Harvard madness

Please help your Chinese colleagues learn the truthWeird goings on in Harvard Square today. Slightly weirder than normal at least. I went to pick up some photo boxes from Bob Slate to house the piles of photos that are lying around our house, and have reached critical mass with the new slew of France photos Terri got developed yesterday. It seemed to be prospective student day at Harvard; I saw many who had that special kind of obliviousness that tells me they are Harvard undergrad material. You can tell by the way they talk without the ability that most people have to gauge the volume at which they’re speaking. I bet I could write some AI software that detects this quality and sell it to Harvard admissions. I’ll have to file that one away in my special Harebrained Business Plans file.

Between there and Million Year Picnic, where I went to pick up the new Berlin (and ended up with a few other goodies), I ran into some Falun Gong. Nothing too weird there, though they were a little more graphic than usual, with guys portraying truncheon-wielding Chinese police pretending to beat women spattered with fake blood.

Limo crash at HarvardWhere it got really weird was the limo crashed into the gate just across from Cambridge Common. The roof was severely blackened, one of the windows was melted out, and it was still smoking and giving off an awful smell, despite the two trucks worth of fire fighters dousing it. The picture I hurriedly snapped doesn’t do the scene justice, but if you know this gate, you know that it could not have been easy to get a limo into this position on this street going fast enough to explode after hitting the gate. Lots of onlookers and other sickos like me snapping pictures. What else are you supposed to do?

Reentry & disorientation

Haven’t felt quite myself since we got back from France, in ways that can’t entirely be explained by jetlag. Or maybe I do feel like myself, and I have returned to find that someone named Ezra has been writing apologias for fast food corporations in my blog, and works at this ridiculous company where people send out goodbye emails as unironic haiku about the freaking Lion King (I couldn’t make this up).

I also didn’t realize how much I miss the sis until I got to hang out with her for a couple days. Which sounds funny because of how infrequently we saw each other in practice even when we lived in the same city. But true. Also made me miss the bro and the belle soeur all the more because we got their exciting news and accompanying ultrasound in an email while we were in Monaco.

And what the hell happened to the Sox while we weren’t looking? Fights, suspensions, and the geriatric pitchers going on the DL.

I need a drink. Still regret not picking some up in Prague last fall.

We’re here

We’re back from France. Terri has written all about it, and she’s done a lovely job, with photos and everything. It was definitely the most recharging and most welcome vacation we’ve had in a long time. Yet as recharging as it was, my body right now feels a little like it’s 1am, so a more detailed enumeration of the experience will have to wait.

One last note. Thanks to Flickr’s deal whereby those of us who shelled out for a Pro account early on got 2 free Pro accounts to hand out, Terri also now has her own separate Flickr identity. While I’m sort of on the subject, and while I do love Flickr, I have a diatribe against it brewing. Which I also don’t feel quite up to now, so will have to wait.

The Travel Blog…

People have been asking if we’re going to be blogging from France. The answer is yes, probably, but we may not make huge extra efforts to make frequent updates, because of the overhead of finding places to get internet access. That said, we will be writing as we go in some form, so there may be bursts. Ditto for the Flickr photostream. When we do blog, it will probably be re-using the Blogger blog that we set up for the 2004 eurotrip.

Central Square Burger King, RIP

Last week I confirmed what Terri had earlier reported to me, that the Central Square Burger King has gone out.

What I didn’t tell her at the time is that I was a bit saddened by this, because it was my secret escape from the suburban-office-park-within-a-city that is Tech Square. I wasn’t a regular; it’s a bit more of a hike than some other lunch spots. But when I needed to get away from the corporate atmosphere, I’d head to Central Square. It’s less than a half-mile or so away, but it’s practically on another planet.

I think a lot of liberal types tend to avoid fast food chains on principle, but, at least in cities, they tend to be pockets of diversity and they’re not really that homogonized. (I have toyed with the idea that the Central Square BK actually had a little too much character, and that’s why they got shut down).

At the Central Square Burger King, you ordered from the two french-speaking black women at the counter, were cleaned up after by a quiet, aging one-eyed Sikh. (I always wondered so much about his story in particular. How did he lose the eye? How did he end up here? Why? The turban and the overall gravitas of his bearing never quite managed to fit inside the Burger King uniform). Your fellow patrons would be a bunch of Latino landscapers, a stray business guy, a contractor who would keep yelling into his walkie-talkie “I’m telling you, Joe, I’m at the house and I’ve been waiting for you here for 2 hours”, a pack of MIT kids— themselves a mini-Model UN, what seems to be a Korean pastor talking to the church accountant, and a guy sleeping in the corner.

I leave as an exercise to the reader to compare & contrast this with the homogeneity of the Starbucks near the Marriott between Tech Square and Kendall Square. Or even of my beloved Toscanini’s, the local independent coffee shop/ expensive ice cream monger near Central Square.

