Monday, November 26, 2012

A Ray of Hope

 Sunset Avenue:  A Street On The Brink

Six years ago in testimony before our Zoning Board on a hearing to allow a house to become a fraternity, neighbors described Phillips Street, the street contiguous with our number one employer UMass, as being at a "tipping point", with almost half the homes on the street owned by absentee landlords renting mostly to students.

Today eight-out-of-nine houses are non owner occupied, and Phillips Street is the slum capital of Amherst.

So I hate it when residents of nearby Lincoln Avenue and Sunset Avenue describe their bucolic residential neighborhood as being at a "tipping point," which indeed they are.  And I fear that they too will go the way of Phillips Street.

While enforcement of nuisance house bylaws is only one component of the "safe and healthy neighborhood" initiative, it is a vital one.  And I firmly believe it is making a difference.

But everyone needs to do their part.  As with the war on terror: if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Dear Resident of Sunset Avenue,

I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May 2012. While a student at UMass I lived at 164 Sunset Avenue during the fall of 2011. 

I am writing to you to apologize for my role in the public disruptions that came from my house last fall, and the ensuing problems they may have caused you and your family.

To give you some background, I moved into 164 Sunset Avenue because it was the most affordable off-campus living option I could find at the time ($350/month). As someone who financed their own education, I did not have many economically feasible options for off-campus housing. 

Moreover, as someone who did not own a car, the house’s location and its proximity to campus was appealing to me. Unfortunately, I only knew one resident in the house before I moved in, and I soon learned that it was a “party house.”

My decision to move into this house still pains me to this day. Most notably, because of the night I was arrested. On this night, I was in my bedroom in the basement watching a movie with a friend. Upstairs, my roommates had company (as they usually did) and were playing loud music.

While in my bedroom I heard a knock at the backdoor. This person turned out to be a police officer. He asked me if I lived in the house, to which I responded yes. He then requested that I step outside to speak to him. I obliged, not entirely sure of what was going on. Immediately, he arrested me for a noise violation.

After my arrest, I was so worried that I could again get in trouble for something my roommates did that I slept on a friend’s futon for the remainder of the semester, in order to avoid any possible future problems. When the fall semester I ended, I immediately found someone to sublet my room to, and I finished my senior year in a dorm on campus. 

I am writing to you over a year after the incident occurred because time passed has provided time for reflection. Despite not playing an active role in the partying that came from my house, I did not play an active role in stopping it. Perhaps if I did, I would not have been arrested, and you would have had a quieter street.

Moreover, as a resident of 164 Sunset I was equally responsible for what took place inside my house, and because of this I owe you and your family an apology.
I hope you accept this letter of apology on behalf of my roommates and I, and I wish you the best as Amherst Police continue their crackdown on rowdiness. As someone who lived on Sunset Avenue I know how difficult it can be.

Hopefully, my letter of apology offers some kind of solace or at the very least an empathetic perspective from a former UMass student.


Former Resident of 164 Sunset Avenue

164 Sunset Avenue, in the shadow of UMass


Dr. Ed said...

Are you folks proud of yourselves?

I have no doubt the kid is telling the truth, I have seen too many like him in similar situations -- and he is being forced to prostitute himself so that he can go to grad school -- UMass is forcing him to write this letter, I have no doubt of it, and I hope you folks are really proud of yourselves.

He's learned a lesson here -- that being innocent is irrelevant and he likely will carry that forward the rest of his life. When he gets into a position of having power over others, and he likely will, he will treat others the way he was treated.

Racist, sexist, heterosexist, sexual harassment of vulnerable women and all the rest -- he's learned that might makes right and he will get away with whatever he can. He's learned a lesson, just not the one you think he has learned....

All of you who want to live in a "socially just world" need to think about the consequences of this. And should Amherst ever find itself in the uncomfortable situation that Columbia Gas currently is in, thousands of people like him will come out of the woodwork, nationally, and then things will truly start to get interesting....

Larry, that boy could well be one of your daughters a few years from now...

Stormin Norman said...

So was this student's record ever expunged for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was this another one of the town's "damn students" false busts that will never be rectified?

When I was a student the problem wasn't so much noise and parties, we understood the town going after the idiots going overboard, but rather for the times the police stopped us normal students. I had this happen when I lived at Puffton. On one of the weekends they preemptively shut the bus stop down to stop the fiasco on Hobart from occurring I walked from the closest stop with just a poster board. Still, I was stopped and questioned as to where I was going (my home) and why (to sleep). My only surprise?

The officers didn't apologize or goosestep away.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed and Stormin Norman, if you guys are done with school here why don't you just shut the fuck up, get out of our town, don't look back and get a life. Nobody from here gives shit about your opinion anyway.

Anonymous said...


When some of you wind up dead --- understand that not everyone has the self-discipline I do and some other kid will just snap and start killing -- when some of you wind up dead, I will have a clean conscience and not be bothered because I did everything I could to prevent it from happening.

People often wondered how I could nonchalantly walk away from a situation where people died, how I could even help lug the bodies away and then just go have a beer and neither be upset nor want to talk about it.

