No Smiles. No Miles.

By Mickey Friedman
July 30, 2015

There was a message waiting from Monty Pickleberg, Founder of Facelook. “It has come to our attention that it’s been a while since you posted a smile. You know, of course: No Smiles, No Miles.” I emailed Monty explaining that life had hit a very sad patch but never heard back.

Checking my Facelook feed, it’s very clear that my friends live better lives than me. They eat out more, hike, bike, sail, balloon, spoon, and smile more.

How is it they all eat lobster?

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen lobster.


How to Enjoy Tanglewood

By Bill Shein
July 24, 2015

Let’s get this straight at the start: I love Tanglewood. The combination of talented musicians, lovely grounds, affordable lawn tickets, and the chance to enjoy warm summer nights with friends and classical music is a treat. I’ve already been several times this season.

And having a picnic during a Tanglewood outing is de rigueur. And by “de rigueur” I mean, of course, de rigueur. Maybe it’s too cute by half, or by some other fraction, but sometimes I prepare musically themed picnics. For example, when Beethoven is on the bill, I like to make a beet salad with some lightly roasted hoven on the side, even though I have no idea what “hoven” is or if it’s even a food product that can be roasted. So let’s move on. READ MORE >>

Every Bad Journey

By Mickey Friedman
July 20, 2015

It finally happened. That dreaded knock on the door. Right in the middle of SportsCenter.

Ever get the feeling that you just shouldn’t answer? I won’t tell you what I muttered but I managed to find the mute button on my remote and stumbled downstairs. And opened my door a crack.

“Mr. Friedman?”

“Uh …” I croaked.

“Mr. Mickey Friedman?”

“Yeah, but this hasn’t been a very good year for me. I only managed to sell 40 copies of my mystery novel … And so as much as I’d like to help you and your charity, maybe next year …”

“Mr. Friedman, I’m Lieutenant Namaste Newman and this is Second-Class Trainee, Journey.”


The Exploding GOP Field

By Bill Shein
July 11, 2015

Soft-spoken, an energetic volunteer at her church, and able to whip up the tastiest batch of butter cookies you ever let melt on your tongue, Lorna P. McClatchen is a mother of six, doting grandmother to 23, and a dear friend to many.

And with yesterday’s news that McClatchen, a 78-year-old resident of Partridge Haven, Kansas, would enter the race for the Republican nomination for president, an historic milestone was reached: For the first time, every Republican in the United States is simultaneously running for the White House. READ MORE >>

Terror: Red, White, and Blue

By Mickey Friedman
June 30, 2015

We have been relentlessly focused on Muslim Extremism ever since 9/11. It is how we view terrorism. On TV shows, on news reports, in our nightmares, the terrorists are Muslims.

Though it happened in 1995, the bombing of the Murtagh Federal Building in Oklahoma City is ancient history. That the terrorists can be white and drive pickup trucks has faded from public consciousness. That these white guys, U.S. vets, could murder 168 of their fellow Americans is almost never talked about.

I have no desire to minimize the threats posed by al Qaeda and ISIS and Muslim Extremism. Only to suggest it does us a great disservice to ignore terror that’s homegrown.


A letter to small creatures

By Bill Shein
June 28, 2015

Hello from the land of Homo sapiens, my little furry friends! I’ve been thinking about you a great deal lately, as in recent weeks I’ve seen too many of you needlessly killed on our Berkshire roads and highways. So let me begin with an apology: Except for the occasional, newly licensed teenager who knows no better, all of us are truly heartbroken and sorry.

Sadly, many of you know us only as four-wheeled predators who seem to kill for sport, running down chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and birds and then speeding off, seemingly triumphant. To say nothing of the millions of moths and other insects drawn suddenly into our headlights and then painfully into our windshields during warm summer nights.

In our haste to get hither and yon, we have inadvertently become a nonstop killing machine. Even though few of us have any idea what or where “yon” is, or what we’ll find when we get there. And, frankly, “hither” remains something of a mystery as well. READ MORE >>


June 22, 2015
By Mickey Friedman

2003. It seems like a lifetime ago when Republican Bob Ney renamed French fries because the French didn’t want to invade Iraq. We showed those Frenchies. Freedom fries not only tasted better but were better for you. And we all know who won the war in Iraq. It certainly wasn’t the French.

But I’m not one to hold a grudge. Give credit where credit is due. Pâté – especially if you don’t know how it’s made – is pretty damn good. And it’s hard to knock that brie cheese.

Anyway, my point is they’ve just done something almost as impressive as inventing French dressing and the French Open.

They’ve just passed a law that forces French supermarkets to give away their unsold food to charities. Incroyable. Or even better, incredible.

According to the UK Guardian “the Socialist deputy Guillaume Garot, a former food minister said ‘It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods.’”

