Thursday, March 29, 2007

McGrory's Latest

Keeping on the theme of Globe columnists ... Anyone who knows me or has read this blog probably figured out by now that I'm an unapologetic fan of Brian McGrory, the Boston Globe's Metro columnist.

For me, it's as simple as this: He's the only writer in town - from either paper - that I will read start to finish no matter what the subject.

There are several others who come close, "Downtown" columnist Steve Bailey and my former boss Joe Sciacca (when he had his column). But it's McGrory who, I think, truly carries the pulse of Boston. It wasn't always that way. I think he has truly hit his stride in the last two years - wonderfully skewering pols (yes, including ones I have/do work for), telling stories of woe and triumph no one else will and truly covering the city from the columnist's chair.

So it wasn't much of a surprise to me that I picked up his first novel a couple years back, "The Incumbent." It was the story of a grizzled reporter from The Boston Record named Jack Flynn (not much of a cover, I thought, but I read on). And I was glad I did. It was a well-written, compelling story - based mostly in Washington - about a president, a reporter and another grand attempt at the perfect crime. Pick it up, it's good.

I fell off the bandwagon through two books - mostly owing, I guess, to the fact that I hadn't really read any books through the first couple years of my kids' lives since sleeping was a rarity and, when quiet time found me, sleeping was a priority.

A couple weeks ago, I stumpled on "Strangled," his latest, at Borders and figured I'd give it a shot. I just finished it the other day and it was great. It's the same reporter, a little older, a little more grizzled and now in Boston as the "Record's" top dog reporter, who gets drawn into a murder investigation which appears to shade the infamous Boston Strangler case.

Once again, a tight, well-written, compelling story. Mostly, I like the reporter-turned-action hero storyline (what current or former reporter wouldn't?). And I love the writing on Boston. It proves my point about no one knowing our capital city better. The story just has the feel, the sights and even the smells of Boston's diverse neighborhoods.

I'll admit, the writing around Jack Flynn's fellow reporter, Vinny Mongillo, annoyed me. Not just that Mongillo was fat but that McGrory had him eating like a pig in every single scene he was in. When Steven Soderbergh had Brad Pitt eating in every scene of "Ocean's Eleven," it was charming and funny - mostly since Pitt is eye-candy for most of the audience. But the image of a big, fat, sweaty guy eating all the time is pretty distracting.

That flaw aside, "Strangled" is a great read and one I'd highly recommend. Now I've gone on Amazon and, through private used book sellers, picked up the previous two books, "The Nominee" and "Deadline" (for I think $8 total). I'll let you know what I think - though I'm reading the "U2 by U2" coffeetable book and "Bringing Down the House" at the moment.

Oh, and a memo to McGrory - have one of the minions update your website, It's way out of date, doesn't have the new book featured and, unlike the columns or the books, needs some umph.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Who is the Next Globe Marquee Writer?

The Boston Globe buyouts this week had my world of politics, media and government all abuzz. For the most part, I actually thought it was a non-event. A couple major losses for the Globe are Steve Kurkjian, a true investigative bulldog, and restaurant critic Alison Arnett. I wasn’t surprised to see Eileen McNamara take the buyout but her departure opens up the most serious question for Globe editor Marty Baron.

Will he replace McNamara? If not, what does that mean to Brian McGrory and Adrian Walker? And, if so, does it have to be a woman? And, if so, with woman?

[Another, slightly smaller question than 'who' is 'when'? Do you give the newbie the marquee Sunday/Wednesday slot that McNamara has or switch around McGrory, who currently has Tuesday and Friday, and Walker, who has Monday and Thursday]

I think the answers are pretty easy on a number of fronts. Yes, he should replace her. McGrory and Walker do good work but the Globe needs another face on its Metro page.

And, yes, it has to be a woman.

That may rub some people the wrong way but get over it. This isn’t a woman’s slot, per say. But, in this day and age, for the Globe to have more than one Metro columnist and not have one of them be a woman would be wrong. I don’t think McNamara or even Patricia Smith got their jobs just because they were women but, after Bella English, I think they had to reserve at least one slot for a non-man, it’s just life, it’s just right and it's just about the best way to truly give your paper some diversity.

