Halos and Horns is the Advocate‘s kind of annual review of the Pioneer Valley and beyond. We take aim at everything from politicians to pants, awarding kudos and condemnation.

     halo-headFood Justice Workers 

For some strange reason, humanity has gotten so far ahead of itself that hunger is an issue. A big one. And the Valley is no exception. But we have people in our community doing amazing work to make healthy food more accessible to those who need it. A big thank you to the people behind these initiatives is in order: Gardening the Community, Partners for a Healthier Community, Mason Square Food Justice Initiative, Springfield the Food Policy Council, Nuestras Raices, Pioneer Valley Grows, Monte Belmonte (Monte’s March), Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), Fertile Ground, Springfield Public Schools’ School Garden Program, and Mass. Farm to School.


The movement Black Lives Matter didn’t come about because America’s black people felt their lives should matter more than others — it came from the systemic racism that has permeated our society for centuries — and the name doesn’t suggest that it did. The movement is a cry for justice and attention to the lack of value placed on black lives, and by saying All Lives Matter you change the subject and dismiss their plight. The point is that all lives should matter, but they don’t, so if that’s truly your sentiment when rocking #AllLivesMatter, then get with the effing program and acknowledge that we do not live in a post-racial society. Props to BLM 413 for drawing eyes and helping hands to the cause.

horn-headSteven Nikitas and the Berkshire County Republican Association

We’ve seen and heard racism in the small hilltowns that surround our Valley, but Steven Nikitas’ column “Here’s the solution for black America,” which ran recently in the Berkshire Eagle as part of a bi-weekly series from the Berkshire County Republican Association, had us all doing a double take.

Here’s a sample: “Conservatives have recommended over and over that blacks reform their culture from top to bottom by respecting marriage and the family and the law, returning to their churches, embracing education and hard work, avoiding violence and debased rap music, speaking clearly, shunning drugs and profanity, and pulling up their pants. And to stop blaming all of their problems on everyone else.”

There’s so much wrong here and so little time, but the point is that you are a white man in no place to offer solutions for black America’s problems. And no one asked you, anyway. You, as an insider, are instructing the black community to embrace a system that has only proved hostile to them, and you do this while — wait for it — being hostile. Your column drips with hatred for black culture, from your description of “debased” rap music to your use of quotation marks every time you mention civil rights.

As if, Mr. Nikitas. Go back under that rock you crawled out of — we like you better that way.

halo-headAlfajores (Chilean Sweets)

Easthampton-based Chilean Sweets makes a modified version — based off a family recipe — of the classic Chilean pastry. Dulce de leche, which chef-owner Maria Moreno also sells by the jar, is made by boiling milk and sugar for “hours and hours” — it’s like a caramel, but richer and milkier. Achieving the perfect texture for the pastry filling, she says, took time. After trial and error, she arrived at the pudding-like dulce consistency, sandwiched it in the traditional honeyed shortbread cookie, and sealed the deal with chocolate. And the result is sheer heaven.

horn-headCandidate Sarno

Say what you want about Mayor Domenic Sarno and this precarious moment for Springfield — a city facing economic uncertainty and a casino construction timeline that is confused, to say the least. But at the moment, we just want to focus on Candidate Sarno — as in, the guy who ran a re-election campaign this year with the attitude of someone who had already won.

Sarno’s main opponent, Salvatore Circosta, espoused a few views we didn’t agree with, but damned if he didn’t do his best to get out the vote. Sarno, by contrast, didn’t respond once to Advocate requests for comment during this past election cycle. He declined to debate Circosta on local television (Circosta debated an empty chair instead, and won). And yes, Sarno cinched it in November by a landslide — but the voter participation rate in Springfield was an abysmal 16.5 percent.

