Catching up on the news

It’s Friday night and I have a few minutes to catch up on the news. Here are some things that caught my eye:

A year or so ago the New York Times launched a hyperlocal blog covering the Fort Green neighborhood in Brooklyn. I glance at it occasionally to see what the competition is up to. The above photo accompanied a story about a newly operational Cambodian food truck that was working the neighborhood. Food trucks heated up as a West Coast phenomenon a few years ago and the concept has migrated to New York. Despite our abundance of good restaurants and dining establishments in Greater Lowell, I would welcome some food trucks here. Long ago when I was at Providence College a regular late night stop was the “Silver Truck”, a silver-painted converted ice cream truck that sold “grinders” and greasy hamburgers. There’s something about getting your meal from the back of a truck that I always found strangely appealing.

The nostalgia I feel for food trucks and grinders is buttressed by tonight’s Celtics game. They’re playing the Charlotte Bobcats who are coached by Paul Silas who played on some amazing Celtics teams in the 1970s and who was one of the best rebounders to ever play in the NBA. One of his players is Gerald Henderson Jr, whose dad also played for the Celtics (1979-84) before spending eight more years with six other teams. Gerald never was a star in Boston, but he made some momentous plays for the team.

The Lowell Sun is reporting on its breaking news section that the coming city of Lowell budget might eliminate the $25,000 funding provided to the Convention and Visitors Bureau. This news will undoubtedly create a multi-media buzz on the radio, cable TV and the web.

In a front page story, today’s New York Times reports that GE reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion for 2010 (including $5.1 billion from within the US) but paid exactly $0 in corporate income taxes. In fact, GE apparently claimed tax credits of $3.2 billion. This is indeed good news because I can stop arguing with those who promote cutting corporate tax rates as the key to our economic recovery: what does it matter what the tax rate is when corporate America avoids paying taxes entirely.

According to the Globe, the US Attorney in Boston just indicted 14 individuals for improperly claiming that $8000 first time home buyer tax credit. One of the defendants is an IRS employee who reported the sale as happening in 2008 when it really happened in 2007 (before the credit was available). It’s a good thing the Justice Department didn’t expend any resources indicting the bankers who caused the financial collapse that cost the US taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, otherwise these miscreants who beat the IRS for 8 grand might have been missed.

Everyone saw the story about the two jetliners that had to land without the assistance of air traffic control when the one guy working in the control tower during the overnight shift apparently fell asleep. What fewer people realize is that the airport in question was Reagan National in Washington, DC. Apparently it’s standard procedure to have only one person on duty in the control towers of major airports from midnight till 5 am. While people in such positions aren’t supposed to sleep on duty, it’s foreseeable that they might, or that they might suffer a medical emergency or get sick – so having two on duty would seem more prudent. I’m glad I don’t fly very often.

Enjoy the weekend.

3 Responses to Catching up on the news

  1. Lynne says:

    We had a food truck/restaurant on the campus of UNH. What was that place called? Karl’s? Anyway it was a fave stop for many students with little cash to spend. There were some, er, not so appetizing “common parlance” terms you had to use to ask for the various offerings and condiments. As I recall, for instance, if you wanted mustard on your hamburger, you had to say “with snot” or something. There were far worse ones too

    I didn’t say it was a CLASSY food truck…

  2. Bob Forrant says:

    When I worked at the American Bosch in Springfield, these trucks pulled up at the gates every lunchtime and workers rushed to their favorite one for a quick lunch – we had 20 minutes. We referred to them as ‘roach coaches’; but the food was hot, well cooked and just right for the circumstances. The trucks also had a culture of their own, which led to the longest-running ones getting to park closest to the gates where workers spilled out at lunchtime. As I recall, you could buy newspapers from many trucks and place bets on baseball and football too.

    UMass Lowell could use some of this ‘food culture’ instead of the chain-gang siege now underway across North and South campuses.

  3. Maxine says:

    Tony comes to Western Ave. a few minutes after 12 every weekday (he comes in the morning at 8:30 but I’m never around that early for his breakfast offerings). It’s where we gather at lunch time, see folks who work elsewhere in the complex and put together fuel to get us through the rest of the day. The food is good, hot, plentiful and inexpensive. The burgers cook on the grill as he drives around, onions caramelize on the grill . . . and of course, there is pasta on Wednesday.

    I might not see Tony every day . . . but his truck helps bring the community together . . .