Tom Menino, 1942-2014

Today will be devoid of much original content – let’s face it, it’s Halloween and we’re all making tasteless last-minute costumes.

But Tom Menino died of cancer yesterday, so I’d like to instead just take a day to memorialize the man who ran Boston for twenty years. I barely remember a time before Menino, honestly.

Menino was the kind of guy who was married to the same woman for nearly 50 years and stayed in the neighborhood he grew up in, Hyde Park, in a regular house. Menino tried his best to look out for the people who didn’t have a voice. He told Chick-Fil-A to back the fuck out of Boston for their anti-gay discriminatory policies. He banned indoor smoking against the wishes of so many bar owners who claimed their sales would be hurt, and in the end the bar staff, who didn’t have the power to say a thing, are far less likely to get cancer from secondhand smoke. The man checked himself out of the hospital to deal with the Marathon Bombings at a time when the city needed him most. 

I can’t do a writeup of Menino’s life any justice, honestly. Instead, I’ll just link you all to this wonderful piece by WBUR, which includes a the following Menino quip about his nickname:

“Oh, it’s a wonderful name,” he said. “Just think about it. I’m ‘Mumbles’ but I’ve been mayor for 20 years. No one else has been ‘Mumbles’ and mayor for 20 years.”

We’re all a bit poorer having lost him.

KT’s Hatesong: Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora, “Black Widow”

Welcome to KT’s Hatesong, where I basically just explain why I hate a song. It’s that simple. It’s right in the title. This week, I’ll be dissecting the steaming pile of shit that is “Black Widow” by Iggy Azalea ft Rita Ora.

Let’s start off with how terrible the entire idea of Iggy Azalea is. She’s worse than a gallon of baby spiders. I am certainly not the first to bring up the idea that she’s a blonde, white Australian girl who is totally using cultural appropriation to make her millions. I think every single hatesong I’ve had so far has involved some level of white people making vanilla versions of traditionally non-Caucasian music.

In case you’re not super familiar with cultural appropriation, Slate writer Brittney Cooper has an amazing definition in her article on Iggy Azalea’s culture co-option:

Appropriation is taking something that doesn’t belong to you and wasn’t made for you, that is not endemic to your experience, that is not necessary for your survival and using it to sound cool and make money.

And this is what Iggy Azalea is all about. Worse, even, is her blatant offensiveness in doing it. She’s a terrible person. She spouts racist lines like “I’m a runaway slave…master.” She has a habit of tweeting awful things like this:

charming.

charming.

and this:

wow.

wow.

But she’s still famous, even though she’s kind of the worst person in the entire world. She can play at minority fantasies in her videos, but say racist-ass shit on her twitter and in her songs. Ugh. I can’t.

Anyway, here’s why I hate, in particular, Black Widow. First of all, the video is awful. Like unnecessarily awful. There’s like a two minute long segment of her being a waitress with a shitty boss, and then it goes to a bad re-enactment of a Kill Bill scene.

Also, titties.

Also, titties.

Oh, and now there’s poker, and kicking! And a terribly done shot of Iggy and Rita on motorcycles.

Someone, in 2014, got paid to make this. I hate my life.

Someone, in 2014, got paid to make this. I hate my life.

The lyrics are the worst. Basically, she’s playing up the mysogynist-as-shit “bitches be crazy” trope. Everyone loves a peppy, upbeat song about being massively unhinged!

I’m gonna love ya
Until you hate me
And I’m gonna show ya
What’s really crazy

Oh hooray! This is not frightening at all. Thanks for portraying women as emotionally unstable, Iggy. Awesome job doing whatever the fuck it is you’re doing.

I can’t even continue about how it’s a bad song and Iggy is bad. You get the picture. The only redeeming quality is that now I know who Rita Ora is (Rihanna, right? She’s the same person as Rihanna?). And that’s it. Iggy keeps coming out with these songs, and people keep listening. I think my head is going to explode.