Perhaps that’s Sarno’s shrewdest takeaway here: the powers that be will sit pretty, as long as the people don’t care.

halo-headGateway City Arts

Holyoke’s biggest, brightest co-working space and event venue for artists has grown by leaps and bounds since it opened on Race Street in 2012. The arts center offers lessons in tango, wood carving, digital filmmaking, architecture and interior design — and that’s just in January. The facility also includes meeting and workspaces, studios for fine art, ceramics, and dance, a woodshop, rental spaces, and rooms fine-tuned for live performance and concerts like the Gateway City Live! series. And did we mention the food? Cuisine by Tiny Kitchen, brunch, pop-up meals, and good eats by Holyoke Hummus Company. Cheers to GCA, the beating heart of the new downtown.

horn-headSmith College Admins

Smith College administrators supported students in their demand that journalists covering a November protest for improvements to the academic experience of students of color side with them to cover the event. The students were out of line trying to force journalists into writing biased reports, but for the college to agree with this tyrannical tactic was straight up foolish. Also, horns for the Republican reporter who didn’t assert her First Amendment rights at the protest and incorrectly wrote the Advocate was unable to gain access to the event as well. We got in there. We covered it without agreeing to a reporting bias. It wasn’t a problem because we know how to do our jobs even when it’s difficult.

halo-headGreen Pants

Somewhere in downtown Northampton, there is someone wearing bright green pants. Green pants are Main Street’s Where’s Waldo. Play along and try to spot someone sporting them next time you’re out shopping.

halo-headArise for Social Justice, Western Mass Jobs with JusticeSpringfield Climate Justice Coalition
Everyone should have a say in our democracy regardless of race, class, or creed. Every working person deserves a living wage, and every human on this planet should be able to breathe clean air. Though these points are widely held as true, they get muddled in politics, money, and bullshit — to wit the fact that Springfield’s poorest neighborhoods have little to no access to healthy foods, that many national corporations with local outlets still refuse to provide their workers a sustainable wage, and that the people of Springfield are forced to breathe air that is bad for their bodies. Arise, Jobs with Justice, and the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition deserve wings so that their volunteers can do their oft-thankless work a little more easily.
horn-headFried Martini Balls
With nearly a century under the Eastern States Exposition’s belt, the crew there have perfected more than their fair share of food items — fried dough, turkey legs, lobster rolls, baked potatoes, kettle corn and more. Still, fair organizers and merchants up the ante year to year by providing some crazy new food items for people to sink their teeth into. This year, it was the fried martini balls. Sure, they raked in the dough on that one — people showed up in force to sample the treat that defied science. But anyone who sampled the goods knows they were a deep-fried disappointment — straight booze within a fried coating. Imagine a shot of vodka in your mouth at the same time as a bite of doughnut. It’s not flattering to either half.

halo-headElizabeth Warren
The senior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts rides a groundswell of support in Western Mass. Count the Advocate among her more vocal proponents. Yes, she’s been one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World three times. Yes, the National Law Journal repeatedly names her one of the 50 most influential women attorneys in America. But as a tireless advocate for consumer protection, fair wages, oversight of big banks, workers rights, and middle-class needs, she has more pressing things to care about. We’re sorry you didn’t run for president this time, Warren. Maybe in 2020?

Some people lo-o-o-o-ove kale. Others, like comedian Jim Gaffigan, think it’s just “bitter spinach, with hair.” Maybe it’s not the total garbage that Gaffigan says it is, but even so, the whole kale-as-lifestyle movement gives us a rash. Those “Eat More Kale” shirts are kind of whimsical, but … why? Why eat more kale? Why? No reason. It’s trendy. Maybe it’s a superfood, but … what’s that? Who cares? And why do you have to massage kale before you put it in a salad? Massage? Really? Why? Also, kale grows even when there’s snow on the ground. It survives anything. It’s like the cockroach of vegetables. Just don’t.

halo-headTurners Falls Nightlife
Some dinky scenes get tagged “up and coming” for years on end, but just never hit that tipping point. But really, seriously, we’ve got a good feeling about Turners Falls.
Bangin’ burgers, bingo nights, and live music at the Rendezvous. Maple sweet potato fries and steak quesadillas at Hubie’s Tavern. Sunday brunch at Great Falls Harvest. Awesome brisket and craft beer at the Five Eyed Fox (liquor license coming soon). IPA magic at Brick & Feather Brewery. Shamelessly cheesy slices (and Trivial Pursuit) at the Pizza House.
And with WRSI radio host Monte Belmonte taking over the Shea Theater, with a fiscal assist from the Northampton Center for the Arts, we’re optimistic about the future of live music and performance on Avenue A. If you haven’t been to Turners in a while, check it out again. This time, bring a big appetite — and a posse ready to bar crawl.

