Category Archives: local

Juice, vintage 2003

I’m kind of amazed at the amazement of many of my fellow Sox fans that finally some Sox players are finally implicated in the steroids mess. I mean, it stings, sure. I wish it weren’t so. I really wish one of the names named weren’t David Ortiz who by all accounts is The Nicest Guy In The Universe. I agree that the guilty-til-proven-innocent witch-hunt-y way names are tarnished is a travesty (but also think it’s a little disingenuous to think that when I certainly allowed myself a little schadenfreude when the names Rodriguez and Giambi were so tarnished).

But come on, even at the time in question (2003), I have to admit, I had an eyebrow raised. The Sox offense was explosive, you had several capable players suddenly having superstar-quality years (Mueller, Varitek, Ortiz, Damon), and a couple of established superstars having great years, too (Garciaparra, Ramirez). Maybe at the time, the all-pervasive sense of being the perennial bridesmaid made people not even let that thought bubble into consciousness. But I gotta figure I can’t be the only one who had that thought, but quickly filed it away in the back of my mind in the bin labelled “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

A slightly cynical thought I’ve played with for some years now is that there should be two MLBs. One that allows steroids, and one that is “clean”. I don’t know. These dudes are highly paid, and if they’re willing to trade years of their life for cash and glory, so be it: it’s not cheating if everybody’s doing it. Also, my strong hunch is that the league with steroids allowed and out in the open would be vastly more popular, full of lots of home runs and lots of game twists (ala the Red Sox circa 2003 and 2004, where you could never count out the offense, even if they were down a couple of runs and it was 2 outs in the 9th inning). Those were years which have since been unmatched for sheer entertainment value.

Still, I do wish that the only juicing that had been going on was the slug of Jack Daniels that Kevin Millar claimed was part of the team pregame ritual.

PS: Lesson learned on schadenfreude. However, I will allow myself a slight bit of glee if that sanctimonious twit Curt Schilling gets implicated too, since he has clucked loudly at every name that comes to light.

PPS: As I’m writing this and watching NESN, Boston Mayor Tom Mennino and David Ortiz are urging the young people of the city to make good decisions this summer.

Driving in Massachusetts with the… with the… radio on!

We drove to the Petsmart in Everett to get some wet food and some litter. The radio we heard there and back could have been taken from my casette collection in 8th grade. On the way we heard the end of “Aqualung” and then we switched stations to some kind of jazz thing on 91.5, which I think is Tufts University radio, but weren’t really paying attention. In Petsmart the woman with the purple fingernails so incredibly long they curve into themselves — I don’t know she bags heavy containers of pet food all day– made small talk with Terri about when her due date was and if we know if it’s a boy or a girl. When we got back to the car, Tufts University radio is no longer playing jazz, they’re playing “Thick as a Brick”. It’s not every day you hear the Jethro Tull on two different radio stations within 15 minutes of each other, and you pretty much never hear them on college radio– maybe all the music snobs have gone home for the summer? Anyway, we headed back toward home, and they cut off “Thick as a Brick” abruptly partway through and kick into “Nights in White Satin”. Now, the clouds were kind of thick and grey, but as we came over the crest of a hill on Route 16, the Moody Blues coming to a crashing, overblown symphonic crescendo, a huge break in the heavens opens up and beams of sunset light are shining down on us, and we both just started laughing because the moment could not have been more perfectly synchronized if we were in a car commercial. We decided to grab dinner at Cambridge Common, so we got to hear “Tuesday Afternoon” and the beginning of “Locomotive Breath”.

After dinner, back in the car, I’m the DJ because I had beer and so Terri is driving. Fresh Air with Terri Gross is on NPR, and she’s interviewing some guy who is talking some crap about relationships and the new song on his album and the guy is all “don’” this and “singin’” that (I admit that I tunred to Terri and said “sounds like this guy forgot to bring his G’s to the interview”) and talking about how insensitivity creeps into relationships and I assume it’s some folksy pretentious faux man of the people NPR darling like Steve Earle or some such, so I flip stations, but nothing else is on, so I flip back, and I swear to god, the words out Terri Gross’s mouth are “ok, so, Iggy Pop, now we’re going to listen to your cover of Jobim’s “How Insensitive” from your new album”.

!!?!?!!

And, during the clip, I’m thinking, while I’m not rushing out to buy this, it’s also not as bad as Rod Stewart’s standards album or the Billy Idol christmas album. At the end she asks him if he’s going to be doing cabaret anytime soon, and he says that he admits that pretentions of the Cafe Carlyle or the Rainbow Room are creeping in. She asks if the Cafe Carlyle called tonight would he do it, he says “you know, I might be tempted but I’ve done stuff like that before and I just hate singin’ with my shirt on”.