I swear, there is pop music I like. Just not Iggy Azalea.

Fuck this shit, I’m out.

Clam the Vote, Question 4: Paid Sick Leave

Are we even discussing this? Seriously? Take it away blockquotes from The Boston Globe:

The ballot measure, promoted by labor unions and endorsed by some business groups, hospitals, and economists, would allow workers to earn up to 40 hours per year of sick leave — an hour of leave for every 30 hours they work. This leave could also be used to care for a sick child, spouse, or parent. Workers for companies with 10 or fewer employees would earn unpaid leave; workers for companies with 11 or more employees would be paid for their time off. The measure would apply to part-time workers as well, and would affect nearly one-third of Massachusetts workers — about 900,000 people, many of them in low-wage jobs. It would allow home health care workers to receive the benefit, as well, by classifying them as state employees for the purposes of the law.

Jeez. After working six weeks I can earn a whole day off to either be sick or care for a sick loved one, up to one week per year. Wow. Socialist fucking paradise. But I know there are some groups opposed to this:

Victorian Money Lenders for a Brighter Tomorrow for Non-Oprhans and Anti-Wastrels

"Cratchit, sir? 'ed be off again tendin' to 'is wee crippled son Tiny Tim, e wood, sir."

“Cratchit, sir? ‘ed be off again tendin’ to ‘is wee crippled son Tiny Tim, e wood, sir.”

Slave Barge Owners and Operators United

Oh, Ben? I think his mom is sick. We have an intern coming down from marketing to take his oar.

Oh, Ben? I think his mom is sick. We have an intern coming down from marketing to take his oar.

Oh, and of course. The Koch Brothers.

Stock Image

Stock Image

vote YES because you are not a heartless monster.

 

Clam the Vote: The Casino Bill

In our third installment of “how the fuck should I vote, Jim and KT?” I will be dissecting question 3, the Casino Bill. This one’s tough. It’s not as straightforward as the other questions, and it’s kind of a “vote on your gut” thing.

The first confusing thing about question 3 is it’s one of those “yes means no” questions, which always works well with a populace barely able to understand this shit in the first place, since we’ve got jobs and kids and in laws and leaky pipes and oil deliveries. We ain’t got time to put a lot of thought into this, damnit!

My background approaching this question differs from my blog partners’ background: I kind of like to occasionally gamble (Jim does not, so I volunteered to take this question). I’ve taken a few business trips to Las Vegas, went to Atlantic City, and have also visited a sad casino in King of Prussia, PA when I needed a last-minute hotel. I think I went to Mohegan Sun once in my early 20s as well. I go knowing it’s entertainment, that I will lose my money, and that gambling is not a solution to any money problems. I have fun when I do it, and when it stops being fun (like I lose a whole $20 in 3 minutes), I stop and do other things.

Back in 2011, legislators voted to approve a casino bill that okayed 3 casinos and a slot parlor here in MA. Residents of Everett, Plainville, and Springfield voted to host casinos in their cities, and work at the Plainville casino has already begun. So, voting yes on banning casinos would overturn the 2011 law and also stop construction on the Plainville casino. It lets the voters decide, which is great, but elected officials and residents of the cities impacted have already voted in favor of casinos. This seems like a last-ditch effort to stop gambling here in Massachusetts.

Letting casinos come to Massachusetts has some upsides. They bring union construction jobs as well as hundreds permanent jobs. The state’s 25% share of the revenues is nothing to sneeze at, and the tourism dollars that are leaving the state for places like Mohegan Sun will (ostensibly) be recaptured, as well as dollars from people in other states like New Hampshire, parts of Connecticut, and Vermont. Casinos also provide entertainment that isn’t entirely gambling based – shows, restaurants, and well-equipped accommodations. 

Grandma?

Grandma?

