Great Barrington MA

Me and My Yo-Yo Ma

By Mickey Friedman
April 8, 2014

I have a thing for purple. And pigtails. Hers were reddish-blonde. It was like I was in a movie. With a halo of light about her. And even though I was making my way through the parking lot of America’s Most Expensive Food Co-op, I heard cellos. Many cellos.

Not just purple, but red and pink and orange and blue. A Steiner School rainbow.

A big smile came from some long-lost, love is ever-present everywhere part of my now cold and bitter heart.

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Eyes on the Plastic Prize

By Mickey Friedman
March 23, 2014

You. Yes, you. Put down that coffee cup for just a minute. And you — with the white wine spritzer. Take a moment, a deep breath. Now give yourself a hand. A heartfelt round of applause.

Because if you live in Great Barrington or just shop here, you have done something special. Yes, we of the Best Small Town in America have together banned the “thin film single-use plastic checkout bag.”

And thanks to God, our courageous powers-that-be, and our so-very-sensible voters, we won’t be seeing them anywhere around here anymore.

As Gandhi and Martin Luther King taught us, it’s all about keeping your eyes on the prize.
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The Best We Can Afford

February 9, 2014
By Mickey Friedman

I went to listen on Wednesday night, and many spoke about the Monument Mountain High School renovation project.

Clearly, the Superintendent, School Committee and teachers are committed to providing the best education they can for their students.

It’s also clear how overwhelmed some citizens are by the scope and cost of the project.

And so we have a 56 million dollar problem.
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Days of Wonder

December 24, 2013
By Mickey Friedman

The other day, Roland showed me his spiffy new blue hard plastic cover for his MacBook Air. It protects his laptop and has cute little plastic feet to lift the computer at an angle off the table. Fifteen bucks. A good deal.

Since I spend my days writing, and my MacBook Air is my baby, how could we have gone all these months without our own little hard plastic cover?

Thankfully, these are the days of wonder, and of good deals, and there is Amazon. Some more moments of hard plastic cover envy, and then my MacBook Air logged into Amazon.com and snagged us a red one.

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Falafels R Us

By David Scribner

December 16, 2013

Last month, I went to Israel on what I thought was a two-week leave of absence from The Berkshire Record. I was with Americans for Peace Now, and we were learning about the potential for a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict. The trip would also give me the opportunity to try out Israeli and Palestinian reactions to my neighbor Kurt Kruger’s notion of the Federation of Canaan whereby two independent states could coexist within one entity.

But I had another mission as well – one more local and, as it turned out, more imperative.  That was to find the perfect falafel – and if possible, its recipe. I had been encouraged in this quest by Mickey Friedman who raved about the falafels at the Farmer’s Market. READ MORE >>

Burning issue: The firehouse sale

By David Scribner

December 6, 2013

The firehouse, the bloody old Castle Street firehouse in Great Barrington.  And the town’s 21-month struggle to sell the 120-year-old historic structure. Aren’t you just sick and tired of this story? It’s like the brouhaha over the Dollar General store in Sheffield. Only worse and more prolonged. I mean, what’s wrong with items for a dollar? If it were named Tiffany’s, would there be the same controversy? READ MORE >>

Benefit dinner to support the needy

December 2, 2013

By David Scribner

There are a number of unheralded heroes in Great Barrington. One of them is Michael Ballon, owner of and chef at the Castle Street Café.

So when he asked me to help get out the word about his upcoming Community Holiday Benefit Dinner that raises money for the less fortunate members of our town, I was more than happy to do so.

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No

November 26, 2013
By Mickey Friedman

Like so many others in The Best Small Town in America, I voted against the $56 million renovation of our high school.

With no room on the ballot for alternatives, the choice was simple. Raise Great Barrington’s real estate tax yet again to make some needed repairs, while adding a host of new features to the high school. Our $30 million plus $26 million from a state fund derived from taxes we pay for gasoline.

While the voters of Stockbridge and West Stockbridge said “yes,” the voters of Great Barrington said “no” 955 to 596. So the school board needs to decide what’s next.

I know they’ve worked hard to come up with a plan that would fix and improve our high school. But, for what it’s worth, I know why I voted “no” and I’ve spoken to others who voted “no.”
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More Than Enough

October 14, 2013
By Mickey Friedman

In The Best Small Town in America, it seems we never have enough. Year after year, we say goodbye to the old, then spend ever-larger amounts to build the new. This has happened many times.

The money we allocated to fix the old firehouse went elsewhere, the years passed, and we were told it was too dangerous to use, too foolish to hold onto.

We’ve now got a multimillion dollar brand new firehouse while we wait to reap the meager benefits of selling the old firehouse for a song.

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A Horse Named Sue

October 12, 2013
By Mickey Friedman

If we lived in the Twelfth Best Small Town in America I probably wouldn’t say anything. But somehow here in The Best Small Town in America, a dollar starts out a dollar, but becomes a five in no time at all.

Considering the thirty million we’ll be spending to fix the new/old high school, ten thousand seems like chump change. But there’s something so odd about this ten grand, I can’t seem to let it go.

We’re giving this ten grand to the Pawa Law Group, a Boston-based law firm to negotiate with and/or sue GE over the cleanup-to-come of the Housatonic. Stockbridge, Lenox, Sheffield, Lee and Pittsfield will put in their ten to make sixty, and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) will coordinate the effort.

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Jobs, Not Debt

September 1, 2013
By Mickey Friedman

For the past two Sunday mornings, I’ve gotten to Fuel several minutes before seven. When I’ve seen men from the Department of Public Works emptying the trash cans on Main Street.

They’re working hard while most of The Best Small Town in America sleeps, carting away what we have discarded the day and night before.

I remember this when I get cranky thinking about the money we’ve spent on engineering fees for Downtown Redevelopment and the money we’re being asked to spend to fix Monument Mountain High School.

Because this is the best of government, and it happens when most people aren’t watching.

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Stand Your Ground

August 4, 2013
By Mickey Friedman

We seem to compensate for our lack of control over the large events of life with an almost pathological need to exercise the little power we do have making others miserable. Wife beaters, bullies, thugs of all colors and creeds.

Which brings me to George Zimmerman, his gun, and imaginary badge exercising power over Trayvon Martin.

Despite the obligatory “things are getting better” – heard as often as “God Bless You” after a sneeze – there is nothing new about black boys dying.

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An online newsmagazine based in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, Red Crow News covers what's happening and what we hope will happen.

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“A Red Family: Junius, Gladys & Barbara Scales” by Mickey Friedman

"An extraordinary set of reminiscences, beautifully put together by an extremely sensitive, even gifted interviewer. It is a jewel." --Glenda Gilmore, author of Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950

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