestic programs in the 1960s that were known as the Great Society. The two main goals of the programs were to eliminate poverty and racial injustice. In scope, the Great Society most closely resembled Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Great Society programs were enacted throughout the 1960s. Notable programs that were introduced during the Great Society and continue to this day include Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans act, improvements to Social Security, the National Endowment for the Arts, and federal funding for education.

Highlight from Johnson’s Great Society speech, given in 1964 in Ann Arbor, MI:

“The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in out time. But that is just the beginning.

The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.

It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what is adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.

But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.”

Read the full text of Johnson’s speech here.

I’m Like a Gypsy Now

GLORIA: […] the mother says “This is not your cat. It is my cat” and all the kids all her kids stare out at me and I know it’s mine but no one will say it’s mine and I think that’s something, that is really something, you just, you just have to claim things. I’m like a gypsy now.  I learned my lesson, boy.  I never looked at anything in my parent’s house the same ever again: who owns anything?  It’s a joke.  It’s a joke on all of us and the Indians and the gypsies.  On all of us.    

Gloria, a strong-willed woman who breaks from the expectations of her family and community, is also a self-proclaimed “gypsy.” To her, this means someone who lives by her own rules, who doesn’t wait for people to give her what she needs, who questions the cultural norms of ownership — a direct rejection of her family’s more wealthy, conservative ways.

Gloria taps into the modern mythology of gypsies — a non-unified group who prefer to be called Roma/Romani (Eastern European descent) or Travellers (Irish descent) — as a base for her personal philosophy. Today, the idea of the gypsy has been so thrust into pop culture that you can watch “reality” television shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, American Gypsies, and Gypsy Sisters, but Gloria fell in love with the romantic ideal long before TLC got their hands on it.

While today the Travellers and Romani are subject to skepticism, distrust, and discrimination (especially within the European Union), Gloria models herself on her  impressions of their approach to life. She is a highly moral person, but her moral universe is one of her own design — solidly framed in right and wrong, but perhaps not the same notions of right and wrong that those around her abide by. …A philosophy she thinks of as gypsy-like.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanksgiving’s a Black Man’s Holiday

CLIVE: Thanksgiving’s a black man’s holiday, bet you didn’t know.
ANTHONY: I, uh, no, I wasn’t aware.
CLIVE: 1863, Lincoln says to himself “This country done ripped in two, we need something bring us together, make us thankful we was almost in two but we not, we hanging by a thread, one thread, that’s still good. So he thinks on it and he says the whole land, everyone up in here, is invited to celebrate Thanksgiving. If the Indians and the pilgrims can do it, so can we, right? I mean think of all the foods Thanksgiving got? Those are stone cold New England it’s cold and about to get colder foods. And the black man—

On October 3, 1963, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln released a proclamation making the last Thursday of November a national holiday; a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” He did it at the prompting of writer Sarah Josepha Hale, who had been advocating for it to be a national holiday for 17 years. Before 1963, Thanksgiving was not widely celebrated outside of New England, and even there each state celebrated at a different time.

Highlight from the Thanksgiving Proclamation:

It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gracious gifts of the Most High God] should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

Read the complete text of the Thanksgiving Proclamation here.

Tiger Woods: A Thanksgiving Meltdown

DAVE (shaking his head): You get a load of that, huh? Greatest golfer in the whole wide world.
CLIVE: Morning news said she got that Cadillac good with those clubs.
DAVE: Well of course the guy’s sleeping around he’s richer than God: this is news? They’ll print anything I tell you. This is not news.

In the early morning hours of November 27, 2009, Tiger Woods got into a car accident as he was backing out of the driveway of his Windermere, FL home, according to ABC News:

Professional golfer Tiger Woods was injured in a car crash outside his Windermere, Fla., home early this morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The 33-year-old Woods was driving a 2009 Cadillac SUV alone when he hit a fire hydrant and then slammed into a tree at 2:25 a.m., according to police reports.

According to ABC affiliate WFTV, Windermere Police Chief Daniel Saylor said Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, used a golf club to smash out the back window and get her husband out of the car.

 She told officers she was in their house when she heard the accident and came outside.

Saylor told WFTV police officers found Woods lying in the street with his wife hovering over him. Saylor said Woods was in and out of consciousness when the officers arrived.

This happened after the National Enquirer leaked the story of Woods having an affair with a New York City party girl named Rachel Uchitel.

