Dork Is the New Cool: A Review of William “Upski” Wimsatt’s Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs

Like you, I was unbelievably excited to hear that Billy Wimsatt was coming out with a new book.

Like you, reading his other books were life-changing experiences. No More Prisons and Bomb the Suburbs helped define and encase my self-education and overall thinking throughout my twenties. Their topics, their tone, their vision, their possibility, their informality.

And like you, I balked when I heard the new book’s title: Please Don’t Bomb The Suburbs. The air out of my excited, inflated balloon. Please don’t bomb the suburbs? What the? Please. don’t. bomb. the. suburbs. Each word seemed to stand on its own, a monument of disappointment to my expectations. Please? Who says please in a book title?! And then continues to put a big Don’t in front of the title of his original book, which was an outright underground classic? It even looks that way on the book cover. His breakthrough graffiti-style Bomb The Suburbs stamped out with a huge PLEASE DON’T. Like he’s reforming himself. The middle-aging bureaucrat censoring the youth activist he once was. Who is this guy? This joker? This poser? What a dork. Sell-out! The usual affronts to my overly sensitive sensibility rattled themselves off in my brain. Sometimes, most of the time, it’s all too easy to be critical, judgmental, self-important, delusional.

I journeyed to my local bookstore armed with a very comfortable amount of skepticism and picked up Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs, ready to be disappointed, let down. Another cult hero turns mainstream. Another shining example of intentionality negated by reality’s circumstance.

But upon reading Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs, I couldn’t help but be impressed by its voice, its content, and its vision, just as much as I had hoped I would be (though I still disdain the book’s title). If Bomb the Suburbs and No More Prisons were books about youth activism, and fighting the power to achieve a revolutionary new society, then Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs is a book for middle-aging youth activists who are still passionate about fighting for a revolutionary new society, but recognize the importance of a visionary long-term, sustained movement in achieving change.

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Revolt at the Waldorf! Rich Activists Push for Higher Taxes on Themselves

A few weeks ago, outside Midtown Manhattan’s famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel, protesters gathered to rally against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to cut funding for public services, while also cutting taxes for the wealthy. Organized by New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts, the marchers represented several organizations joining together to “Demand That Millionaires Pay Their Fair Share.”

But amidst the chants of “Not another nickel, not another dime! Bailing out millionaires is a crime!” on March 31 were two protesters holding a very unusual rally sign: “Another trust fund baby for taxing the rich! Let’s pay our fair share!”

It certainly wasn’t the first time trust-funders have made their way up Park Avenue to the prestigious Waldorf Astoria. But it was probably the first time inheritors of wealth have publicly rallied in front of the esteemed hotel for an increase in taxes on themselves.

Who would do such a thing? Why would anyone actively advocate against their own self-interest? “Our current tax system perpetuates inequality,” states Elspeth Gilmore. “Wealthy people can really change that narrative.”

Gilmore is the co-director of Resource Generation, a national nonprofit organization that supports and challenges young, progressive people with wealth to leverage their privilege and resources for social change.

But within the nonprofit and social justice communities, being wealthy is not the easiest label to identify with. “You hold up the sign first,” Gilmore tried to persuade her co-conspirator Jessie Spector, Resource Generation’s National Organizer, as the two of them joined the rally at the Waldorf, wondering if they “were really about to publicly declare themselves Trust Fund Babies.”

Ultimately, they felt they had to. “As a block,” Gilmore states, “the issue of unfair taxes is a key place where wealthy people can really speak out.”

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Valley Advocate Cover Photo June 2013

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March 3, 2017 · 10:35 pm

Preview Massachusetts July 2013 Cover Photo

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Preview Massachusetts Jan 2012 Cover Photo

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March 3, 2017 · 10:26 pm

Preview Massachusetts Feb 2013 Cover Photo

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Preview Massachusetts June 2011 Cover Photo

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March 3, 2017 · 10:24 pm

Young Woman Escapes Bear Attack in Amherst

Carly Hall said she was fortunate to survive her recent bear attack with only a few scrapes.

“I feel so lucky,” she said. “It all could have been so much worse.”

Hall, 17, of Belchertown, and three of her friends were on Tracey Circle in South Amherst to walk her family friend’s dog Saturday night when they came upon a black bear.

