April 22, 2010


Something happened yesterday on the way back to the office from the university.

I was in Dartmouth, on Cross Road, near potter Elementary School. As you can see from the street view link, I was coming up on a crosswalk. There was a family on my right who were waiting to cross. The parents were each carrying a child, and there was a boy of about 8 or 9, I would guess. I stopped, in accordance with Massachusetts law, and gave them plenty of space.

It's a busy road; a few cars piled up behind me as the parents looked the other way to check for oncoming cars. The son did not wait - he went charging across the street, not seeing the white sport scar that was speeding toward all of us in the opposite direction. I couldn't tell whether his parents were shouting to stop him because suddenly I could only see the boy and the car and the radio faded out and I did not want to see what was about to happen.

But someone must have been screaming, because just as the boy stepped over the yellow lines in the road, his feet stopped as if stuck firmly to the ground. He never did look to the right for the car speeding toward him. But now he was dealing with the leftover momentum from running.

The car, which apparently was not familiar with Massachusetts law, paid not attention to the crosswalk, the family, the boy, or the screaming that I could not hear. Just as it passed into the crosswalk, the boy was leaning over into his lane, curving his body into a "C" shape as he fought not to fall in front of the car. He wobbled forward, cartoonishly and wide-eyed. The white car passed within what seemed like inches. For a split second it looked like the boy was checking his reflection in the driver's side window.

Then, the boy rocked backward on his heels before stepping back to steady himself.

Sound returned. The white car rolled on, oblivious. I saw the father's face, relieved but shouting angrily for the boy to stop.

Nobody was hurt. But I think I may have left several heartbeats on Cross Road yesterday.

Posted by James at 11:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 15, 2010

SouthCoast Double Down

There's been outrage here and there over the new KFC Double Down sandwich. Outrage because people are getting fatter and fatter in our country and this is KFC's newest contribution to the party. Though I really think they cannot outdo their Famous Bowls for sheer caloric glory (and symbolic irony, as you shovel a bucket of fat-soaked carbs directly into your bloodstream where it can gently, lovingly accumulate around your pericardium and give your heart a hug).

Sure. Rail about the Double Down. But part of the reason we are outraged is that we know people will love it. And it is a given truth of capitalism that a company is forgiven most any of its sins if it can give the people what it wants. There are interesting ethical consequences. Do corporations have morals? What of "corporate responsibility?" Is it up to the people to deny a company its business if individuals do not agree with the consequences of corporate behavior?

Imagine if we applied that principle to individuals; we could do away with whole swaths of the legal system where punitive issues were considered. It would not be the responsibility of the state to punish individuals if they behaved reprehensibly. If someone rapes, murders, and is generally a nasty person, we'd just say that you can choose to stay away from that person. Life is so simple when you give people the same allowances that we give corporations.

But I digress.

I am here to suggest a regional version of the Double Down. We're not above some local pride in our obesity. So, here you go. The SouthCoast Massachusetts version of the Double Down.

  • fried clams, scallops and calamari
  • a chourico patty
  • lobster newburg topping
  • inside a giant clamcake that has been split in half
  • and "buttered" with hummus.

Included in every order: gift certificate for either a free echocardiogram at Charlton Memorial Hospital or a cholesterol test at the CVS Minute Clinic.

Posted by James at 4:19 PM | Comments (7)