The ENQUIRER is reporting exclusively in its print edition that  the 34-year-old brunette, who has a reputation for dating married celebrities, has been telling friends about a jet-set liaison with 33-year-old Tiger  that began in June.

Multiple sources, who passed polygraph tests, say Rachel told them that she and Tiger also stay in touch during his frequent travels through phone calls and “sexting,” sending each other racy text messages on their cell phones.

Here are a few images from the 2009 Thanksgiving week events:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ll Ask to Be the Pilgrim Next Year

FRAN: I’ll ask to be a Pilgrim next year so I can wear that dress: the Pilgrim dress.
NICOLE: I don’t wanna wear a friggin dress. How many times are we gonna do this same stupid thing over and over:  the pilgrims come, the Indians put fish in the ground to grow the corn, the Pilgrims are happy—
FRAN: Thankful.
NICOLE: Who cares? If I have to be in this same play over and over every year til I die wearing a dress made out of black construction paper please kill me now before Thanksgiving comes again.

Yup, a standard-issue Thanksgiving Pageant…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The History of the Golf Tee

CLIVE: So all us get happy with Thanksgiving cause of Mr. Lincoln and we spread it around and that’s why it’s just one more thing we add to this country like peanut butter and the golf tee. We invented that shit, the golf tee: look it up, write a book. We—

Dr. George Franklin Grant, the African American man that invented the golf tee, attended Harvard Dental School and graduated in 1870. He saw the need for the invention after being displeased with how the ball traveled after he hit it from a sand mound. Read more about him here.

An excerpt:

Dr. Grant was unhappy with the mess that came with the tee shot. The process of teeing the ball up involved pinching moist sand to fashion a tee. Doing that 18 times a round was enough to annoy Dr. Grant, so he came up with an invention that would forever have an impact. On Dec. 12, 1899, he received U.S. patent No. 638,920, the world’s first patent for a golf tee.

In 1991, nearly a century after his patent, the United States Golf Association finally gave Grant recognition for his contribution to the game of golf.

He also became the first African American professor at Harvard University while creating another invention.


Harvard Square Pit Kids

GLORIA: That mother off in Tuscany’ll be lucky if those kids’ throats aren’t cut when she gets back that’s all I’m saying, that is my point.
FRAN: Is that it, can I go now? I needa catch the next 87 into the square to meet my friends.

By her junior year of high school, Fran Giosa isn’t choosing to spend much time in her home town. Instead, she’s taking a bus two towns over to Harvard Square to hang out there.

Throughout its history, Harvard Square has been a hub of academia, commerce, protest, dining, and more. The neighborhood’s restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and book stores were often gathering places for radicals and outsiders of many kinds. When the renovation of the subway station was completed in 1983, however, a new gathering place was created right in the heart of the square: the Pit. The tiered concrete plaza quickly became a favorite hangout of young people looking for a place to escape, as well as homeless people of all ages who welcomed a well-trafficked area in which to ask seek assistance from passers-by.

Ken MaGuire, in an article about the murder of a homeless woman who often frequented the Pit, wrote, “For years, Harvard Square has been a place for kids to congregate with friends, to fit in when they might elsewhere be considered misfits, to sleep when they might not have a home.” Later in the article, he quotes the associate director of a Boston-area youth outreach group as saying that young people are attracted to Harvard Square because “you can fit in. They’re looking for love, to feel cared about, and to be connected.” It is not hard to imagine Fran, who at this point in her life is feeling increasingly isolated from her family, former friends, and community, wanting nothing more than to fit in, to feel cared about, and to be connected.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“That ain’t the Bermuda triangle you in…

…that’s the Goddamn middle passage.”

CLIVE: This the middle passage don’t you forget it, instead you ride it, you ride them, get along, don’t get swallowed up, left out at sea.

The middle passage is the second part of the three-part transatlantic trade, which lasted from the 1500s until 1807, when the transatlantic slave trade ended. Here are a few excerpts from this longer explanation.