Daily Dispatch, 8 Jan 2009

Thursday nights are date night with me and dubs. We haven’t really been out alone with just the two of us since well before Christmas, probably well before the whole Advent season. So it was good to resume date night tonight. 

We met up at Johnny D’s and I got there early for a change, and so I got a Harpoon IPA and chatted with Willie. Willie used to be a barista at the Someday Café. Actually, he’s also a barrister (and that was mostly what we chatted about). I’ve probably blathered about Willie and the Someday enough in previous years. But Willie’s got a lot going on.

After dinner, after we walked home, I checked the sidewalk around the house. We’ve had 3 or 4 big snowstorms in the last 4 weeks (depending on if you count the one that lasted 3 days as one storm or two). And the usual lovely mix of snow that changes to rain that makes a nice couple of inches of slush that will refreeze if you don’t deal with it.

I’ve been more diligent about making sure the sidewalk is clear and not icy in the mornings lately for the kiddos walking to the school that’s down the street from us. Maybe I’ve gotten more responsible with age. Or maybe I feel the stern disapproval of the crossing guard (who leaves the engine in his Lincoln running from about 7am – 8:20am, and sits inside it to warm up when there are no kids comming). Or if I’ve been living next door to our snow-removal obsessed neighbor G— too long. Whatever the reason, I’m less inclined to just let nature take it’s course (“it’ll melt in a few hours anyway!”) and have been out there with shovel, salt, and sand before I shower in the morning. I plot strategies: I wait to shovel until the exact moment at which the snow changes to rain, so that I don’t waste my time shoveling before all the snow is down, but while it’s still light snow, and before it has a chance to re-freeze. I take a weird glee if I can get my sidewalk clearer than G—, or sooner than G—. It kills me a little when he gets the jump on me because I can’t start until I get home from work (he’s retired).

Anyway, after we walked home tonight, Terri went inside, and I stayed out to check the sidewalk. There were a couple of patches of black ice, so I put down some salt and walked across the street to refill our sand bucket from the nice big municipal drum that the City of Somerville puts out at intersections.

“It’ll be five dollahs for that sand!” a guy who’s stopped at the intersection in his jeep yells to me. And then he starts to giggle uncontrollably, as does his girlfriend in the passenger seat.

“Hey, I’m doing a public service here” I say.

“At least our city can still afford sand!” he says, as the light changes green. He gives me kind of a thumbs up, and the laughing couple drives away.

That’s the thing. People say that it’s the harsh climate here in the Northeast that makes everybody so grumpy and on edge. But my experience is the opposite. It’s only when the weather is bad that people are most civil. The first big snowfall of the year, you walk down the street, and everybody you walk past actually looks you in the eye. They even say “hi”. Or if they’re chatty, they’ll say “this is something, huh?”.

“Feeding the chickens again?” the crossing guard asked me this morning, as I was sowing salt on some ice.

And heaven knows, if it weren’t for chatter about snow removal, about comparing notes on what kind of rock salt works best or a new kind of silicon spray that you put on the auger of your snowblower to deal with the heavy snow, G— and I would probably have nothing to talk about.

Honk! 2008 photos and video

HONK! 2008

I’ve mentioned the HONK! festival in previous years. The third one is happening this weekend (parade from Davis Square to Harvard Square is just 2 hours from now). You can read more about them and what they’re about at their website.

Here’s Providence RI’s What Cheer? Brigade, who knocked my socks off last year (strongly recommend watching this full screen since it’s rather dark).

A shorter clip:

And another, where it’s actually light and you can sort of see them. The gorilla guy wore a scarier but probably significantly less hot mask this year.

Due to a program misprint (which said they were going on in statue park at 8:00, not 6:00), I almost missed What Cheer?. Happily, I did not, though I did miss the first few minutes of their set while I was distracted by these folks playing in front of the T station, whose name I did not catch.

Also a notable group from earlier on were the Loyd Family Players who were sort of a Brazilian-style drum group from California (yes, many bands trek very far to make the fest).
Loyd Family Players, HONK! 2008(Photo by Terri)



Loyd Family Players at HONK! 2008

There were lots of other bands as well who were also notable, but it’s almost impossible to see them all, what with 4 simultaneous stages going on all around Davis Square. Anyhow, I love the HONK! fest, and the general outpouring of energy and creativity and feel like I’m in a good place when such awesome stuff happens within walking distance of my house.

Davis Square during HONK! 2008

Still, I’m not a political guy, and while I wish them luck in their project, I’m mainly there for the spectacle and the talented musicians and the spirit of the thing. My impression of the effectiveness of most acts of political street theater is the same as Tom Lehrer’s eventual opinion of political satire:

I don’t think this kind of thing has an impact on the unconverted, frankly. It’s not even preaching to the converted; it’s titillating the converted. I think the people who say we need satire often mean, “We need satire of them, not of us.” I’m fond of quoting Peter Cook, who talked about the satirical Berlin cabarets of the ’30s, which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the Second World War. You think, “Oh, wow! This is great! We need a song like this, and that will really convert people. Then they’ll say, ‘Oh, I thought war was good, but now I realize war is bad.’” No, it’s not going to change much.