Some similar sentiments were echoed in a recent Bostonist post about the Somerville Market Basket:

The place is always impossibly full of people, abuzz with happy family energy and inexplicably harmonious: although shopping cart gridlock regularly makes the checkout lanes look like the Sagamore Bridge rotary on a Friday afternoon, tempers rarely heat up; Haitian grandmas coo in Creole at Brazilian babies while their parents ask questions in Portuguese and the employees respond in Spanish; old ladies speaking languages Bostonist can’t even recognize ask for help retrieving products from high shelves. It is one of the few places where the jolly, no-big-deal multiculturalism of public television cartoons is a reality

And similar in spirit, a recent Dervala post, on organic produce:

I’m glad that I’m rich enough to afford gently-reared food, even if it’s fertilized by the bullshit of fussy white people.

I have not found a replacement yet. Central Square has a McDonalds, but the line I cross in fast food is where the food actually makes me feel sick and still-hungry.

87 Bus, Clarendon Hill

Blathering about the weather gets old, I know, but can you believe that it snowed today? Nothing enduring, but still, come on, two days ago, we were on the beach, it was seventy, we worked up a sweat walking up and down the dunes. This is sadistic, even for the cruel weather gods of the northeast.

So, our friend John came down from Portland to see the M83 show with Terri. I rarely turn down shows, even when I don’t really like the band, but they really didn’t do anything for me, and I opted for the stay-home-and-read plan. I made that decision a while ago, but thanks to my sudden enrapturement (shut up, it really is a word) with Cloud Atlas, I welcomed some time to finish it off.

Had dinner with John and Terri, though, at Johann’s (and I left work early enough that we made the early bird special– bliss to be out so early!), and parted ways as they went into the station, and I headed to the Someday for some caffienation. Got antsy pretty quickly after my stimulant was imbibed, and headed home. I opted to take the bus home. Usually, I condemn this as an act of laziness, but, I reasoned, the snow had barely turned to a cold drizzle, and I was without an umbrella and dressed for mid-50′s weather. Most importantly, I can’t read while walking.

As I was waiting at the bus stop, a kid hit me up for a dollar to ride the bus. I admired the cheek, and would have given it to him had I anything smaller than a $10. When the bus came, the cheeky kid climbed aboard first, and by the time I got on, was negotiating with the driver, a just-pre-grandmotherly Somerville type.

Driver:”Look, you say ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have any money, and even though I’m young and could walk on my healthy legs, I was wondering if you could take me home to my mommy because it’s late.’ You don’t say ‘I’m broke, can I ride anyway’ Go ahead and take a seat.”

My fellow passengers were mostly amused. A guy up front piped in “That’s exactly what I woulda told him!”

Driver: “Well, he’s gotta learn. Somtimes sugar works better than vinegar.”

She began chatting with the guy up front, who I gathered was named Maurice, who must ride her bus frequently, and who was wearking a Yankees windbreaker.

Maurice: “I’m going to the game tomorrow. I got two signs. The first one says…” (bus started climbing the hill, so I missed it, but something to the effect that the Sox suck). “The second one–”

Driver: “And how are you gonna hold that second sign up on two crutches?”

My stop. Maybe the shortest bus ride of my life.

They’ll need a Crane

crane's beachThe Dark Mistress of All Things Dub and I went to Crane’s beach in Ipswitch yesterday. Gorgeous, gorgeous weather. We did a lot of walking and photosnapping around the dunes.

I’ve never really found a beach that I feel like is my beach, but Crane’s Beach was very nice. I don’t know what it’s like in the summer, but the beach itself was beautiful, and on the walking trails through the dunes, we hardly saw another soul. A notable exception was the couple with the golden retriever that called out to us from a fair distance “does this trail go to the beach?” We weren’t entirely sure how far it was, but I was at the top of a pretty big hill, and it looked to be a mile or so away. I called back that I didn’t know, but it was in that direction. The woman huffed and said “yeah, we know” and turned and started walking away. I think golden retrievers are beautiful dogs, and I feel bad for them, because so many people I see with golden retrievers seem like completely shallow shits. The kind of people who get mad that the beach isn’t closer.

Home Opener, 2005

The ring ceremony was nice, it was nice to trounce the Yankees, but how about those fans? While most of the Yankees got booed on introduction, as you’d expect, they actually cheered Mariano Rivera (who our batters have really beat up on lately, “lately” including the illustrious end of last season), they cheered for Joe Torre (for the right reasons), and then, in the eight inning, they cheered when A-Rod finally cleanly fielded a ball that came to him (after bobbling or missing about three plays). Oh, the wonderful blend of snark and class that is Fenway. Can’t wait until our first game!

Camille

Some days I think she’s great. Some days I think she sucks. Today, I think she’s great for three things. 1) Arguing for close reading & self-contained art 2) declaring war on literary theory 3) this quote:

Stop preaching to the choir all the time. You should start thinking about addressing the mass of the country thats voting the opposite. Thats your audience, too. And until you get that breadth of imagination, to try to put things in terms that are understandable to those who dont agree with you, not just those who agree with you, you’re lost.

(Hm, are you noticing a trend with my quotes for the day?)