The captives were about to embark on the infamous Middle Passage, so called
because it was the middle leg of a three-part voyage — a voyage that began and
ended in Europe. The first leg of the voyage carried a cargo that often included
iron, cloth, brandy, firearms, and gunpowder. Upon landing on Africa’s “slave
coast,” the cargo was exchanged for Africans. Fully loaded with its human cargo,
the ship set sail for the Americas, where the slaves were exchanged for sugar,
tobacco, or some other product. The final leg brought the ship back to

The slaves were branded with hot irons and restrained with shackles. Their
“living quarters” was often a deck within the ship that had less than five feet
of headroom — and throughout a large portion of the deck, sleeping shelves cut
this limited amount of headroom in half.4 Lack of standing headroom was the
least of the slaves’ problems, though. With 300 to 400 people packed in a tiny
area5 — an area with little ventilation and, in some cases, not even enough
space to place buckets for human waste — disease was prevalent. According to
Equiano, “The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the
number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn
himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the
air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and
brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died.”

Award-winning African American playwright August Wilson creates the idea of a “City of Bones” in his famed century cycle, which are ten plays spanning the 20th century that depict the African American experience in the Hill district of Pittsburgh. In this interview, Wilson talks about the city of bones and its relation to Citizen, one of the characters from Gem of the Ocean:

“Those bones,” August Wilson will tell you, “are symbolically representative ofthe Africans who were lost during the Middle Passage”—the voyage of slaves from Africa to the Sea Islands and other destinations—“those whose ships sank into the ocean, the Africans who never made it to America. We find out through the course of the play what it is Citizen has done, and why he did this. Aunt Ester leads him to the answer. He has to find out what his duty is, and through that he can be redeemed.” 

Here are some images of slaves, slave ships, and the city of bones:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Below is a painting by J. M. W. Turner called The Slave Ship or Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying — Typhon Coming On (1840), as well as a close-up of an area of detail in the same painting.

And an excerpt from a poem that Turner wrote which was shown in tandem with the painting.

“Aloft all hands, strike the top-masts and belay;
Yon angry setting sun and
fierce-edged clouds
Declare the Typhon’s coming.
Before it sweeps your
decks, throw overboard
The dead and dying – ne’er heed their chains
Hope, fallacious Hope!
Where is thy market now?”

More background on the painting can be found here.

The Reagan China Pattern

FRAN: And the woman steps into the apartment thinking she’s going to get Tupperware and instead Ma pours the lady a drink and starts talking her ear off, I mean just going on and on about nothing and everything: acid rain and the Reagan china pattern in the White House and kids on milk cartons because “what kind of world is this that let’s that happen I ask you?” and the cost of school lunch “through the roof”—

Since a full service of china had not been purchased since the Truman administration, it was no longer possible to serve state dinners on matching china when the Reagans moved into the White House in 1981. Nancy Reagan quickly rectified this, but she received a lot of criticism from the press and American public for what seemed like an extravagant cost. The objections were unfounded, however, since taxpayer money was not being used for the china. The Knapp Foundation, a private organization, had originally donated the funds to finance the service anonymously, but when the public raised such an outcry, they publicly announced their gift in a futile attempt to spare Nancy Reagan from such harsh criticism.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, turned to Lenox in 1981 to provide 4,370 pieces, enough placesettings of 19 pieces for 220 people — nearly twice as many as other recent services.

The first family was accustomed to formal entertaining and chose a pattern to reflect their tastes. Also, in the intervening years since the White House renovation of the early 1950s, the State Dining Room had been painted white, so the Reagans wanted a china with a strong presence for the large, subtly colored room.

Mrs. Reagan worked closely with Lenox designers to develop a pattern with bands in a striking scarlet — her favorite color. The bands vary in width depending on the scale of the piece and are framed on each side with etched gold, creating a sparkling contrast with the soft ivory china. The presidential seal, in raised gold, partially overlays the red border. On certain pieces, such as the service and dessert plates, fine gold crosshatching overlays the red — a decorative technique that required extensive special handling and nine separate firings in the kilns.”
Lenox White House China

Boston Busing Crisis: Timeline & Pictures

GLORIA: I’m sitting with you and Anthony under each arm, babies, and I’m sitting there next to my father, next to Pop-pop who voted for Nixon, Fran, this entire country voted for someone didn’t want even so much as a traffic light to change red and I’m watching people throw rocks at little black kids on the TV in Pop-pop’s den; I’m watching people out in Roxbury setting fires, dragging people out of cars and I’m thinking no one’s looking, I mean really looking at anyone like they’re a real person.  Your father and me looked at each other like we were real…real. Everything was so confused and the world got all mixed up and what kind of mother let’s all that happen to their kids if she can help it?