horn-headFanny Pack
We’ve seen these awful things showing up on the hips of the hip over the last few seasons and they must be stopped.
The most hideous of the hideous fashion from the 80s, fanny packs are the mullets of the waistline, the Tootsie Roll in the candy bag. Wearing one is worse than clipping your smartphone to your belt or having a bluetooth device on your head all day.
Fanny packs are the devil’s uncle’s vacation wear. Just stop! Because we CAN’T with fanny packs.

halo-headStanley Rosenberg
Although, we’re hesitant to award a halo to a politician, State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg has earned it. Rosenberg has been representing Western Mass in the Senate since the ’90s and became president of the Senate January of 2015. During his time as a public servant, Rosenberg has focused on accessible quality public education, investment in the sciences and public transportation, and expanding alternative energy. It’s good to see as the Senate president he’s still pushing the Legislature toward addressing these issues.

halo-headHolyoke High School Students
In late March a group of Holyoke High School students held a well-organized walk-out during school to protest their lack of involvement in educational decisions in the lead-up to the district being taken over by the state. The group called themselves Los Rebeldes and they were remarkably clear in their demands. Despite this, the students were threatened by the superintendent and bashed in the Republican for embarrassing the community. They look like leaders to us.

At the CVS pharmacy chain, employees are asked if they will voluntarily give up their regular lunch breaks. Signing the waiver, handed out over the summer, means relinquishing rights to a meal break, which state law says must be 30 minutes for employees working more than six consecutive hours and requires employees be “relieved of all duties” and “be free to leave the workplace.” One employee at a local CVS said he felt “intimidated” to sign the waiver and “felt in danger of being fired” for declining to do so. This is an affront to employee dignity and there’s a warm, cozy place reserved for billion-dollar corporations that bully the little guys.

halo-headThe Mary Jane Jones
Mandy Pachios and her band, The Mary Jane Jones, can melt your brain into a velvet reverie. But that’s not all. Not only do they kill it onstage, they don’t shy away from weighing in on issues in the Valley and beyond. From organizing a festival just for the ladies to raising money for breast cancer, to kickin’ it at Beers for Bernie, Mandy’s not afraid to deploy MJJ’s talent for good. “The whole thing,” she says, “is if you can help someone you should. Not everybody’s got bootstraps.” Hell yeah, Mandy, you rock our world.

horn-headDonald Trump
Donald Trump is running for president. Let’s file this under the category of “How is this a thing?” But seriously. Why? He makes so many bigoted, xenophobic, and downright false statements it can be difficult to keep track. First, he said we need to build a wall to keep out Mexicans — “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” And more recently, Trump stated that families of ISIS members should be killed to prove that we’re “firm.” What is this, GoodFellas?
Of course, those are among his more absurd attention-grabbing statements. What really chills us, though, is the delusional info loop he’s trapped in, wherein enthusiastic shouts and tweets from his followers pass, in his mind, as fact-checks.
For bringing all the hateful racists and crazyfaces out of the woodwork — you know, the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who were long content to remain in their dark corner until now — this possum-rug-wearing megalomaniac gets the horns.

halo-headHerencia Latina
We’re midway through the Pioneer Valley’s 10-month celebration of Latino American heritage, but there’s still plenty of time to get up to speed on this admirable project, which brings history into play with film, the arts, and education. The Pioneer Valley History Network, in collaboration with local Latino organizations, libraries, museums, and colleges, presents screenings and exhibits in Holyoke and Springfield, centered mainly on a six-part WETA/PBS documentary film called “Latino Americans.” Part celebration, part history lesson and scholarly discussion, Herencia Latina runs through June 2016.
halo-headUMass Arts Extension Service
Even monolithic institutions like UMass Amherst need a few rogue players. The university’s spirited arts extension, or AES, strives to develop and encourage arts-minded community programming, and it offers professional education opportunities for artists, arts managers, and civic leaders 10 ways to Sunday. The AES team has been at it since 1973, and much of what they do is well-polished and has paid back in multiple generations of writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople. Still, they maintain a scrappy can-do attitude when programming their trainings, workshops, and Artist-in-Business programs. More power to them.

horn-headRed Tape Over Broadband
The deal seemed pretty sweet: a new regional broadband network serving sparsely populated towns throughout Western Mass, owned by the five-year-old grassroots collaborative WiredWest and paid for through town spending and state funding via the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), which oversees $40 million designated for just this purpose.
Then on Dec. 1, MBI declined to release state funding for the project, citing “significant issues to be discussed.” Reps from the two agencies met on Dec. 16 to discuss the matter, with another meeting tentatively planned for January. Among other points of contention, WiredWest leadership says that MBI based its critical review on an incorrect and outdated financial document from back in June, which WiredWest has since revised six times.
Look, nobody wants to give or spend this money willy-nilly. There are no villains here — only nitpicky number-crunchers. Still, we award a big ol’ pair of horns to ongoing miscommunication, frustrating bureaucracy, and red tape all around.

