One of the things that made a local butcher shop special was not just the fresh meat cut the way you wanted it by people who knew what you wanted almost before you ordered it, but was the all the people in line with you and behind the counter.
Fridays were always busy, people had been paid or were buying for the weekend, lots was going on and when you stopped down you were bound to see people you knew.
Now on weekdays, particularly in the morning this was always true. There were folks who would stop down daily for whatever they were cooking or just to visit. It was much like a barber shop. Mike and the team would be working or orders or pre-made foods or any of the daily grind that went on while folks would gather and talk both to them and each other.
I suspect that Saturday will be too busy for this kind of this and today will likely be hopping too, but it will be nice to stop down and see a few of these folks one more time.
One of the things that was popular at Romano’s, were meat bundles.
While this was something I never needed myself living seven doors away, bundles were always worthwhile for those who didn’t come in frequently and would freeze it or for organizations that were having an event etc. etc etc.
People ordered combinations of all kinds of steak, hamburg, pork poultry and they’d be sitting and ready.
With only a couple of days left before Romano’s closes for good Today, Thursday is the last day or order bundles and still have them ready for Saturday.
Of course with fresh meat available seven days a week I never saw the need myself. At least not until today.
Still I doubt If I’ll get a bundle, I’ll likely wait to see what’s left on Saturday, if there IS anything left on Saturday.
Yesterday I had a day with DaWife. We saw a movie (Last Full Measure, not bad at all) and ate at a two table hole in the wall Chinese place (Kiki’s Kitchen a mom pop and kid place in Fitchburg very good) and ended up at Market Basket to pick up some cheese to go with the ground beef I had bought at Romano’s to make a Mexican chips and cheese mix.
That one bag of cheese turned into $70+ in groceries but more importantly we ran into her sister who gave us the news that Roman’s Market would be closing permanently on Feb 15th after 100 years and 8 generations of Romano’s working there.
All the grandchild in the world and No Amount of his sons working weekends could replace Mike’s 80 hours a week and even if you hired two experienced meat cutters at a minimum of $25 an hour each, that $100K a year and that certainly beyond the owners draw.
Moreover thanks to the minimum wage hikes in Massachusetts and the onerous regulations both state and city the cost to bring the place up to code for a new owner who would not be grandfathered in as every regulation woke regulation was applied would be prohibitive.
Thing came to a head this week since the 4000 pounds of brisket that would have to be cut and corned in the barrels in the cooler would have to be ordered at once to have it ready for St. Patrick’s day. Their supplier offered to corn the beef themselves but the extra cost which would have to be passed down to the customers again would have been prohibitive and frankly might not taste the same as if they did it themselves.
So this week the orders will be big and the hours put in heavy as they inform customers that this is the last chance to order meat bundles that would go in freezers. I suspect from Tuesday through Saturday the place will look like the day before Christmas, with no more Christmas roasts being ordered, or the day before Thanksgiving with no more Fresh Turkeys coming in, or the week of St. Patrick’s with nary a bit of corned beef to be found or July 3rd as everyone gets their freshly made sausage, marinated tips and fresh ground hamburg for the very last time.
I’m a heavy guy and I love a piece of meat, or stuffed pork chops or stuffed chicken breasts but for 28 years since I moved into the neighborhood I’ve not cooked more than a few pounds of meat in my body that hasn’t come from Romano’s.
I’m going to miss Mike, but I’m going to miss Romano’s more. I guess that’s a tad greedy.
Here’s a glimpse of what Fitchburg will be missing.
Yesterday Mike Romano the owner of the last butcher shop in Fitchburg that has been run by his family for 100 years died after a short but violent bout with cancer at the age of 69.
Mike was in the shop every day. Six days a week open and Monday’s doing his bookkeeping except for the week of Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Years when he would close on the holiday and open on Monday to make up for it. He was a fixture of the city. For decades when you walked into Romano’s Market you saw Mike fist with his father and uncle and then later with his sons. He was of the old school, he worked hard, did his job well, didn’t whine, didn’t complain and took care of customers.
I first wrote about Mike after seeing a post at Instapundit comparing sausage making and laws. His piece prompted this email which was the 1st time I was mentioned at Instapundit:
UPDATE: How bad have things gotten? Bad enough that when you compare journalism to sausage-making, people write in to defend sausage-makers! Reader Peter Ingemi writes:
I live 7 doors down from a butcher shop that hasbeen in the neighborhood and one particular family for 100 years. A couple of months ago when I walked in and was making my order I noticed Mike (the butcher) cutting and cubing pork. He seemed to be cutting an awful lot of it, I didn’t see a special on the board so I asked about it.
