I was vaguely aware that John J. Round had been a town official way back at the beginning of the 20th century. But, like most people, I had no inkling about his more significant contributions to the town.

I had no idea, for example, that he had purchased entire tracts of land in the areas of Crystal Lake, Greenwood and the Junction, planted thousands of trees on those parcels at his own expense and then donated it all to the town. The early development of the park that now bears his name was also done largely at his own expense.

JJ Round Park was originally dedicated on Aug. 30, 1953. At the re-dedication of the park two weeks ago, John J. Round’s great-grandson, John J. Round IV, read the keynote speech delivered by then-State Rep. Gardner Campbell at the 1953 dedication. Continue reading ‘Pride of the Yankees’


All the rage

06Sep19

Well, our long, hot summer is finally over.

OK, it wasn’t that long. Summer around here never is.

But if you don’t think it was hot, tell that to the woman who had a cup of hot coffee thrown at her while sitting in the Dunkin’ Donuts in the Junction one morning last July.

As she was sitting there alone with her laptop and a book, a hot-headed 70-year-old man started to berate her and question why she was there. When she had the audacity to defend her right to have a cup of coffee and mind her own business, the aging tough guy threw the large hot coffee he had just purchased in her face.
Continue reading ‘All the rage’


Just the facts

03Sep19

When is a fact not a fact? And how much does the pure, empirical truth matter? Those are the questions at the heart of the current Gloucester Stage offering, The Lifespan of a Fact. They are questions that have long concerned writers and readers (and not just since Nov. 8, 2016, contrary to partisan political interpretations).

Gloucester Stage is the first theater in the country to produce the highly acclaimed The Lifespan of a Fact since last year’s successful Broadway run, which featured Danielle Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannevale. Under the direction of veteran stage, film and television director Sam Weisman, Gloucester Stage presents the regional premier of this ultimate clash between truth and fiction.
Continue reading ‘Just the facts’


Friendly advice

30Aug19

Summer is winding down. Conditioned by the school year, people are squeezing in that last bit of leisure time and resting up for the post-Labor Day ramp-up of activity.

It’s also a truism that late August is a slow news period. That’s not the case at National Public Radio, where the news never rests, all things considered.

Last week, NPR’s website published a hard-hitting piece called, “Men Can Have Better Friendships. Here’s How.” Naturally, it was written by a woman.
Continue reading ‘Friendly advice’


Charging ahead

22Aug19

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

02Aug19

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!’



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