Northampton gets respect for putting its police department in the hands of an openly gay female chief, Jody Kasper — a rarity in the U.S., but didn’t register as unusual here. She got the job on the merits, and is off to a strong start.



horn-headDaniel McCarthy
Greenfield Police Sgt. McCarthy found himself in the spotlight on Nov. 28 when the Confederate flag hanging in his garage drew the disapproval of two neighboring parents whose 10-year-old adopted black son could see the flag from the street. At a forum in mid-December hosted by the town’s Human Rights Commission, McCarthy said that he did not intend to offend anyone, and that “the flag has no negative connotations to me.”
This statement by McCarthy is beside the point. Yes, it is the privilege of white people to live shielded from the violent historical connotations of that flag. But racism is perpetuated by ignorance just as powerfully as it is by hostile intent.
We can appreciate that this is a learning moment for McCarthy. He has been on the force since 1992, and he has served as the PD’s liaison to the Human Rights Commission for several years now. All the more reason for him to have acted more responsibly when given the choice of whether to display such a widely acknowledged symbol of racial oppression in America.

halo-headGood Cops
In the months since Michael Brown, we’ve heard a lot about the bad cops out there and the systemic racism that unfortunately permeates many of our institutions. But they’re not all bad. Blame our law enforcement system, but withhold judgment for each person wearing a badge — many come into police work for all the right reasons and make all the right judgments under often-trying conditions. They do well-being checks, help us navigate the streets when the power goes out, and save us from things that go bump in the night. These are the officers who deal with people, not “subjects” or “individuals” — they’re the warmer shade of blue. Thanks for all they do.

horn-headThe dance ruiners
There are precious few places in the Valley to dance and you, club killers of the Valley, are the reason. You bring your fights, your Tazers, and your extreme drunkenness to a place that’s supposed to be for fun. You’re the reason why bar owners are afraid to host DJ dance parties. You, my friend, are a buzzkill and you get the horns.


horn-headGarrett Bradley, Kinder Morgan
Horns for Kinder Morgan subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. and politicians like State Rep. Garrett Bradley, D-Hingham, for their efforts to push the pipeline into place without a transparent conversation about our energy needs and the environmental consequences. Particularly horn-worthy was when all eyes were on the northern Berkshire to Franklin counties stretch of pipeline this summer, Garrett quietly filed a bill allowing the company to put in another stretch of pipeline in state-protected forests in southern Berkshire County. The Eastern Mass. rep proposed the legislation after Western Massachusetts representatives refused to. You’ll remember this misstep, Kinder Morgan and friends, when you have Western Mass farmers and environmental stewards chaining themselves to things before letting you take their land.

halo-headPlanned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood deserves some love. The organization has been under attack just about since it was launched in the ’70s. Some of PP’s women’s health clinics do provide abortions — a legal medical procedure that stops a bunch of cells (it’s a fertilized egg until week eight when it becomes a fetus) from growing — but that’s far from the only thing they do. The medical centers also provide pap smears, STD and cancer screenings, prenatal care, and contraception. In fact, maybe the organization should be renamed Women’s Health and then there wouldn’t be so many conservatives railing against its work for women. Oh, wait. Never mind.

horn-headMelissa Click
On Nov. 9, protests flared up at the University of Missouri over incidents of campus racism. Student reporter Tim Tai, a stringer for ESPN, attempted to document the protests — only to be shoved and shouted at by Click, an assistant professor of mass media at the university’s school of communications. Click, who earned her Ph.D. at UMass Amherst in 2009, pushed Tai’s camera aside and asked “for some muscle” to have him removed from the quad.
After that footage went viral, Click apologized for her actions. She remains a professor in the school of communications, although she has resigned from a courtesy appointment to the school of journalism. Maybe she can enroll there instead, for a quick refresher on the role of the press in communicating what goes on in public spaces.

