SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 21, 2013

Heard Around Town: Titters over Twitter at the Peabody council

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — Last Thursday, City Council President Tom Gould offered a salute to an online service for “twittering” a ceremony at St. John the Baptist School.

That brought some throat clearing from up-to-date Councilor Anne Manning-Martin, who advised, “That would be tweeting.”

“I would be saying twittering, too,” conceded colleague Arthur Athas.

Another sign of the times

City councilors failed to ask the key question while approving the installation of electronic signs at Sunoco stations on Route 1 and 1 Lynn St.

“Utilizing an electronic board,” the application said, “protects the safety of employees by allowing them to change the prices via computer versus physically removing price cards.”

In other words, the ever-changing prices can be posted at the touch of a button.

Yet, councilors wanted to be sure the sign was no bigger than the old sign and that it would be “static” — meaning no dancing numbers, flashing numbers or even an occasional finger gesturing that you turn in here.

Heather Dudko of Sign Permit Consultants assured the council that it wouldn’t.

Councilor Jim Liacos noted warily, “Lately with these signs, we’ve been getting ourselves into trouble.”

Dudko was later asked the vital question by a reporter — how high do the numbers go?

“They go to $9.99,” she replied. “They better never go over $9.99 a gallon.”

Indeed.

More signs

It’s their own fault, says former mayoral candidate Russ Donovan regarding the massive sign recently erected on Lowell Street. Donovan recalls that the City Council in the spring 2009 designated that property as zoned for business in order to allow a CVS there.

The CVS, represented by lawyer Jack Keilty, was never built. But then, Donovan believes, the rezoning greased the way for Keilty’s new client, Total Outdoor Corp., to put the sign in.

Liacos is dismissive of Donovan’s interpretation, blaming the situation instead on Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead, who overruled the council’s rejection of Total Outdoor’s petition for a special permit. “That’s why it was put there.” He added scornfully, “The judge in his wisdom decided it didn’t look offensive.”

Liacos quotes Keilty telling the council last summer, “You won’t even see (the sign) riding down Lowell Street.”

Whitehead has now ruled in favor of the city’s “cease-and-desist” order and set the stage for a retrial. The judge may well be sharing the suspicions of city officials that Total Outdoor didn’t “mistakenly” put the sign adjacent to the street rather than behind the building, as they indicated to the judge they would.

“We all hit the roof when they tried to tell us that was a mistake,” Liacos says.

Modern art

It may sound a contradiction in terms — but Zentangle is a new form of art described as fitting patterns together, so many patterns you get a tangle of beautiful lines. While the Zen indicates peace, most of the tangles you’ve known just led to frustration.

That’s not the way with Zentangle, says the Peabody Institute Library’s Kelley Rae Unger. “It’s very relaxing,” she says of this art form. “That’s where the Zen comes from.”

Others have described the often-intricate patterns involved as doodles — though skeptics might note it isn’t called Zendoodling.

In April, by popular demand, the library will begin hosting the bimonthly Zentangle Group. Anyone can participate free of charge on the second and fourth Thursday of the month at 10 a.m.

“Participants will be happy to share their knowledge with those new to the Zentangle technique,” according to Unger.

Bring your own white card stock, a black (fine-point) micron pen and a pencil.

A previous Zentangle workshop attracted up to 20 people longing for the Zen and the tangle.

Feeling the Heat

Notwithstanding the Boston Celtics’ recent near-upset of the Miami Heat, Peabody’s favorite hoopster and Mayor Ted Bettencourt is predicting an eventful trip to the playoffs for the hometown team. He cautions, however, that he doesn’t expect the C’s to get past Lebron James and his South Florida cohorts.