Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Burning Desires

Last night's rain frosted up into a cold and foggy morning, as I headed up to Greenfield.

Greenfield has a nice, bustling Main st., loaded with locally owned shops and stores. Interestingly, the town has been fighting the tide sweeping the rest of the country, by holding on tightly to their small shops and businesses. They continue to snub strong advances by bix-box developers. The mighty Wal-Mart had tried to establish a foothold in the area in the early 90's. The town council back then had already all but given Wal-Mart the green light to start digging. But then a resident named Al Norman led a grassroots counter-campaign, that ultimately put the kaibash on the whole deal, and his "Sprawl-Busters" helped other cities do the same all across the country.

Here's a link to that David and Goliath story : http://walmartwatch.com/battlemart/resources/greenfield_ma_stops_wal_mart_rezoning/

Now the big-box developers have returned. They've been alternately submitting and pulling plans for developments on the French King Hwy area, and the west side of the I-91 rotary, all throughout 2007. I'm sure the prospect of conquering a small, shop-filled city like Greenfield, the center of Franklin County, would make any Mega-Chain's mouth water...

On the way back to the highway, I stopped to check out this sign, in the Big Y plaza by the rotary.

The sign was recently on the front page of the Gazzette. A clown (really, a clown, named Waffles) draped an anti-war canvas over the sign. He then sat on top of it, in an Uncle Sam outfit with donkey ears. He was shouting anti-war slogans into a bullhorn, and causing traffic tie-ups. The fire department, police and ambulance services had to show up to bring him down safely. He was led off in handcuffs. Freedom of speech, but not on private property.

Apparently, that display of anti-war activism wasn't the only one for this sign. It had also been set on fire, at some point.

The Pioneer Valley's got a very strong (though sometimes dangerously one-sided) political climate. I wonder where the line is drawn, between zeal and fanaticism... I think one sure sign you've gone too far with your opinions, is when some one's private property gets destroyed. When that happens, maybe it's time to start thinking about dialing it back, a little.


Bill Dusty said...

Is that the same "God Bless" sign that was in the news a week or two ago, when the town ordered the plaza owner to take it down because the business that used it (a movie theater, I think) was no longer operating?

Tony said...

I did some quick googling, and your totally right...heres a link to that story: http://www.cbs3springfield.com/news/local/11957446.html

That sign's developing quite a little history!

LarryK4 said...

A couple of flags hanging over the Mass Pike were also burned last week.

I still vividly recall only six weeks after 9/11 the only Republican at Amherst College held a "God Bless America" rally and a bunch of Hampshire College kids (and anonymous Professor) crashed the event, burned a couple small flags, laid a larger one the ground and repeatedly stomped on it chanting "This flag doesn't represent us."

Naturally the photo made the front page of the Boston Globe in vivid color. I remember discussing the incident with a television news anchor who said they almost covered it, but so much was going on that day….

He said he would have laid down his microphone and punched somebody.

Rachel said...

Disgraceful conduct by the vandals.

"Support the Troops."

What's so controversial about that?

Rachel said...

Absolutely disgraceful conduct by the vandals.

God bless America!

Tony said...

Larry, as nerve-racking as that must have been, at least they were doing it in the open. I kind of get the feeling that the Palmer thing (and maybe Greenfield) was done by a kid(s). I could be wrong, but I just can't see an adult making such a cowardly statement, burning flags in the dark. That remains to be seen.

Rachel, yes it was disgraceful, and cowardly. I hope they see that kind of thing only hinders their cause...

Mary E.Carey said...

We love the People's Pint in Greenfield. I wish we had something like it in Amherst. (Also, Tony, you asked me about a couple of blog addresses. I only know one of them, it's http://dpopyo.blogspot.com)

Tony said...

That's right, I forgot to mention that there are many nice old fashioned "pub"-like establishments, among the small businesses there.