halo-headStreet Musicians
It’s all too easy to ignore — or, worse, look down on — those playful souls who bring us music and entertainment on the street. This year, Advocate staff took more time to slow our frantic pace, enjoy what they have to give, and offer up some appreciation (smiles are good; dollars are better). So, keep them in mind for 2016. You don’t have to fall in love with a new song or feel wowed by virtuoso playing. Just take that moment to breathe, watch, and listen. It’s a bit of calm in your day — and your small song of praise for our unsung sidewalk heroes.

horn-headAnheuser-Busch InBev
The conglomerate beer giant with the hard-to-pronounce name and even harder-to-drink beer (Bud, Bud Light, et. al.) is spooked by the craft brewing industry. Sales of mass-market swill have been slumping since 2005, while craft beer sales have risen more than 170 percent.
InBev’s solution? Attempt to push craft beer out of American supermarkets by offering rebates to distributors who decline to stock competing brews. In November, InBev launched its new incentive program, which could offer participating distributors an average annual reimbursement of about $200,000 if 98 percent of the beers they sell are made by InBev, according to The Wall Street Journal. Boo to this nonsense. Boycott the evil beer empire by drinking local instead.

halo-head413 Battle League
While Holyoke has one of the highest crime rates of the state’s small cities and Springfield ranks among the most dangerous metropolitan areas in the Northeast, on this battleground — 413 Battle League — words become violent and it stops there. For many of the artists, who refer to stints in jail and life on the streets, rap battles are a way to vent, to say things they can’t normally say. Instead of physically killing someone, these artists have the capacity to poetically slay their adversary “15 times in one verse.” With gun violence an increasing concern across the nation, we can all learn a thing or two from these word warriors.

horn-headCaitlyn Jenner
Horns — not a halo — for Caitlyn Jenner because she’s now the mean girl of the transgender community. Sure, her high-profile transition brought attention to trans rights and that’s certainly a good thing, but with that celebrity comes some level of responsibility. Jenner herself deserves the horns for the way she craps all over her opportunity to be an advocate for trans rights, by dismissing the need for appropriate pronouns, by being a homophobic “traditionalist,” and by expressing the need to “look good,” that if you look like “a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable.” The latest gaffe came during an interview for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” issue. It’s not about what people think, Caitlyn — it’s about trans people being able to express the gender they truly are, whether or not they have the privilege of thousands of dollars to spend on surgeries that make them “look good.”

horn-headGroup texts
Okay, maybe it’s not group texts fault in actuality, but instead group text culture that lands this digital exchange the horns. Keep group texting to a minimum, people! If you’re group texting contribute one or two texts tops — you can ask for my ETA at the holiday party in the same text as asking me to pick up some lemon, Mom, because I’m in a meeting. Because when you’re talking about that, Mom, Aunt Patty’s sounding off about her attempts to keep her pie crust from falling apart, while Aunt Lisa’s texting her new recipes, while Dad’s reminding us not to forget our holiday cheer, and then everyone’s sending LOLs in response. Gah, guess we gotta turn off the vibrate, too.

halo-headKoffee Kup Bakery
As of October, Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill that would make the Boston Cream Pie cupcake — a fixture at the Koffee Kup in Springfield — the official cupcake of the Commonwealth. If you need to ask why, you probably haven’t tried it. Go now. Bakery owner Dino Facente, who has been making all of his pastries and cakes from scratch for 22 years now, will give you a warm, sweet welcome.

horn-headFrancis Fox
Fox resigned from his position as Belchertown’s police chief on Sep. 25 after it came to light that he had been pulled over in Granby in February for driving on the wrong side of the road. Fox, who smelled strongly of alcohol that night, refused to exit his vehicle until threatened with arrest, according to the Granby police report. No charges were filed, and Fox never mentioned the incident to town selectmen or staff.
But these things have a way of coming to light. And thank goodness they do. In the wake of media coverage led by the Daily Hampshire Gazette, concerned citizens protested and the chief was shown the door. Fox may have put in nearly 30 years with the town, including 13 as chief of police, but sometimes bad behavior among the powerful just can’t be shrugged off.