However, there’s downsides as well. The casino jobs average something like $50k, according to Wynn’s website. That’s an average, mind you. There will be some high-paid executives that pad the average, while there will also most likely be many more low-paying part time jobs. Is that the direction we want to go in? Bringing down the average wage in the state, at best? (I found one link that puts MA’s 2013 mean wage at around $56k). There’s also the fact that casinos are self-contained, and local businesses likely won’t see a positive net impact when a casino comes to town.

We’re also facing a market saturation for casinos. There’s a casino in Maine, two in Connecticut, and they’re sprouting up in places like New York City and Pennsylvania. This has spurred the closing of three Atlantic City casinos, including Revel, which just opened in 2012 and is now bankrupt (and is fighting with the city over $30m in owed property taxes, naturally.) 

The Trump Plaza also closed. It was hoppin' when I visited. Clearly.

The Trump Plaza also closed. It was hoppin’ when I visited. Clearly.

3 new casinos is a LOT of casinos. And while Wynn and MGM tell us that it’ll be a lot of rich folk droppin’ tons of cash, we know what the average gambler looks like.

Grandma?

Grandma?

By a slim margin, I’d say to vote no and keep the casinos, but honestly this is something where I completely understand why folks would vote the other way. It’s not necessarily a great deal for Massachusetts, but if the individual cities have voted in favor, I respect their wishes even if I’m not a huge fan of casinos coming here. Again, I would probably gamble a bit – maybe once or twice a year.

But it’s better than Walmart, right?

Clam the Vote: The Bottle Bill

Good morning, voters (and to a lesser extent, those shirking their civil duties out of laziness). I’m here this morning to continue our Clam the Vote series with question 2 this morning, otherwise known as the Bottle Bill. If you missed question 1 on the gas tax, read it here!

“Bottle bill” sounds like your drunk uncle’s nickname, but it’s a pretty interesting question.

The Bottle bill is basically this: We already have a 5 cent deposit on beer and soda cans and bottles. We’ve had it for 30 years. Back then, water bottles, sports drink bottles, iced teas, etc weren’t as popular as they are now.  But now, they are – and they aren’t recycled as much as bottles with deposits.  80% of bottles with deposits are redeemed or recycled, versus 23% of bottles without deposits (according to the Massachusetts DEP). That’s a HUGE difference.

The pro-bottle bill argument is easy to understand: the environmental impact of all these plastic bottles being tossed away in the garbage, or littered about on highways, is getting larger. With a redemption fee, there’s far more incentive to return the bottles – by the purchaser or by someone else who collects cans that have been tossed aside. Other parts of the bottle bill include re-assigning the non-collected deposits to an environmentally-based fund instead of the state’s general slush fund, where they currently go, and upping the redemption handling fee for distributors.

Folks on the pro-bottle bill side bolster their position by citing a study by the Massachusetts DEP that states the expanded bottle bill would save about $1 per resident of the state in litter cleanup expenses.

Those who oppose the expansion of the bottle bill are mostly bottle companies (who have put 8.3 million into fighting question 2), and supermarkets.  These bottle-collecting machines take up a grocery’s valuable retail space and they feel the extra deposit will eat into their beverage sales. As asn aside, I find it to be kind of gross and inappropriate that supermarkets like Market Basket are handing out political flyers against question 2, but what can you do?

The thing is, a supposed slight decrease in retail space (like, what, 10 square feet in a 10k+ foot store?) and a possible loss of a tiny percentage of bottle sales is not a good enough reason to oppose the expansion. There’s the angry “herf derf this is just a money grab for the state! People should recycle on their own!” Yeah, but they don’t. The statistics show that they don’t. It’s a money grab you can completely opt out of. And it’s necessary to keep all the freakin’ trash from us zoo-people off the side of highways and in parks and shit.

If it were up to me, it’d cover nip bottles as well, as this is truly a scourge plaguing our city.

can we just get a $1.00 deposit on these fuckers?

can we just get a $1.00 deposit on these fuckers?

This one seems pretty much like a no-brainer. Vote yes on 2, for fuck’s sake.