Friday, April 03, 2009

Chelsea Cops Illegally Cracking Down on Legal Photography?

Upon arriving home tonight, I was very disturbed to see that both Bostonist and Photography is not a Crime had published posts about a man in Boston's "inner ring urban suburb" of Chelsea being coerced by Chelsea PD to delete photographs he took in a public park. But not just any public park--O'Malley park, one of my favorite parks in all of urban Boston.

O'Malley park is great, and the entire city of Chelsea can be very photogenic. I've biked through many times, and was even stopped en route by Boston officers once, who were extremely professional, courteous, and well-trained. They were responding to a call about a "middle eastern male videotaping the powerplant"--when in fact my white ass had taken a photo of a passing tugboat. They were so professional that I didn't mind that they had followed me into Everett, outside their jurisdiction.

But back to Chelsea. O'Malley Park provides great views not only of the Tobin Bridge and much of Downtown Boston, but of the hardworking docks in adjacent Everett. Among the many activities that go on at the docks is the import of highly flammable liquified natural gas (LNG). Since the ships are large enough to see from space, and since the ships are threaded through downtown Boston and then dock in the bull's eye of a metro area with a population of 5 million, it seems to me that taking pictures of the ships--which I have often done--should be the least of anyone's worries. But, as always, anyone with a camera is cast as a would-be terrorist, who would prefer to conspicuously wander public streets with an SLR rather than just look up targets on Google StreetView or Windows Live Bird's Eye View. Makes no sense.

I'm making it my mission to get out on my bike more this spring, and I always have a camera with me. If I look suspicious to you, feel free to say hello and ask me some questions. But if you ask me to destroy my own legally acquired property, that's not going to happen.

Here are a bunch of images I've shot in Chelsea during my tenure in Massachusetts:

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Secret LNG terminal being constructed off of Boston?

There sure has been a lot of offshore construction activity northeast of Boston Harbor recently. Could it be that one of the two natural gas (LNG) terminals proposed for that area has been approved? Has construction started? The media is silent--well, most of it. In the past, when it came to covering LNG battles between fishermen, self-appointed human representatives of mammalian ocean-dwellers, other citizens, and giant energy companies, The Globe was always there.

Obviously something is being built off of Gloucester right now. So when I use Google News to search for "gloucester lng," why does the only relevant article come from the Norman, Oklahoma Transcript?

It contains Salem Daily News content. The Globe archives are suddenly silent. I also received word that the marine industry trade magazine MarineLink published a press release showing that a Boston company had won a 20-year contract to support LNG vessels at the secret Gloucester terminal--and had commissioned two multimillion dollar new tugs for the project.

We almost definitely need more than the four LNG terminals the country now has. And we're almost definitely getting a new one (three more LNG terminals are proposed for Massachusetts alone).

Shouldn't the media educate us about this relatively clean and safe form of energy and our own need for it? Shouldn't the media do more than cover epic battles against infrastructure? Or stop inciting fear about the extant LNG terminal in Everett?

To talk about infrastructure--the reality that supports our reality--gets you branded a weirdo or a terrorist. But I think that there are still people who are genuinely curious about how the mechanical side of our society functions.

I'm one of them. Please keep me in the loop.

Furthermore, if people are to make educated decisions about needed infrastructure being built "in their backyards," the media should help educate them (us) about our needs.

Silence implies that we are either too stupid to understand or that our opinions don't matter anyway.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Terror Envy and LNG Hysteria (but mostly just terror envy)

The week of the recent Mooninite disaster, a Joshua Glenn, writing on an "ideas blog" apparently hosted by the Boston Globe, made the audacious but mostly true claim that
Bostonians remain, in some sick, twisted way, jealous of New York because terrorists deemed a NY landmark world-famous enough to be targeted for attack. Anyone who followed local news coverage in the days after 9/11 knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Last week, in an unusual piece of schlock, the Phoenix ran as its cover story a piece of fiction about WHAT COULD HAPPEN if terrorists struck an LNG tanker in the harbor. Exhibiting severe symptoms of terror envy, author/douchebag Stephen Flynn suggested that terrorist "mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who just today claimed "responsibility" for 9/11 and the beheading of that WSJ guy) would
[like] the symbolism of striking so close to Logan airport, which had served as one of the stepping-off points of the 9/11 attacks.

Let's get something straight, particularly what Boston had to do with 9/11. Because dimwitted private security guards at Logan Airport let crazy Muslims with boxcutters on airplanes, 2,752 people in New York were killed. That's it. That's the significance of Boston to 9/11.

Since then, Lite Brites cause city-crippling bomb scares. I am detained and questioned for taking a picture of a tugboat, but Trusted Media Outlets like the Globe can regularly publish photos of real threats like this (also published today)...

As Boston tries to find its terror target significance, I have to wonder: is it envy or is it really just guilt? Perhaps a mix of both.

UPDATE: Now that I've sort of slept on this, I think the conclusion is too narrowly focused. I guess the average citizen has every right to be scared (combine "average" intelligence + "culture of fear" media...). And the scary things are: 1) Boston's hypocrisy (claiming to be a top terror target while allowing energy corporations to send 900-foot LNG tankers through downtown). 2. Standard-practice overreaction (again, check out Mooninitegate....what's to come?). 3. Fake, or mostly fake, empathy for New Yorkers. Well, maybe that just scares me.

UPDATE #2: PANG OF CONSCIENCE: I shouldn't have forgotten about the Bostonians on the planes that attacked New York. They were murdered, too. But it still seems to me that Boston is always seeking to have had a greater role or significance in 9/11. Is that something anyone but a first responder should want?

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