Now, the question comes, who?

I happen to be of the belief that the job of Metro columnist, arguably the most high-profile at the paper, must be promoted from within.

You can’t draw a good person from out of town for that slot because learning the oddities, quirks and craziness of this small town while in that kind of slot would be just painful.

And I don’t think they should pull somebody from the cross-town Herald, even though I love them all dearly, because there isn’t truly a voice there strong enough to pull it off and bring in new readers (which, remember, is the goal here).

One oddball thought I'd consider if I were Baron is a TV personality, if any of them can truly write, which I suspect some can. Consider the sorry state of newspaper circulation. Not that TV is doing a heck of a lot better at drawing in young news viewers, but news writing needs to change with the times and there's a chance - longshot, I admit - that a TV journalist could do something special with a column. Think Emily Rooney, Maria Stephanos or Lisa Hughes. Again, if they can write well.

I think really you have to look first within the Globe. And, from the reporters/editors I know, there are some pretty good choices. Now I’ll admit bias on some fronts because these are people I have worked with and like. But here are some nominations:

· Carolyn Ryan. A name few outside the business know right now but who currently wields enormous influence at the Globe. I believe her title is now Assistant Managing Editor but she’s basically Metro editor and her hands are in everything of any consequence at the Globe for good reason – she’s very good. She hasn’t had much of a chance to write since she left the Herald but, at the Herald and, before that, at the Patriot Ledger, she was one of the best reporters I’ve seen. Neither of those slots allowed her to do much of the true writing she’d have to do as a columnist but I have no reason to think she couldn’t pull it off credibly. She has impeccable sources, is very well connected around town and, one of the most important aspects of the job, she knows the city and state. It might be seen as a demotion of sorts because she could be editor someday. But I think this might be a chance of a lifetime for her and the Globe.

· Yvonne Abraham. A great writer and reporter. I first ran into her on the Straight Talk Express with Sen. John McCain in the 2000 campaign and, though I was a lowly competitor, she was nice, fun and actually helpful. She is a great source reporter because everyone genuinely likes her. She was good in the State House but, I think, underutilized. Now she’s doing immigration stories and has been breaking news and writing true enterprise pieces on the single biggest topic facing the nation these days. She’s an Aussie with the accent but, at heart, a great Bostonian.

· Beth Healy. A good reporter and writer on the Business desk, she’s now working on the Spotlight team and played a key role in the “Debtors Hell” series that, while I didn’t think it was all that, has at least caught the attention of the Pulitzer committee so that shows what I know.

· Other longer-shots could be: Stephanie Ebbert (great reporter I competed against in City Hall Bureau and would be a new, young face for an ever-changing Boston); Bev Beckham, formerly of the Herald and currently a once-a-weeker for the Sunday regional sections; And Haley Kaufman from the Living page.

Ok, now let the complaints flood in. But if you think I’m way off – tell me, who do you think deserves the job?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fellas, beer, football and, above all else, friends

So I took a brief hiatus. Sorry. I’m back. I know you missed me.

Oddly, site traffic didn’t really slow. Maybe less really is more or, as Owen’s good friend Lightning McQueen says, you have to turn left to go right sometimes.

Anyway, the reason for my departure is why I write tonight. See, I should have said this before, but I was away this past weekend participating in the single coolest example of friendship I – or pretty much anyone I know – has ever heard about. I’ll leave out all the details to protect the semi-innocent.

But for one weekend a year, a group of buddies and I get away for a weekend on the Cape. Yes, they are all guys. Yes, we go to the Cape in the dead of winter. And, yes, this has been going on now for 12 years. Yup, a dirty dozen. Fantastic.

It started when me and my roommate at the time were chatting one boring day as fall turned to winter in 1995. We were young, single and bored. We had plenty of places to drink and hang in the summer but wanted a winter getaway – basically, a change of scenery.

So off we went that early winter of 1996. We drank too much, played (gulp) tackle football, played (double gulp) The Century Club and generally just beat ourselves silly. Details, again, are being closely guarded. We didn’t think much of it when we did it the following year, and the year after, and the year after.

