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Photo of a homeless encampment in a snow-covered clearing in a forest
Above: Homeless Camp, photo by Cory Doctorow, via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0); background: snow covered landscape, Shutterstock.
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The Top Left Corner — 2021/02/17

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Welcome to this week’s show! If you’re here for the first time,The Left Hook is a locally focused weekly live internet radio show and podcast based in Williamstown, Mass. We do our best to wade through the spin and biases and bring back the important stuff that most of us really care about. Every Wednesday, we’re going to tell you what we think about local current events and the national stories that directly affect the people of Williamstown and Berkshire County.

We also interview amazing guests. It’s been a strange week. There was a performative impeachment trial in the Senate that’s been mesmerizing the CNN and MSNBC crowd and that came to its inevitable conclusion on Saturday. Meanwhile, Biden’s promises to the American people–no more kids in cages, immediate $2000 relief checks, etc.–seem to be receding, mirage-like, into the distance. Congress is currently on vacation, and Biden is at Camp David playing video games with his grandchildren.

Here in Williamstown, we’re still hunkered down under an increasingly shabby layer of snow, but the days are getting longer. Pretty soon we’ll be scraping mud off our shoes and chasing the dog around the house with a wet towel for mopping up footprints. For an antidote to the gloom, check out this week’s pet pics at the end of the show notes.

—Jay and Steve

P.S. We want to hear from you! Participate live during the show or anytime by using the chat box on our show page, sending an email to us at [email protected], or sending us your tweets: @heylefthook. P.P.S. Please send us your pet pics! We’ll post them on our show notes every week, and if you include a caption we’ll read it live on the air. Send your pics to[email protected].

LIGHT (OR NOT)

  • We’ve been obsessed this week withRadio Garden, a website (and app) that lets you search for and listen to radio stations all over the world. Want to know what the kids are listening to in Puerto Rico? TryMundo Rock FMout of San Juan. Wondering what’s happening on St. Helena, the South Atlantic island to which Napoleon was exiled and one of the remotest inhabited places on earth? Check outSaint FM 95.4.
  • Parts of our country that see snow maybe once a decade have beenexperiencing brutal winter weather. We know we’re not supposed to mess with Texas, but maybe our listeners can offer some advice to our friends from the Lone Star State abouthow to drive in snow.

LOCAL

  • Tammy Daniels at iBerkshires reported earlier this month thatthe TD Bank branch in downtown North Adams will close in April. Mayor Bernard is right to be concerned both about the employees of the North Adams branch as well as the citizens of North Adams who may not be able to travel easily to Pittsfield or Williamstown to full-service branches. When the private sector can’t be bothered to provide essential services, that’s where the government in a healthy country steps in. It may seem like a distant memory now, but Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both supported post office banking during the 2020 campaign. New YorkSenator Kirsten Gillibrand is also apparently a fan. Ifthe UK can do it, why can’t we?
  • In its “Weekender” edition from Saturday, February 6, the Berkshire Eagle published a piece onthe local restaurants that have been forced to close over the past year. We get the misty-eyed farewells here, but this type of reporting obscures the fact that our economy is not a force of nature but the result of political decisions made by human beings in Boston and Washington. From the start of the pandemic, Gov. Charlie Baker refused to take the steps necessary to stop the spread. He never seems to have seriously considered cash payments to devastated small businesses and instead dragged the Massachusetts economy through a cycle of confusing and counterproductive “phases” that forced our small businesses–especially restaurants–to scramble to comply with the seemingly ever-changing COVID safety protocols.

THE COMMONWEALTH

NATION

OUR GUEST THIS WEEK

  • Dr. Mark Pettus, Director of Population Health for Berkshire Medicine. We’ll be talking about the impact winter has on those without shelter in the Berkshires, and why everyone should be concerned about the health of the unhoused — if all the people in an area make up the body of a population, we should want everyone to enjoy dependable wellness.

WHO WE’RE READING AND LISTENING TO THIS WEEK

Chris Hedges oncancel culture and the ruling elites and their courtiers in the mainstream media who practice it.

Slender Notions

Leo is a hard living aspiring writer cut from the Kerouac cloth. He has a secret heroin addiction to cope with the inanity of his life in suburban Massachusetts. Leo bides his time with drug-addled trips to the Zen Monastery and pilfers the works of Henry Miller along with his idol, Jack Kerouac, from the local bookstore. At a poetry reading in Boston, Leo meets Cole, a divorced man on the brink of a mental breakdown and a streetwise homeless man named Zanzi.Together they devise a perfect plan to combat the struggles of their lives:The Laughter Challenge. The men decide to completely give into hysterical laughter. Echoing the words of Henry Miller, “To make the world laugh is one thing; to make it happy is quite another.” Leo and his new friends want to start a revolution from stoicism and austerity to pure joy and prove that laughter truly is the best medicine. While their viral video of mass laughter propels Cole to guru status and new found fame, Leo and Zanzi wonder if madness really is the path to happiness and why unbridled joy and silliness are stigmatized in a society riddled with anxiety and depression?

Nest of Vampires

From writer/director Chris Sanders,Nest of Vampiresfollows an MI5 agent who travels from London to rural England in search of the people who murdered his wife and kidnapped his only daughter. During his investigation, he uncovers a ruthless vampiric cult that is heavily embroiled in human trafficking and Satanic cult worship.

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