Right on the heels of the plastic bags crisis, the latest issue to rock Wakefield is what name we should use for the town’s executive body. For the past 370 years, “Board of Selectmen” has done quite nicely, but no more. The position contains the word “man” (and in the plural, “men”). In 2017, this oppressive patriarchy simply will not stand.

The Board of Selectmen (for now) discussed the issue at their meeting on Monday. The current board has five men and two women. There have in the past been as many as three women on the board. The word “man” or “men” in the title of the office was apparently not an issue until now.

Not surprisingly, towns in Vermont have been among the first to switch to the gender-neutral term, “Selectboard,” which sounds a little like a choice piece of lumber. That works fine, since two-by-fours generally aren’t very sexy.
Continue reading ‘Name that board!’

Let me be the first to say it. Hot enough for you?

I know, it’s barely 70 degrees, but after the February weather we had earlier this week, today feels like Death Valley. It doesn’t get reliably warm around here until the summer solstice. Then it’s summer until about the Fourth of July, and it’s all downhill after that.

Like the solstice, something else happens twice a year – around the time of the Annual Town Meeting in the spring and the Regular Town Meeting in the fall. People start talking about changing from Oppen town meeting to Representative Town Meeting.

What usually sparks the debate is some mean-spirited person remarks upon Town Meeting attendance.

Critics say that there are two major problems with Open Town Meeting: low attendance and high attendance.

Continue reading ‘Town Meeting highs and lows’

Wakefield has such a pretty downtown,” my friend in the passenger seat said as we drove past The Rockery on the right, with its rows of bright red and white tulips leading up to the Hiker Statue. It was a few weeks ago and the fountain hadn’t been turned on yet.

“That’s not what our local Facebook philosophers say,” I remarked. “They call downtown Wakefield ‘a ghost town.’”

We continued down Main Street, dodging tumbleweeds, looking for a parking space. We didn’t find one.

“Wakefield: a ghost town with a parking problem,” I thought to myself, combining two of the favorite cudgels used by locals fond of bashing the downtown, oblivious to the irony.
Continue reading ‘Running down the downtown’


You needn’t be a Chekhov scholar to enjoy Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” currently on stage at Quannapowitt Playhouse in Reading. Durang’s comedy may have been inspired by Chekhov, but it is 180 degrees from the dark, despairing mood that permeates Chekhov’s plays.

In fact, it’s hilarious.

Wakefield native and second generation QP-er Nancy Curran Willis directs and once again her casting is pitch perfect and she brings the best out in every performer.
Continue reading ‘Quannapowitt Players present hilarious ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’’


Bank robbery isn’t as easy as it looks, especially when things don’t go as planned. That’s the lesson that two brothers learn early on in John Kolvenbach’s comedy The Bank Job, currently at Gloucester Stage.

Fourteen million dollars is a nice haul, but it won’t do you much good if your escape plans hit a brick wall – literally – and you find yourselves trapped in the bank’s executive washroom with the police closing in.
Continue reading ‘‘Bank Job’ pays off with laughs at GSC’

Zoned out


I know some people don’t like me to write about marijuana, but the subject has been in the local news a lot lately and it’s kind of my job.

Vancouver Global Marijuana March 2015 - by Danny KresnyakSo this constitutes a trigger warning for those delicate flowers of the Cannabis Community whose heads tend to explode when I write about pot. (Rest assured if I were writing pro-pot pieces they wouldn’t be accusing me of monomania. They’d be nominating me for a Pulitzer Prize.)

Last November, Massachusetts voters approved ballot Question 4, succumbing to a multimillion-dollar campaign funded by national pot industry interests. Just about everyone outside of the marijuana industry now recognizes that the law approved under Question 4 is at best a confusing muddle and at worst highly flawed.
Continue reading ‘Zoned out’

Long before it became part of my job, I would attend practically every Town Meeting. It wasn’t out of any sense of civic duty. I’ve always found Town Meeting to be great entertainment. That has led some to suggest that I seek professional help.

Last week’s two-part episode did not disappoint. If you’re one of the 18,000 or so voters who missed it, there’s always next November. Mark your calendars.
Continue reading ‘Fear and loathing at Town Meeting’

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