Monday, October 26, 2009

Capitalism is Dead!

Earlier this week, International Paper (IP) announced that it would close its Millersburg, OR Kraft paper plant in December. 240 people will be laid-off, bringing the total of folks who have lost their jobs at this facility in 2009 to 270.

A few days earlier, we viewed Michael Moore’s new documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story” at the local Regal Cinema theater. There were about ten people in attendance.

A couple of weeks ago, we viewed another documentary, “Flow,” about how water companies such as Nestle and Vivendi are vying to control water distribution throughout the world.

Last weekend, we viewed an HBO documentary called “Schmata: Rags to Riches to Rags,” about the collapse of New York’s garment district.

Of course, we all know about Wall Street getting bailed out and we, the people, getting the shaft.

Indeed, it’s the end of capitalism as we know it, and I do NOT feel fine!

Michael Jackson Ruined My Life!!!!!

I was supposed to be on the cover of People Magazine on February 5, 1996. Let me explain.

In June 1995 I started working for a Westfield, MA environmental engineering firm (Tighe and Bond) as a hydrogeologist and environmental scientist. On December 11, 1995 I was watching some unremembered television program on Boston’s channel 7 when the program was interrupted with live video from a fire at a factory (Malden Mills) in Methuen, MA. It was a very spectacular fire; “Story at 11” stated the excited reporter. The following Monday morning I arrived at work and was summoned to my boss’s office.

“Did you hear about that fire in Methuen?” asked Evan. I replied that I had. “Well,” he continued, “the job of monitoring the cleanup is ours. What are you doing for the next few months?”

The fire had destroyed several buildings of the Malden Mills textile complex, the damaged area covering approximately five acres. It was feared that hazardous materials had been released in the fire, and the buildings were known to contain various chemicals as well as sources of radiation. Over the course of the next nine months, until August 1996, I managed the environmental assessment and remediation of the site.

A major story associated with the fire and its aftermath was the above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty response by the owner of Malden Mills (Aaron Feuerstein). He kept employees on the payroll and continued their health coverage as long as he could, winning accolades far and wide. President Bill Clinton invited Mr. Feuerstein to the 1996 State of The Union Address and acknowledged him as a model of corporate responsibility. Such was the fervor over Mr. Feuerstein’s actions that he was scheduled for a cover story in People Magazine.

A photographer arrived onsite in Methuen on a cold January morning. The Malden Mills environmental technician that was working with me (Fernando Cruz is his name) helped to apprise the photographer of the likely hazards on the property. The photographer already had shot lots of film in the corporate offices and needed some shots of the fire-ravaged area. Mr. Feuerstein wanted a photograph of himself with the iconic Malden Mills clock tower rising behind him amid the rubble.

The photographer felt that the pose was “too sterile” and suggested that Fernando and I get into the background. Dressed in our yellow Tyvek© coveralls, we hurried out into the rubble and got ourselves in the background of the photograph. Several days later, we were informed that the shot with Fernando and I in it was scheduled to be on the cover of the February 5, 1996 People!

Imagine our chagrin when Lisa Marie Presley walked out on Michael Jackson just in time to bump us off the cover of the February 5, 1996 edition of People Magazine!!! The full-page photograph, however, did make it into that issue, buried deep into the back of that worthless rag. You can look it up! (I still have copies!)