What the Island of Misfit Toys Tells Us About People

In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, on the Island of Misfit Toys, there is a scene where Charlie-in-the-box throws the bird who can’t fly off the sleigh without an umbrella. I need to spend a bit more time parsing this out, but I think perhaps we can trace the decline of western civilization to this one scene in this one beloved and terrifying stop-motion animated Christmas special, and the effect that it had on the national childhood psyche from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies. I think you can essentially divide people our age into three categories: 1) people who were terrified that the bird was abandoned, 2) people who believe the bird could always fly but just needed someone to believe in him and 3) people who didn’t give a rat’s ass if the bird could fly.

There might be a few non-classifiable people, like those who believe an umbrella is not a parachute, but they’re assholes anyway.

Faster Than You Can Say Second Wife: A Family Thanksgiving Story

Holidays were always interesting at our house, largely because of my mother’s proclivity for picking up strays (yeah, yeah, I know: pot, kettle; apple, tree). She ran a halfway house for alcoholics, and often we’d host these broken, middle-aged men, who had once been successful doctors and lawyers with beautiful families, but had lost it all by the time they got to my mother. They were newly awash in The Program, exuding the humility and gratitude of a new recruit. But one Thanksgiving stands out from the other holiday gatherings, and luckily there were no alcoholics at this one, because I’m pretty sure their fragile sobriety would have been mightily tested. 

First a disclaimer: This is a true story, insofar as I believe that everything within happened. It’s conceivable that I have blended family holidays. This sort of thing happens to me. I often remember parts of several movies, putting them together to make a whole new movie, thinking that what I am remembering is the movie I remember. It’s also possible that I have left out parts of the story, or that aspects of the day have become embellished over the years. As I grow older, my memory grows general, with bursts of specificity that either advance my personal agenda or contain facts so trivial and irrelevant that I don’t know what makes me think of them.  

Second, some background: My father died in 1967, when I was four, my brother was three, and my sister was 18 months. This left my mother a widow at 34, with three babies, very little money, less job experience and a high school diploma. My mother felt that she was abandoned by my father’s family after his death, and she became estranged from his parents and siblings. My father’s youngest sister had lived with my mother and father for a time after they were married, and so my mother felt particularly hurt by that desertion. Now, my mother was a good Christian woman, who could be selfless and forgiving at times, but she was a bit controlling. She could hold a grudge with unrivaled tenacity, and demanded loyalty above all else (pot, kettle; apple, tree). But, while she perceived herself to be forsaken by her in-laws, and told us often that they weren’t the best people, she managed to forge a career, and raise three children who mostly went to college and grew up to be reasonably well adjusted. We had a fine working-class upbringing, and all was more or less well.

Third, more background: In the early 80’s, my brother got a scholarship to an Ivy League school, and began to live the life of an Ivy League student – you know, spending semesters abroad, dating heiresses - that sort of thing. While my sister and I seldom ventured farther away than the subway would take us, he was globetrotting, and unbeknownst to our mother, had established contact with my father’s youngest sister, who had moved back to Ireland years earlier. My brother visited her and her family there. I don’t remember what actually happened – I must have been really stoned or away from the homestead at this point, but I understood that my mother was furious with him. I can so clearly imagine her feeling betrayed that I can almost hear her screaming. But somehow my brother convinced her that she had to let go, and she did. She visited the Irish relatives herself, and my oldest cousin even came to live with us for a while. (I don’t know why he stayed though, because my mother, who had become a substance abuse counselor, so harassed the poor kid every time he had a beer, she might have driven him to drink the next one.) But in general, relations between my mother and one small village in Ireland had become cordial, if somewhat fragile, even though she told us she wanted nothing to do with the rest of our father’s family.

Flash forward a few years, and the aforementioned paternal aunt, her husband, and my cousin, are going to be with us for Thanksgiving. My brother, in his first year of medical school, is also coming, along with three or four of his fellow students who aren’t going home. He has also invited the mother of one of these friends, a very nice woman who sells real estate in one of the tony western Boston suburbs, and probably doesn’t often visit our gritty urban neighborhood. Also in attendance will be my maternal grandfather, maternal great aunt, and my sister, who has just had her gallbladder removed. (This being the mid-80’s, she’s had an actual operation, with a big incision and stitches, not like today’s wussy procedure, where you can go out dancing that night.) What my mother doesn’t know until about two days before Thanksgiving, is that my aunt has invited her brother, my paternal uncle, and his new wife.  We have not seen this uncle since my father’s funeral, and my mother is not happy. However, she is trying to deal with it, moving back and forth between forgiveness and planning something guilt-inducing designed to elicit a full apology.

