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What the heck is racial identification?

Date: 6/18/2015

Several thoughts have been dancing in my head and here goes.

My wife and I are walking Lucky the Wonder Bichon on Sunday morning when a van driven by a greybeard comes down the street. Almost in front of us he drops a plastic bag out of his window onto the street and sped away.

The bag had a piece of chicken, some rice and beans, a plastic container and a spoon. Obviously he had decided not to finish his lunch. I picked it up and threw it away on our way back.

And on our way back we noticed two tires had been dumped on a city-owned lot.

We have a house down the street from us where an outdoor speaker system has been installed. Generally on weekend, it’s party time and the bass speaker is so powerful we feel it in our own house with the windows down and the television set to deafening.

Yes, we’ve called the police and I believe they’ve responded. Thanks.

Do we actually think about what the heck we’re doing? I have to remind myself about the many selfless acts of kindness that happen every day. There are people who do the right thing and many times we write about them in this newspaper.

That’s important, because in the yin and yang of life there are plenty of slugs who are doing the opposite.

I just wished they lived somewhere else – like Tierra del Fuego.

Happy birthday Bing

Here is one of the people who are doing the right thing: my friend Brian Hale, the executive director of The Bing Arts Center. On June 13, he hosted a fifth birthday party for the Bing, which was well attended and received.

Hale has been working hard to get the former movie theater, abandoned by its owner, to its full potential as a place where the visual arts, spoken word, music, movies and dance could all be presented.

Right now, The Bing is one of just three venues for live original music in the city. This isn’t a slap at the Springfield Museums, CityStage or the Springfield Symphony which all do a great job, but we need an arts center such as The Bing.

If you’ve not attended an event at The Bing put it on your summer to do list.

End of an era

I felt my age last week with the passing of Sir Christopher Lee, part of the trinity of horror actors who dominated my youth. Along with Vincent Price and Peter Cushing, Lee provided many a moment of enjoyment, even when the movies in which he starred were not worthy of his talents.

I interviewed Price, met and spoke with Cushing, but only had the opportunity of asking Lee a question during an appearance at a horror film convention in New York City. He was gracious and affable with fans, despite the fact that many people had described him as remote and aloof.

Lee was the last of his breed and he and the era of filmmaking his career represented will be missed.

On Rachel Dolezal 

I’m not sure how a person can distill the experiences and culture of an ethnic group to the level that she or he can adopt it enough to call him or herself a member of that ethnic group.

You can have sympathy, you can acquire understanding, you can learn history, but you can never know first-hand the experiences.

And what constitutes being part of an ethnic group? Rachel Dolezal claims to identify as  “black” –  what does that really mean? While some of the characteristics of age, race, ethnicity or gender are physical, the real definition of a person is individual.

I judge people by their individual actions. I try not to assume. I try not to generalize. I don’t want to be judged because of my gender, my age, my weight or my skin color. Why would I want to look at other people with those limiting criteria?

Yet another shameless plug

I will be at the Agawam Public Library from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on June 22 along with nine other local authors for the kick-off of the Adult Summer Reading Program.

The book signing features authors that include Liz Delton, Michael Fisher, Angela Grout, Matt Herring, Jacqueline Lynch, Isabel Marcheselli, Sandi Michon, Bill Moore and Patricia Williford.

Come and meet us and bring some dough for some summer books.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.