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There will be a new twist on an old tradition when thousands of fathers and sons and mothers and daughters file into Fenway Park for this afternoon's Red Sox-Angels game.

Young, awe-struck kids in Jason Varitek jerseys will turn to their fathers and ask many of the same questions those fathers asked their fathers the first time they entered the great green time machine.

Did Ted Williams really hit that red seat? Who's inside the Wall? Why are our seats facing center field?

Every once in a while, though, there comes a curve ball that leaves even quick-thinking parents standing there like a house by the side of the road.


Yes, son.

What's a Queer Eye?

Good luck with that one, Dad, because there seems to be no easy answer. Let's face it: You probably would have gotten the back of your dad's hand just for using the Q-word. What was once considered a slur against the gay community is now the name of an obscure cable TV show that somehow merits center stage at Fenway today.

Four of the stars of ``Queer Eye,'' a makeover show of sorts on the Bravo network, will throw out the first pitch, a privilege often reserved for the best and brightest in Red Sox Nation.

Just two days ago Army Sgt. Peter Damon of Brockton delivered the ceremonial first pitch. Damon is a natural righty, but he has a little problem. He lost his right arm in an explosion while serving as a helicopter mechanic in Iraq. He lost some of his left arm, too, but has a prosthetic hand that allowed him to grip a ball underhanded and a make 40-foot toss to Kelly Shoppach.

Nice job, Red Sox. This was like the Monster seats, the World Series ring ceremony and playing catch on the field on Father's Day. It was one of those brilliant moves that never would have made it out of the idea stage under previous Red Sox ownership.

But here's the problem with the John Henry-Tom Werner-New York Times Sox: Sometimes they try to be so open-minded their brains fall out. This is clearly one of those times.

In doing what they do best - expanding their base and breaking down old barriers - they decided they would reach out to the gay community. That is understandable and commendable, except for one thing: Carson Kressley represents the gay community the way Tony Soprano represents the Italian-American community. He is nothing more than a cartoon character and a clown who plays up all the worst cliches and stereotypes.

Whenever Kressley's name comes up on the radio, the response is the same: Most of the callers and e-mailers who identify themselves as gay don't like him or his act. They were as repulsed as anyone to learn that Kressley took Doug Mirabelli's protective cup, put it over his face like a gas mask and smelled it.

The Red Sox PR staff says the decision to honor Kressley and friends is all about the children. Bravo supposedly spent $100,000 to rebuild storm-damaged Little League fields in South Florida. That is a nice gesture, to be sure, but it's not nearly as much as all the mothers and fathers will pay to bring their kids to a game today. And it's a pittance compared to the price Peter Damon paid.

Let Carson back in the clubhouse if you want. Let him go to town on the dirty laundry after the game. But keep him off the field. Parents have enough trouble explaining why managers wear uniforms. They shouldn't have to explain why this strange man is wearing a cup on his face.
LOAD-DATE: June 5, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
June 5, 2005 Sunday

LENGTH: 376 words
HEADLINE: Home, sweet homes for disabled vets
BYLINE: By Thomas Caywood

A Wareham contractor's desire to donate some spare time to help disabled Iraq veterans has evolved over two years into a full-time job running a growing nonprofit with a national profile.

Homes for Our Troops Inc. has now raised more than $1 million, most of it during the past year. The Taunton-based nonprofit - which builds new disabled-accessible homes and adapts old ones - has even gotten a plug from the commander in chief.

President Bush gave a shout-out to the group and founder John Gonsalves in a December speech to Marines at Camp Pendleton.

Gonsalves has had to learn on the fly, struggling to reinvent himself as a nonprofit executive as his fledgling charity has taken off.

``Before I started this, I knew absolutely zero about running a nonprofit,'' Gonsalves said.

Even so, donations poured in.

A group of Billerica kids raised $2,400 selling brownies recently. Piano man Billy Joel and pro golfer Phil Mickelson have kicked in tens of thousands of dollars. And Homes for Our Troops last week accepted $105,000 from the New York-based Avon Foundation.

``It gave us an opportunity at the Avon Foundation to get in at the ground floor on a program that is addressing a real need,'' said spokeswoman Susan Heaney.

Gonsalves got involved after he was moved by a news story about a Humvee driver who lost both legs in a rocket attack. ``I assumed there was an organization doing this, and I could have just donated some time to help out,'' he said.

In December, Homes for Our Troops broke ground in Middleboro on a house for Army Sgt. Peter Damon, a Massachusetts National Guard sergeant who lost both arms when a helicopter tire he was working on exploded. Two days ago, Damon delivered the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway.

The house, specially designed to accommodate someone with prosthetic arms, is scheduled to be done by the end of July.

