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‘Remembering Arthur Ramalho’ by D-Tension

Our friend in Lowell, D-Tension, the writer, performing artist, record producer, and all around-er, recently shared this appreciation of Arthur Ramalho, icon of the city’s boxing scene on his Facebook page. With his permission, we are cross-posting the piece here.  The image of the famed trainer is by Danielle Levitt, courtesy of a Hollywood Reporter article by Scott McKim in 2011.–PM

The great boxing trainer, mentor and Lowell legend Arthur Ramalho has passed. This is a true loss for the city and for the youth AND the elderly people of Lowell. Arthur dedicated his life to working with both. He was a giver.

Here’s a story I’ve never had the opportunity to tell. When the now movie-famous boxer Micky Ward was in mid career he was not the household name he is now. He was Lowell famous but the Arturo Gatti fights had not yet happened and no one could have imagined there would one day be a movie in the works.

At that time, my friend and fellow hip hop artist Fee thought it would be cool to make a song for Micky to play on his way to the ring. We recorded “One Hit To The Body” but we needed to figure out a way to get the song to Micky. We posted it on line and Lowell boxing mega fan Jerry Colton heard it and brought it to Arthur’s attention. Arthur had me bring the CD to him and he gave it to Micky and his brother Dicky Ecklund. Micky then used it on his ring walk in his biggest career win, the first Gatti fight.

Arthur didn’t know me from a hole in the wall but he did that for me and I will always be thankful.

But wait there’s more.

Years later Arthur contacted me and gave me contact information for Oscar winning Director David O. Russel. Dave was directing “The Fighter” and Arthur wanted to make sure he knew about the song. “You didn’t get this phone number from me, you understand?” Yes I understood.

Unfortunately the movie ends before the Gatti fight so my song didn’t end up in the movie but I did and I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Arthur Ramalho. Rest In Peace, sir.

Oh and here’s the song. https://youtu.be/0k5JmIp0NbQ

“September 11” by Stephen O’Connor

The author of two novels and a collection of short stories, Smokestack Lightning, Stephen O’Connor of Lowell is a past contributor to this blog whose writing in included in History As It Happens: Citizen Bloggers in Lowell, Mass. (2017), a collection of the best of the RichardHowe.com blog in its first ten years.

September 11

by Stephen O’Connor
 
Eighteen years ago today, I was teaching a class at Greater Lowell Tech as a few hundred miles south of us men guided hijacked planes full of innocent people toward targets full of innocent people. When the bell rang and I emerged from my class, Bob Dick, another teacher, was standing by my door, “Do you know what’s happening?”
“What do you mean?”
“The United States is under attack.”
His look told me that he was in earnest, and I knew that those were words he would never speak in jest. He explained quickly what had happened so far, jetliners full of fuel had slammed into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon; other hijacked planes were unaccounted for. Someone said there was a television on in the cafeteria. I had the next period off, so I ran to the cafeteria and saw black columns of smoke rising miles into the sky above the burning towers. The camera panned in to show people standing in the frames of the blown-out upper windows, driven to those dizzying perches by the scorching heat within. The camera pulled back while the stunned commentators tried to make sense of what was happening, and then, before our eyes, the South Tower crumbled into a pillar of cloud. A CNN reporter said, “There are no words.”
If you were alive in 2001, I don’t need to remind you of all of this. As Americans, as human beings, the scenes of destruction and grief are etched in our memories. Beyond that, there was the way that that day touched so many of us individually. I saw a young colleague in tears. Her brother worked in the Pentagon, and she had not heard from him. The husband of another had been scheduled to be on American Airlines Flight 11. The day before, his boss had decided to send someone else.
The following Sunday, I went to play with the over-40 soccer team from Pepperell, Mass., against Nashua, N.H. Before the game, both teams gathered in a circle at the center of the field for a moment of silence. The brother of one of the Nashua players had been on board one of the hijacked planes. My wife told me that a young man who worked at a gas station on the corner of Fletcher and Pawtucket had also been killed. He used to say hello to her as she walked to her classes at the university. On September 12th, as I entered Greater Lowell Tech, I saw school custodian and former Dracut selectman Doug Willet lowering the flag to half mast. There were tears in his eyes. He had been a personal friend of pilot John Ogonowski.
 
My sister in law, Maria Elena Ortiz, had a nephew named Danny Correa. He was born in Colombia, but came to this country as a child, and grew up in Union City, New Jersey. At the age of 25, he had realized the American dream. He was near completion of a degree in accounting earned while working as a manger in a Loews Theater in Secaucus. He applied for a job in the accounting department of an insurance firm, and was hired. His office was on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center. “It’s like working in the clouds,” he told his aunt, “I feel like I’m in heaven.”
His father dropped him at the PATH train station at 7:45 a.m. that Tuesday morning. Several hours later, his father and mother were wandering the streets of New York, checking the armory, Red Cross stations, hospitals, part of an army of helpless people searching for loved ones. But like so many of those whose destiny it was to be in the towers that day, Danny Correa was never seen again. His mother Marina fell gravely ill and spent some time in the hospital. The inexplicable tragedy of that day eventually tore her marriage asunder.
Danny Correa had formed a garage band called Lucid A. He played guitar, drums, keyboards, and horns. He was also the band’s songwriter and lyricist. In a song called “London Kills Me,” the young immigrant had written, “London kills me in the morn. New York saves me by the dawn.”  He had become a true New Yorker. Looking out from his office window on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center, he wrote to a friend, “I dance in the clouds, and soak in the haze.”
They say that the hijackers who murdered thousands that day believed they would go to heaven. I don’t think so, but as for Danny Correa, he was already there.