Pretty soon, somebody got married, then another, then someone got divorced, then someone else, a baby or two showed up, we bought houses, a few guys lost their dads, someone had to move away for work, etc., etc. We still drink a bit too much, play football (though we’ve downgraded to flag football after two guys broke bones), have moved to 3-Man or play some cards, have a first class meal, pull out the guitars and, of course, do a lot of laughing. This is typically how we learn about major changes in employment, job misery, spousal problems and, as with this weekend, the pending arrival of another child.

Over time, the weekend changed – not so much in substance, but in meaning. We were no longer just looking for a change of scenery for our debauchery. Now this was our weekend to reconnect, to rebond and to let loose the chains of the working stiff for 72-hours of, well, youthful indiscretions (the legal kind, thank you).

So that’s where I was Friday through Sunday. Of course, I was welcomed back with several late nights and long days at work – check the headlines, they’ll do a better job explaining than I will.

Anyway, it’s a fabulous tradition that we are sure to keep up. We’re already making big plans for year 20 (I’m suggesting Vegas, baby). Every year we mention in passing that we should invite a Cape Cod Times reporter along or something and tell people about our little tradition. Every year the wives/girlfriends complain a bit but admit after that they are not-so-secretly jealous of our tradition and our friendships.

Along the way this year, that friend I mentioned who dreamed this all up with me told us to check out this story on CBS the other night.

It’s a bunch of 70-somethings who have been getting together regularly to play cards for 50-odd years. Fifty years. Holy good God. One of them remarked that the cards were irrelevant, they were there for the friendship. They had the marriages, kids, houses. Now they are going through the loss of spouses and one of them has Alzheimer’s. So what do they do? One of them sits out every hand to help Charlie play.

Katie Couric remarked that not many people can claim friendships so long-lasting. She’s right.

Except I know 15 or so guys who, in a few more years, will all be able to say they can claim friendships that long-lasting. And it’s a truly special thing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Horrible Press Work

Rule number one in flack school is, first, do no harm in what you say. Number two is some version of this: Stay the hell out of the shot.

I've had my ups and downs with number one in my two years on this side but I sure failed miserably at number two today outside the Governor's Office.

Excuses abound - mainly that I, like the troopers next to me and Transportation Secretary Cohen to my right, really did not have anywhere else to stand since it was a jam-packed press avail. But they are just excuses. I failed and now, I pay the price.

Thank you, Associated Press, thank you.

A Smarter No-Brainer

Salem, like many, is taking the first tentative steps toward installing cameras in traffic lights to catch scofflaws. Good for them.

Salem City Councilor Jean Pelletier was quoted in The Salem News saying, “This is pretty much a no-brainer.”

Agreed. So-called civil libertarians who think their “rights” are being infringed by government catching them in the act of, ahhh, breaking the law!

It’s illegal, folks. Just because there’s not a cop sitting there watching you do it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be caught. So that’s the same for speeding? For breaking and entering? Spousal abuse? All is well, beat thy wife, just not when Johnny Law is around. That’s a load of crap.

The one beef I have with the Salem discussion is that they are going to post signs at intersections that feature camera lights. I’m sorry, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose? We all know the rules of the road – or at least should know them. Do we put signs up when there’s a hidden speed trap up ahead? And, carrying forward the above analogy, let’s just put signs in homes – “Just Don’t Beat Your Wife Here But Over in the Next Room is Fine.”

Well, I guess it could be worse – I could live in Swampscott. There, the town rejected the idea of traffic light cameras. Why? Well, it seems the cameras would actually cause more rear-end collisions because drivers would stop abruptly at yellow lights. Sure, maybe a few more rear-ends might happen. But given how many of the much-more-dangerous side-swiping accidents won’t happen, it seems, again, a no-brainer.

Just check out the federal highway stats and success stories – proving my point. At one New York City intersection, accidents were cut down 60 to 70 percent. Not bad.

Like most folks, I wasn’t so militant about this until I had kids. Now, every idiot on the road is a potential killer of my little boys. If a ticket from a camera stops some moron from running a red and slamming into my Jetta while Owen is pointing out the birds in the sky and Jake is quietly trying to scratch his brain through his nose – more power to ‘em.