When my uncle and his new wife arrive, it is disconcerting, even for my normally unflappable self. There is a ghost sitting in my mother’s living room: His physical resemblance to the father I only know through photographs and secondhand accounts is uncanny. This elderly man is who my father would have been, and he doesn’t quite live up to the hype that occurs when someone dies young. He is not superhuman, and yet he is alien. He is also divorced, and has married a much younger woman, with my first name, -- and having married into the family, my last name as well.  Since it is uncommon, I am not accustomed to another Joyce, let alone someone with my full name. 

My grandfather arrives. He is a little old man with a sixth grade education, who has never had a nice thing to say about anyone. An immigrant, he has a thick French Canadian accent, and as he has grown older, his nastiness has become rather funny, because his inhibitions died with his wife ten years earlier. His insults aren’t as hard to take when they’ve skipped a generation. When he asks me, “What did you use to cut your hair, the lawn mower?” or “Where did you buy your clothes, the circus?” I can laugh it off, but my mother wouldn’t be human if she didn’t carry some baggage. Papa, as we called him, had grown too feeble to climb the stairs, and the bathroom is on the second floor. A coffee can is procured for him, in the event that he needs to pee.

Arriving with Papa, is my great aunt, Katie, sister to my maternal grandmother, who has been widowed years earlier, by a man with whom I don’t remember ever having a conversation. He had been present at all the family functions, but I don’t recall him ever getting a word in. Aunt Katie is also French Canadian, with a thick accent and thicker cat-frame glasses. She is a woman of modest means, but she makes her own glamorous clothes and hats and always wears gloves. She is very active in her church, making “bandages for the leopards” and such. I think she means lepers, and I also think that by this time the lepers aren’t using homemade church lady bandages, but I admit I don’t know this for a fact. In reality, the church is trying to keep her busy, because she has a penchant for befriending wrong number callers, and for excessive bingo. My great aunt is also responsible, I am convinced, for the fall of Communism in Russia, which happens as a result of her prayers and those of her church ladies, though she wouldn’t actually live to see it. Above all, she is a pragmatist: I remember once telling her that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and she said, “Well, good. Someone has to write the words on the toothpaste tubes, so there will always be work.”

Papa spots my father’s brother, and because Papa is starting to lose his hearing, screams at my mother, loud enough that everyone on our street can hear, “Who is that man?” My mother explains that he is my father’s older brother, who Papa met many times, many years ago. He screams, again to the neighbors, “Who is that girl with him? Is that his daughter?” My mother tells him the “girl” is my uncle’s new wife. He then screams for my brother to take him to the back porch so he can piss into the coffee can. At this point, my sister has to excuse herself, because she can’t allow herself to laugh, for fear of popping the stitches in her gallbladder incision. 

The afternoon wears on, getting weirder and more uncomfortable. My grandfather keeps asking – “who is that man?” and “who is that girl?” at 15 minute intervals, and we give up answering him after the first few times. Aunt Katie screams at him, because she is also hard of hearing, telling him that the “girl” is my father’s sister, which of course she isn’t, but no one argues with her. My sister comes back downstairs, but by this point, my uncle – not the ghost-of-my-father uncle, but the husband of my father’s sister – has finished a few drinks and turns into the stereotypical jolly Irish drunk, determined to make my sister laugh, because apparently the Papa and Aunt Katie show isn’t funny enough for him. Meanwhile, when my sister is not warding off the tickling from Uncle Johnny, she is being chased around the house by my brother and his med student friends. After all, she is a live surgical specimen, and they want to see her incision, check her temperature and generally annoy her. I think they want her to pop a stitch, so they can get some practice. She moves in and out of the public space, as the hilarity and its effect on her stitches allow. 

The “girl,” or aunt by marriage with the same name as mine, now also known as The Other Joyce, is obviously nervous. Who wouldn’t be, given the screaming? I don’t remember much of the conversation beyond the screaming, though I do remember her asking me what I did, which was always dangerous territory, as I had dropped out of college and was working for an outspoken lesbian who managed punk rock bands.