1954-5: The “separate but equal” doctrine is over-turned by Brown v. Board of Education, and a second Brown decision calls for school desegregation.

1957: Arkansas’ Governor calls on the National Guard to prevent nine black students from entering Little Rock High School. President Eisenhower sends 1,000 paratroopers to restore order and escort the black students to class.

1965: Massachusetts passes a law against de facto segregation, the Racial Imbalance Act. It is not enforced.

1971: In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the Supreme Court decides courts can order school desegregation through forced busing.

Oct 2, 1973: three blacks accosted a woman in Roxbury, doused her with gasoline, and set her afire. Later that week, in revenge of the white women’s death, white youths in the Bunker Hill Project wreaked havoc on black families in an adjacent development

Oct 7, 1973: a gang of white youths broke the rear window of a car belonging to Ronald Resca (a white man married to a black women). When Resca ran from his apartment to confront the vandals he was severely beaten. The next morning Resca called the fire department to inform them that his car which had been previously vandalized was now on fire. Over the next days, several firebombs crashed through the windows of other black families in Charlestown.

June 21, 1974: Federal District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity rules that the school committee has consciously maintained two separate school systems. Garrity orders students to be bused city-wide to integrate the schools, starting that fall.

May 9, 1974: Congress begins impeachment proceedings against President Nixon stemming from the Watergate scandal.

August 9, 1974: Richard M. Nixon resigns the presidency as result of Watergate. Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as the 38th U.S. President, becoming the 6th President coping with Vietnam.

Sept 9, 1974: Restore Our Alienated Rights (ROAR) anti-busing rally.

Sept 12, 1974: First day of Phase I busing. Attacks on African-American students and communities begin. Riots and violence tear the social fabric of the city as a whole.

Oct 7, 1974:  A white mob attacks Andre Yvon Jean-Louis, who is black, as he drives into South Boston to pick up his wife. Black students in Roxbury riot in violent protest.

Oct 15, 1974: A white student is stabbed at Hyde Park High School; Governor Francis W. Sargent alerts National Guard.

Dec 11, 1974: A white student is stabbed at South Boston High; African-American students become trapped inside by an angry mob.

Dec 15, 1974: A demonstration occurs on Boston Common to end the use of busing as a means of desegregation.

May 10, 1975: Judge Garrity issues a desegregation plan for Phase II, expanding busing in the fall.

Sept, 1975: Phase II of Boston’s busing program moves into Charlestown, and coincides with an economy in crisis and an uptick in the loss of manufacturing and factory jobs for Charlestown’s predominantly white, Irish Catholic working class community.

April 5, 1976: Ted Landsmark, a young African American lawyer, is on his way into City Hall Plaza when a gang of white youths – on the Plaza protesting forced busing – attack him. After beating and kicking him, they stab him with a pointed end of a flag pole strung with the American flag. The photo of the stabbing is seen around the country, cementing Boston’s reputation as a racist city. Here’s an excellent excerpt from a much longer accounting of the event, by Louis P. Masur:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The protesters he encountered were just leaving City Hall and headed toward the Federal Building. This was another in a series of marches conducted by students and parents ever since June 1974 when Federal Judge Arthur Garrity found that the Boston School Committee had deliberately maintained segregated schools in violation of the law, and ordered a program of busing to promote desegregation.

Some 200 white students from South Boston and Charlestown assembled for the march to City Hall Plaza. “We all wanted to belong to something big,” recalls one teenage protester, “and the feeling of being part of the anti-busing movement along with the rest of Southie had been the best feeling in the world.” Southie meant more than just the geographic place South Boston. It meant neighborhood and community and ethnic pride. Thinking of the long day ahead, some packed a snack. Some made signs that said “RESIST.” One student, before leaving his third-floor South Boston apartment, grabbed the family’s American flag.

From the start, the anti-busing movement identified itself with patriotism. The activists saw themselves as defending their liberty against the tyranny of a judge run amok. Boston’s celebration of Bicentennial events in 1975 and 1976 only reinforced the idea that they were carrying on in a tradition of American resistance: one anti-busing group had as its motto “Don’t tread on me.” At rallies and boycotts, protesters carried American flags and frequently sang “God Bless America.” Protesters against the Vietnam War often burned Old Glory, but not here, not among the mainly working-class Irish of Boston. […] As the students filed out of the chambers and headed outside, they passed a group of black students from a nearby magnet school going on a tour. Epithets flew, as did pieces of food—donuts, cookies, apples. Groups have moods, and the protesters, fueled with cocoa and patriotism, marched onto the plaza feeling righteous about their cause. At that moment, a black man turned the corner and headed in their direction.