No brainer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"The Joshua Tree" - A Masterpiece at 20

I remember it now like it was yesterday – really, I do. I was 16, driving with my high school buddies, excited beyond my young, teenage belief, about plopping down $11.99 for the new LP from a band called U2. Its name: The Joshua Tree.

I was driving with Joey Kimmel, Bobby Jackson and Dennis O’Brien from our high school in The Bronx up to our favorite mall in White Plains , New York . This was necessary, of course, because, let’s face it, most record stores in The Bronx didn’t carry U2 then – or now.

It was early March, 20 years ago. Twenty years. Wow.

We piled into my old, gray Chevette – which was my Mom’s, of course – and drove up to, I think, a Sam Goody in the Galleria Mall the day The Joshua Tree was released. I bought the LP for some reason, clinging to that theory of old-music and, more likely, wanting the big pictures and lyric sheets that surrounded an old record.

I know someone bought the tape because we popped it out to listen on the way home. I don’t think any of us bought those new-fangled Compact Disc versions. Hell, they weren’t gonna last, right?

So we get back in the Chevette and put in the tape. Organ creeps in and someone announces this song has a weird name, “Where the Streets Have No Name.” I figured it was about New York . I was wrong, it was Belfast but that didn't matter at this point - my world was about to change. I was listening for the first time to a modern musical masterpiece.

The moment the band came roaring in on that song, I knew they had more than lived up to the advance billing and hopes following the critical and popular acclaim of “The Unforgettable Fire.”

For me, it was a love affair cemented. I first got into U2 the way I did most of my music in those days, when one of my brothers brought home a record and I borrowed it. In this case, it was “War” a full four years before. He drew me in with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Years Day” – I stuck around for “Two Hearts Beat as One,” “Like a Song” and “40.”

We watched the Red Rocks show live on MTV, with our Mom. She liked “Gloria” because it had religious overtones. Hey, whatever it takes to win over Mom, right?

After “Unforgettable Fire” came out, we tried to score tickets for the Radio City Music Hall show on that first mini-tour. But it sold out in something like 10 minutes. Crazy.

But we succeeded on the full tour the next spring, scoring great seats for their unbelievable premiere at Madison Square Garden on April 1. Someday I’ll write expansively on that amazing night but, suffice to say, between "Bad" (which literally made the woman next to me cry) and "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," they had me.

Anyway, I was a fan when the J-Tree came out. Afterward, I was a fanatic. The album was an instant classic and remains one of the greatest albums of all time – 20 years later. It’s just that simple.

It has such a wide, open sound – a yearning, hopeful sound that blew through the dark age it was born out of. It launched U2’s true love affair with America , with images as diametrically opposed as a scowling Reagan in “Bullet the Blue Sky” to the beautiful Southwestern images evoked throughout “In God’s Country.”

Several songs were hits – “With or Without You,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Streets.” Others, though less known, should have been – like my personal fav then and now, “ Red Hill Mining Town .” Why they never released that as a single and video is beyond me. "Running to Stand Still" - haunting, terrifying, a true story of suicide that came into its own only in later tours. "Mothers of the Disappeared" - underrated and rarely played but powerful in the way a mother can only love a son. "Exit" - the first in what would become a series of U2 songs that built a powerful rolling jam, where the lyrics were nice but the band really took charge over Bono. "One Tree Hill" - the eulogy for a friend. And "Trip Through Your Wires" - a Springsteen romp dressed up in an Irish bonnet.

I saw them 11 times on that tour – from a great starting point in Hartford where they came out with the lights still on and played “Stand By Me” to the first of many stadium blowouts at Giants and Foxboro. Driving to one show at the old Nassau Coliseum with Bobby, Joey and Jen Papp, I said aloud that I really wanted them to play “One Tree Hill” and Bobby said he wanted “Party Girl.” They played both. Great night. And, yes, I was there the night at MSG Bono had his arm in a sling and they played "Still Haven't Found" twice - the second time with a choir, and it ended up on "Rattle and Hum."