We sit down for dinner, and it is actually good. This is a bit of a surprise, as my mother, a talented woman in many regards, was no cook (pot, kettle; apple, tree), and often spoke of inventing a “turkey scent spray” that you could use in the house when you wanted people to think you actually made the turkey. There was a lot of polite conversation, and Papa was quiet, having procured a giant turkey leg, which was his favorite. 

We are all nearly finished our first helpings, when The Other Joyce begins to shake, her eyes rolling back in her head. Before the army of med students can get to her, she spasms and throws up all over the table. Aunt Katie quickly grabs the turkey and moves it out of harm’s way. Papa doesn’t look up from his turkey leg. The med students get her to a bedroom to lie down. My uncle won’t let anyone call an ambulance, which makes the med students positively giddy. He claims that nothing like this has ever happened to her before. I go to Aunt Katie, who, in addition to being hard of hearing is also more or less blind, and was directly in the line of fire, and ask if she’s okay. She says that she’s fine and asks for a Kleenex. The table is cleared faster than you can say “second wife,” and my sister has to go lock herself in her room, because she can’t take it anymore. I settle Papa and Aunt Katie in the living room, and he screams, “What’s wrong with that girl? Is that girl’s father going to take her home?” and “Boy! Could that girl puke!” The real estate woman from the western suburbs who had come with her med student daughter makes a gracious exit, but later sends a lovely thank you note, mentioning nothing of what happened. Her manners were impeccable.

My uncle and The Other Joyce leave after she has rested for a couple of hours, and I never see them again. Papa and Aunt Katie both died not long after, though I don’t think their deaths were related to the festivities. Mom also died around Thanksgiving in 1999, but I think she taught us an important lesson – that NOT letting go of grudges might actually make for more relaxing family holidays. 

(Thanks to KS for the assist.)

Keys to the Car

I’d like to introduce you to my new associate, Ami Bennitt. She is joining Ashmont Media as a Senior Account Executive, overseeing all of the day-to-day operations for all of our clients. Ami has been a long-time friend and colleague in the arts community, and we have shared roots in the music industry. I have long been impressed with her work, and have recommended her to potential clients many times, when my workload kept me from taking new projects.

This is a bittersweet note. As you may have heard, I have taken a great job in the administration of my dear friend, Boston’s new mayor, Martin J. Walsh. This was an unexpected turn of events; though I worked hard for his election, and played a lead role in his transition, I fully intended to return to Ashmont Media, the public relations business I have been building since 1999. But the Mayor offered me the job of his Chief of Policy, which means I get to lead a team that will drive ideas and initiatives from a city that often leads the way in the nation. I couldn’t say no.

Ami brings with her experience in media relations, marketing, events, and fundraising. Over her career she has served as Marketing and Public Relations Director at New Repertory Theatre, The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Boston Theatre Works, and the New England Quilt Museum. Additionally, she founded/programmed two lowbrow visual art galleries: the Paradise Lounge Gallery (2002-2008) and SPACE 242 (2008-2012), and consulted arts clients through her Motor Media & Management including First Night Boston 2014, Kingston Gallery, Fourth Wall Project, former Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ founder Nate Albert’s solo act The Kickovers, and former Weezer bassist turned visual artist Mikey Welsh.

In the 90s, Ami was artist manager for international recording artists The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and held posts at Nasty Little Man PR, High Noon Entertainment, PolyGram Group Distribution and Sony Music. She studied Arts and Entertainment Management at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and lives in Dorchester with her husband and two Australian Cattle Dogs.

Ami will officially begin February 3, but will help out on Ashmont projects until then. She may be reached by email at ami at ashmontmedia dot com.

I will still be overseeing and advising as I settle into my new role, which begins officially on February 3. I still remain active in Ashmont Records, the business I own with recording artist Joe Pernice. I don’t have my City Hall phone and email yet, but can always be reached at joyce at ashmontmedia dot com.

I have enjoyed working in the arts in Boston, and look forward to keeping the arts a priority from my new perch on the 5th floor at City Hall.

I know what I said...

I know what I said. Something like “I’d rather have all my teeth pulled.” Or “I don’t care what anyone says, I won’t.” Or “there’s no way on God’s green earth that will happen.” And I might have used saltier, more definitive language. I remember dismissing John Barros back in early November when he admonished me, saying “don’t say never.” He was right, and here we are. I was presented with the opportunity to help drive the policies of a progressive Mayor to whom I am devoted, in my beloved Boston. How could I say no? I have accepted the position of Chief of Policy in the Martin J. Walsh administration. I am the (second?) luckiest person I know. At a time when national policy is increasingly driven at the municipal level, I will be working on putting into action the values of a great leader, in the City that often leads the nation.

