It’s A Bird, Man!

March 10, 2015
By Mickey Friedman

Surprise, surprise: It’s a Bird, Man!

Hollywood, maker of dreams, never-ending schemes to fill movie theaters packed with people munching popcorn. One of many millions, I watched Neil Patrick Harris sing and dance his way through Oscar’s bad jokes and tele-prompted chitchat, with the occasional poke at his fellow celebrities, and the halfhearted attempt to acknowledge the extraordinary waste of it all.
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Je Suis Mickey

By Mickey Friedman
February 27, 2015

Je suis Mickey. I am Mickey. Certainly not Charlie. When I get anywhere near Paris, the little French I learned at eight in the morning at City College goes running for the Spanish border.

But I sympathize with Charlies everywhere: the comics, cartoonists, satirists, and social critics who poke fun at our pomposity, arrogance, and stupidities.

After a few days of outrage that cartoonists were killed by some so offended by taking their Lord in vain that they deserved death, there’s a backlash. Somehow they crossed that invisible line between acceptable satire and offense. Well, the problem is the Emperors/Emperesses take offense at it all. That he/she is completely naked is just the last straw. But sadly that many rulers large and small are arbitrary, stupid, unkind and much-too-powerful is pretty much the way it is.

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My crazy idea

By Bill Shein
February 20, 2015

It can’t be called “spring cleaning” when the temperature outside is minus 5 degrees, but last week I was reorganizing my basement and found a file box neatly labeled, “1989 Correspondence, A-L.”

Yes, I was once highly organized. Today? Not so much. More recent file boxes have labels like “Miscellaneous/Random Papers ‘n’ Junk ‘n’ Stuff, 2006-2013” and “Half-Eaten Sandwiches, 2001” and “Burn IMMEDIATELY if Audited.”

Leafing through that dusty, mildewed box, I found a copy of a fascinating, long-forgotten letter that I wrote to Microsoft’s Bill Gates. By then, he had earned notoriety and piles of money by creating MS-DOS and, some say, stealing the idea for the now-ubiquitous Windows operating system. READ MORE >>

Before Yoga

By Mickey Friedman
February 12, 2015

You know you’re headed for your last rodeo when you can remember a time before yoga. I see the barber shops on Railroad Street, two saloons and the car parts store. The donut shop that turned into the falafel place that is now Martin’s. And the jewelry stores here in The Best Small Town in America.

There’s A&P and Aldo’s. But not a single yoga studio.

Yet nowadays people are either headed to yoga or on their way back.
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Of storms and men

By Bill Shein
February 9, 2015

As I write these words on Monday (January 26), another intense storm is barreling into the northeast, bringing cold, wind, and possibly record snowfall. On my face, the air has a brisk, but not yet biting, and moist, but not quite wet feel familiar to New Englanders outside before a snowstorm. And also to writers who – for the sake of argument – are currently locked out of their house with a deadline looming.

Astronomers are also eyeing a “potentially hazardous” asteroid hurtling towards the earth, confident it will pass “safely” about a million miles from our troubled planet, where our always-responsible media remains properly focused on Very Important Things.

The killer asteroid’s diameter is equal to five football fields. Using a reference point torn from the headlines, that dwarfs the length of eleven underinflated footballs arranged end-to-end. READ MORE >>

My Selma

By Mickey Friedman
January 26, 2015

It’s sad but not unexpected that controversy roils about “Selma.” It is especially sad that the Motion Picture Academy has chosen not to honor the extraordinary work of David Oyelowo, its star, and Ava DuVernay, its director.

Films are made by men and women: they are works of art, not truth. I don’t know the truth of Selma. I only know a bit about my Selma. The time I matched with twenty-five thousand others into the heart of Montgomery, Alabama.

I went because then, as now, black lives matter. Freedom matters. Justice matters. Because it was impossible for me to see the violent vestiges of segregation without being offended on the deepest level.
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Perseverance Furthers

By Mickey Friedman
January 17, 2015

I usually begin Christmas at Fuel Great Barrington. Ever since I lost my office, I write each day at Fuel. But this year Fuel was closed. Blessedly I found Christmas morning sanctuary with Craig and compatriots at Pleasant and Main in Housatonic.

Pleasant and Main is a perfect fit for the town in which it lives. Because Housatonic is mostly a home for the people who live there; and thankfully there are still not enough reasons for tourists to wander the streets except to come and buy Richard’s wonderful bread and eat good food. And for me Pleasant and Main is still filled with the spirit of Joan and Jay Embree: Joan, a writer extraordinaire, a cook beyond compare; Jay, a host of impressive skill. Joan and Jay established the unpretentious atmosphere that Craig has lovingly maintained, and he has continued their commitment to comfort and quality, healthful cooking that Housatonic folk can afford.
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Mars for the Martians

By Mickey Friedman
December 23, 2014

Some of us have decided to get the heck out of Dodge. And, as usual, the desire to flee is being sold as noble.

So there’s talk of Mars.

Elon Musk, who I’ve never met, has brought us the Tesla and SpaceX, his own private space program. He seems a fine fellow but Elon is only the most prominent of earthlings who wants Mars.

Because “an asteroid or a super volcano could destroy us, and we face risks the dinosaurs never saw: an engineered virus, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, catastrophic global warming or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us … Sooner or later, we must expand life beyond this green and blue ball—or go extinct.”
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Public Education

By Mickey Friedman
December 13, 2014

My friend Matthew, a recent graduate of Monument Mountain, reminded me of Give-to-Give, a program that enabled students here to help students in impoverished Haiti. So when he felt a slight chill at school, he added a sweater, compared his lot with others and soon felt grateful for what he had. Matthew imagined Haiti. I imagine Iraq.

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A Singular Ray of Light

December 3, 2014
By Mickey Friedman

I drove with Jurek Zamoyski and Mel Greenberg to pick up and deliver food for Great Barrington’s four food pantries. There’s a pantry at the Calvary Christian Chapel on Route 41, one at the Women’s Infant and Children’s (WIC) office on Stockbridge Road, one at Railroad Street Youth Project, and one at the Senior Center.

Mel is always picking up spare food and making sure it gets to hungry people. A singular ray of light in this ever-darkening universe of ours, he is a small antidote to melting ice and mindless materialism.
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RED CROW NEWS

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

"Junius Scales is a fascinating character whose experiences tell us so much about his period, and Friedman's family approach opens up new angles on the story." --James R. Barrett, author of William Z. Foster and the Tragedy of American Radicalism

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