They came into their own on that tour, captured perfectly on “Rattle and Hum.” It was an age of promise for them and their music that just solidified a couple years later with the even-better-selling Achtung Baby!

The late 80s will always be a magical time for me – what time isn’t for someone in their late teens?

And the soundtrack to that magic was U2, usually “The Joshua Tree.” I’m glad to listen to it now, as I did driving home tonight. And I'm glad I can search You Tube for videos of these great songs recorded in concerts - as I did with the links above. All that brings back that flood of memories – so rich, as a good man once said, I have to swat them away like flies.

Congrats on the anniversary boys. A hell of an album.

The second time I met Bono I thanked him for writing “Out of Control.” He was shocked as hell.

Someday, maybe, I’ll get to add a thanks for The Joshua Tree – a modern masterpiece that day in the Chevette and 20 years down the road. Somehow, I don’t think he’d be quite as surprised.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Raving Mad Dad

What is it about fatherhood that makes you want to become Bernie Goetz?

I’m not sure I want to know but I can say that, for the past three-and-a-half years most any story that pops up about parents or others harming children makes me want to turn into a screaming mad vigilante.

There were two examples this week and they just about made my blood boil.

One was the father in Springfield who picked his kids up at daycare, drove them to the parking lot of his wife’s business and set the entire car on fire – killing himself and the two innocents. The mother had to be hauled away in an ambulance in a shock that will probably never wane.

One of my coworkers, also a father, said it best: “I wish I could have been there so I could pull him out of the car and then kill him myself.”

Same goes for the rocket scientist in Indiana who flew a plane into his mother-in-law's house – with his 8-year-old daughter in the co-pilot’s seat. His message to his ex-wife before the crash: “I’ve got her and you’re not going to get her.”

In the background, the mother heard little Emily saying, “Mommy, come get me, come get me.”

Add them to the sad roster of demented parents like Susan Smith, Andrea Yates, Kenneth Seguin and Jeffrey MacDonald. And don’t even get me started on relative strangers or caregivers who kill – like Louise Woodward.

I used to shake my head at these crimes. Now that I’m a father, I want blood. And, to be blunt, I’m not very apologetic about it.

I think it’s just plain healthy. I live in daily fear about what will happen to my kids that day. I drive safer, I eat safer, I play safer, I live safer. Having those four eyes look up at me every morning (particularly two little boys who look at me for protection, for safety and, gulp, as a role model), makes me want to live longer and better.

So if it’s a given that my hand clutches more tightly around theirs when a weird dude approaches in the parking lot or that I look at the lady in the grocery store like she’s crazy when she just reaches out and touches my baby without warning, it only stands to reason that I’d believe the willful act of a parent hurting – or killing – his own child is the living breathing example of evil.

I only trust in moments like this that there is a heaven, for the innocents, and a hell, for the guilty.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Barack Market Crash

And here comes the Clinton opposition research team. What took you so long kids?

Page one of The New York Times had a solid piece of reporting about some oddly-timed and just plain odd investments Barack Obama made shortly after getting elected to the Senate.

The bottom line is this: He bought some significant amount of stock in a few obscure companies that had ties to some of his biggest political donors. Probably not illegal, but certainly has a stench of shoulda known better. This comes after the previous mini-uproar about his ties to an indicted developer who help Obama with his personal, ummm, finances. Not helping with the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do problem, of course, is that Obama made ethics the hallmark of his early tenure in the Senate.

So what does all this mean? Chum in the water, I think.

Early oppo is like early money in the negative. Early money is like yeast, the saying goes, and brings more money. Early oppo like this, especially on PG1 of the Times, puts blood in the water. Reporters at the Chicago Trib, Washington Post, LA Times and, yes, even El Globo, are sitting around now wondering why they didn't have this, what other there might be there and where to take the story next.

And, no, paying off the parking tickets isn't going to help all that much.

Batten down the hatches, Team Hope, the sharks are coming.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Fair Vanity?

Bono as editor - As a writer, I shudder at the thought.

Given how much squabbling the boys in U2 do over their music to make it, in their eyes, as perfect as it could be, I can't imagine the guy sitting at a computer, watching the blinking cursor at the first line of my story. Even worse if that's a topic he cares about, like, say, Africa.