He reminded me it was Wednesday and that is the day he made all of the different sausages he makes (about a half dozen types not counting chicken and kielbasa) I stood there and watched him making sausages and realized that the old saying about Sausages no matter how true it might be for a plant or maybe another butcher shop it wasn’t true at Romano’s. (I can’t speak for other local butchers but I would bet good money that this is true for other family butcher shops too.)
I think Mike and the other local butchers deserve a caveat.
Shortly afterwards Mike let me film him making sausage it turned into an in depth look at an old fashioned neighborhood family business
There is no part 7 or if there is I don’t know what happened to it, here is part 8
I filmed there several other times. like the day before Thanksgiving one year
Kaite is only there occasionally these days, Michelle is now 29 and still works there part time in fact she cut the steak I bought there Wednesday. Harold has been dead for a few years. Mike’s Son Josh the teacher is now the Principal of school he was at and left the service as a Major. His other son Todd from the videos is still in sales but is regularly at the shop
I have no idea what the future of the Butcher shop will be as I can’t imagine going anywhere else after almost three decades of walking down the street for my meats but even if it continues it’s going to be an odd thing walking in there and not seeing Mike anymore but I’m glad that I had the chance to shoot these videos and others so I and others can remember him by.
Mike was a good man, and if he treated his other customers half as good as he treated me and mine over the years he will be sorely missed as a person can be.
Update: Corrected his age, Mike was 69 would have been 70 this year. I should mention that if you walked into Romano’s over the last few years, particularly during the holiday season or the summer months you were very likely to be waited on by one of Mike’s many grandchildren which makes seven generations of Romano’s at this business.
Here is his Obit from the Sentinel & Enterprise this jumped out at me:
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Mike’s name to the Lunenburg Fire and Rescue, 655 Mass Avenue, Lunenburg, MA 01462 or Fitchburg Fire Fighters Relief Fund, 33 North Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420. or may be left at the funeral home.
The firestations would always come down for a big order on a regular basis
thought I’d include one more video of his sons talking during the pink slime business:
Hundreds of freelance writers at Vox Media, primarily those covering sports for the SB Nation site, will lose their jobs in the coming months as the company prepares for a California law to go into effect that will force companies to reclassify contractors [freelancers] in the state as employees.
“This is a bittersweet note of thanks to our California independent contractors,” John Ness, executive director of SB Nation, wrote in a post on Monday. “In 2020, we will move California’s team blogs from our established system with hundreds of contractors to a new one run by a team of new SB Nation employees.”
The law in question is California Assembly Bill 5.
Pushing AB 5 through the legislature is perhaps one of the most significant labor wins in decades, if only because the labor movement has had very few victories in the past 40 years. But it’s particularly significant because of California’s position as one of the world’s largest economies and its outsized influence in national politics. If any state can start to reverse the trend of shrinking labor unions, it’s California. (…)
However, hundreds of thousands of workers — possibly millions — will see an immediate impact on their working conditions after the switch.
Emphasis mine and that last statement is certainly correct.
On January 1, 2020, it will severely limit all of my gigs. In short, AB5 limits me to 35 pieces of freelance work per year for an individual recipient.
This includes my blogging here at DaTechGuy Blog.
Most of you know that I live in Los Angeles. Back in 2013, Peter invited to me to be one of his Da Magnificent Seven. Initially, each of us contributed one blog post per week, but, a few years back, we upped the number to two a week which, of course, means that I post here 104 times per year.
You can figure out the impact. By the way, Peter — who lives in Massachusetts — is an awesome boss and a great guy.
I told you about California’s new law – and its purpose – weeks ago.
I’ve been saying to any who will listen that the goal of California’s Organized Left (OL) is to drive out the middle class. The OL’s dream population will consist of the rich and the servant class, with the latter being composed mostly of illegal aliens. (…)
Freelance writers – even itinerant “street artists” like me – are considered part of the middle class by the OL because we all have the potential of upward mobility and, most importantly, we cannot be controlled by an employer.
Problem laid out.
In my next DMS blog post — this Saturday — I will tell you what my options are.
Update DTG: Thanks Juliette for your kind words and thanks Glenn for the Instalanche. Hi folks, the template might be the same but the host is different so I hope you’re loading faster and without issue. While you’re here don’t forget to check out Juliette’s other pieces and
I’ve been saying to any who will listen that the goal of California’s Organized Left (OL) is to drive out the middle class. The OL’s dream population will consist of the rich and the servant class, with the latter being composed mostly of illegal aliens.
[Assembly Bill 5], which cracks down on companies — like ride-sharing giants Lyft and Uber — that misclassify would-be employees as independent contractors, has been percolating through the California legislative system for nearly a year. It codifies the 2018 Dynamex decision by the State Supreme Court while carving out some exemptions for specific professions.
