BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — It is not our place to try to solve world problems, but two items crossed our desk this week that make that prospect tempting.
This month, Salem State University is hosting the regional conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance — or NASA, as they like to call themselves.
They plan to hold saxophone seminars, workshops, conferences, gigs and communal horn blowings, if that’s the right term. The college even plans a “Saxophone Day” on Saturday, March 16.
As luck would have it, the Salem Licensing Board met Monday night to deliberate the fate of a saxophone player. He’s a nice guy, by all accounts, who charms young children when he plays on the Essex Street pedestrian mall. But, for some reason known only to God and Kenny G, he annoys the sheet music out of a large number of adults — an orchestra’s worth, if anyone’s counting.
A police detective filed an official report on the sax offender listing all the complaints, including one from a city official.
The three-member board, or trio if you will, headed by retired police Chief Robert St. Pierre, decided to take no action against the saxophone player, whom they kind of like. City Councilor William Legault even spoke on behalf of the misunderstood musician.
The board suggested that the man keep moving along and not spend too much time in any one spot, kind of like a roving troubadour in olden days.
We would humbly suggest another solution. How about steering him toward Salem State, where he might get a few tips from the 1 million saxophone players descending on the campus this month.
It could be music to everyone’s ears.
The Italian connection
Along with pasta, Caffe Graziani is serving a side order of papal conclave.
Restaurant owners Giovanni and Paula Graziani — the “Flying Grazianis” — leave this month with 16 customers on their annual trip to Italy.
And what an itinerary.
“High on our agenda is choosing a new pope,” Paula wrote. “Once that is out of the way, we plan to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and the Galleria Borghese in Rome.”
Why don’t they make it a really memorable trip and help the Italians form a new government?
Rep. John Keenan is holding his annual St. Paddy’s Day breakfast on Friday, March 15, at Finz restaurant.
He’s already got commitments from the man who is governor, Deval Patrick, and the man who wants to be governor, state Treasurer Steven Grossman. He thinks Sen. Elizabeth Warren may be coming, along with the two guys battling it out for the state’s open Senate seat, Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch.
With a guest list like that, Keenan may have to break with tradition and tell a funny joke. Please, if you can help, send him a good one-liner.
Jenna Ferrier doesn’t know exactly when she lost her wallet, but figures it was early Sunday morning when she stopped at her mother’s house on Barr Street.
It wasn’t until later Sunday that the 24-year-old realized she was missing her wallet along with $230 in cash, four credit cards, two debit cards, her license and passport.
She was panicked. She looked everywhere, but came up blank.
The next day, her mom called to say she discovered the wallet in the strangest place — the mailbox. And everything was inside, including the cash.
Jenna, a college student who is busy planning an August wedding, was overjoyed. She figures someone must have seen her old address on the license and dropped the wallet off at her mother’s house. But the good Samaritan didn’t speak to anyone or leave a name.
“I’m so thankful,” Jenna said, “and I have no idea who to thank.”
Circle this date on your calendar: Sunday, March 24.
They’re holding a big party for former Mayor Jean Levesque from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Moose Family Center. It’s a deserving tribute for a well-liked guy.
Ahab of Academia
Who said education is an easy career?
Have you seen schools Superintendent Stephen Russell recently? He’s hobbling around on one leg like Grandpa McCoy from the “Real McCoys.”
Russell is wearing a large cast after undergoing surgery to fuse his right ankle.
His ankle bothered him for years due to old injuries from his football days as a defensive tackle. Yes, he once played for the Green Bay Packers — no, that’s wrong. Let’s see now. Oh yeah, he played high school football in New Hampshire and a year at UNH.
So if you see him around town, alternately smiling and grimacing, be kind. He’s either in pain or heavily medicated.
If you took your kids to the Lunar New Year celebration at the Peabody Essex Museum, you might have noticed a 15-foot snake.
That was the work of Salem High art teacher Janis Lavine. She made it out of chicken wire and duct tape for the “Year of the Snake” festivities. Children decorated it with colorful satin ribbons as a Chinese New Year activity.
Lavine, who was commissioned by the PEM, made the snake at home and transported it herself to the museum. It was so long, it didn’t fit into her Subaru, so she had to rent a U-Haul.
Broom in mouth
Secretary of State John Kerry had been on the job only a few days when he made a gaffe this week at a town meeting in Germany.
While waxing on about his homeland, Kerry said: “It turned out that in Massachusetts, they weren’t as tolerant as they thought they were going to be. They had witch hunts in Salem, Mass., and they burned people at the stake.”
That, of course, is wrong. We didn’t burn witches, we hanged them or crushed them to death with heavy stones. Not that any of those horrible fates is any better, but at least the Yale graduate could have been historically accurate.
Earlier in the same event, while talking of intolerance, Kerry said: “In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be.”
That time, he got it right.
We got a letter this week from George Berry, our Salem Willows correspondent.
He clipped out the picture from the last Heard Around Town of the “historic” men’s bathroom at Salem Willows the city is trying to lease.
On the clipping, he scrawled: “Perfect for a French bistro: ‘La Trine.’”
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.