Holy moley, they’ve got Socialist deputies. Who obviously aren’t messing around. Because “The law explicitly bans the practice of supermarkets deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Bigger supermarkets … will be obliged to sign formal contracts with charities by July next year, or face penalties including fines … or two years in jail.” Fines of about $83,000. And two years is two years whether the guards speak English or French.

Pourqoui, you ask? Why?

Well, the French are wasting too much pâté and brie and the pommes de terre they need for freedom fries. And fruits and vegetables and meat and dairy products. “According to official estimates, the average French person throws out 20-30kg of food a year, at a combined national cost of up to €20bn.” Which in the States would be 44 – 66 pounds of food a year. At a cost of about $22 billion.

And as an article in ThinkProgress adds: “Mired in an economic slump, France has seen a growing number of people living off food scavenged from waste bins outside grocery stores, which has prompted an outcry from aid workers and activists … ‘There’s an absolute urgency – charities are desperate for food,’ Assemblymember Yves Jégo told Parliament.”

Food waste, it turns out, is a very big deal. A 2013 Report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that “The world wastes from one-third to one-half of the four billion metric tons of food it produces each year.”

This is an even bigger problem than it seems. When you consider the effects of the climate crisis and the added stress of the world’s growing population, it is becoming increasingly difficult and more expensive to produce food.

According to the study, the problem of food waste changes with economic development. In poorer less developed countries waste occurs mainly at the farmer/producer level with inefficient harvesting and storage and transportation.

“In mature, fully developed countries … more-efficient farming practices and better transport, storage and processing facilities ensure that a larger proportion of the food produced reaches markets and consumers. However, characteristics associated with modern consumer culture mean produce is often wasted through retail and customer behavior.”


According to Grant Bowman’s fascinating documentary “Just Eat It,” about 97% of all our food waste ends up in a landfill or incinerator.

Unfortunately the consequences of food waste are multiplied. First, we waste extraordinary amounts of water and energy to create the food we waste. Then we squander extraordinary amounts of energy and land to bury or destroy what we’re wasting.

When I think about food waste, I think of Mel Greenberg driving around from markets super to small gathering what’s about to be wasted. I see volunteers turning this into dinner for the hungry. I think about the food pantries throughout the county straining to meet the ever-increasing need for food.

So how about we allez. And vamos. Do it. What the French did.

The Best Small Town in America, which successfully banned plastic bags – about which my friends advise me not to joke anymore – well how about we ban supermarket waste. How about we tell our supermarkets they have to give food pantries and Mel Greenberg the food they’re about to throw away?

We remind our friends at Big Y and the Price Chopper of the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act which protects them when they donate food to non-profits; and protects them from civil and criminal liability across the country if the food they donate in good faith cause harm to a recipient.

And mandate a team from the Police Department, Fire Department, the DPW, the Health Department and volunteers from Railroad Street Youth and Greenagers to create a pickup team. What if The Best Small Town in America funded a seven day a week food pantry in downtown GB which distributed this free food to worthy recipients.

Allez. Vamos. Let’s Go.


For more information:

The Melting Honeybees

By Mickey Friedman
June 10, 2015

I’ve never been able to juggle. One ball’s going up, another is headed down, and another is suspended for a moment in space. Too confusing and the balls invariably fall from the sky and bonk me in the head.

And now this morning thinking about what to write about my mind is doing pretty much the same thing – boggling, as one idea is joined by another. I blame Twitter. I follow all these different news organizations and social and political groups, not to mention all the sportswriters and comedians who I can’t blame for today’s dilemma. All these people have things to say and stories they want me to read and things they think I should be thinking about. It’s like a nonstop Associated Press wire.

Yes, I Was Hillary Clinton’s Live-In IT Guy

By Bill Shein
October 16, 2015

As Hillary Clinton heads toward an appearance before The Permanent Joint Congressional Select Committee on Investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton Until Long After They’re Dead to discuss her private e-mail server, it’s time for the American people to know the truth. So here it is:

For nearly four years, I was Hillary Clinton’s live-in IT guy. And have I got some stories to tell.

Thanks to the friend of a friend who knew a guy who had a friend, I joined the Clintons’ household staff in Chappaqua, New York in 2011. Basically, I was their IT butler, on call 24/7 to manage their technology: PCs, laptops, iPads, devices, Xbox, and – just like in every other American household – to be the one who remembers the damn Netflix password. READ MORE >>

I Know Defensive

By Mickey Friedman
May 22, 2015

I’ve been lucky enough to have loved and been loved, in the short term at least, by a small gaggle of therapists. Of the Freudian, Jungian, Family, and Psychosynthesist persuasions, plus a Hungarian Jewish Gypsy Fortune-Teller. That counts, right?

So I know from defensiveness. I’ve been called “defensive” by them all. Remote and reluctant to share. Unable to trust. So defensive I didn’t realize I was defensive.

It took years of real therapy — sitting across from a therapist, not a lover — to see the truth: guilty as charged. I was defensive. Majorly defensive. So I now know defensive when I see it.

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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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