Monthly Archives: April 2014

Meanderings

I was just listening to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” written and sung by Billy Joel. I am unabashadly a fan of Mr. Joel’s and I love listening to that song because, as a former History teacher, I know of every object or event about which is sung. “Space Monkey and Mafia” stand out in “Life” magazine’s photos of the early sixties and late fifties. “Ben Hur” was one of the most watched movies of my young life. Especially the chariot race. “Lawrence of Arabia” was another popular movie but, as a six year old, it did not compare to “Ben Hur”. Later, as I grew older, I appreciated it, but at that time I preferred the chaos of that chariot race to the actions of “Lawrence of Arabia”.

I now have a television show. It too is called “Peters’ Principles” and it is difficult to edit, which is something that I am learning slowly. Too slowly for the LTC, I am afraid. I need an editor, someone who knows how to edit shows. I have a couple of potential candidates, but no one is firm at this point-in-time.
Strangely enough, I have given up landscaping due to my heart pacemaker, but I am busy overseeing landscaping jobs. Today I have to go to Gallagher Square and pick up the litter that people love to throw on it. My only observation is that litter belongs in trash receptacles.

I went to Gallagher Square. It is a large island and I have to get it mulched. It is over-run by rose bushes, which are very pretty during the on season and large and bristly during the off season. I picked up a bag of trash, including a number of Walmart bags, which I found curious given how far away Walmart is from Gallagher Square. Anyway, it is my cross to bear, but I just hope that they change the sign soon, since it is not being maintained by Jim Peters’ Landscaping anymore.

I am having City Councilor Ed Kennedy for a guest on the show for the next two weeks. Then, I am hoping to have the Mayor, Rodney Eliot, on immediately after that. The show is on on Wednesdays at 7PM and on Mondays at 9:30AM. I am hoping this next one is a good one. I believe that it will be. Be patient with me on this. There is alot about television that I am just learning. Thanks to Cameramen Steve McCarron, and Tony Harrington, I have a great deal of background material.

For those of you who have not yet visited the Stations of the Cross Grotto at the Franco-American School, do it soon. No matter what your background or religious affiliation, it is a sight to behold. Each station is superbly detailed and the Crucifix is immense and awe-inspiring. There is also a great view of the canal from the stations. So it is nice to be a ‘tourist in your own town.’

I had the twice-appreciated opportunity to see both the election of Kevin Murphy to City Manager and the Swearing-In of Mr. Murphy as City Manager. The first election was open to the public and there were quite a few people there. The second was sheer luck, I wanted to go but did not know if I could “crash.” when I found out that Father Raymond Benoit of St. Margaret Parish needed a ride, so we wheeled down in my truck. So I got to watch both events. I bought a DVD from the Lowell Telecommunications initiative which I plan on editing and showing on my show, “Peters’ Principles” which airs every two weeks on Wednesday. The next show is next Wednesday. The show premiered last week but there were many technical difficulties which were mine to make. Problems with lighting, running the camera, editing, etc. Basic things.

I am looking forward to the show, though. I am especially looking forward to seeing parts of the Swearing-In ceremony again. It was impressive, and the number of people there was just amazing. Every chair was filled and it was standing-room only. Kevin gave a great speech, noting the contributions of his mother and father, his wife and son, and others. He cited members of his family too, and also spoke of his visions of Lowell. It was a good speech.

I tried to stay away from coming out for Kevin because I am opinionated and I did not want any of my opinions to have a negative effect on anyone going for the manager’s job. Therefore, I tried to keep my opinions to myself. I do not mind saying now that I was hoping that Kevin Murphy would get the position because I have known him as my lawyer for years, and as my State Representative for what seems like decades. He is one of the fairest men I have ever met, and he is very balanced in his approach to events and challenges, I believe.

I was very happy he received an 8 to 1 and then a 9 to 0 vote. I, and I do not believe that I am alone in this, am tired of city administrations that hinge on a 5 to 4 vote on virtually every issue. This city needs vision, and Kevin Murphy has a vision for the city. I would like to thank the Mayor and the City Council for their vision and foresight. This city always gets better, no matter what happens. With a 245 million dollar high school renovation to worry about, we need calm leaders and we have them in Superintendent Jean Franco and City Manager Kevin Murphy.

20 years of Forrest Gump

If “It was twenty years ago today that Sergeant Pepper taught his band to play,” as the Beatles sang close to fifty years ago, it is also twenty years ago that the movie which would redefine how we look at the mentally challenged, lovable character that Tom Hanks embodied in the movie, “Forrest Gump.” The wonderful thing about the movie, or should I say, one of the wonderful things about the movie was the central question about destiny. Is it something that just happens or are we supposed to be driving our own destiny? The movie never answers the question. It is left to hang in our collective consciences for all eternity.

What is it about that movie that still renders us vulnerable? I believe that it is the way that the main character, Forrest (named after ancestor Nathan Bedford Forrest of KKK fame) Gump progresses through his life. He goes to elementary and high school, joins the football team in college and becomes an all-star, he joins the military and by accident almost, gets the Congressional Medal of Honor, the hghest award given to a military man. He falls in love and it never waivers, no matter how badly he is treated by his girl. He makes friends for life, including Lieutenant Dan, a character in the movie who is everything that Forrest is not, he is cantankerous, swarthy, and, when he loses both of his legs in combat, he is rightfully bitter. Forrest loves him, but he does not love Forrest until the end of the movie. The two of them go shrimp fishing and live through a hurricane on their boat. Forrest’s boat is the only one that survives the hurricane and Lieutenant Dan uses his business acumen to make them rich, when he parlays Apple stock into their investment portfolio.