The year started like many before it, with me very happily living a great life, having built a solid public relations business with fantastic clients, surrounded by friends and immersed in all kinds of projects and causes. I was, as I have been for years, dabbling in elections as a volunteer. But in March, my dear friend, Marty Walsh, decided to run for Mayor. I committed to him on that very first night, and over the course of the year, I found myself first as his press person, and then becoming his Policy Director – a position the likes of which I’ve never held before. We assembled a team of hundreds of great, forward-thinking people, and worked together to articulate the values of our candidate – shared values. I learned so much, and had a blast, but had every intention of returning to my life after helping the Mayor-elect transition.

As inauguration day grew closer, I started to experience what can only be described as separation anxiety, but having publicly staked my claim, continued on with my original plan. However, last week, in a small meeting with some of his key transition advisors, the Mayor-elect said, “What if I wanted someone – just as an example – someone like Joyce Linehan, to keep track of our policy initiatives and work with City Hall cabinet heads to figure out how to do what we said we’d do?” Everyone around the table smiled and looked at me. Clearly, there had been at least one meeting to which I had not been invited.

How could I not do this? It’s a mid-life career change for sure – as well as a wholesale cultural change. Aside from one short summer between my junior and senior year of high school at the First National Bank of Boston, I have never actually worked in an office. I seldom wear shoes that aren’t sneakers. I do not own one business suit. This should be interesting.

It would seem that I am the only one who is truly surprised by this. As I have notified family, friends and clients, it has become apparent that this is not unexpected by anyone but me. I will be winding down with my existing clients, who have been great to me – ArtsEmerson, the ICA and the Boston Book Festival. I can’t shake Pernice though, and will continue to co-run the best little indie record label in Dorchester.

I am really excited about the future. So many great people work in City Hall – some who have been there for years, and some whose first day was January 6, 2014. And so many Bostonians care about our shared future. Happy New Year everyone. I’ll see you out there!

My Roadrunner testimony

Below is the text of the testimony I gave at this morning's hearing on Roadrunner.

December 19, 2013

Joyce Linehan

Testimony in support of HB.3573, An Act designating “Roadrunner” as the official rock song of the Commonwealth

Hearing of Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight


Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee:

I am excited to be here to testify in support of HB.3573, An Act designating “Roadrunner” as the official rock song of the Commonwealth. I am proud to say I am the person who asked Representative Walsh, now Boston Mayor-elect, back in January, to introduce this bill. As you have undoubtedly heard, he has had an interesting year, and in a funny way, this Roadrunner campaign became a cornerstone of a forward thinking arts and culture policy that I would argue helped in some small way to propel him to victory. As his campaign Policy Director, and currently his Transition co-chair, I can say the subject comes up frequently, because to a group of dedicated fans of the iconic song who understand it symbolizes hope and optimism while professing its love of our home state, it is important. At the very least, it was a good luck charm, and it would be fitting, as he leaves the House, for the loop to be closed and this bill to be passed.

This has been an interesting journey. Over the year since the bill was introduced, we’ve gotten a ton of press, with stories in all the local media, plus Rolling Stone, Time, Slate, NPR, the BBC, the CBC and Gawker. A friend of mine in Tokyo said he heard me on the radio talking about Roadrunner. Famed author Nick Hornby voiced his strong support, as did the Dropkick Murphys’ Ken Casey, and the Daily Show’s John Hodgman, a Brookline native who invited the Mayor-elect to perform the song on stage with him recently. It has been a blast. This story – indeed this song – captures imaginations around the world and communicates the very character of our Modern Massachusetts and her people.

This was never meant to be a competition. If we’re going to recognize the most popular song, the song that has sold the most copies and generated the most revenue, then let’s just withdraw the Roadrunner bill now and be done with it. Truthfully, as much as I loved the publicity that resulted when a competing bill was introduced, (because very few things give me greater joy than extolling the virtues of “Roadrunner”) I was crestfallen. It’s a false equivalent, and if those who support the other bill can’t see that, then I can’t argue with them. They are both SONGS, but that’s where it ends. The other song is a great song by a great band who have been great citizens of our great Commonwealth. They’ve been generous to charity and ambassadors of our state around the world. But this isn’t about that. This isn’t really about the artist who created or performed the song at all. This is about a song that I believe captures the very essence of the spirit Massachusetts.