In addition to the Middleboro project, another under construction in Pennsylvania and other projects, Homes for Our Troops recently bought an existing home in North Carolina, which it plans to adapt for a disabled veteran there.

``You hear on the news two soldiers killed and three injured. You don't hear any more than that,'' Gonsalves said. ``Not enough people realize what they go through when they get home.''
GRAPHIC: BUILDING ON SUCCESS: Homes for Our Troops contractors are hard at work on Sgt. Peter Damon's Middleboro home. Damon lost both arms when a helicopter tire he was working on exploded. Herald photo by John Gonsalves

LOAD-DATE: June 5, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
June 3, 2005 Friday

LENGTH: 572 words

Common grounds himself in hip-hop even as he scales the pop plateau


``Be'' (Geffen)

Three stars (out of four)

Chicago's Common lit the underground on fire nearly a decade ago with the clever hip-hop ode, ``I Used to Love H.E.R.'' The songwriting skills he displayed on that classic come to full commercial fruition on ``Be,'' produced by hip-hop's latest golden boy, Kanye West. There are tracks for the B-boys and true hip-hop heads (``The Corner,'' ``Chi-City''), but also several r & b- and soul-tinged jams destined for the pop charts, most notably, ``Go,'' featuring John Mayer). West's Midas touch is unmistakable, even if he overuses his trademark sped-up vocal samples. Download: ``Go!'' - DAVE WEDGE


``Rebel Sweetheart'' (Interscope)

Three and one-half stars

Still straddling the Tom Petty/Bruce Springsteen axis, Wallflowers leader Jakob Dylan writes memorable tunes and strikingly abstract lyrics that he sings with husky beauty. Heck, he even painted the eye-catching, thought-provoking cover. Songs about the war in Iraq, romantic confusion and life's big questions get juice from jaunty tempos, stirring guitar riffs and precisely placed acoustic and electronic flourishes. They might be Wallflowers, but a band playing music this good shouldn't be relegated to the sidelines. Download: ``God Says Nothing.'' - SARAH RODMAN


``Don't Believe the Truth'' (Epic)

Three stars

If you've been disappointed by recent Oasis albums, the brothers Gallagher have a treat for you. The Brit-pop band's sixth release is loaded with winners including a funny, Kinks-style rambler ``The Importance of Being Idle,'' the urgent and succinct ``The Meaning of Soul'' and the superhooky ``A Bell Will Ring.'' This ``Truth'' is definitely something to ``Believe'' in. Download: ``The Importance of Being Idle.'' - SARAH RODMAN


``Sleeping in the Nothing'' (Sanctuary)

Two stars

Recorded during her stint in rehab with producer Linda Perry (Pink, Christine Aguilera), Kelly's second CD echoes the fancies of her generation, not her father Ozzy's. Leaving the punky posturing of her first CD behind, she serves up bubblegum electro-dance pop that occasionally delves into seriousness with lyrics about date rape and societal ills. Her early-Madonna-ish voice is pleasing enough, but Kelly sings with all the commitment of a child reciting the multiplication table. Download: ``Uh Oh.'' - LINDA LABAN


``Get Right With The Man'' (Columbia)

Two stars

Southern rock icons and brothers Donnie and Johnny Van Zant double up to make a country album that's only half as interesting as their recent outings with .38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd, which is really saying something. Because the Southern rock-country connection has already been thoroughly explored by now, there's little for the Van Zants to do but snarl Dixie-fried God-and-country cliches and await the roar of the fist-pumping crowd. Download: ``Nobody Gonna Tell Me What to Do.'' - KEVIN R. CONVEY


``Suit Yourself'' (Capitol)

Three and one-half stars

Working in a stripped-down, largely acoustic vein, Lynne does exactly what her title suggests, eschewing pop production in favor of stark, personal country-tinged ballads. Recorded in the home studio of engineer Brian Harrison, the album's 10 originals and two Tony Joe White covers resonate with bittersweet simplicity, capped by a hidden closing track, a gorgeous turn with White on his classic ``Rainy Night in Georgia.'' Download: ``Where Am I Now.'' - NATE DOW
LOAD-DATE: June 3, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
June 2, 2005 Thursday

LENGTH: 326 words
HEADLINE: Obituary;

Barbara Conroy, at 44, Emmy-winning journalist

Barbara Conroy of New York City, an Emmy Award-winning reporter and producer, died Thursday at her home in Manhattan. She was 44.

Born in Woburn, Ms. Conroy graduated from Woburn High School and Emerson College.

Ms. Conroy's career included working as a national news coordinator with WBZ-TV in Boston until 1986. She then worked for NBC in the Washington, D.C., office as a chief producer, where she covered such stories as the fall of the Berlin Wall, revolutions in Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, the U.S. bombing of Libya, the 1988 Summer Olympics in South Korea and the Beirut hostage release.