“The photograph presents a sickening sight. Landsmark is being grabbed from behind. He seems to be struggling to free himself as a large crowd looks on. The flag bearer’s feet are planted, his hands firmly grasping the staff, his eyes focused on his target. His hair flows back as he prepares to lunge forward. Attacker and victim are forever frozen in time, and we feel trapped beside them. We can glance away, but we cannot escape the horror of what we imagine the next instant will bring.

The image served as a harsh reminder that the triumphs of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s had turned tragic. Progress had been made, but alongside it stood backlash and failure. Americans cherished stories of wrongs righted, of darkness yielding to light, but Forman’s picture provided a poisonous counter-narrative. The brotherhood of man was a worthy ideal, and it even seemed at times that a strong foundation had been laid for its realization. But in a claustrophobic courtyard, a white man turned the American flag against a black man, and the ideal crumbled.

More photos of the era:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Newspaper stories chronicling the stoning of students (click to enlarge):

To be the chiefs? Or the trojans?

LISA: Go Trojans.

MIKE: Trojans is bullshit, we should be the chiefs, we were always the chiefs some people just can’t fucking leave well enough alone fucking troublemaker this is a good place, a good town, we’re the fucking Chiefs, fucking warriors.

Images of schools’ various chiefs logos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Images of schools’ logos for trojans:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

No Free Nights Here

ALINE: Don’t let him fool you, Clive got his associates last year in hotel management.

CLIVE: Can’t get you any free nights, though.

So what is an associate’s degree in hotel management? Education Portal tells what an associate’s degree in hospitality management (which includes hotel management) is, its typical classes, and future career options:

Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management

Hospitality management degree programs include the study of theoretical and practical management skills, hospitality business law and food and beverage management. Students also develop skills in marketing, purchasing, budgeting and cost control. A.A.S. degree programs typically require high school diplomas or the equivalent. Although many entry-level management positions in the hospitality industry do not require a degree, post-secondary education is helpful for career advancement.

Program Coursework

A.A.S. degrees in hospitality management typically require 64-66 hours of coursework, although some programs may require as many as 96 credit hours. At most schools, roughly one-third of credit hours are devoted to general education credits.

  • Food safety and sanitation
  • Hotel management
  • Restaurant management
  • Hotel and restaurant marketing
  • Hospitality accounting
  • Food production analysis
  • Hotel and restaurant purchasing and cost control

Popular Career Options

Associate degrees in hospitality management typically prepare students for entry-level positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), lodging management is projected to grow faster than other areas of the hospitality management field between 2006 and 2016.

  • Management trainee
  • Dining room supervisor
  • Assistant food and beverage manager
  • Guest services manager
  • Banquet sales coordinator

Continuing Education Information

Many hospitality management associate degree programs can act as a stepping-stone to bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in hospitality management. Graduates with B.A.A. or M.S. degrees in hospitality management are highly sought within the field because of their technical familiarity, and many rise to the highest levels of management within hospitality organizations.

Here’s an example of the curriculum of an associate’s degree in hospitality management at a local Boston college.

Furniture Shinin’ Cause She Windexes It

Hell no I ain’t cookin’ squat. Joe’s mother does it, the old bat, and I say let her. Whatever I make it’s too salty, it’s too sweet, it’s too hot, it’s too cold. She said that once, that what I made was too cold, once, and I looked at her, all the plastic on her furniture shinin’ at me through the kitchen doorway cause she windexes it, every day she windexes it like anyone’s ever allowed to sit on it and she says that to me, that what I made was too cold and I looked right at her, I looked right at her and I said, “It’s freakin’ jello and cool whip, it’s supposed to be cold”. First Thanksgiving we were married I told Joe, I told Joe, the best thing I make is reservations.

