'Star Wars' as a Fundraising Hook...and Other, Disparate, Attention-Grabbing Items

Friday, December 11, 2015

MAY THE FARCE BE WITH YOU.  I never got “Star Wars,” the cultural phenomenon.  It seemed like a good enough movie to bring your six-year-old to on an overcast summer afternoon, but basically a long cartoon with spectacular special effects.  I could not suspend disbelief long enough to accept a large, hairy, speechless,  ape-man as the co-pilot of a space ship or a robot that looks like a vacuum cleaner making unintentionally humorous asides to his human overlords during a stopover at a distant planet that seemed no more distant than the California desert.  So I had to groan when Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung announced this week in a press release that he will hold a fundraiser on Dec. 17 tied to a special showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”  Said Councilor Cheung, “As a self-proclaimed Star Wars fanatic, I’m counting down the days and hours to the premier of The Force Awakens and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy the experience with members of the Cambridge, Somerville and Boston community.”  This fanaticism for the magic of a make-believe force is harmless in most cases, of course, and I have to give the councilor credit for not going all egg-head on us in his movie preferences.  But how does he get away with referring to Cambridge, Somerville and Boston as one community? Has he forgotten that part of the unacknowledged reward of owning a place near Harvard Square is the delight in not having to own in the Ball Squares and Roslindale Squares of the world?

ROUND 1 GOES TO THE DEER. The great hunt in the Blue Hills ended last week with the population of deer in the 7,000-acre reservation having been reduced by 64 beasts.  The anti-hunting fanatics immediately spun that number as evidence that (a) authorities had seriously overestimated the deer population when they pegged it somewhere between 600 and 800, and (b) the hunt was, therefore, totally unnecessary, and cruelly so.  I wish they’d given more credit to the deer.  These are intelligent, Massachusetts-bred fauna, living in a wealthy suburb where the MCAS scores skew high.  They know the territory far better than the hunters, as not a single marksman had been allowed into the Blue Hills for the hundred previous years, and the deer were running for their lives while the hunters were doing what many consider a sport, albeit one with the considerable, real-life consequence of inhibiting the spread of Lyme Disease.
IT’S GOOD TO BE THE DEAN.  When Bridgewater’s David Flynn, one of the best natural politicians of his generation and an irresistibly gregarious gentleman and raconteur, got elected to the Massachusetts House 1998, he began his second stint in the legislature.   He had served there previously some three decades before, from 1964 to 1972. That long interruption did not prevent his colleagues from immediately designating him the “Dean of the House,” the honorific bestowed on whoever is the current, longest-serving member.  The good thing about being the Dean is you don’t have to do anything.  It’s an honor, truly, because you receive it from your peers, but an honor without legal responsibilities or duties of any discernable difficulty whatsoever.  Being the Dean is a kick. All the time, you get hear things like “Good morning, Dean,” “How are you today, Dean,” and “You’re looking especially chipper today, Dean.”  Then there’s the gratification of having the Speaker step up to the microphone to introduce you by saying something like, “I know we’re all looking forward to hearing what the Dean has to say on this subject,” and of having one of your pals give you a shout-out during a floor speech, as in, “The Dean has warned us that we ought not to go down this road…And we all know it pays to listen when the Dean speaks.”   If ever there was a man cut out to be the Dean it was David Flynn.  He loved people, politics, and kibitzing on the floor of the House.  Not one to take himself too seriously, he excelled at the showmanship aspects of public office – the holding forth, the emoting on cue, the delivering of remarks-for-every-occasion and all that.  Showmanship is a valid and valuable implement in the politician’s toolbox.  Flynn’s natural sparkle seemed to glow a little brighter every time someone addressed him as "The Dean."  It seemed that he found the whole business more than a little comical, which enhanced the charm of the great old Irish package that was David Flynn.  He served six terms, 12 years, during his second run in the House before retiring gracefully in 2011.  He went out on top in his beloved Bridgewater, where he’d started public life in 1957 by winning election to the Playground Commission.  On December 10, Flynn, age 82, died at his home after a brief illness.  He left behind his wife, Barbara, nine children, 30 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, a brother and a sister.  A Mass celebrating his life will be offered at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Bridgewater, this Tuesday morning.   The angels, no doubt, will welcome “The Dean” into paradise. 



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