halo-headStudent Newspapers
Students practicing the fine art of researching and reporting deserve extra bright halos in a time when a lot of people are getting their news from Buzzfeed and whatever George Takei is posting on Facebook. Neon halos for the people at student newspapers: the Holyoke Herald, the Jet Jotter, the Devil’s Advocate, South Hadley Student Press, The Willistonian, the Brattleboro Beacon, and more. You’re the future of journalism. Keep up the good work.

horn-headMassLive’s Baker Boner
MassLive, we’re sorry to be the ones to tell you this, but your Baker boner is showing.
The local news source has been running flattering articles about Gov. Baker right from his swearing in, printing stories giving the new Republican governor credit for accomplishments to which he’s only tangentially related. Take these MassLive headlines for example: “Gov. Charlie Baker announces expansion of MassWorks program outside of Worcester’s City Square project” and “Winter Storm Juno: Massachusetts Gov. Baker provides update on forecast and cleanup.” Most newspapers would report this story without linking the governor to the win: “MassWorks program to expand beyond Worcester City Square”; “Winter Storm Juno updated forecast and cleanup.”
What’s worse, MassLive, you let Baker frame situations rather than take a critical look at what the governor is up to. How the hell did you let him get this one over on you and then print it? From the article “Before President Obama’s visit, MBTA union lashes into Gov”: “Baker told reporters in July that his effort ‘wasn’t about privatizing’ the T, but ‘using the opportunity to contract services out to enterprises and entities that are already out there that would be happy to engage with the commonwealth where it can be done in the most effective way.’ ” That’s the textbook definition of privatization, and a reporter didn’t call him out on it? We were on the fence about giving you the horns, Masslive. We understand how hard it is to be a local news source these days and you do some quality reporting; the series about a Northampton heroin user was gritty and important. But when we saw this article in print last week — “Why is Gov. Baker so Popular?” — it’s all we could do to keep down our Cliff bars. Fangirling is unbecoming of a journalist, and it’s dangerous when applied to covering a politician who deserves genuine scrutiny.

horn-headJohnny Depp
On behalf of every woman who came of age in the ’90s: Johnny Depp, you’ve broken my heart. When we were young, you projected the strong sensuality of an anti-heartthrob. Tall, dark, and handsome with a face of a sad angel, Johnny, you were offbeat just like all of us awkward girls navigating budding adulthood. The sensitive rebel who could not be broken, that was your allure. You aged, as we all did. A little saggier here, a little more to love there. Your style became more eccentric as you hid your strong jaw and brooding eyes under a pile of scarves, asinine hats and feathers. And we still all loved you. You were in the Lone Ranger as Tonto and we still loved you. But when you ditched your life partner and three children to marry a 26-year-old, it’s like you traded in your fans for a younger model, too. The Hollywood fantasy is over. Fan love is fickle, baby. Look at what happened to Robin Thicke. Now that we’ve had this talk, let’s have a clean break. All your stuff is in the boxes to the left, please take any Pirates of the Caribbean sequels with you on your way out.

halo-headRyan Gosling
Hey girl. I’m sorry about my bad haircut in The Big Short. Don’t remember me for that. Think of my abs in Crazy Stupid Love. My motorcycle in The Place Beyond the Pines. My jacket in Drive. Everything about me in The Notebook. Tabloids and memes come and go, but crushin’ on me never gets old. It’s okay, I understand. After all these years, nobody else gets me like you do.



horn-headWhite Privilege
It’s pervasive. It’s problematic. It will never go away. But in multiracial, multicultural, multifaith America, our differences are our greatest blessing, and a lack of nuanced interest in those differences kills empathy and — worse— an informed sense of fairness.
When the privileged feel strange new pushback against time-worn assumptions, it is all too easy to mistake that pushback for persecution. But the discussion and education that arises from these topics are forces of good. Next time you wonder why we don’t have a White History Month, consider the possibility that we already have 11 of them. Or, instead of asking why all the black middle school students are sitting together at lunch, maybe ask: why are all the white kids sitting together?
Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Let’s hope so, because we have a long way to go.

halo-headEd Borucki
Ed Borucki, of Southampton, was a third class yeoman in the Engineering Office in the Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the day the base was attacked and the U.S. was catapulted into WWII. He helped survivors then and helped keep the infamous day in America’s consciousness ever since, attending ceremonies, writing articles, and holding vigil for the victims. Borucki passed away at age 94 in October, but his work to honor veterans lives on.
halo-headNorthampton Chamber of Commerce
To Northampton Chamber of Commerce volunteers who made the downtown Northampton holiday ball/lights. Some people are scoffing at them, but we think they’re a lively use of limited resources. Less can be more!



