POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

All Politics is Local!
--Tip O'Neill (U.S. Representative from Massachusetts)

by David Trumbull

August 26, 2005

Lately my thoughts have been very local, but not so political. What with the abolition of lower elected offices --such as elected school committee-- that used to give a new-comer a chance at breaking into the political game; campaign finance "reform" that makes it harder and harder for anyone who is not a millionaire (or with an existing donor base) to raise the money needed to run; and print and electric media that ignore any election to office lower than President of the United States or winner of American Idol, it is it rare to see contested elections anymore. This year is no exception.

With politics removed from the list of what's happening in Boston, I have turned to humor. Labor Day Weekend our local chapter of the Robert Benchley Society will host the biggest-ever bash in honor of that Massachusetts native and 20th century American humorist. Dozens of persons are coming in from several States and from Canada to join for a literary walking tour of Boston and other fun events. The highlight will be our Saturday evening Awards Dinner at Cafe Pompei on Hanover Street in Boston's North End.

In the 1920s and 30s, the heyday of Robert ("let's get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini') Benchley, Dorothy ("men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses") Parker, and their friends at New York's Algonquin Hotel, politics was most definitely "happening" in Boston. Seventy-eight years ago this month writer Dorothy Parker got herself arrested in front of the Boston State House protesting the trial, conviction and pending execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Humorist Benchley submitted important testimony regarding alleged bias on the part of the judge in that case.

The whole weekend's festivities are open to the public. You can see the program on our website My Benchley Society friends are among the most fun and witty of people. Politically they run the gamut, as did the original "Round Tablers". Join us! You'll meet some new friends and get out of the house and away from the brain-eating effects of television. And that --getting out, meeting people, getting in conversation-- is the first step toward recovering our public life from the low state it is in now.

David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee; he may be contacted at (617) 742-6881 or Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.