I get letters, stacks and stacks of letters. And emails. So my apologies for not getting back to all of you.

Some concerned reader wrote to me that each time he drives through town he is concerned that I am sit beneath one of those lethal flowering pear trees for hours at a time on the bench before Fuel. I must admit that even though I have written about the dangers I didn’t realize that I was so close to the problem. It’s amazing what you can miss. And lo and behold, I looked up to see a threatening branch above me. So many thanks. We are none of us safe. Luckily they will be taking our benches away any day now. And then the trees. In the meantime I’m staying inside, safe if not totally sound.

A reader in Alford urged me to address the pressing issue of swine flu. A reader in Otis urged me to resist the impulse to write about swine flu. And she suggested I visit a website, She is convinced that there is indisputable evidence linking the development of the swine flu vaccine to Massive Dynamics’ secret laboratory carved into a mountain in Switzerland. I wrote them both that I always get the flu and no longer have any journalistic objectivity about the issue. I urged them to write letters to the editor.

A sympathetic Great Barrington resident asked me what my dog thought about the upcoming election for Senator. I was sad to report that my last dog, Rabbit, was shot and killed by a former Police Chief in a small town I once lived in and that I now have a bird. And if I started to listen to what my bird had to say about state politics I wouldn’t have the time to answer your letters.

Some cranky reader in Sheffield demanded I return all the grant money I received to design the Downtown Revitalization Project in Great Barrington, suggesting that because I hadn’t noticed the pear tree branch hanging above the bench at Fuel I was clearly not qualified for the job. I suggested that for 10% he keep his thoughts to himself. His latest offer is for 15%. I’m hoping we can settle for 12.5%.

Someone just left a sticky on my computer screen when I took a walk around the block suggesting why have a bird if you’re not going to listen to what he says? To which I say: write your own column and get your own bird.

Then there are a slew of letters from folks wanting to know what’s become of Tommy the Tomato Plant who wasn’t really a Tomato Plant and certainly wasn’t a pot plant. Well she’s living happily ever after at Fuel – and, no, this is not a column about transgendered plants – only an acknowledgment that we know less about the plant kingdom or queendom than we imagine. You can see her growing tall and more confident with every passing day. It’s amazing what a diet of almond croissants will do for an anemic plant.

A certain humor columnist for the Berkshire Beagle suggested I try to introduce more humor into my column. I told him I would take it up with my bird who is far more humorous than I. And, who, incidentally, has a great sense of irony, and mocks me frequently by repeating my instructions rather than following them.

Now as every columnist learns sooner than later, it’s impossible to do this kind of work without infuriating someone. So please, will that certain someone on Ripton Avenue please remove that Armenian Gypsy curse you’ve put on me. My neck has been killing me ever since. I really, truly was hoping we could create a Gypsy Jobs Program here in Great Barrington. And I meant no disrespect to dancing bears or to monkeys who wear little hats and collect spare change. I love my animal friends.

Please keep those cards and letters coming.


Mickey Friedman has gone from no birds to three birds. He is a staunch supporter of the U.S. Post Office and suggests you put your messages in the mail and not in bottles.

Thursday November 4, 2009 © Mickey Friedman – All Rights Reserved