Covering new furniture in plastic is considered a way to keep it clean and in good condition for as long as possible. For families for whom an expensive furniture set is a one-time investment, keeping it in pristine condition is important, even if this comes at the expense of a soft surface to sit on or a couch that doesn’t shine in the sunlight.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I Am Marrying a Person With a Security…

FRAN: This is insane Anthony.  I am getting married.  There is a ring on my finger which is, which is, I pictured myself with plants and three PhDs.
ANTHONY: Cat ladeee.
FRAN: No, no this is horrible, these are diamonds. Think of the little hands that mined these little stones, Anthony, probably some tiny little black kids hands and I am wearing this shit on my own hand I’m a horrible person, Anthony.  What is wrong with me?  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME: I’m like a colonial power: I am a colonial power of evil of death and destruction he should put this back in his Grandmother’s security box I am marrying a person with a security I am England and France and Portugal I shouldn’t wear a wedding dress I should wear my own disease infested blankets so I die the horrible death I—

Fran marries into Damon’s upper crust African American Boston family at 23, with no father to walk her down the aisle, and a mother like Gloria.  Picture Gloria. A gypsy. At the fanciest of fancy Boston Brahmin locations: the Taj Hotel.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Re-Fi for Beginners

DAVE: All these papers?  You’re either a professor or a lawyer.
ALINE: Thanks for helping—
DAVE: Which is it?
ALINE: Thanks for helping.
DAVE: I say, I say think of the trees. 
ALINE: I’m…I’m refinancing.
DAVE: Like the Lorax.

Aline’s had her condo for at least five years, but her long term boyfriend Clive has moved out, and she’s changing jobs. It’s time to refinance that sucker. So what does that mean?

SFGate’s Home Guide provides this useful summary:

People get mortgages to make home purchases possible, but falling interest rates and other economic factors might spur borrowers to look for ways to save money on the loans. Refinancing provides an option for homeowners to reduce monthly payments or pay less interest over the course of the loan.

Refinancing means basically applying for a loan all over again. Lenders require new home appraisals for refinance transactions, even if the original appraisal is only a few years old. They also generally require verification of employment, family income and ongoing debts. A caveat in the refinance process is that any changes to the applicant’s status since the approval of the original loan reveal themselves. Recent drops in savings accounts, for example, might serve as red flags for lenders.

Refinancing trades the original loan for another loan with rates and terms that better serve the financial interests of the homeowner. Borrowers can choose between 15- and 30-year terms, and fixed vs. variable interest rate loans.

Benefits of refinancing include saving money on monthly mortgage payments, which can free a homeowner from burdensome or sometimes unaffordable loans. The lower payments homeowners make after refinancing free up cash for them to save or spend on other necessities. When owners change a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage, they potentially save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. Refinancing an adjustable-rate mortgage into a fixed-rate loan provides homeowners the security of an interest rate that locks in and stays the same over the loan term. Their new monthly mortgage amount stays the same, too, over the life of the loan.

Refinancing has fees associated with it, so owners must spend enough time in the home to recoup the investment they made with the savings gained by refinancing. Those considering selling in a few years might be better off just sticking with the mortgage they currently have.

mortgage refi

Realtor.com urges you to watch out for the following potential obstacles to the re-fi:

Four potential problems you might face:

– You just refinanced a short while ago.
– Your credit score has gone down.
– You missed a payment on your current mortgage.
– You moved out of your home, making it an investment home.

If you just got a mortgage loan, you will need to wait before refinancing. Some lenders will allow you to refinance after one year, others will want a longer period. On the whole, lenders don’t like the idea that you are refinancing often. They make their money on longer term mortgage loans.

If your credit score went down, you might not be eligible to refinance. Or if you are able to, the rates might not be as favorable for you. Lenders give better rates to borrowers with excellent credit.

If you have recently missed even one payment on your mortgage, you probably will not be eligible for a mortgage for a year or two. Not only will your credit score plummet, but lenders especially look at your mortgage history when considering a loan for you. They worry that if you missed a payment once, it could become a pattern. It makes them nervous.


Fall Arts Preview

Don Aucoin and The Boston Globe featured SPLENDOR in yesterday’s Fall Arts Preview. Here’s an excerpt:

Questions of Belonging Reverberate on Local Stages
By Don Aucoin
Boston Globe, Sept 7, 2013

Three years ago, Kirsten Greenidge’s “Thanksgiving’’ was the high point of “Grimm,’’ Company One’s evening of short plays by seven local writers adapted from tales by the Brothers Grimm.