With that, I give you 17 reasons why “Roadrunner” should be the official rock song of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

  1. Jonathan Richman, who wrote the song, is a Massachusetts native, born in Natick.
  2. The Modern Lovers, his band, started out in the Boston area.
  3. Many of Richman’s songs reference growing up in Massachusetts.
  4. “Roadrunner” is an upbeat, youthful ode to the greatness of being alive, and the simple beauty of the Commonwealth.
  5. “Roadrunner” is a tribute to the urban landscape, with nods to Massachusetts landmarks both civic and industrial, including the Mass Pike, Howard Johnson’s, the North Shore, the South Shore, Routes 3, 9, 90, 495 and of course 128, the Prudential, Quincy, Cohasset, Deer Island, Boston Harbor, Amherst, Needham, Ashland, Mattapan, Roslindale  and Stop & Shop.
  6. “Roadrunner” celebrates Route 128, which opened in 1951, the year Richman was born, and came to be known as “America’s Technology Highway.” To this day, it still represents Massachusetts’ vibrant Innovation Economy.
  7. The many versions of “Roadrunner” contain lyrical variations and musical deviations that have inspired many passionate late-night conversations among rock music fans about which is the best version.
  8. “Roadrunner” has been consistently popular and relevant since its creation in 1970.
  9. “Roadrunner” has been described as the first punk song.
  10. “Roadrunner” communicates its unbridled, unapologetic exuberance about youth, freedom and Massachusetts essentially and economically using just two chords.
  11. “Roadrunner” contains one of the most brilliant lyrics ever written: “going faster miles an hour.”
  12. “Roadrunner” also has the greatest count off in rock history: “1-2-3-4-5-6!”
  13.  Rolling Stone ranked “Roadrunner” #269 on its “500 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time.”
  14.  A recent article in the Guardian UK convincingly made the case that the “Roadrunner” rock ‘n roll pilgrimage is just as important as those to Chuck Berry’s Route 66, Bob Dylan’s Highway 61, Robert Johnson’s Crossroads, Elvis Presley’s Graceland, and others.
  15.  Legendary rock critic Greil Marcus called “Roadrunner” “the most obvious song in the world, and the strangest,” which just proves that HE’S never driven Route 128 at night. Of course, he is not wrong.
  16.  “Roadrunner” is a song that describes the mystery of the modern Massachusetts landscape. It has taken the specifics of that mystery and captured the imaginations of people around the world who have internalized it as their own, creating awareness of and interest in our state.
  17.  It is an unabashed valentine to our beloved Commonwealth. It says “I’m in love with Massachusetts” right in the song!

There’s no question that “Roadrunner” deserves the designation this bill seeks to bestow, and I urge you to look favorably on its advancement, with the Radio On!

Thank you.

Why Marty?

Why Marty? It’s a question I have fielded a LOT in the last few months. I understand that. On the surface, we may seem like rather unlikely friends. Beyond the shared background – we’re both Irish-American, Catholic school-educated and from working-class families in Dorchester – we’ve taken very different paths. But we’ve arrived at very similar places, and for some reason, my progressive bona fides are seldom questioned, while people assume that he is just another in a long line of white Irish Catholic guys from Dorchester. (I’d argue that of this particular line, he is most like Joe Moakley, but that’s another essay!) Marty and I share core values: equality, access, transparency and social justice. I believe he’s the most progressive candidate in this race, but more importantly, he is positioned to be the most effective, able to bring disparate voices to the table and convince them to work together. I’ve seen it.

Marty called the night we learned of Mayor Menino’s decision, to tell me he was running for mayor. I fully committed to him without hesitation. “Whatever you need.” We’ve known each other a long time, and we’ve worked closely together on many things, including the elections of Barack Obama, Deval Patrick, and Elizabeth Warren (we delivered 83% of the Dorchester vote under his leadership), as well as the U.S. Senate campaign of Mike Capuano, in which, for the record, we handily won Dorchester. He also asked me to help out on the first two city council campaigns for John Connolly (which I did), and introduced me to Felix Arroyo, who I have also supported in the past. I have several friends in this race, and we’re lucky to have a good field of candidates. But there is no better candidate for Mayor of Boston than Marty Walsh.