Well that's exactly what's happening now at the offices of Vanity Fair - where the world's biggest rock star is acting as guest editor for the July issue, a special African issue, of the venerable mag. The Times sat down with the man formerly known as Paul Hewson and Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter - offering up a decent, if surface, behind-the-scenes take the other day.

It's a tough subject, Africa, especially since the most compelling stories out of that continent are the tragedies - of which there are many. Bono suggests he's determined to make Africa sexy - that shouldn't be much of a challenge. But, as someone who does care about what's happening there and who has donated a bit to help the cause, I want to know more than just the sob stories. It's good that Bono seems to know this already. "We are trying to deal with the Sally Struthers thing," he told the Times, a stack of story ideas in front of him.

But it's a difficult nut to crack given the Vanity Fair audience. I'm certainly not your typical VF reader. I was drawn in when my good friend Jonny Tap told me it was a great magazine for people who loved good writing - and he's right. I skip over Dominick Dunne and half the stuff that, as the Times call them, "the idle rich" care about. But very few mags do the kind of indepth feature, news and investigative writing at VF does - as well as VF does. So, speaking for one reader, I say give me that, Bono. Give me the good writing from Africa and I'll come along for the ride. But that isn't necessarily what makes them the big bucks at VF.

I'm intrigued when Bono talks about the emerging markets in Africa - that the bars are dotted with Chinese businessmen who know there is money to be made there. Tell me about life in the cities too, tell me about the middle class of Africa, tell me about the stars of Africa, the pop culture of Africa and tell me about the media of Africa. Those stories will be compelling to me, and even to some of the cocktail party circuit in Hollywood and New York. He won't convince the bosses to change the magazine's name to "Fair Vanity" for one issue, but he'll make a dent.

It's good to see Bono still pushing, though. He's got his work cut out for him and, as he notes, writing songs, holding charity concerts and walking the halls of Washington alone won't do it. Media can help and getting a mag like VF to dedicate an entire issue to the cause is something that could only be done if a rock start/movie star or someone of that ilk will give of himself. That's what Bono is doing, and, as an unabashed fan, I think that's pretty cool.

As he says, "I'd meet with Lucifer if I thought it would do any good." Journalists, politicians and rock stars ... Good thing he's met with the Pope, that might help too.

Monday, March 5, 2007


Romney update ...

The guy isn't measuring the drapes, yet, but he's already plotting where the summer White House will be. From The Politico:

Politico: What the White House reporters really want to know is whether your Crawford will be in Deer Valley, Utah, or Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H.? (He has homes both places.)
Romney: Well, that’s a hard choice. But without a question, it would have to be in Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H. We’ve actually chuckled about that, thinking about it the last couple of weeks and months. I wouldn’t want to impose the Secret Service and the press corps on our nice little community in New Hampshire. So maybe I’d get to visit once a year for a quick weekend and then get the heck out. Because I wouldn’t want to intrude on the beauty and the calm of that fabulous place.

Of course, he's already used that house to try to bolster his New Hampshire primary bona fides.

We know the neighbors have bristled over past Romney attempts to boost security on the lake and, in the process, make his beach private.

And who could forget the time Mitt and the boys actually saved some stranded boaters on the lake ... and then called up reporters to do a press conference there?

No, Mitt doesn't want to politicize his little town, does he?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Careful Candor, Mr. Mitt

It's always those unguarded moments that catch a presidential candidate and show a bit of the true person behind the massaged, messaged candidate creation.

As a reporter, I always found the 10 minutes before an interview truly started and the period after the recorder went off to be much more enlightening than anything a candidate could ever tell me on the record. It surely showed up with George W. in 2000 when he talked with me with such excitement about baseball - a glee that never really showed when he was talking policy or even politics. I think that mild disinterest has manifested itself throughout his presidency, mostly in the worst ways.

Now it's showing just a bit with the Talented Mr. Romney. It surely was a parlor game in the State House press corps to try to get any little snipet of real Mittism. Reporters breathlessly retold the story of how the only daliance Romney allowed himself was the rare Vanilla Coke. In truth, Mitt's peeps told us it was regular Coke, not Vanilla.