During “Thanksgiving,’’ as three women from the same hometown pondered the paths their lives had taken, they spoke of an individualistic high school classmate named Fran Giosa, who had apparently been a social outcast. Afterward, Greenidge couldn’t get Fran, the other women, or that town out of her mind.

So she expanded “Thanksgiving’’ into a full-length drama. Titled “Splendor’’ and slated to premiere at Company One Oct. 18-Nov. 16, Greenidge’s play tells a story about belonging and not belonging — a theme that will be thrashed out on numerous Boston-area stages this fall.

The episodic “Splendor,’’ which spans the years 1965 to 2012, ranges across the intersecting lives of 10 residents of a working-class suburb of Boston, including Fran, the daughter of a white mother and a black father.

“ ‘Splendor’ became for me a way to explore that who’s in, who’s out, and why,’’ Greenidge said in a telephone interview. “I’m intensely interested in race, but when you add other things, it can be a little more difficult to figure out who’s in, who’s out.’’

As she delved deeper into the town and its inhabitants, the playwright said, the experience was akin to looking through a prism: “You keep holding it up to the sun and you see different angles. It’s not just race, it’s not just class, it’s not just gender: It’s all these things together.’’

Greenidge, who lives in Waltham, has demonstrated exceptional acuity in dramatizing those issues in plays like “The Luck of the Irish,’’ which premiered last year at Huntington Theatre Company, and “Bossa Nova,’’ performed at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2010.

In “Splendor,’’ Fran has returned from Chestnut Hill to her hometown after her marriage to a wealthy African-American man falls apart. She needs to decide whether the place where she grew up poor and ostracized can now be home to her and her young daughter, and whether the one solid friendship she had during her youth is worth rekindling. (She also has to map out a plan for dealing with her aggressively outspoken mother, who still lives in the town even while seeming to despise it.) Broadly speaking, Fran confronts a choice about who she is going to be.

Playwright Kirsten Greenidge. Photo by Aram Boghosian.

A Feeling of Drowning & Surfacing

In the course of the play, water takes a central imagistic role — sometimes it’s a stand-in for peace and calm, other times it’s explicitly a marker of death by drowning. Director Shawn LaCount has said that all the characters in the play feel, at some point, the pressure and need for air that a person caught underwater would encounter. They are all looking for a way to swim, to succeed, to deal with the circumstances of their lives. Only Anthony finds his way to the surface; Fran and Nicole may reach it as well. There are moments where each character might have the potential to surface, to breathe again, and moments where the pressure nearly crushes them.

A selective list of water images evoked throughout the play: the Middle Passage; Davey’s drowning; Mike’s implied trauma in the water connected to Davey’s death; the feeling of invincibility in the water quickly transformed to mortality; Anthony’s love of the “black hole” in the harbor beyond the lighthouse; the way Lisa hears water sometimes; the way the lighthouse and harbor feel peaceful to Anthony and Nicole; the implication that the most expensive houses in town are the ones nearest the water; Aline’s feeling that the ocean is peaceful; Lisa’s Caribbean vacation….

Scenic Designer Cristina Todesco and Lighting Designer Jen Rock are also playing with the feeling of water, and of light filtering through water, as a component of the play in production.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The work of  artist Jason De Caires Taylor is particularly evocative here. He creates concrete statues of people in everyday positions, installs them underwater, and waits for corals to create sculptural reefs. His installations change in shape and color over time, but the human forms remain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the feeling of drowning…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anthony, surfacing…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Where’s the Birds Made Out of Hands?

GLORIA: Katie showed me her Thanksgiving project and there’s stuff on it about the kind of soil you need to grow corn and which way Haddock swims off Cape Cod and I’m thinking: where’s the birds made out of hands like you used to bring home from school—
FRAN: It’s a different kind of school, Ma.

Thanksgiving arts & crafts…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanksgiving dioramas…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Thanksgiving Tree of Gratitude

FRAN: Maybe we even all, we each all even write down what this day means, what we’re really Thankful for—
GLORIA: I’m not writing anything my spelling’s no good.
FRAN: We each write what we’re thankful for and after dinner we say it, we read it all out loud like we write it on paper leaves—
ANTHONY: Paper leaves?
GLORIA: Your Katie’s smart, she’d know if I messed up a word.


A how-to on a kid friendly Thanksgiving Hand Tree, via kinderart.com.

And a more Chestnut Hill style version, via katiedayphoto.com.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.