horn-headClinical Support Options
Eleanor Cresson, a mental health and substance abuse clinician — who went on strike over the summer from nonprofit Clinical Support Options with about 125 of her colleagues — has worked in the field of mental health for more than 20 years and has two master’s degrees. Despite her experience and qualifications, she said her job barely lands her $30,000 a year and doesn’t provide benefits. Even when she does take an unpaid vacation, she ends up working anyway in order to meet unwavering productivity quotas. Otherwise, she has to make up those hours in the weeks before and after her “time off.” Meanwhile, the CEO is making $220,000 a year.” That’s $189,337 in salary and $28,871 in benefits, according to CSO’s tax returns. If your executives are making such weighty salaries, CSO, surely there’s more wiggle room for your front-line employees.

halo-headThe Guardian’s The Counted
This British newspaper is keeping track of how many people are killed by police or died within police custody in the United States — because no one else in the U.S. is doing this important work.



horn-headNorthampton parking enforcement
Come on! Between the meters that — surprise! — don’t take dimes or nickels, the congested traffic, and the sparse spaces, every day is Christmas for Northampton parking enforcement. The city gives out more parking tickets in a year than Amherst or Springfield.
Over-zealous enforcement of parking regulations makes downtown Northampton a less hospitable place to be.
At least one of us at the Advocate has stopped getting her lunch in downtown Northampton — just two minutes from the office — in favor of dining in Easthampton where the parking is plentiful and the food is great.
I know you have to make money Northampton, but you’re hurting small businesses with your draconian application of the city’s parking laws.
Ease up!

Amherst town officials and bar owners, who found a way to shut down Santa Con before it became a yuletide Blarney Blowout.



horn-headWayne Lappiere
Executive vice president of the NRA Wayne Lappiere is a vile, paranoid human being set on promoting gun violence. In his speeches this snakeoil salesman advocates for the proliferation of guns following every mass killing in the U.S. He claims more guns equal more safety, but that’s complete bullshit. The only study that supports this claim was conducted in 1997 by John Lott and David Mustard. The two economists took a county level look at crime data from ’77-’97 and found counties with concealed carry had fewer violent crimes reported. The research methods and the results of this study have largely been discredited as bunk. Now, just about every year new studies appear claiming just the opposite. In 2014, a Stanford University report found that right-to-carry laws are associated with an 8 percent increase in the incidence of aggravated assault, but that some statistical methods show an increase of 33 percent in aggravated assaults involving a firearm after the passage of right-to-carry laws. This man’s continued call for more people to buy more guns is putting Americans in danger.

purgatoryHillary Clinton
Ah, Hillary Clinton. We’re not sure about you, yet. We know you can do the job — which is a hell of a lot more than we can say about most of the other 2016 presidential candidates — but we don’t really know who you are. You’re competent, but America’s growing tired of that standard. The people want someone who represents something, and you’re not really known for taking hard stands on, well, anything except abortion. We’d certainly choose you over Trump, but we’re not so sure we’d choose you over Bernie Sanders, who we tried to include in this issue of Halos and Horns, but even his likeness was too busy fixing America to participate.

purgatoryAaron Kater
The owner of Hinge nightclub in Northampton was pulled over for speeding in Connecticut on Nov. 18, then arrested when police say they discovered 35 pounds of pot in his car. Hinge has since closed, and we’re super bummed. Of course Kater should face consequences for his actions. But he also made a distinctive mark on one of the coolest venues in town over the past two years, which became safer, more interesting, and more community-minded under his tenure. Shame it had to end this way, with fond memories tempered by disappointment and frustration. Hopefully the owner of Noho’s next hot nightspot can capture some of that Hinge energy — without the personal missteps.

purgatoryGov. Charlie Baker
We like your plans to cut down on homelessness and your first budget was fair. But saying Syrian refugees aren’t welcome in Massachusetts and moves to weaken unions and privatize the MBTA are strikes against you.

Downtown Westfield
We desperately want to give you a halo. Things are beginning to see some life, with new restaurants and the public beautification project. Maybe next year.