Charging ahead


We’ve already established that the only thing keeping you from trading in your Subaru for a Schwinn is the lack of bike lanes. Now it turns out that all it will take to get you into a new electric vehicle is for the town to install a few public electric vehicle charging stations.

So, which is it? Bikes or electric vehicles? Has the Sierra Club weighed in yet?

A note on terminology. An electric vehicle, or “EV” if you want to sound like a cognoscente (and, trust me, you do), is one that operates 100 percent on electricity generated mainly by fossil fuels.

Wakefield is in the process of deciding where to place its first three public EV charging stations, which the Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department is generously giving to the town. We learned at the August Town Council meeting that eager EV buyers have just been waiting for the charging infrastructure to be put in place. I can see the lines forming at the local Tesla dealership as we speak.
Continue reading ‘Charging ahead’

A simple plan


If you’re looking for someone to blame for bike lanes, look in the mirror.

That’s in effect what the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is saying in a recently released document called the Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan.

MassDOT has developed the Bike Plan “to be an actionable investment strategy to guide its decision-making and bicycle infrastructure investments, as well as support municipalities to improve bikeability.”

The plan lists an “action-oriented strategy” based on three key principles.

“First, reverse the decades-long practice of prioritizing automobile travel.”

The next time you’re stuck in an interminable traffic jam, try to be grateful for your decades of priority status. You are the reason we now need bike lanes.
Continue reading ‘A simple plan’

“How do you do it?” is a question I am frequently asked. “How do you sit through all those boring government meetings?”

I should probably answer that I selflessly attend these meetings in order to be your eyes and ears. I should say that I go to these meetings so that you don’t have to.

The truth is, I do it for the entertainment. It’s like live theater, or these days, soap opera, and not just because meetings are televised.

For sheer entertainment, the Town Council currently offers the best value. It can’t yet hold a candle to some of the cage matches that broke out at the old Board of Selectmen meetings back in the early 2000s, but give it time.
Continue reading ‘That’s entertainment!’


GLOUCESTER — Imagine Mel Brooks pressed into service to direct an Alfred Hitchcock movie. You might get something like Patrick Barlow’s witty stage adaptation of Hitchcock’s classic mystery thriller, The 39 Steps. The play version, currently in production at Gloucester Stage, is much more comedy than mystery. And as comedy, it’s very clever indeed.

Although the play includes every scene and most of the dialog from the 1935 film, the actors ham it up for comedic effect and comic/dramatic scenes are highlighted by Foley artist Malachi Rosen’s on-stage musical and theatrical sound effects.

Robert Walsh directs the production in which four actors play over 150 characters in the fast-paced story of Richard Hannay, a bored Londoner, whose attendance at a London Palladium show results in his getting swept up in a murder/espionage adventure with perilous implications for the entire UK.
Continue reading ‘GSC’s ‘The 39 Steps’ is a comedic thriller’

Native tongue


As has oft been stated, Wakefield is a welcoming town, for both visitors and new residents — especially new residents, whom we have a habit of electing to public office before they’ve even finished unpacking.

A couple times a year, Wakefield offers an orientation program for refugees from other communities. It’s called Wakefield 101, where newcomers to our town can talk with representatives from town departments, community groups and local businesses. They can mingle with other migrants and leave with a welcome bag filled with information, fun freebies and a special gift.

Sadly, these efforts have neglected perhaps the most important consideration in helping newcomers assimilate to our culture: learning the language. Some people live here for years and never master the local lexicon. I happen to be fluent in the native tongue, so I’m happy to fill that gap.
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When did we become such weather wimps?

Two recent local events that were once routinely held outdoors unless forced inside by a deluge, now automatically happen under the artificial lights of LED bulbs rather than the brilliant sunshine that Mother Nature provides for free.

I’m talking, of course, about the town’s Memorial Day exercises and Wakefield High School’s graduation.
Continue reading ‘The great indoors’

Natural history


I made my feelings known on the topic of bike lanes a few weeks ago. I’m not a fan, but they’re coming, as just one part of a $15 million downtown infrastructure project.

Rightly or wrongly, I associate bike lanes with some other obnoxious trends, like the demonization of automobiles and fossil fuels.

The internal combustion engine is one of the greatest advancements to come out of human ingenuity. But our species is now supposed to feel immense guilt and spend billions of dollars doing penance for the grievous sin of being creative and inventive, for merely using the tremendous gifts bestowed on us by God or nature, depending on your perspective.
Continue reading ‘Natural history’

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