Tag Archives: Boston

Here We Go Again

Gay groups denied permission to march in St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston Wait a minute, that sounds eerily familiar…

Oh yeah, deja vu all over again!

Last year, I found out about a group of LGBT Irish who sought to march in the NYC parade and were turned down. I was upset, thinking that those people wanted to celebrate the fact they were Irish and were refused because they also happened to be gay. They would have to choose whether to celebrate a part of their heritage that basically rejected them simply because of who they were. So I wrote a column for the Chronicle and cited a similar case in Boston that actually was the precedent that the NYC parade organizers used to exclude the group of LGBT Irish.

In the column I mentioned how hard it was to find the policy online. Turns out I didn’t know where to look. Perhaps the rule cited by the parade council is unwritten and barely spoken about, but the court case ruling that favored the parade council in Boston over 15 years ago was easily found once I got the case name, thanks to the Boston.com article.

The decision, to quote Wikipedia

Justice Souter delivered the unanimous opinion of the court on June 19, 1995. The Court reasoned that, even though the Council did not have a narrow, set message that it was intending to convey, the parade nevertheless constituted a message that the Council had a right to protect. Noting that, while the Council had been fairly lenient in its guidelines for who they chose to allow in their parade, the Court said this did not necessarily mean that the Council waived its right to present its message in a way it saw fit. The right to speak, the Court reasoned, includes the right to determine “what not to say.”  Of primary concern to the Court was the fact that anyone observing the parade (which regularly gained a large number of spectators) could rationally believe that those involved in the parade were all part of an overriding message the Council was seeking to provide.  In this vein, the unanimous Court said that the Council could not statutorily be prohibited from excluding the messages of groups it did not agree with. Effectively, the Council could not be forced to endorse a message against its will.

Like with most supreme court rulings, it takes a couple read-throughs to comprehend it. But at least it does have a sense of logic, even if that logic was used to come to a decision that I disagree with.

I just hate the idea of this accepted practice of exclusion. It won’t change anytime soon, as the court ruling basically said it was up to the parade councils to determine what kind of “message” they wanted to say with the units in their parades. Have the parade organizers not heard of the axiom that actions speak louder than words? By not including Gay and Irish groups for many years in a row, they are telling the public that they are old fashioned and narrow-minded, maybe even bigoted.

They are also sending a message to gays: that are gay first and foremost and that makes them less Irish than their straight counterparts.

The only solution I can see is a game of patience. The Gay Irish groups must sadly wait for the last of the old guard who wish to exclude them to die off. Then they can approach the parade’s councils again and hopefully march openly.


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Bunker Hill Day

On Sunday the 12th, the neighborhood of Charlestown celebrated its annual parade for the Battle of Bunker Hill.

In recent years city officials have debated the budget and considered getting rid to two Suffolk county holidays that celebrate important moments during the early revolution war. It would be an attempt to save money as employers get the day off for these holidays which are extremely local. The first day is March 17th, known as Evacuation Day, when the British left Boston. People not in the know have joked Boston gave itself Saint Patrick’s Day off so people could drink the whole day. The second is June 17th, the date of the Battle itself. (The parade is  always celebrated on the Sunday before the 17th, while the actual day is saved for an exercise at the Bunker Hill Monument.)

Politicians with local ties to the neighborhood come to the annual breakfast held before the parade and hosted by the Bunker Hill Associates. While the debate has waxed and waned on Beacon Hill, these politicians have picked up a sentiment stating that we couldn’t have had July 4th without June 17th.

Interestingly the holiday and parade celebrate a military defeat rather than a victory. The rag-tag Continental (or just Massachusetts) militia  held Breed’s Hill through three separate advances by the larger, better trained British Army. When they finally gave up, it wasn’t for lack of trying, but because they ran out of ammo. The British, in taking what turned out to be a rather in consequential hill, suffered heavy loses and learned an important lesson. These patriots were serious and would not roll over.

Perhaps I’m biased as I have lived in Charlestown and experienced these celebrates my entire life, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to get rid of this holiday. However I disagree that the battle of Bunker Hill lead to Independence Day just over a year later. Considering the path the Colonial powers and the British were taking both before June 17th and after, the fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence would have happened in some way sooner or later.

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Interesting 48 hours or so weather wise.

Yesterday was the day for my Dad to come down and pick me up from school. As I needed to check out of my dorm, since I’m studying abroad in Munich next semester, things were complicated by the fact that I needed to bring EVERYTHING home. I had all day to pack on friday, as followers on my Twitter noticed. But I still didn’t manage to finish packing the night before.

