Twenty-Two Times A Day

April 26, 2015
By Mickey Friedman

Sometimes something happens we know nothing about. Down the road a bit. Around the block. The other side of town. In another state. Or the other side of the country. And so it’s understandable if we don’t know about it.


April 21, 2015
By Mickey Friedman

We’re supposed to just get on with it. Embrace the future. Forsake sadness. As the past vanishes before our eyes. Exalt the instrument of transformation, the chainsaw.

But during a moment of daydream one almost killed me. And chainsaws attacking trees have claimed others I know.

Some trees resist the metal that tears through them. The wood not content with the often arbitrary and man-made determination to end its day.

Those of us who came to care for the Bradford Pear trees have lost. And of course those who were convinced they had to go will always celebrate their decision. Because they had to go. That’s the way it goes. Like our old Firehouse had to go for a pittance.

A Fence with a View

By Bill Shein
April 3, 2015

“The Town of Great Barrington is accepting letters of interest from legal residents/registered voters to fill the following vacancies: Fence Viewer (1) – Until 2015.”From “Jobs and Opportunities” on

To the Great Barrington Select Board:

Greetings and salutations! I write in response to news of a vacancy in the Great Barrington Department of Rules, Weights, Measures and Lines, and humbly submit my name for consideration for the storied position of Fence Viewer.

Let me assume that the parenthetical “1” in “Fence Viewer (1)” means you are seeking a duly certified, experienced, and passionate Viewer of Fences, First Class, rather than a novice, apprentice, second class, or otherwise entry-level fence viewer.

If so, I congratulate you on your commitment to professional-quality fence viewing, and your desire to see this vital town responsibility met expertly, with the highest standards of world-class viewing. Of fences, in particular, but perhaps also of flower beds, historic barns, duck ponds, waterfalls, and maybe even supermodels, should there be a need. READ MORE >>

Starting Fresh

By Mickey Friedman
April 3, 2015

Some in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District (BHRSD) look down their educational noses at our neighbors of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District (SBRSD). But the administrators, School Committee, teachers, students, support staff, parents and taxpayers of the SBRSD are accomplishing in a short time what we failed to do. Prioritize. Compromise. And with the hoped-for YES vote in New Marlborough providing a new roof and energy efficient boiler for Mount Everett Regional High School.

I want to congratulate them all.


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.

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.


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.

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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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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