I knew -- absolutely know that I had done everything humanly possible to save the person(s). I had shaved every safety margin far more than I ever ought to have, I had done absolutely everything to prevent the death(s) that I could, and hence the death(s) didn't bother me.

So too here -- when (not if) people die in Amherst, I will know that I have done everything I could have to prevent it, and hence the carnage won't bother me. It won't bother me because I will know that I had done everything possible to prevent it, and I will just nonchalantly go have a beer.

That's why I comment now --- so that I can honestly say I tried to prevent the carnage....

Dr,, Ed said...

The officers didn't apologize or goosestep away.

When I was an undergrad, in a different place and time; when an officer was in trouble, I stood behind him. We all did -- often literally.

We all thought it rather humorous one evening when the obnoxious drunk was mouthing off at the town cop, but when it looked like it was going to go beyond that, we all quietly got up, walked out of the McDonalds, and quietly stood behind the officer.

That's the way it used to be.

Now, heaven help me, if I saw an APD or UMPD officer in trouble, I wouldn't see it.

Stormin Norman said...

You certainly care, at least enough to take your time to post such a well-worded and thought out message.

Now I do know Larry, what a CAN is really like, and I totally understand your frustration at times when their arguments consist of frustration and curses.

Dr. Ed said...

I much prefer calling them:

"Cowardly Useless Nameless Twits who Heedlessly Echo Any Defamatory Stuff."

Anonymous said...

Ed, Do you really think anyone cares what you think. You're an idiot and why Larry continues to publish your insane, homophobic drivel is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

D E & S N,What are you two your own cheering section?

Dr. Ed said...

OK, I am going to respond to this -- how the hell is ANY of the stuff I have written "homophobic"?

I don't expect an intelligent answer, I am just pointing out the extent to which "homophobia" increasingly is used as an all-purpose (and hence meaningless) attack upon anyone to the right of Vladimir Lenin.

In doing this, you folk (i.e. the schmucks who (a) do it and/or (b) don't condemn others doing it) are creating the "boy who cried wolf" culture so that when there is true homophobia, no one will listen. Or care.

Anonymous said...

Larry, the initials of what ed wants to call people spell the word c*nt. I hope you will remove his comments that include his name calling. Is this what you want on your blog? This kind of denigration of your readers? This goes beyond the pale.

Larry Kelley said...

I think Ed is just subtly reminding us that Amherst Region High School was the only entity in the country to allow teen aged girls to use the word publicly (2004).

W-A-Y beyond the pale.

Anonymous said...

Larry, Ed clearly is just name calling. He's not that deep. I really enjoy your blog and how well you inform us all in town, but I've had enough of the wacko Ed Cutting posts. You are loosing credibility.

Larry Kelley said...

I publish pretty much ALL comments received, but that does not mean I endorse them (even if I do not respond to them).

Thus far I have published 24,516 comments, 99% anonymously, and only failed to publish maybe fifty, or .002% (and more than half of those are from one particular whacko).

Dr. Ed said...

You folks have got the wrong word.

Just thought I would mention that.

And, BTW, the word I actually was spelling out -- which really comes from Old English and folks may possibly not have heard it before (although I think Larry did hear me use it a few times after the Vagina Monologue school board meeting and/or 9-10-01 Selectboard meeting).

Dictionary says "a despicable person" although where I am from it actually is quite a bit stronger than that. And I think the actual words are appropriate too - folks who lack the courage to say something to my face, let alone publicly identify themselves resort to what they think are anonymous attacks on my character.

Not point out the flaws in my logic, not even resort to the sophomoric mantra of "I am right and you are wrong" but instead attack me personally. In debate, that is called the "against the man" argument and considered a fallacy.


Anonymous said...

Flaws in your logic Ed? Everything you write is filled with flaws and none of it is logical.

Anonymous said...

Ed, you attack your own character enough without help from others. And anytime your factual errors are pointed out you either ignore it or resort to juvenile responses. You have really ruined any chance of a meaningful job if any potential employer does a search for Ed Cutting.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed,

Where I come from (good old Amherst, born & bred), the word(s) you so craftily capitalized, is/are extremely degrading to women and offensive to most people. I assume you knew that, but decided to "put it out there" and use your "extreme intelligence" to defend your posting of such a crude comment.

Anonymous said...

Ed seriously dude, what is wrong with you? Don't you have any self respect at all. I have never heard anybody who talks such stupidity in the name of intelligence. Why so bitter? The world don't owe you anything. You know you sound like the type of person I'll hear about someday that took the pipe or jumped off a bridge. Ed, do one thing when the time comes and I'm sure it will, don't take anyone with you.

Dr. Ed said...

Where I come from (good old Amherst, born & bred), the word(s) you so craftily capitalized, is/are extremely degrading to women

Yes, if you call a woman a "dumb XXXX, that is offensive to women. But in the term I used, XXXXhead, the offensive word is modifying "head" and this is something that is said to *men*, not women.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

all of you are missing the lesson in this letter: this student finished the senior year in a DORM living ON CAMPUS.

Larry Kelley said...

Very good point.