I awoke on Saturday with the news shows absolutely buzzing about this Nor’easter/Blizzard/OMG SNOWPOCOLYPSE!!! And I have to admit the video of President Obama getting off of Air Force One the night before was quite impressive. Props to the pilots being able to land that huge jet in a white out. You could barely see the plane (the half painted white was completely gone) and you could barely catch glimpses of Obama walking down the stairs in between the snow flakes whizzing by the camera, almost sideways. 

I checked the LI ferry website and they had already canceled their service in preparation of the storm. This complicated my Dad’s travel plans. We had to get off LI before it started snowing. Dad decided to go through the Bronx (using the Throggs Neck Bridge) and take the parkways to 91, the way Mom usually goes. Thankfully we loaded up the car and started driving at 1115, only an hour or so behind schedule.

The forecast said NYC and CT would start seeing snow around 2 at the latest. We were still in CT and didn’t see any snow when they said it would start snowing. In fact, as we drove West, and a little by little North, the sky kept getting thinner and lighter. The storm actually stalled over LI and NYC. Snow was supposed to fall in Boston around 6 or so, but 6 hours later, it had just started flurrying. The ground was still too dry (and maybe a little to warm) for it to stick when I went to bed.

I finally awoke to a winter wonderland this morning, only 36 hours or so shy of the Winter Solstice. I only hope we don’t get dumped on as much as DC, and LI.

It’s times like these that really make me appreciate meteorology. I sometimes wish I could study to become a meteorologist and be on TV, but I don’t think I could handle being wrong (a lot)


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‘Meep’ follow up

A column from the Ideas section of the Boston Globe follows up on the story about the Danvers High school banning the word meep.   ( Which I wrote a blog post about a month ago)

Meep has been used many ways as slang. The column says that Urbandictionary has 71 entries for it!

A word is only as powerful as people says it is. So why am I still hung up about the principal banning the word? Maybe because by banning it, he gave it more power than it had before. I don’t really know…  but I found the ending of the column to be really interesting:

All words mean only what we all collectively agree they should mean, no more and no less. In Danvers, meep came to mean: “We’ll obey your rules when we feel like it.” And that, in the end, made it a dirty word.

~Erin McKean

When I take that in to consideration, banning the word makes more sense. It was never about the word (the school was quoted to not banning the word for the sake of the word itself) but what it stood for. In effect, they banned the word for its definition.

It’s just a little surreal to see meep on a list of words that should not be spoken at school with the likes of real four letter words and other swear words.


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A Thankful Post

I’ve heard people say online that Thanksgiving is the true American holiday, more than Christmas. And I agree with them. There are so many different versions of Christmas, and the celebrations vary around the world and around the country. But Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving. No matter where you go – Except maybe Canada 😉

I am always mindful of how lucky I am. I have been given wonderful opportunities in life and also feel blessed. I always celebrate Thanksgiving by serving Mass. (It’s not a holy day, but especially since I’ve gone off to school, I love coming back to my home parish for Thanksgiving break) and then a family dinner. My father is one of seven so there’s always lots of family for the holiday. 

This year I am thankful for the people around me – both in Real Life and online. I’m thankful for my family, for my health (I’m so fortunate that both my Crohn’s and Depression are under control) and for my success at school. Everyday I thank the big guy upstairs for all my gifts but today especially I want to give thanks.

I am thankful for you reading this too! 🙂


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Real Life Vampires

In honor of New Moon’s release, I thought I would do some digging and find some unusual Vampire news. I didn’t need to go any father before I found a link from boston.com.

A Boston University Religious Studies Scholar, Joseph Laycock,   has published a book called Vampires Today: The Truth About Modern Vampirism where he discusses people who believe that they are actually vampires. They don’t bite peoples necks (that’s unsanitary) but most  feed of of people’s energy. A few will occasionally drink a few drops of blood obtained by a syringe.

Interestingly enough, Catholics have been called Vampires because of their belief in transubstantiation (that the wine and bread become the blood and body of Christ during the Mass)

Read the transcript of the interview here. There’s also a few related videos.

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Meep – a four letter word?

According to an blurb on boston.com website, the principal of Danvers High School has banned the word Meep. The principal went further and warned that suspension is a possibility if students say or display the word again.

All because “students said it to repeatedly interrupt school.”  The students had planned it on facebook.

This is a little extreme. I think it was harmless. Most of the comments on the article say that it was harmless as well to varying degrees.

