Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The 99 Corridor -- March 08

Going going back back to Cali Cali next week. I thought I'd post some shots from my March 2008 So/Central Cali trip. There are more on Flickr if you click through.

Abandoned Gas Station, Famoso, Calif. -- March 08

Famoso, Calif. -- March 08

San Diego County's Sprinter Diesel Light Rail on its Second Day of Service

March 10, 2008, at Palomar College, one of the busiest stations.

Videos of Phoenix Trolleys Obliterating Motor Vehicles (Some Large)

AZcentral.com posts a running gallery of train-vehicle collision videos captured on the trains' own cameras. Every collision either involves a vehicle running a red light or attempting an illegal u-turn in front of train.

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Monday, March 30, 2009


On the new MBTA schedule, service from Sullivan to Davis has completely replaced service from Sullivan to Clarendon. This now makes it impossible for my brother and I to get home from each others' apartments at night. Walking to/from Davis adds 10 minutes to the trip. What a pain in the ass.

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The Boston Fire Department: Another Reason Why Boston is a Poorly Run City

The Globe publishes a very interesting article claiming that Boston spends $452 per resident per year for fire suppression, ranking it first in per capital spending among U.S. cities. Mechanics in the department make an average of $134,000. There are all sorts of interesting undertones here; most interesting is that the unions own city hall and raid its coffers for their own benefit.

Take a good look at that link above. It is 10:00 a.m. on the dot, and there are 104 comments posted on the article. Let's see how that number increases when more union members respond. It'll be just like the ongoing police detail battle: members of the police union using the Globe website to publicly threaten citizens' safety. Remember, you're either with them or against them, no matter what the cost.

I look forward to wayward union yahoos commenting here as well.

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Records from the Last House in Cambridge...and Beyond

Seth and I were on a bike ride Saturday. We circled the Cambridge Reservoir at Fresh Pond, explored industrial Cambridge Highlands, then cut down a hilly street toward Arlington. I slowed down to check out a yard sale, said hello to the African-American mother and her three kids who were holding it, and kept rolling. Seth stopped behind me. "They have records," he said. I reluctantly went back, dropped my bike on the sidewalk, and walked down the driveway to the cardboard boxes filled with black columns of vinyl.

Holy shit. Someone really knew what they were buying back in the 60s and 70s. I spent nearly an hour on the ground going through piles of scratched-up, sleeveless records. I recognized a bunch of names from funk compilations, like The Beginning of the End and Stoned Soul Picnic, and I found some personal favorites and big-name standbys like Bohannon and Earth, Wind & Fire. I'm actually going to buy a record cleaning kit from radioshack.com and maybe get a real turntable from ebay. My only turntable remains the cardboard suitcase one I received for doing well on my first report card in 1986.

In terms of rarity (but not quality), this vinyl find might outdo my last biggest one, at a thrift store in Saint John, New Brunswick. It was a chilly October Saturday in 2004, and I was staying over the weekend during a two-week work trip. (I later found out I was pretty much the only salesperson at my company who did such things.) Some dude had just up and left for Halifax, the New York of the Maritimes. He'd sold his awesome vinyl collection to the store the day before. A kid had just gone through the bins and removed all the 80s rap. I feared the collection would have been decimated, but found tons of funk and soul, including a near-mint copy of Idris Muhammad's House of the Rising Sun and a ton of Kool & The Gang (but not their rare debut, which I foolishly passed up at an 80% discont in Lawrence, KS on the KC Siege). On the Saint John trip, I even scored some Average White Band for my then-almost-girlfriend, whom I remember missing a lot during the lonely weekend without cellphone service.

Onward, etc.

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Earth, Wind and Fire, Gratitude

Junior Walker and the All Stars, Road Runner

Buddy Miles Express, Expressway to Your Skull

The Bar-Kays, Do You See What I See?