But the exemption for freelance journalists — which some have only just learned about via their colleagues, press reports, social networks and/or spirited arguments with the bill’s author on Twitter — contains what some say is a potentially career-ending requirement for a writer to remain a freelancer: If a freelance journalist writes for a magazine, newspaper or other entity whose central mission is to disseminate the news, the law says, that journalist is capped at writing 35 “submissions” per year per “putative employer.” At a time when paid freelance stories can be written for a low end of $25 and high end of $1 per word, some meet that cap in a month just to make ends meet. (…)
Many publications that employ California freelancers aren’t based in the state and it’s not clear how AB 5 will affect them. Still, some are choosing to opt out entirely. Indeed, several freelance writers who spoke to THR say that various out-of-state employers — some with offices in California — have already told them they’re cutting ties with California freelancers. (…)
THR has additionally reviewed several job notices in transcription, blogging and SEO writing that have explicitly stated that California freelancers will not be considered.
I write 104 blog posts a year, at minimum, for this site alone. We disseminate news.
A few months back, I got booted from one of my side hustles – transcription – because I live in CA. I didn’t understand why; now the picture is clear.
Ignore the what the OL says justifications are for the law and let me tell you what it really is.
Freelance writers – even itinerant “street artists” like me – are considered part of the middle class by the OL because we all have the potential of upward mobility and, most importantly, we cannot be controlled by an employer.
So, we have to submit, find a more “acceptable” line of work, or get out. It’s that simple.
By the way, you may have noticed that I didn’t factor the homeless into the OL’s desired population. That’s because they are merely a temporary tool to drive out us icky middle class undesirables.
California Governor Gavin Newsom and CA lawmakers enable the many repugnant practices of the chronically homeless, specifically things which can lead to death. Public defecation and opioid usage are chief among these and the OL hopes that these things will thin the herd once its usefulness has ended.
Ingeniously evil form of “ethnic” cleansing, no?
The law goes into effect on January 1. Time to start planning and praying.
Saturday Morning ,much to the concern of DaWife and some of my friends I got in the car and headed to Boston to cover the protests/counter protests going on in Boston post Charlottesville.
I left early enough that the traffic was fairly light and getting to Alewife station went directly to the 4th level to park. It was fairly empty at the time I got there before 10 AM.
When I got on the Subway train I found my surrounded by large groups of people carrying signs, some homemade some not. They varied from hit Nazis to attacking the “alt right” to the standard “love Trumps Hate” and “Black Lives Matter” I quietly sat and listened. It was my impression that the folks who had come to Boston from out of town were mostly people who wanted to “make a difference”. Their grandparents had fought in World War 2 and they saw themselves as doing what they did. This was a theme I got a lot from a certain segment of the crowd once I got to Boston, a feeling that they were emulating the “greatest generation” by going to Boston to stand up to the Nazis, Fascists and Klansmen That meme was common among the people I ran into on the train and in the crowd once I got there and my primary goal in going to the event was to not only report on what I saw, but to find out if their assessment was true.
There were a fair amount of masked folks in the crowd, some wearing green who were organizing things (they seemed distinct from the ANTIFA folk who I saw later) I asked one young lady why she was wearing a mask and she replied that it was to keep her from being doxxed which seemed to be the standard line, which frankly didn’t seem all that credible to me.
At the time I got there the crowd was comparatively large but not massive as it would later become there was a large crowd by the Statehouse, that was the Marty Walsh event and various groups to the far side where the free speech rally was supposed to be. It was at this time I saw a familiar group go by.
As I continued to head deeper into the common I saw a group of folks sitting down on a bench who consented to an interview
I found the remarks about people losing their jobs ironic after the doxxing stuff the masked lady had said, but from there continued on. At this point I spotted a group of State Police and spoke to one about them.
He said they would do their best to protect everyone’s first amendment rights (and from what I saw there was a large enough police presence to do so. I asked him about the masked ANTIFA folks, he mentioned that they were a worry but as there was no law against wearing a mask on the common all they could do is keep an eye on them.
I walked all the way to the far end where the pond was and then doubled back to get to the gazebo. All this time the crowd continues to grow as more and more folks showed up as the weather continue to get better but hotter. When I got to the Gazebo area I found the entire section was cordoned off. Only people specifically on a list were invited in and that included the press.
This was a large blow to my plans as the primary thing I wanted to do is record the speeches and see what they were saying to answer the question: Were these guys actual Nazis, White supremacists et/al or were they just conservatives that because they supported Trump were considered all of these things?