Early on, one reporter called to ask why I wasn’t waiting to see if a woman gets into the race. She was surprised when I told her that Marty has a great legislative record on women’s issues, and I had no doubt that he would continue to fight for my rights at every turn. Not all feminists are women, just like not all women are feminists. Marty is a feminist. Ask him. He’ll tell you. He’ll talk about pay equity, and a woman’s right to choose. He’ll mention buffer zones around abortion clinics, and access to birth control, a lack of sports programs for girls and how badly he wants to put an end to human trafficking. I realize that most of you don’t have my vantage point in this, and haven’t seen the way he is genuinely moved when someone is being abused or treated unfairly. But – here’s the difference – he has introduced bills in the legislature that address these things, and voted on these very issues. It’s easy to state a position; it’s harder to legislate one.

Other people asked if I was with him just because we’re friends. I told them that’s about 10% of my reasoning, but the other 90% was because of his record, and his character. I’ve seen his work in the trenches, and been on the other end of a broken lunch date because someone needed a detox bed, or a re-entry program. Marty and I have worked extensively together on issues of substance abuse, which has touched both of our families. I’d bet anything it’s touched every single one of yours as well. Marty is a person who will stop at nothing to help people in need. I have also seen him walk into a room full of my friends – super progressives – many of whom have an idea, based on his demographic, that he is a vestige of another time. They all walk away supporters, impressed by a guy with a depth and breadth of knowledge and compassion, and an openness and willingness to listen. They’re converted. This is why so many of my friends are actually working on this campaign.

Marty has it all as a candidate and a leader. Where other candidates may appear to be superficial, Marty has an impressive grasp of issues of economic development, workforce development, education and public safety, but more importantly, an understanding of the root causes of the problems that hold us back in these areas. Through this campaign, I have been continually impressed during policy discussions, when the ideas are flowing and people are excited, and Marty steps in with the concept that just crystallizes the position, and then leads us to the idea that will help solve the problem. His ability to do this is rooted in his willingness to listen to people and acknowledge different points of view. He has a great analytical mind, and a nuts-and-bolts knowledge of the way policy is moved.

I’ve never seen anyone with a greater gift for bringing disparate voices to a table, leading them to their common goals, and getting them to work together toward the solution. He has done this time and time again over an impressive career, but two instances stand out for me.

I think many of us have forgotten, now that we have led the rest of the country to see that diverse families actually STRENGTHEN our communities, what a contentious time we saw in Massachusetts when a few “family values” interests attempted to put the issue on the ballot, after the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed equal marriage. It’s easy to forget. It was a long time ago. Ten years later, it’s all so normal. But then, it wasn’t, and as the Massachusetts house began to debate the issue, LGBTQ leaders on Beacon Hill went to Marty to lead their fight. They knew that having a white Irish Catholic man from Dorchester make the case would sway the votes they needed to defeat the measure. So, he acted as the Floor Whip for MassEquality during the debate. Marty didn’t hesitate when asked, despite the fact he knew there would be considerable resistance from the conservative corners of his very diverse district. Leaders of that movement continue to single him out for his assistance, and he calls it his proudest vote. From what I have seen, all but two of the 12 candidates in this race are on the right side of the equality issue, but only one has had to stand up, facing resistance from his base, and vote on it.

The second thing everyone needs to know about Marty is that he started a program called Building Pathways. When he became the head of the Building Trades a few years ago, he looked out over a room of white men, and realized the trades needed to diversify. He conceived this first-of-its-kind pre-apprenticeship program that guarantees union placement and well-paying jobs to underserved communities, mostly people of color and women. There are many apprenticeship programs, but this is the only one that guarantees placement, and it has become a national model. There was resistance from the trades, but Marty persevered, and now they compete for the graduates. There has been a lot of talk about Building Pathways on the campaign trail, because the idea of offering opportunity to people appeals to many. I’ve really enjoyed meeting the graduates of this program. They are impressive people who have so much to offer the world, and this opportunity Marty created and they pursued will allow them to do this. That’s good for our City. The piece of this I really like though comes from a different perspective; a program like this actually strengthens the unions. As populations change, unions must change to stay relevant. This relates to reframing the conversation around Labor, and communicating its importance as an economic driver in Boston and around the country. As the income gap grows larger, and the very existence of the middle class is threatened, we need to organize more than ever. We won’t be able to do that until some of the unions themselves evolve, and I see Building Pathways as a piece of this evolution.

