Face it, the Harvard Square stringed instrument guy sucks

If you’ve been to Harvard Square in the past two years you know who I’m talking about. He’s the asian guy who saws manaically at his bowed, one-stringed instrument (which I don’t know the name of; probably one of these) while staring off crazily into the distance.

At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He’s simply a virtuoso whose art simply sounds cacophonous to my untrained Western ears. But the more I saw him there, with his Kleenex box for donations, I came to a hypothesis that, no, he’s just some crazy guy sawing manaically at his one-stringed instrument.

The hypothesis was more or less confirmed during our recent trip to San Francisco where we saw probably a half dozen guys playing similar instruments on various Chinatown street corners. When they played, it sounded, you know, like music.

The thing I don’t get is that the guy in Harvard Square doesn’t seem to be displaying one of those Cambridge street artist licenses that all the other buskers in the square have. What’s up with that?

The other thing that drives me bonkers: he seems to beĀ  always there, right in front of the Coop. Even those damnable Andean pan flute bands seem to sleep sometimes.

Zombies invade Pittsburgh!

Contrary to what The Onion says, Pittsburgh has been overdue for its first zombie attack.

(For those who haven’t seen this, similar public zombie spectacles originated in San Francisco and spread to Vancouver, Madison, Toronto, New Orleans and here in Somerville/Cambridge (where anti-zombie protesters held signs saying, brilliantly, “Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Gggblaaaagh“)).

While some of these cities may have a greater tradition of public spectacle, none can match Pittsburgh for its rich zombie history (except for New Orleans, which handily beats all comers in both categories). The modern conception of the zombie was born there, in fact, when George Romero, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate, filmed Night of the Living Dead in Western Pennsylvania with a crew and production facilities based in Pittsburgh. Night of the Living Dead, both the 1968 and 1990 versions, also featured WPXI fixture “Chilly Billy” Cardille, most famous for hosting Chiller Theater, a local horror show in the 60′s (and into the 70′s?). (By the time my childhood rolled around, he was hosting (I’m not kidding) a 7pm televised bingo show.)

Bringing things full circle, the walk was organized by It’s Alive, a Pittsburgh television show which has taken on Chiller Theater’s late-night horror movie mantle. This, according to my cousin (and frequent RFB commenter) Margaret, whom you see in Zombie form pictured above. It’s actually her flickr photos that tipped me off to the event.

The new currency of the Terri & Ezra show

We decided over breakfast this morning: Dubloons and Ezros. Minting and printing to commence.

Also, money-related, for those with whom were we were talking the other night about J.S. Boggs, I sort of now remember why I interviewed him when I worked at In Pittsburgh in the early 90′s. It was something about the closing of some South Side landmark, maybe the Channel 4 clock? This reminded me that he helped save the Brew House.

It’s getting to the point where I should have a Pittsburgh category.

Burghers of Pitt, listen up!

Item. Mountain Goats, at the Warhol Museum, this wednesday, September 20. Go!

Giordano BrothersItem. We had dinner at The Stinking Rose, an all-garlic restaurant here in San Francisco that Summervillain always talks about, and right next door was this place called “Giordano Bros.” who advertised the Steelers game at 5:30 (that’s when they play Monday Night Football here on the west coast, god love ‘em) as well as All-In-One Sandwiches. Pittsburghers will know that they’re copying the Primanti Brothers, who serve their sandwiches with the fries and slaw on the sandwich.

You know, you just get off from a double shift in the mill, you’re hungry, you don’t have time to screw around with side dishes.

Yes, it’s as gross as it sounds.

The advantage of afternoon kindergarten

We took a jog the other morning along the waterfront from our motel toward Fort Mason. It was a beautiful, 65-degree, sunny San Francisco day. We stopped at the Safeway on the way back and bought some bottles of water and cereal. The marina district has a very slight seamy side (I’m thinking of some sketchy $39/night motels on Lombard), but mostly seems full of really posh, Architectural Digest-quality townhouses as you get closer to the water. We walked back down Chesnut street, where the occasional keepin-it-real taqueria is sandwiched between Williams Sonoma and a coffee shop (out of which is inevitably walking a woman in sunglasses and running shorts, carrying a latte like a torch).

Behind us was a mother and daughter, maybe 5.

“Mom, I want a manicure and pedicure”.

“Oh, I don’t know”


“I don’t think we have enough time before you have to get to school.”

Pause. Mom says nothing.

“Mom, please check what time it is.”

“Oh, ok, we do have enough time.”