She then took a job with NBC News as a primetime producer for ``Dateline'' and ``Real Life with Jane Pauley.'' While working at NBC News, she was a Gulf War correspondent and producer covering Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.

She was the only Western journalist to obtain unlimited access throughout Iraq after the war. While covering the story in Iraq, she smuggled out a videotape documenting the Iraqi deployment of Russian-made weapons and Iraq's deplorable treatment of starving children.

Ms. Conroy continued to cover world events with ``Inside Edition,'' CBS News and ABC News. Her journalistic career as well as her stories became more focused on the impact of world events on children and the positive contributions of a number of special causes in which she was actively involved, including the British royal family's ``Prince Phillip Fellowship Awards,'' and the ``Friends of Africa.''

She is survived by her mother, Jean F. (Coady) Sevigny and stepfather, Paul Sevigny of Kittery Point, Maine; two brothers, Brian of Kittery Point, and Mark of Londonderry, N.H.; two sisters, Maureen Demango and Jaqueline Aiesi, both of Wilmington; and many nieces and nephews.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. today at St. Barbara's Church, Woburn.

Burial will be in Woodbrook Cemetery in Woburn.

Arrangements by Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, Woburn.
LOAD-DATE: June 2, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
June 1, 2005 Wednesday

LENGTH: 384 words
HEADLINE: Support the troops - even when they're home

You see it on vehicles across the country: the yellow ``Support our troops'' ribbons. But if you really want to show your support, Linda Boone says, think about what happens after the troops come home.

``You presume that because they've risked their life or lost a limb for their country, they're taken care of, but they're often not,'' said Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. ``This is a solvable problem.''

``They come back, and their job is gone, their house is gone because the family couldn't keep up with the mortgage,'' said Ralph Cooper of the Veterans' Benefits Clearinghouse in Roxbury.

Yesterday, the coalition kicked off its annual conference in Washington, D.C., by calling on Congress to pass the Service Members' Enhanced Transition Services Act, which would help prevent homelessness among veterans by making available up to eight hours of individualized services - help with housing, employment, training and health care - to people leaving the military.

Right now, counseling may be limited to brief group presentations, attendance is left to the discretion of unit commanders and veterans typically don't receive information about homelessness prevention, even though prevention is vital, advocates say, because Congress hasn't allocated enough money for veterans' housing.

A 2003 Department of Veterans report found that in Massachusetts, there were only 477 funded beds for an estimated 2,700 homeless veterans, and only 8,811 beds for 317,840 homeless veterans nationwide.

Exactly how many of those veterans served in Iraq or Afghanistan is unclear. Some have sought job training, but not housing, at the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, said interim CEO Christian Dame. And a national sample of 19 organizations surveyed by the coalition reported serving 67 last year. But studies show it can take years - an average of 12 in the case of Vietnam veterans, for example - to seek help.

Without more government funding, advocates say, corporate sponsorships and other private donations are critical to preventing veterans from becoming homeless.

``I would certainly hope we've learned from past wars that people deserve more than a handshake and a welcome-home banner,'' Dame said.

For more information, contact the coalition at 1-800-VET-HELP.
LOAD-DATE: June 1, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
May 31, 2005 Tuesday

LENGTH: 283 words

`We have them to thank'

Standing amid the sun-splashed tombstones of fallen comrades in Dorchester yesterday, Jack Horrigan of Weymouth swelled with gratitude.

``We have them to thank for us being here,'' said Horrigan, an 80-year-old World War II veteran.

He was one of scores of veterans who gathered at Cedar Grove Cemetery and at parades across the state to honor the sacrifice of those who didn't make it home from America's wars.

The aging veterans stood rigid, holding their salutes, as an Army bugler played taps at the Dorchester cemetery.

``These men suffered all. Sacrificed all. Dared all, and died,'' said Brig. Gen. Oliver J. Mason Jr., the Massachusetts National Guard's top officer.

Mason reminded the crowd of families and veterans that the country's battles go on today in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the rolls of service men and women who have given their lives continue to grow.

``We're here today to honor what the fallen have done for us,'' Mason said.

Army Master Sgt. Kellyanne O'Neil, formerly of Dorchester, attended the parade and Memorial Day ceremony with her veteran father. She served as a medic with the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad in 2003 and 2004, and knows many still serving there.

``I don't worry because I know God's watching over us, and we're doing great things,'' she said.

Margie LeBlanc of Dorchester stood outside her home cradling her 7-month-old daughter, Ava, as the gray-haired veterans filed by.

``It's really nice to see how people band together to honor the people who died for our country,'' she said.

In the North End, a memorial made by schoolchildren honoring those killed over the past three years in

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