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Saturday, July 21, 2012

I “need” this “gig” like I need a hole in my head

It’s certainly no good for my blood pressure, and I don’t have health insurance

An open letter to “Peyton Storm”

By Linda Felaco

Regular readers may have noticed that I stopped writing for Progressive Charlestown back in April due to time constraints. I felt guilty about leaving Will and Tom in the lurch, but much to my surprise, I found that once I stopped writing, I didn’t miss it at all. I was able to get out of the house instead of being chained to my computer watching interminable Town Council and Planning Commission meetings. My vocal chords were no longer raspy from screaming at the many exasperating, infuriating, and downright ridiculous things going on at said meetings. The air smelled sweeter, the sun shone brighter, food tasted better. Every time I thought to myself, I really should try to write something for the blog, my next thought was Ugh, do I have to?

But then not one but two members of the Town Council started attacking my friends in the council chambers. As I told Will and Tom when I sent them the draft of my piece on civility last week: “Just when I thought I was out ... they pull me back in.

So it was rather a surprise, after having written all of one item on Progressive Charlestown in the past three months, to find myself mentioned by name in the CCA blog. The piece, oddly titled “Time for the Democratic Candidates to Be Their Own People” (I know all of them, and they’re all very much their own people; we don’t make our candidates take pledges), was actually addressed to Suzanne Ferrio, and it reminded me of nothing so much as someone trying to “deprogram” a cult member. I can easily imagine friends and family of Katie Holmes having written similar screeds to her to try to get her to detach Tom Cruise from the Scientologists. Except the piece was published under the pseudonym “Peyton Storm”* (an awesome porn star name, btw), so the personal tone taken with Suzanne came off as rather creepy. 

And then it was just bizarre to be informed by someone I’ve never met, writing a under pseudonym, that I “need this gig” and that I “lurk waiting to strike at virtually every comment.” Commenting and creating a dialog with readers is of course what makes a blog a blog, and in fact commenting is how I got sucked into writing for Progressive Charlestown in the first place. Ironically, because the blog was still fairly new at the time, people were commenting about the lack of comments, so I figured I’d try to help out. Next thing I knew, Will and Tom were inviting me to write something.

Sometimes I wish I’d said no.

How did Will put it? When he and Tom started the blog, he didn’t intend to go so deep, but he got sucked in. Indeed, when asked, I had no idea what I would even write about. My very first post was titled “What I Love About Charlestown.” And everything I said then is still true. This is a beautiful town and a wonderful place to live—as long as you can ignore the way the town is run. 

When I first moved here and started asking people about local politics, they’d laugh and say it was not about parties but personalities. This was before Progressive Charlestown was even an electron in the silicon chip, mind you, so Big Bad Will Collette cannot be blamed for these attitudes. And I have some bad news for those who persist in the fantasy that Charlestown was an idyll of civility until politics somehow took an ugly turn when Jim Mageau was council president: It didn’t start with him either. Certainly the denial of property rights enshrined in the "Platner Principle" is not particularly neighborly, and it predates Mageau’s short 2-year rule by decades. (And yes, I'm aware that it also predates the Reign of Ruth; that's exactly my point.) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a longtime resident about the origins of one of our bizarre, intrusive, far-reaching, and petty ordinances only to be told, “Oh that’s because X wanted to stop Y from doing Z.”

So “Peyton Storm,” whoever you are, you can continue spinning your fairy-tale yarn about the princely CCA and us vicious nasty Democrats to whoever will listen. I know who the real “skunks at the picnic” are, and it ain’t Will Collette. So you can keep spraying Febreze on it till the cows come home, but the shit in this town will still stink until someone who doesn’t profit from the status quo cleans it up.

*Granted, it’s gotta be tough to invent a fake name but still make it look like you’re from a particular town. It’s easy enough to find out if anyone by that name pays any sort of property taxes in town. But you don’t want your writing to be falsely attributed to one of your neighbors, either. And I don’t think the CCA has a big constituency among the handful of renters in town, though I could be wrong.