‘9/11 at Home’

Remembering those persons who perished on 9/11 today, especially those with local connections. This entry is cross-posted from my blog at paulmarion.com

Posting this on 9/11/2019 in memory of John Ogonowski of Dracut, Mass., where I grew up, and the other persons affiliated with the University of Massachusetts-Lowell who perished, as well as all who died on September 11, 2001, in New York City, Somerset County in Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., plus the first responders, military members, and civilians who lost their lives in the following years. So much grief, so much lost. Here’s a link for more about the 9/11 Memorial at the university, including the names of the seven women and men on the memorial, which was designed by university art students. Photos courtesy of UMass Lowell, from the 2011 re-dedication of the UMass Lowell 9/11 Memorial.–Paul Marion

9/11 at Home

On a rise on the southern bank just below the rocky grill of the riverbed, students at his college carved into stone his name and those of six others to remember John, who grew up to be a pilot and a farmer, who shared his land with Asian refugees who had resettled in the inner precincts of Lowell and who wanted to grow vegetables as they did in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, places from which John had flown home hurt soldiers in the closing years of the war in Southeast Asia,

John the preservationist, who protected open space in his town whose English name is Dracut, from the 1600s, called Agumtoocooke for ages by native people for its vast forest, John, who on September 11, 2001, lifted his passengers into a “severe clear” sky, nothing but blue on the route west, John, who guided American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston’s Logan Airport, where so many of us have flown away with faith in the promise of technology, management, and civilized behavior,

John, who carried his travelers into boundless air on a day when he had as usual driven in early from Marsh Hill in Dracut to captain his plane across country, that day like any other in the late summer, not officially fall even though schools were in session, that day like no other by the end of the morning, by the end of the paper rain and ash-cloud, by the end of the twisted steel and burnt ground, by the end of John’s life,

on that day from which we have not fully recovered the bounce that had always made people elsewhere admire our sure belief that Americans could figure out a problem and invent the next dazzle, a day that moved John’s neighbors and even strangers who had never heard of him to drive slowly up the winding hill road that leads to his farm, where they heaped flowers, hand-made signs, candles, and sympathy cards in front of the wide white gate leading to the farm, piled high the cut flowers, placed in silence,

and past the white gate up the driveway a giant crane held an American flag as big as the flag that covers the left field wall at Fenway Park on opening day, and past the crane and flag was the farmhouse of John’s family, his wife and daughters, who needed him to come back so he would sit next to them at the table in the house one more time.

“Trees of Bolton”: A New Poem by Chath pierSath

Chath lives and works on a small family farm in Bolton, Mass., where he contemplates writing as a form of escape, but he can’t just rid himself of human ties. He paints the American sky thinking of Cambodia’s tyranny and blood. He’s alone, but not lonely, and tries living to the fullest, however long it will take to acquire true freedom on the road, with nothing but the clothes on his back. Chath earned a master’s degree in community social psychology at UMass Lowell. He is the author of a poetry collection, After (2009); This Body Mystery (poems and paintings); and a children’s book, Sinat and the Instrument of the Heart. His writing appears in History As It Happens with selections from the first ten years of this blog. These books are available online. The big blog book is on sale at the national park gift shops in Lowell (Market Mills Visitor Center and Boott Mills Museum). 

TREES OF BOLTON

Trees of Bolton, this 2019,

Beneath clear, American sky, 

After rain, no rainbow in sight

But despair & regrets, yesterday without the clown

In festive mood of a Hollywood Scream on screen.

 

Clown on clown, the illiterate rule over earth and sky,

What the clown ought to do and be crazier than what can be believed

As doubts loom higher to reveal how father-sky is a liar.

In the tear ducts of certain Americans,

Insanity, greed, and selfish centering are a way of life,

Staging on a baboon who can set the forest on fire,

Bringing havoc and tyranny to the jungle of ignorance.

 

Fools are sycophants out for attention,

Money and presidential,

Makeshifts of democrats in disguise,

Republicans’ dire hunger for the return of a Savior,

Their clown-eyed devil smiling the saddest, scariest

Smile, making holes the children can easily fill with stones.

 

Self-boasting is very American,

The me culture of an X generation,

A technological illness on the prowl

Smearing human goodness the world needs

To fight against dark feign of insatiable power

A party can possess to bleed the republic,

Crack open the sky and earth

Into self-annihilation or self-flagellation

Like Christian monks castrating themselves for faith and purity,

In Christ, this fleshy body of paradise awaits holy men.

 

Dirtied and stained,

Sin removal is very difficult on natural laws and urges.

The blood of man salt and sterile in stagnation

Hate driven wild, mad men and delusional, 

Nature itself will spin his head,

Take out his eyes storm by storm,

Hurricane by hurricane,

Weathered pillows and flooded beds,

Houses in the wind,

Sky rises glass shattering,

Shrapnel from hail like bullets of mass shooters on a rampage,

Nature can’t or won’t be ignored.

What man does to tear up the sky and shape earth into the mold of his existence,

Nature can do better.

In his own tears, 

Man will drown.

Climate change is the collective nuclear bombs

All the nations possess

To mass destruct in one sweep,

Everything in its way, including the current president,

Out golfing so he can tweet how great he has made America again. 

—Chath pierSath, 9/2019

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