Hamilton Bohannon, Phase II

The Beginning of the End, Funky Nassau 45

Stoned Soul Picnic, The 5th Dimension

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More City Creek 1

More City Creek 2

Building LDS Church-Owned City Creek

Salt Lake.

Friday, March 27, 2009

On Land Planning in Phoenix


RB: (to female Harvard Law grad student seated at his right) Non-optimized land usage.

ONE-L FROM YUMA: Totally optimized land usage! There are no stairs anywhere!


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Red Iguana, Salt Lake City

Five delicious moles await you here.

I am completely fascinated by Salt Lake City.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Layover in Phoenix

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Whenever any American newspaper publishes an online article about commuter or intercity trains,

half the comments are from people who decry the use of taxpayer money to subsidize transit.

Be it known henceforth that all roads are also subsidized--er, completely paid for--by taxpayer money.

Posting from Salt Lake City.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Phoenix Metro, March 21, 2009

Spring Training, Phoenix, Ariz., March 21, 2009

Spring Training, Phoenix, Ariz., March 21, 2009

Mesa, Ariz., March 21, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

UP #210: Lakenenland Sculpture Park, Marquette, Mich.

UP #209: Lakenenland Sculpture Park, Marquette, Mich.

UP #208: Bumper Sticker, Lakenenland Sculpture Park, Marquette, Mich.

UP #207: Genuine American Corporate Greed Pig vs. Average American Worker, Lakenenland Sculpture Park, Marquette, Mich.

From UP09!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Many posts here

are actually Infrastructure songs.

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Monday, March 16, 2009


The landlords serve up a new delicacy.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (DH09)

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Skyline Chili, Cincinnati

Scrapyard, Dayton, Ohio (DH09)

Megajesus, Monroe, Ohio

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Molly Sullivan (I think) and Some Guy at the Northside Tavern, Cincinnati

Cincinnati Moon

Corner Store, Cincinnati

Gas Station Restroom, Covington, Ky.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Do any girls like Sinclair Lewis?


Walking the Dog, Ada, Ohio (DH09)

Buffalo Chicken Calzone, Ada, Ohio

Ladies who Lunch, Ada, Ohio

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ready for the Flood: Uncle Buck & Boudreaux's, Findlay, Ohio

Ready for the Flood: Domino's, Findlay, Ohio

One of Three Dead Animals Offered to the Mt Blanchard Graveyard

Mother-Father Tombstones, Mt Blanchard, Ohio

Abandoned Church with Tombstones, Mt Blanchard Ohio

Abandoned Church, Mt Blanchard Ohio

Semi-Abandoned Mall, Mansfield, Ohio

Wayne County, Ohio Bookmobile in Rear View Mirror, Wooster, Ohio

Monday, March 09, 2009

Diamond Grille, Akron, Ohio (Exterior)

Diamond Grille, Akron, Ohio (Interior)


That's Akron. Akron, Ohio.

I will now drive across most of this state without a map and attempt to accomplish business objectives along the way.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Cantab, 3.7.09

Cameraphone Photo: "Versus the Empties"

Best Cantab night yet. We witnessed a protracted physical fight between woman and man, which involved the much shorter female throwing a drink at the male, then trying to claw the male's shirt apart. The male willingly and aggressively fought back, like a total piece of shit...during "Love Train," no less.

The band was ON tonight, and I don't think I've ever seen them turn in a finer performance. Diane Blue's harmonica solos were earth-shattering. The Couper brothers played like they hadn't played the same show every weekend for the past X years. Candy was not fucking around, and never hit a bad note.

But Bruce the Goose, the formidable sax player, stole the show with his ability to make everything and anything better with the breathy blow of his horn.

I went into the bathroom to take a piss. Bruce the Goose entered behind me. The toilet was occupied, and the urinal was free. I conceded my turn to Bruce. "You can have my turn," I said, and began to exit. "You're a fucking monster on that thing." Bruce the Goose nodded as if he expected this, walked by me, looked at the sink, and looked back at me.