“The dog started going crazy,” Hall said. “We didn’t know what was going on.”

Hall was walking the dog as a favor for Janet Lambert of Tracey Circle, who was in New York City visiting family for the night.

After walking the Lambert’s dog, Luna, all the way around the block, Hall and her friends saw a bear in the neighbor’s yard across the street. “It just stood there,” Hall said. “We weren’t sure what to do.”

When the bear started coming toward them, Hall said, she and her friends ran in opposite directions. The bear followed Hall, who was still holding the dog on a leash.

When the bear got close, she let the leash go, and the frightened dog ran off.

The bear jumped behind her, Hall said, and scraped her back twice. “But just barely,” she said.

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The Road to Recovery: A Leverett Family, One Year After Adopting Two Special Needs Bulgarian Orphans

Eyes barely open, 7-year-old Anelia “Nellie” Schildbach stood at the piano the other day, listening intently as her fingers explored the keyboard. She rocked her head back and forth as her hands moved fluidly across the flat white and protruding black keys: middle C, F sharp and B flat, E and A. Notes played together and alone. Chord combinations both minor and major. Her choices appeared random, and yet somehow blended together. Occasionally, she hummed along while her mother, Kimberly Schildbach, watched.

After a while, Kim put her arms around Anelia, who is blind, and gently led her to the toy kitchen a few feet away. But as soon as she let go, Anelia crawled across the floor, back to the piano, stood up at it once more, and continued to pound the keys.

“She would play all day if we let her,” Kim said, smiling. “She’s a piano-crazy girl.”

Anelia, who is also developmentally delayed, came to the six-member Schildbach family a year ago from an orphanage in Sophia, Bulgaria. Non verbal and withdrawn, she was unable to even walk up or down stairs when she joined Kim and Nathanael and their four biological children: Lucas, 19, Gaelan, 16, Jericho, 8, and Olive Ann, 3.

Today, she has become part of the family, and with her love of music and the attention of four siblings, she has begun to emerge from her shell.

Kim noted that her love for her biological children was much stronger than her feelings for her adopted daughter at first, but that has changed. “Now it’s more even,” she said. “It took about a year.”

Rocky start

But it hasn’t been easy, even for a couple who say they love parenting and have wanted to adopt for years.

Anelia arrived in the Schildbach home with another Bulgarian orphan, Marin, now 10.

When people heard of their plans to adopt two special needs children from Bulgaria, according to Kim, they said the couple was nuts.

“We are nuts,” Nate said. “That’s why we did it.”

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It’s Tick Time: Step Up the Body Checks

Spring has sprung, baseball season’s first pitch has been thrown, April’s rains have been falling, and the ticks are back. Even if you can’t see them. Just ask Michael Noonan of Florence.

On a Thursday, a couple of weeks ago, Noonan, 62, noticed a red spot the size of a half dollar on the inside of his elbow, with a small dot in the center. The dot was a deer tick. His wife removed it with a pair of tweezers.

“It looked like a little piece of wood,” Noonan said, “except it was moving.”

His arm had been hurting all week — since cleaning up leaves in his driveway on Sunday — but Noonan figured he had a spider bite and didn’t think much of it until his wife did some online research.

After a trip to the OnCall Urgent Care Center in Northampton, he was told he would be treated for Lyme disease. Noonan was put on the antibiotic doxycycline for 11 days. Later, when he told the OnCall staff that he had probably been bitten while out raking five days before finding the tick, they upped his prescription to 24 days.

Nasty carriers

Just a few minutes in the yard these spring days is all it takes to attract a deer tick which can carry pathogens that cause Lyme or other diseases. While antibiotics cure some who contract Lyme, others suffer from chronic illness for years. Their symptoms can include headaches, heightened allergies, nausea, night sweats, joint pain, distractability and more.

These disease-carrying critters have been on the rise in the Northeast for the past decade.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the United States have risen by over 10,000 in the past 12 years, from 17,029 to 27,203. The majority of these cases were reported in the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions of the country.

The latest CDC figures indicate that more than 300,000 people were infected with Lyme disease in 2014 alone, said Maria Malaguti, founder and executive director of the Northampton-based Lyme Disease Resource Center. “That figure is 10 times more than previously reported in 2013,” she said.

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