But with all of them, particularly Mitt, you have to look for those rare moments where the guard is down in interviews, appearances and debates. It speaks volumes.

Check out this one with Real Clear Politics.

Mitt opened up about his dreams of all things after the recorder came on, waxing about his dreamed fear of You Tube.

"ROMNEY: You've got to be really careful about what you say and do anywhere you are. I actually had a dream about being in parking garage and having somebody in front of me taking too long to get their change and honking the horn and then yelling back, and getting out and yelling at each other and then seeing it on YouTube the next day. So I said 'OK', I've got to really be careful, you know, in my personal life."

Wow, Mitt's dreams. I never really want to go there. Never.

But this, to me, shows a certain vanity that is rare even in presidential candidates. How much has he drilled it into his own head to avoid missteps on the trail that the behavior modifications are even entering his private dreamworld? Man, that's deep. Sorry.

Anyway, it's revealing - if, even, for a moment. And the Mitt had better be careful. If he keeps doing things like that, we might just get a sense of the real person behind the candidate ... before he gets elected.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

My 1K

Somewhere out in America last night, a complete stranger found his or her way onto this blog and officially logged as my 1,000th unique visitor. Ok, so it was someone in Brighton and probably someone I know. But still, I think 1,000 is pretty cool.

I started Guarino-Blog on a snowy, boring, unemployed morning - January 23. I wouldn't say it took off from there, but Seth Gitell, Adam Hurtubise, and Jason Lefferts helped draw in my first visitors. I followed my good pal Jack into the fray and helped draw the wife into the blogosphere - she's already better than I am, I know. I'm sure folks with Google alerts on presidential candidates and movie stars helped chug me along but certainly friends, family, work and casual acquaintences and total strangers have driven me to the, I think, impressive 1K mark in just a little more than two months.

I've praised Obama and Mitt and then turned around to hit them both. I've tossed around Pete Townsend, Oasis and, of course, the boys from Dublin. I've chatted up my kid's potty-training problems, my wife's smiling genius and pretty much every illness to enter the Guarino household.

My sitemeter tells me I've hit a ton of spots around the states. Of course many people in Massachusetts along with friends and family in North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and (freakin') Jersey. But also folks in Illinois, California, Oregon, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. Beyond our shores, I've been read in Japan, China, England, Portugal, Australia, France, Belgium, and Germany (thanks Brushy).

This is my 46th post and, hopefully, my least imaginative. But I just wanted to note the moment, give a slight self-pat on the back and say thanks for reading. And, more importantly, hope you come back and, if you do, say hi.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

An Inconvenient Doof

Now I've never exactly been one to defend Al Gore. Heck, I spent 36 days in Florida six years ago thanks to his campaign - still one of the most scarring experiences of my young life.

But knocking the guy for his environmentalism? That's just silly.

To bring the uninitiated up to date, The Tennessee Center for Policy Research hit the Oscar winner the day after his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" nailed the Academy Award for documentary. It was the height of political do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, they said. Gore preached but didn't practice in his home - emitting a huge carbon footprint on his sprawing Carthidge estate.

Turns out the group was basically right in their main fact - that the Gores use a lot of electricity in their home. But they took one fact and drew some pretty startling conclusions - which, of course, got them headlines.

“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

They should be smart enough to realize that's only part of the story.

Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider told the Associated Press: "Sometimes when people don't like the message, in this case that global warming is real, it's convenient to attack the messenger."

Kreider said Gore purchases enough energy from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and methane gas to balance 100 percent of his electricity costs. The former Veep has reportedly said he leads a "carbon-neutral lifestyle." To balance out other carbon emissions, the Gores invest money in projects to reduce energy consumption, Kreider said.

Ok, ok, the guy's got a mansion and uses a ton of juice. Get in line. Even those of us in small homes probably use too much. But who among us can say they use a lot of solar, wind and methane gas and invests in projects that reduce consumption? Hmm, hmmmm?

I'm not naive enough to think Gore isn't a target on the environment, he surely is. But to knock a guy who does this with his free time for not being Green enough? Now that's just silliness.