"Dude, someone fuckin' yakked in the sink," was all he said.

Warren the bartender was true to his nature. Even though we tried to avoid him, he managed to find me and act like a complete scumbag. The next time I entered the bathroom, I found him there, taking a piss. He looked at me with his beady eyes, while still pissing, and said, "You can't wait outside, you fucking asshole?" He shook his head and made a clicking sound with his fat, fat lips. "Now I have to go to the kitchen to wash my hands, you fucking asshole."

I looked him dead in the eyes and said, "You're a negative person." He sulked off, and I hope he washed his hands.

Out in the street, it was a party in Central. No police this time. As is often the case in Boston, no one met anyone, and everyone went home with the people they came with. Frat boys returned to talking about playing Halo all day. Girls ushered girls into cabs and left immediately.

We ran into Bruce the Goose again, and I mentioned something about being a musician. He said to come to the open mic he hosts near Faneuil and handed me a crumpled flyer from his pocket. I said something in resoponse.

"Just bring your shit," he said, and walked off.

Andrew greeted random people on the street. We could have fought some guys from Brazil, but they were actually friendly and we alternatingly traded turns for pizza at Hi-Fi. I declared war on the hoarders of the hot pepper and the parmesan, taking their shit and telling them that this is how it works in the city.

Outside, some african-americans were giving an asian american a hard time. "I'm a grown-ass man. I'll slap you with a grown-ass hand," said the young-looking "thirty-six year old" af-am to the marauding asian who kept telling him that he didn't mean any disrespect by calling him "boy."

A much larger african-american took the-asian american aside and told him: "You don't say boy, man. You don't say boy,man."

Boys and men and all the girls are all gone. A cab offered to take us home, so home we went.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Castle Island, 2008

Posted this last night and am moving it up to the top of the page for the weekend.

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And then, after that last post,

Erich and I consumed a box of Johnnie Foodmaster's fishsticks. I did not know you could eat fishsticks with hotsauce. Most excellent.

Now I've got to reserve a rehearsal room. We're playing with a drummer today...


I. Go back to Vermont and die II. Cardiac Nurse

I. At the conclusion of the workweek

after contemplating the THREE drivers who ran solid reds at powderhouse sq in an attempt to run me over
i try to cross mass ave at porter sq
white Nissan approaches at 'high rate of speed'
vermont plates
i am crossing from center in crosswalk; tools in jackets are crossing form other side
car does not slow
i stop in crosswalk, make WHAT THE FUCK gesture
car immediately and purposefully veers directly at me, then swerves away at last second, missing me by inches
rules of engagement for car punching
immediately met
car punched; bitchslapped with open palm
fat orca fuck behind the wheel starts cursing me out over his fat c*nt of a passenger
"they're from vermont..." say passers-by
learn how to fucking drive while you're at it
fat fuck omits phrases about me being a faggot and how he'll kill me
fat c*nt sits there terrified
i catch up to car on foot....around here that's a crime, i say

hours pass. then i am smoking with julia the cardiac nurse in front of christopher's
who turns out to be my neighbor
who works in a a cardiac ward with ablation patients
I was an ablation patient when I was 13!!!
when ablations were experimental
things are going great
then her friends exit christopher's and see her talking to a boy
they immediately attempt to sabotage
she says thanks but no thanks; i'll walk
she tries to get rid of them
she looks at me but they do not
they hail a cab and put her in it and send her home
then they stand there and look like c*nts

and that is that

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Is Tomorrow Summer Dress Day?

One of the most time-honored traditions of Bostonia, and a more reliable indicator of spring's impending arrival than any rodent-based method, is Summer Dress Day. It always falls on one of the first warmer days of late winter. Thousands upon thousands of young college women, "acres of girlhood," face the light of day wearing publicly for the first time the bright and frilly summer dresses obtained weeks or months earlier at the city's trendiest retailers. Every third person on every street corner is wearing a summer dress in the middle of March or April. There may be snow still to come, but the young women of the city band together, probably unknowingly, and create a beacon of hope. It is a natural rhythm of the earth, certain as the tides.