In his 17 year career on Beacon Hill, and as a community activist before that, he has accomplished great things. Dorchester is a MUCH better place for his service. When I talk to someone from our neighborhood who is supporting someone else, I point to the Red Line stations that spurred so much development here; Pope John Paul II Park and the Neponset Trail; Carney Hospital, still open despite MANY attempts to close it; all of the sports and arts and social programs he has championed. The list goes on and on. Thankfully, most of them get it.

Marty Walsh is my friend, and he is my candidate for Mayor. I say this loudly, unequivocally and without reservation. What I can also say without equivocation is that he is the best candidate in this race. I am asking you personally to cast your vote for him on Tuesday. I promise that if you think you share my values, it's a vote you'll never regret.

Joyce Linehan


Hit by a car

So, I am 99% OK, but I got hit by a car yesterday. It was as close a call as I have ever had, and I am grateful that I wasn’t badly hurt. As the car was coming toward me, I really thought I was in trouble.

I was coming out of Sweet Life, having picked up some food for a meeting I was having at my house. I was crossing Dot Ave., when a car pulled out of the Pat’s Pizza Parking lot, trying to make the left on to Dot Ave. He never even looked to his right, according to a witness, and I never saw him coming. As I stood there in the middle of Dot. Ave., paralyzed, arms full of a platter of food, watching the red Volvo come right at me, and bracing for the impact to my legs, what flashed through my mind? Not “Oh my God, who will take care of Charlie if I’m hurt?” or “Oh my God, how will I pay my bills if I can’t work?” Nope. It was “Oh my god, the campaign!”

I don’t really know what happened. I know there was a mass casualty of sandwiches, but I managed to save the coconut caramel shortbreads, which, you know if you have tasted them, is very important. I didn’t go down. I took the hit with my legs, and have a little bruising, but they never buckled. Practical application of Bikram Yoga. All that standing on one leg has made them both rock solid. I was pretty shook up, and a little confused, and couldn’t really move from the street. As people came out to help me, the driver, who was a scared young man clearly driving his Dad’s car, got out to say he was sorry. I couldn’t really say anything, but someone there said “You need to pull over and write your name and license number.” While we waited for that to happen, several people told me they thought I needed an ambulance, but it was 4:10 and I had people coming to the house for a 4:30 campaign meeting, so I didn’t have time for an ambulance. Kristen from Sweet Life came out and said they were making more sandwiches, and would bring them to the house, which was very nice of her. Pat from Pat’s Pizza had also come out and was being very helpful, staying with me until he thought I was OK to drive.

We had the meeting – Marty, me and a few others, and I didn’t tell anyone what had happened. After it was over, I called Marty and said, “I got hit by a car.” He said, “Yeah, I know. That meeting was brutal.” And I said, “No, Marty, not figuratively. Literally. I was literally hit by a car, right before the meeting.” I told him the story, and he told me I cannot, under any circumstances, get hit by a car before the election. If you see me being helped across the street by any young men who look like they might be in construction, that’s just my new security detail.

I thought about not posting this, because as I was thinking about it, I of course thought of Bill McDermott, my friend, without whose help I might not have been able to purchase Ashmonticello. Bill was killed after being hit by a car in February. He was a close advisor to Congressman Lynch, who of course was running for the U.S. Senate at the time. But then I thought about Bill and his daughter, my friend Deirdre, and realized that they, of all (Irish) people, would have seen the gallows humor in the idea that multiple Boston political operatives were being hit by cars.

Anyway, this morning I went back to Bikram, and was pretty sore. Though I wasn’t hurt when I was hit, I must have tensed up waiting for the impact. But after completing that 90-minute class, walking four miles in the baking sun in the Dorchester Day Parade, and then spending a couple of hours at the Ashmont Grill with a pal, picking off votes, one-by-one for Marty, I’m ready to declare that I was unhurt in the incident.




Get off the cross. We need the wood for the fire.

Since I'm no longer a practicing Catholic, all this talk of Holy Week has me feeling left out. I'm going to start an alternative celebration: Holier-Than-Thou week. On Friday, we'll have the Martyr of the Year Awards Banquet (at Florian), and on Sunday, we'll leave baskets full of platitudes out for the kids. I'm TOTALLY going to win the Soapbox Decorating Contest. I'm not touching anybody's feet though. More soon about a planning meeting.