WCAP Comedy Show on Friday night

Friday night at the Old Court (29-31 Central Street, Lowell) good friend Dee Tension will be hosting the 2nd Annual WCAP Comedy Night Fund Raiser. The event’s Facebook page carries the following details:

980 WCAP Presents The 2nd Annual WCAP Comedy Holiday Party. A benefit for Toys For Tots and The Merrimack Valley Food Bank

Featuring performances by:

Dave Russo of NESN’s Dirty Water TV and Denis Leary’s Comics Come Home

Lowell’s own D-Tension of The Boston Comedy Festivals Funniest Person in Media and HBO’s live comedy from The Apollo

Jack Walsh veteren of Giggles who’s appeared with Jimmy Tingle, Lenny Clarke and Steve Sweeney

WCAP’s Chris Poublon

Hosted by Jack Baldwin of WCAP’s Mid Day Cafe


Live Comedy
50/50 raffles
Door Prizes

$10 with an unwrapped toy or a can of food
$15 without


7pm doors
8pm show

Mayor’s Christmas Party

The Mayor’s Reception Room in Lowell City Hall was packed with people earlier this evening for the annual Mayor’s Christmas Party. An excellent buffet was provided by UTEC Catering; music came from a Lowell High band combo; and entertainment was provided by The Magnificent Henri, a mesmerizing magician who moonlights by day on the City Manager’s staff as Henri Marchand. Santa made a visit, of course, and nearly a ton of food (shown below) was collected for the Merrimack Valley Food Kitchen. The raffle of two Patriots tickets – you got a raffle ticket for each pound of food you contributed – was won by City Councilor John Leahy who was unfortunately absent when his name was chosen (he gets the tickets anyway).

Besides Mayor Murphy and City Manager Lynch, City Councilors Marty Lorrey, Vesna Nuon, Bill Martin, Rodney Elliot, and Joe Mendonca were there was were School Committee members Dave Conway, Kristin Ross-Sitcawich, Kim Scott and Robert Gignac. State Senator Eileen Donoghue and State Representative Kevin Murphy were also in attendance. Everyone seemed relax and in a festive mood and, when the amount of food collected is considered, the event has to be judged a great success.

‘Big Sky Country’ (posted for Tony Sampas)

Seeing Tony’s stunning sunset image posted yesterday reminded me of this poem, which I wrote in the 1980s. I’ve always been fascinated by the sundown skies over the river channel looking west from Pawtucketville, particularly the vantage point from the O’Donnell Bridge that connects Mammoth Rd and School St. There’s something going on there between the water body and the heavens.—PM


Big Sky Country


A painter said Lowell has wonderful skies.

Crimson smear, fronds of jaune westerly. Pigment squeezed out and runny.

My viewpoint is mid-bridge in traffic—

the skinny winter no competition for minutes of imported pleasure.

A slow quake up high.

Fissured acres of cobalt, scarlet, purple.

In one sound the vehicles accelerate:



—Paul Marion (c) 2006, from “What Is the City?”

Tim Cahill gets mistrial

Last week I wrote about Tim Cahill’s decision to testify in his own defense in his on-going political corruption trial in Suffolk Superior Court. After days of deliberations, the jury found Cahill’s co-defendant Not Guilty and failed to reach a verdict on Cahill. As a result, the judge declared a mistrial. As Attorney General Martha Coakley contemplates retrying the case (a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury does not cause jeopardy to attach so it’s up to the discretion of the prosecutor to try the case again), Cahill claims publicly that the mistrial was a “complete vindication.”

Calling a deadlocked jury a “complete vindication” is a stretch since no one but the twelve people in the jury room knows how the votes were cast. Was it 11 to 1 to acquit, 11 to 1 to convict, or some mix in between? Lawyers go crazy trying to discern the answer to that question. My opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that Coakley should now drop the case. I don’t want to diminish the importance of prosecuting political corruption and there certainly was incriminating evidence against Cahill, but this is the first prosecution brought under the new 2009 state ethics law and so there are still many questions about what exactly was criminalized by the new statute. Furthermore, I assume Coakley’s prosecutors presented their best possible case so what other evidence would be presented now that wasn’t offered in the first case. Most of all, the fact that one jury could not reach a decision leaves me wondering what another jury would do. Certainly you could keep empaneling juries until you found one to either acquit or convict, but with a “gray area” case such as this, I think it best to take one shot and leave it at that.

Such a line of thinking is at the heart of the instruction Massachusetts judges give to jurors who report themselves deadlocked. The so-called Rodgriguez charge says in essence that there’s no reason to think that 12 other jurors could do a better job so go back, keep deliberating, think about the points made by those with an opposing viewpoint, but don’t surrender your principals.” Lawyers call this the “dynamite” charge because it’s intended to break the logjam in the jury room. For those who haven’t had the experience of being on a deadlocked jury, here’s what the judge instructs in such a case: Continue reading