Flashbacks: The Pope as human shield, the Tarantino touch, and a hermit goes to heaven

5 years ago
March 14, 2003 | Michael Bronski talked to a peace activist with the idea of sending the Pope to Iraq in order to stop the impending war.
“Renowned peace and anti-nuke activist Helen Caldicott thinks she has a way to stop the all-but-inevitable war with Iraq: convince Pope John Paul II to join the human shields in Baghdad. Caldicott, who became well known during the 1980s for her anti-nuke activism, is urging people around the world to contact the pope and ask him to travel to Iraq...

“Caldicott argues that ‘[t]he Pope’s physical presence in Iraq will act as the ultimate human shield, during which time leaders of the world nations can commit themselves to identifying and implementing a peaceful solution to this war that the world’s majority clearly does not support.’ The Web site of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute ( posts a letter from Caldicott as well as a sample letter to send to Vatican City that argues her case in the most serious terms — ‘your physical presence in Baghdad will prevent the impending slaughter of hundreds of thousands of human beings’...” Read Full Article

10 years ago
March 13, 1998 | Rachel O’Malley imagined what certain classic productions would be like in Quentin Tarantino’s hands.

“1. Oklahoma!
Wait Until Dark at the Wilbur was just the beginning for Tarantino’s stage career. O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A spells D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R when Quentin plays Curly in this once-hokey musical. Curly is sick of Laurie’s wiles, and by the time they reach the square dance, the shiny little surrey with the fringe on top is wrecked. Curly accidentally blows Laurie’s head off with his .45 when they hit a bump in the dirt road. All he wanted was a little respect.

5. Hamlet
This Hamlet is much shorter than Kenneth Branagh’s recent film. Hamlet has Claudius, Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern bound and gagged 10 minutes into the play. An hour later, they’ve been forced to listen to Polonius repeat his ‘To thine own self be true’ speech about six times, and Rosencrantz is pleading to keep his other ear.”

20 years ago
March 11, 1988 | Ric Kahn reported on the passing of local celebrity-cum-hermit Bill Brit.

“There’ll be no more newsroom phone calls from Bill Britt. God has called the 52-year-old hermit of Chestnut Hill home from the simple wigwam that, standing tall on a small patch of public land near the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, served as one man’s castle for almost 20 years. Authorities say Britt froze to death in the Massachusetts winter.

“For what seemed like half his breathing hours, Bill Britt waged an unyielding battle against bureaucratic bullies who viewed his attempts to be left out in the cold, amid the raindrops and raccoons, as merely trespassing. Like other offbeat souls who choose to live their lives off society’s beaten path, Britt’s campaign to camp out with Mother Nature — frugally financed by the coins collected from turning in discarded bottles and cans — exposed the overbearing nature of the state, which resorted to using the courts,... a cop masquerading as a reporter, and a bulldozer to try and toss out one solitary man, Billy Britt.”

25 years ago
March 15, 1983 | Surveying the crowd at an Aerosmith show at the Cape Cod Coliseum, Doug Simmons recalled the old days when he was a freak for the band.

“...the group’s bargain-basement Stones show delighted guys like me and my friends. We aped the band’s delinquent image, albeit with less mascara, and marveled at Joe Perry’s kerchunkachunka guitar and Steven Tyler’s gypsy sleaze and ripped-larynx singing. Looking back I have no regrets, but looking across Cape Cod Coliseum’s iceless hockey rink, my nostalgia soured. Were my friends and I this surly? Probably....There was only one difference between the Cape crowd and my crew a decade ago: as a companion said of the 6500-strong mob, ‘If we nuked Iran tomorrow there aren’t three people in this place who would care.’ We would have cared, but only because when it came to war we had Vietnam to wise us up.” Read Full Article

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