More than half a century later, a different kind of plaintive wail would overtake the town. Its source: the singer LOU BARLOW. At Westfield High, he would form his first band with J. Mascis. Later, the pair would call themselves DINOSAUR JR. Even later, after Barlow was booted from Dinosaur Jr., he would start recording moody lo-fi music under the name SEBADOH.



If an angry surge of CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS were ever to reach a boiling point and swarm from their training grounds in the deepest backwoods of Colorado to finish off the godless progressives once and for all, they should probably start with Northampton, named the most liberal city in the country.

What's to blame? It's probably SMITH COLLEGE, that hotbed of sexual experimentation and armpit hair. Or maybe it's their annual, family-oriented PRIDE PARADE. It could be the presence of RACHEL MADDOW, or the Very Hungry Caterpillar/insect rights propagandist ERIC CARLE and his lackey, MO WILLEMS of KNUFFLEBUNNY fame. Or maybe it's the fact that Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES while living there. Kowabunga, liberal scum!

In addition to a disproportionate number of children's book illustrators and lesbians, Northampton has been home to numerous important midcentury writers with questionable values. KURT VONNEGUT lived there for a spell. So did SYLVIA PLATH.

KIM GORDON and THURSTON MOORE live there, too — or maybe just one of them does, since they announced the divorce. But they did for a while, and that's what matters. We know that if there's one thing fundies hate, it's Sonic Youth.

Shelburne Falls!

This 2000-person town isn't big enough for more than one celebrity, but oh, what a celebrity: puddin' pop pitchman BILL COSBY has a house here.


Amherst, UMass, Hampshire. So many colleges can mean only one thing — way too many hip celebrities! Of course, the PIXIES were formed at UMass, anyone who's ever listened to "Monkey Gone to Heaven" will tell you. Kooky virgin EMILY DICKINSON wrote lower-case poems while living in Amherst. And long before she killed Bill, the leggy UMA THURMAN, daughter of a famous former Amherst professor, grew up here.

Today there's AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS, whose wacky upbringing by a psychologist who masturbated to a photo of GILDA MEIR eventually resulted in the GWYNETH PALTROW vehicle, Running with Scissors. Then there's Dinosaur Jr. founder/singer/guitarist J. MASCIS, master shredder and owner of the world's greatest long gray locks. And who could forget about NORTON JUSTER, the genius behind The Phantom Tollbooth and inspiration for the meme craze known as "boothing"? Certainly not us.

Eugenia Williamson can be reached at

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