At the root of the problem is the principal’s fear of losing control – which is pretty pathetic that he feels threatened by  a word used most often by a character from “The Muppet Show.”

It’s just a show of exercising power that ends up being useless. The students are most likely going to ignore his threat. It would be better for the Principal to ignore the Meep and just deal with the disruptions on their own.

Also it is an example of the widening gap between generations. I don’t know exactly how old this principal is, but I can bet by his reaction to Meep that he doesn’t understand it as a trivial word the way high school and college kids do. Meep is just a random word to say, nothing more and nothing less.


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Baseball True Fans?

I am born and raised in Boston. And I am really into the Red Sox. (I’m wearing Ellsbury jersey right now) So naturally I was crushed when the Angels swept the Sox. I felt pretty embarrassed.

So being a Red Sox fan, I naturally rooted for the Angels to beat the Yankees.

And now I really want the Phillies to repeat just so the Yankees lose. I’m not alone according to a (biased) poll on boston.com. They asked Red Sox fans how willing they were to root for the Yankees.

Rooting for the Yankee?
Can you guess what I voted for? I voted Not if my life depended on it. I am not bold enough to go prancing around Manhattan with my jersey on, but I have seen a Sox/Yanks game in the new Yankee Stadium and have proudly worn my jersey there.

But I found an article on mlb.com which throws the term “Team of the Decade” around. The debate is heating up. And the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies are all in contention.

Both the Yankees and Phillies have won a World Series in this decade (00-09) The Red Sox are the only team that has won two. (04 and 07) So either team would tie the Sox. If the Yankees win, then most baseball analysts would pick them for the unofficial title. But if the Phillies win, then most of them would pick the Sox. Also, in some analysts’ eyes the miracle in 04 (where the Sox came back from 3-0 deficit against the Yankees to sweep the Cardinals in the Series) is a more impressive feat than what either the Phillies and the Yankees have accomplished this decade. The fact that the Sox were able to do something similar (coming back from 3-1 against the Indians) in 07 to sweep the Series again only strengthens that opinion.

The Yankees have not won a World Series since 2000 and I would like to keep it that way. I think it stems from being constantly reminded of the Red Sox 86 year old drought before they broke it in 2004. I want the Yankee fans to go at least 10 years without a title, to get a little taste of a drought.
Maybe I’m a little spiteful, and maybe I really am not a true fan. I will admit that my interest in the Post Season goes way down once the Sox are out. I wasn’t interested in the 05 Series, except to see the ChiSox end their own drought. (My mom is from Chicago but is a Cubs fan) And I wasn’t interested in 06 when the Cardinals won…

But I do appreciate good baseball. It’s just hard to watch when I’m not invested in rooting either for (or against) a particular team.

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The First Day of School

Classes started a week ago yesterday, but my old high school just started today. That is insanely late if you ask me. If they have any snow days, then they’re going to sit in that building until the end of June. At the risk of getting burned at the stake, I think this is one of the ways that it hurts the students. We started the second of September and still had Labor day off. Why should Boston Public Schools have to wait until after Labor Day to start classes? Boston in particular and New England in general still have the school schedule from agrarian times, where kids had to wait until after the harvest to start school and still be available to help with the spring plantings. We already know that the US is falling behind the other nations of the world in school testing and that it has one of the shortest school years (180 days or 36 weeks) I think the school leaders should change it. Add at least another two weeks to the school calendar. (Or maybe another 4 to bring it up to a nice even 40 weeks of school)

Also there needs to be some reform about the teacher unions. (Treading on thin ice here) In my school experience, I did not learn a lot in classes where the teacher was just ‘riding on their tenure’ – meaning the teacher did not do much in the class but was protected by the fact they had already taught a certain number of years. I was fortunate that the one teacher I had who was nearing retirement age wasn’t for a vital class. But my brother, who was two grades behind me got the same teacher for a vital class.  From what I heard, she didn’t start their Senior Paper, a graduation requirement, until all the other Senior English classes had started theirs and were a couple weeks ahead.  I don’t think we need to fire these teachers or punish them. I think instead, the schools should work with the unions to work out a system that rewards teachers for, well teaching, once they reach tenure. Get these elder teachers to teach again and share their experiences with the students!

Although as I am writing this, I realized that students have very little control over their education. I think Boston is very fortunate to have a  seat on the School Committee reserved for students to give input. However I don’t think may BPS students were aware that they had a representative on the committee.  But did you ever stop and realize that the majority of the people controlling the lives of young people are over 40? They never seem to remember what it was like for them when they were our age either.

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