I watched Notre Dame de Paris burn from my couch, located in my house, located one block from a 100-year-old Catholic church that is 80 percent empty on Sundays. In the back of the church is a redbrick Catholic school, abandoned for decades.
And I was baptized in Notre Dame de Lourdes in Fall River, Massachusetts, a huge granite church built ...Read more
When I was very young, maybe 40 years ago, I worked with a number of unreconstructed workingmen. They had been born on farms, most of them, and many of them had plowed with a mule, or picked cotton by hand.
They'd left that life and found factory work in a large Midwestern city. They all smoked, and they wore no jewelry except a gold wedding ...Read more
I live in Massachusetts, a state that's been showered with sports championships in the last few years. Super Bowl. World Series. There may have been some others, but I'm not a sports fan, so I can't be sure.
It's been fun, though. People wear "Champions" T-shirts, and everyone's happy about the victories, and I like living among happy people.
In between the Confederate monument and the tiki torch parade, there's a party goin' on.
And there are fine people on both sides. The bikers and the military and the cops are there, counting the days toward the pension, or toward selling crystal meth, depending on the uniform worn.
No Russian collusion! No Russian collusion! Pump ...Read more
I live in Fall River, Massachusetts, a blood clot of abandoned mills and tenement houses. There are almost 90,000 people here, all of us living close to the highway that New Yorkers and Bostonians take to Cape Cod.
A former miracle of the Industrial Revolution, Fall River is known for its numerous derelict cotton mills, some of which have been ...Read more
I once kidded an inept editorial writer I worked with by asking him, as he prepared to write, "Are we concerned or outraged today?"
He gave me a weak smile, which meant he would have hit me if it were not for the fact that he'd never hit anyone. If he'd decided to hit me, he wouldn't have known what to do first, and the trick to hitting ...Read more
When I left the world of full-time newspaper employment to enter retirement, I left, as all workers do, with a box of things I'd taken from my desk.
It was a fairly stereotypical load. There were books, pictures of my wife, pens, some small Christmas decorations I stored in a drawer between seasons.
And a mug.
It's a white mug with the seal ...Read more
Pray God it comes hard.
Since I left the newspaper business, I've called myself "semi-retired." I say "semi" because I can't really stop working. I wasn't bred to stop working. I was bred to compulsively pull in every dollar I can until I die or become too sick to work.
Boohoo, right? America is full of people like me, hustling our way up to ...Read more
My mother, Margaret Munroe Dion, who died Saturday at 2:55 in the afternoon, was one of the girls in the office.
That phrase, "one of the girls in the office," was how she described herself during a career of unnoticed, generally poorly paid, clerical work in banks and doctors' offices, as a payroll clerk in a factory, and in a public library. ...Read more
Forty years ago, in one of those Midwestern cities where flat avenues end in clusters of convenience stores, I worked as a janitor.
There were seven men on my crew, and we worked 4 a.m. till noon cleaning the bars, restaurants, hallways, lobby and public bathrooms of a large hotel.
Every one of us pronounced "breakfast" as "brefast," "...Read more
If you want to know why people in America shoot so much heroin, re-watch Pres. Donald J. Trump's State of the Union address.
Oh, sure, we had a drug problem long before Trump became president, but Trump is the only president whose public mutterings make me think about catching a heroin habit just to turn down the sound a little. Bear in mind, I...Read more
If you ever smoked cigarettes, chances are you didn't pay for the first one you ever smoked.
You stole one from your mother's pack. Some uncle said, when you were 9 years old, "You wanna puff on my cigarette?" He thought it was cute. You bummed one off an older worker. A friend. Some guy you were dating.
Which generally meant you started to ...Read more
I've always lived among my own kind, which is humans, cats, dogs and the birds I feed in my yard. You can see someone who is a member of all those species if you look out the window of the apartment I live in, a second-floor apartment in the three-floor apartment building I own.
If you look out the window at other times of the day, you can see ...Read more