Tomorrow's forecast calls for a high of 56° and partial sun. I wonder if tomorrow will be Summer Dress Day.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Working from Home

Click on this photo and scroll over it to understand it better.

"Future George Bush"

was what my friend Melissa said as I snapped this.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Combo at B's (SPR09)

Corn sticks!

Monday, March 02, 2009

ABBQ #4: House Park Beef Sandwich

The serrano pepper at right made this sandwich so much better. This is at House Park BBQ, on the western edge of downtown Austin. It's a serious townie joint.

Click through to see some more images from our Austin trip (December 2008).

Dignity Hunt 09-XX, Barbecue Workers at Rest, Watford's Bar-B-Q, Bishopsville, SC (SPR09)

I had to pretend to be cleaning my lens to get this shot, hence my eyeglasses appearing in the upper right (creating, in turn, a reflected image of the beehive-wearing cashier).

Two Trips to the Carolinas

29 point-and-shoot photos from the last two weeks of work travel:

Full set here.

I need to start bringing the SLR on all trips, as I promised to do. Too many missed opportunities here, especially when in low light situations.

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Dignity Hunt 09-XX: RB Leaving Business Hotel en route to Presentation, Florence, SC

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Next Round of Suburban Thought versus Boston

Downtown Crossing, Boston's once-vibrant central shopping district, is a resounding failure. Long-vacant storefronts line the sidewalks, and new stores seem to fail regularly. Lonely pushcart vendors never appear to sell anything. There is always a disturbingly high police presence. And by seven p.m., seven nights a week, twelve months a year, the heart of Downtown Boston is totally abandoned, a lonely and uninviting concrete tomb.

But the Globe has a solution: in the words of Universal Hub's Adam Gaffin, "turn Downtown Crossing into a parking lot."

That's right. Who needs a pedestrian mall to serve the shopping needs of city residents, when we can create a vehicular pipeline for suburbanites? We can safely assume that many city residents don't have cars--and the ones who do own cars are already using them to shop in the suburbs. The people who visit Downtown Crossing today are that strange breed of transit-using citizen, the uncanny mix of the working poor and the car-free by choice (the latter group includes me). The Globe seems to suggest that replacing these people with, yes, suburbanites, would make it all better. Never mind the tens of thousands of suburbanites who work blocks away but avoid the shops of Downtown Crossing at all costs, lured away by the malls of home.

Let's go ahead and reopen Downtown Crossing to vehicular traffic. We can then judge Downtown Crossing's success not by the tax revenue it generates or the quality of life offered there but by the number of suburbanites parking on the streets, dooring bikers, and standing in the middle of the sidewalks in large numbers. Or, once it's reopened to auto traffic, we can pretend that Washington Street is just another silent downtown street and put the failure of Downtown Crossing behind us.

I think the blight of Downtown Crossing is a real problem. After staying in the neighborhood during a conference, several of my colleagues vowed never to return to Boston again. Downtown Crossing has to do better, but the bottom line is that trying to compete with or emulate the suburbs is not going to make the city center work better. We need less suburban thought, and fewer bad ideas, from our elected officials and our newspapers.
Now, here's a good idea. Back in 2005, I wrote about a Globe article comparing the number of Business Improvement Districts in Boston (zero) to the number in New York (over 50). In New York, these ideas really work, by helping local businesses invest in everything from neighborhood beautification to hiring the employees who beautify, maintain, and provide security on the streets. BIDs turn neighborhoods like Downtown Flushing in Queens and Fordham Road in the Bronx into tremendously successful shopping districts. Amazingly, Boston can't pull this off in the middle of downtown. But it's not like anyone's trying. It's all talk and millions of dollars spent on consultants.

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