Of course to the crowd none of this mattered. It was a matter of faith that these guys were Nazis but it seemed to me also a matter of faith that President Trump was also a Nazi/White Supremacist as was anyone who supported him and this was evident by some of the chants.
The attendees were very good at the whole repetitive chanting thing which requires very little thought.
I tried to find some other angles to get a better view of the bandstand but there was no place where I could get close enough and the fence lining it was filling up.
All of it seemed like overkill to me but the crowd seemed rather enjoying themselves as I walked through them.
The crowd itself consisted of the following groups:
Group one: The well meaning folks standing up as I mentioned at the start (worth interviewing) Group two: The college kids finding something cool to do while establishing their liberal credentials (worth interviewing)
I’d say those two groups at least at the time I was there was a solid 1/3 or more of the crowd
Group three: The mayors folks also establishing both their anti-trump and liberal cred (spinning pols no interest to me) Group four: The various activist groups there to push their specific causes (again professional protesters spinners mostly not worth my time) This was I’d guess about half the crowd or slightly less. When you report they are very noticeable and you could see the polish in how they carried themselves and their organization.
Group five: The freaky guys like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (drag queens dressed as nuns) and Vermin Supreme (folks looking for attention but not getting it from me) And Group six: ANTIFA violent thugs who I had no intention of associating with.
Despite how different they were all of them were all united in two propositions:
Donald Trump is a bad evil racist.
If you voted for Trump you are as are as bad or worse than he is.
The effects of that unifying idea was interesting, particularly interesting how well the Masked Antifa crowd was being received by said crowd.
That really shocked me I figured either they had no idea the type of people ANTIFA was (groups 1 & 2) , pretended they didn’t (group 3) or didn’t care (groups 4 & 5).
It was around this time that everyone got an education concerning them from an event that was to me, the defining event of the time I was there.
I noticed people swarming and went to check it out and was disgusted by what I saw.
Two men one wearing a Trump, Make America Great Again and another wearing an Israeli flag being greeted by cries of “fascist go home” and quickly surrounded. At least of the organizers recognizing that the potential of something that would shatter the image they wanted portrayed to the press and to some of the more innocent people there who had no idea what company they were keeping so one of the folks who had been coaching some of the masked folks on one side and two members of the highly radical “veterans for peace” did their best to make sure nobody threw a punch but it didn’t stop people from getting in their faces and surrounding them.
I was completely beside myself over this first of all Donald Trump won the majority of voters in 29 states. If a man can’t safely walk through Boston Common with that banner no matter who is there that’s an incredible escalation as it the dubbing of any person supporting Trump a fascist or a Nazi.
But what set me off even more was the vitriol against they guy wearing the Israeli flag and the crowd joining in on the chants against him. The irony of people carrying anti-nazi signs and lowly proclaiming their opposition to hate driving out a person wearing the Star of David flag seems to have been completely lost on the people there and frankly I was outraged.
What was even more amazing were those calling em cowards those two guys were the bravest people there and I found myself wishing that I had a Trump banner or an Israeli flag and was standing with them.
To me this was a turning point, it is a moment that in my opinion will get replayed over and over in states that Trump carried and I can’t think of anything else that would infuriate and energize Trump supporters more.
On the bright side there were some signs of sanity and plurality in the crowd this one stood out.
But then again one would expect Quakers to be expressing this kind of thing.
By this time it was getting clear that unless I was willing and able to stay very late there wasn’t going to be much big news and I noticed people starting to leave so I started to leave but found some interesting sights like the Panda crowd that I saw earlier.
That the people signing were basically saying “take away my freedom” never seemed to occur to them.
There was Gary who had an interesting quest.
Four nice folks from Plymouth who seemed to have experience in this sort of thing without being professional activists.
A catholic poet and musician who bought my book.
and my favorite person Gary who while not liking the right had my favorite sign of the day as embraced his opinions while defending the 1st Amendment.
Finally a large crowd came by marching and I filmed them for five minutes.
then a few minutes more.
which couldn’t help but make me think of the famous scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian where the crowd chants in unison “yes we’re all individuals, we’ve all got to work it out for ourselves”
Finally it was time to leave and I headed for a T station as Park Station was closed. Because of this I missed some violence that took place later (conveniently after the regular people who might have objected had already left) but ran into the nice young ladies that I’ve already mentioned.
As for the object of these protests they became an afterthought but the real irony is, if there had been no protest they would have gotten even less attention but most of the people there seemed happy at what they felt they achieved and proud of their actions. What did they achieve? Well that’s an analysis post for later this week.
We’ll finish with a few assorted images and clips.
And My photo gallery follows my tipjar pitch
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