Obscure economic indicator: the HBS turkey

I shudder to think of the kind of macroeconomic mayhem that can be caused when the current batch of HBS students graduate, since they seem to have nothing better to do in school than start Facebook groups to protest the presence of wild turkeys on campus. Money quote:

“The first time I saw the turkey was during my second week of school,” he said. “I’m from California, so seeing a turkey roaming the campus blew my mind. I remember stopping a girl who was a year ahead of me to bring her attention to the fact that there was a turkey a few feet away from us. She looked at me like I was five years old.”

The only heartening thing in there is that she has a classmate that thinks she’s a dope too.

AirTran roller coaster

Air Tran rollercoaster

Saw this in Harvard Square station the other day, and, call me crazy, thought it was odd that an airline’s ad would compare their airplane to a roller coaster.

Somerville photo shoots

Thanks to Terri’s photo class, I managed to (barely) miss the fun on the Red Line this morning. We left the house at 7:40 or so (normally I leave at 8:10 or so), so although the train was abnormally crowded, we actually made it all the way to Park Street. Though, we did notice that it smelled weirdly like fire when we stopped abruptly just after Porter Square.

Terri at twilightAfter work, I met up with Terri and we walked around and she took pictures, and we ended up at Rosebud. We never go to Rosebud. It’s a well preserved little train car diner with nifty neon. But it pretty consistently has bad food, so we never end up going there, what with the infinitely better options in Davis Square. But we went, because Terri needed to take pictures inside for her class, and all the tastier joints were too dark. There was a sign on the wall behind the bar that said “try our world famous bloody mary!”. I recommend that you not bother with the world famous bloody mary, which was watery tomato juice, vodka, with a wilty celery stick. Just get a Harpoon IPA. The one thing that we ordered that was fantastic was the buffalo mushrooms. Some time in the last 5 years I’ve become sort of a buffalo fiend, and pretty much, you put buffalo sauce on it, I’ll eat it. (Shut up). But we left thinking that we should go back more often. It’s a place definitely where old-school Somerville character gets along pretty much fine with the gentrificators like yours truly. The waitress saw Terri taking all kinds of pictures and brought her over a postcard and said, “this one’s probably going to be better than the one you shot outside”. We explained that she was taking a photo class, so we hoped they didn’t mind us taking pictures. The bartender heard that (it is a train car after all) and said “OK, just make sure you only shoot my good side” and turned his face to the left and pointed to his right side. When we were wrapping up, a couple came who appeared to be regulars. The waitress asked them where they were last night (for the Celtics game). The woman said that they were down on the cape. There was a picture of Larry Bird taped to the side of the TV over the bar.

Anyway, we left thinking we should go back there more, if only for drinks.

The Green Monster, now with 33% more green

I caught this nugget in a Reuters article today:

The 2007 World Series-winning Red Sox baseball club last month became the first professional sports team to go solar, installing solar hot water panels that will replace a third of the gas used to heat water at Boston’s historic Fenway Park.

Note, I noticed the article caught it because someone from my company was quoted in it:

“The solar industry will look very different just two years from now,” said Ted Sullivan, a senior analyst at Lux Research, a New York market consultancy.

He said he expects “a shake-out among companies that aren’t prepared to thrive in this new environment — particularly crystalline silicon players that haven’t invested in new thin-film technologies.”

Home is where you know the call letters

Terri and I have been talking recently about where “home” is. When we go to Pennsylvania to visit my parents, I say “I’m going to visit my parents” or “I’m going to The Farm” but to me, home has not really been there since I was 18.

That said, I have lived in Somerville or Cambridge for almost 12 years now, and I still have no idea what the local TV network affiliates are. I know there is a channel 7, and I think it might be Fox. I know there is a WBZ and I think it is CBS, but I don’t know what its number is. I know there are 3 variants of WGBH and that is PBS. All I really know for sure is that on RCN in Somerville, the Red Sox are on NESN which is channel 30, and Turner Classic Movies is channel 62.

But I can still name the ones I grew up with in Pittsburgh: 2 is KDKA, a CBS affiliate (one of the few if not the only “K” stations east of the Mississippi). 4 is WTAE, an ABC affiliate. 11 is WPXI, NBC (and it used to be WIIC which I was reminded of when we were at Nora and Jim’s the other week: they had a Pittsburgh Steelers WIIC mug!). And 13 is WQED, the oldest public TV station in the US.

That said, Somerville definitely feels more like home to me than Pittsburgh, but it’s weird to have lived here so long without being able to name a single network affiliate.