As you probably know, Forrest finds his girl, Jennie, suffering from HIV. He marries and then buries her, along with his mother, played by Sally Field in one of her greatest roles. She constantly reminds him the “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you’ll get.” When he asks her about destiny, she gently tells him that he will have to figure it out for himself. He gains a son. He moves into his mother’s house, which is a beautiful mansion. And, as I said, he gets married.

When Frank Capra released “It’s a Wonderful Life,” he did not release it at Christmastime. He released it as a “B” movie in the summer. He never thought that it would amount to too much. It is probably the most popular Christmas movie of all time, even though it is not really about Christmas, it just ends on that note. When “Forrest Gump” came out the producers did everything that they could to make it successful, including a little trick of editing which placed Forrest Gump on a newsreel with the long dead President Kennedy. Instead of passing judgement on Kennedy, the film incorporates him into it. It was a brilliant piece of editing.

So, where am I going with this. Simply I am trying to note what has already been stated, that there is a question of destiny and it is never answered. But, at the end, Forrest says that destiny is a little bit of both, a question and an answer. We are left watching a feather floating on the wind, not picking a apot where it will go just floating aimlessly. The question of destiny is never really answered. That puts us at the point that we were at in the beginning of the movie, but it does something else that makes its twentieth birthday memorable; it makes us think.

Sometimes, when you write about things, you do not think too much about how your opinion might affect other people. Sometimes, you do. I wrote something yesterday about abortion, and I affected many of my fellow parishioners and friends at my church, so I wish I had skipped that point altogether. A very good friend, and a person I look up to, told me I should recant, and that sounds like a fair course to take. So if I said too much, or offended you, I apologize. This is the first time I have recanted, but it seems like the proper thing to do, so I back away from my opinion expressed yesterday. Wiser heads than mine will decide this issue. My relationship with those persons at the church is too important to me to jeopardize it.

Meanderings

I am coming to the conclusion that the problem with the Republican Party is that its members believe that the Constitution boils down to two parts, the Second Amendment on the “Right to Keep and Bear Arms” which has been infringed many times by both Democrats and Republicans, and the proposal that the second part of the document should be that a woman does not have the right to manage her body. I do not agree with Roe versus Wade, and I believe that the father should have the right to raise his own baby to adulthood and beyond, but I do believe, unlike my church does, that in incidences of rape or incest it is a right to have an abortion.

Pope Francis said, and this is not a direct quote, that he knew of a woman who had an abortion of her first child but raised six others in a loving home, and therefore he should not pass judgement on the woman for having her first baby aborted. I believe that that is what I read. He said that the woman herself was passing her own judgement on her own action. If the Pope states that he cannot pass judgement, who am I to do it? The Pope’s message was that you have to share your love, even with people whom you feel have done something terribly wrong.

A great many people were confused by this action on the part of the Pope. The Catholic Church still states that contraception is a sin, something few followers seem to agree with, and abortion is the killing of the baby. However, the head of the Catholic Church says you should love one another, and there is a part of that that just boggles the mind.

On to more immediate topics. The “Sun” ran an article on the conditions of the lagoons kept by the Water Department. It basically stated that the state was watching those lagoons closely and had monitored the disposal of waste into the Merrimack River. My feeling is that we are beyond such environmental transgressions now. We should have monitored and taken steps with the lagoons some time ago. Supposedly, it will cost 3.5 million dollars to fix the problem. This is something that should have taken place under the last administration. I have looked at those lagoons often, and there is no reason for them to be leaking what amounts to sewerage, or alum, into the river. The Merrimack has become a resource for recreation, and there is no reason I can think of for threatening our standing with the state over illegal dumping into our greatest natural treasure.

I am working on a project for the Lowell Motor Boat Club. I have been trying to write a history of the LMBC. It should be out shortly and I look forward to getting it to the publisher. It is amazing to learn the role of the river in our history. I do not want to write too much about it because I do not want to spoil the suspense, if there is any, but it is amazing how our forefathers looked upon the river.

The high school is due for a 245 million dollar facelift. I think that we should use a good part of that money to build another, smaller, high school. Most cities the size of Lowell have two or three high schools and I think that the necessary improvements can be made to the old high school without using all of the money appropriated. The rest could be used to build a new high school on the property off of Rogers Street where the Alumni Field is now. Two high schools with dedicated curriculums could easily exist in a city the size of Lowell. Sporting events could be held at Cawley Memorial Stadium, and the land behind the ice arena. It is just a thought, and there may be ten million reasons not to do it, but I believe two high schools is an idea whose time has come.

There is precedence. Separate campuses work for the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, and for Middlesex Community College. Academic competition between the two high schools might ensue, and that could only be for the better. We could settle on a name for it at some point in the far future.

So, watch my television opinion/news show Wednesdays at 7PM. If you want to be on the show, call me at 978-729-0654. I have to tell you that the first one is a bit confusing. It turns out that I put the introduction of the show at the end of it. I would like to thank Dan Toomey, Gloria Polites, Tony Harrington, Rick Geoffroy, and especially my cameraman, Steve McCarron for their labor and interesting points which were assimilated into the show. I hope that you enjoy it.