Monday, February 22, 2010

Two Meade-Bellinger short films: "TEXAS BARBECUE TOUR 2009" and "INFRASTRUCTURE at CHURCH of BOSTON"

Both released last night.

One:



Two:

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

INFRASTRUCTURE: FRI FEB 19 @ CHURCH OF BOSTON



First show of the year, two weeks from tomorrow. If you haven't seen us in a while, you really should. If you still haven't seen us, what's wrong with you?

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Boston Gray

Stifling, suffocating entrapment, or aesthetically pleasing backdrop to the right music, depending on how your life is going when the rain rolls in.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

America, Discovered, Again.

Surf City Pier at midnight. More on this to come.

Now, to get back to Boston, and attempt to start my life there once again...

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Why Boston Sucks, According to a Intercity Bus Line Employee

"Here come the drones," he says, watching an endless throng of blank-faced workers streaming through the Back Bay turnstiles at 8am. "Look at them. They're miserable. Every day, they look the same."

"You know why people are so miserable here? The public transportation is about ten times worse than it needs to be. In New York, the system is probably 30 times bigger and works perfectly, like clockwork, 24 hours a day. Here, it takes people 45 minutes to go six miles, and they have that stress to deal with every day. By the time they get to work, they're miserable.

"The roads are just as bad. I used to drive in from ********. It took me two hours to go forty miles. The traffic adds to the stress, too. People have to save all their errands for the weekends because they have no time during the week.

"A day doesn't last a day here. You wake up on Saturday, you buy your groceries, go to a function or whatever, and by the time you get there it's dark out.

"I'm from the country, the farms. We don't live like this"

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Monday, July 13, 2009

MIT Radio is Unreal.

Add WMBR to the list of reasons why Boston is one of the best places in America to create and enjoy music. I've been blown away by the quality of the playlists on the following shows:
  • Backwoods, Sat 10a-12p. Old country, r&b, rockabilly.
  • Late Risers' Club, Weekdays 10a-12p. Punk of every description.
  • Lost and Found, Weekdays 12-2p. Soul, funk.

Luckily, you can get these shows for free over the interweb (and I can get a clear signal atop Clarendon Hill). Stream at http://wmbr.mit.edu.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Allston

looks like a gigantic Hot Topic on Ellis Island. Any neighborhood that so completely and continuously lives up to its stereotypes is a winner in my book.

And so: Infrastructure will be renting a practice space in Rock City. Much interestingness will come of this.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wogie's and stuff

We will be holding court at Wogie's on Tuesday, then going to a show at Pianos, in case you want to come.

We've found a drummer for Infrastructure and are now rehearsing on weekends in Boston. Shows in a few months, I hope.

More Deep South photos and stories to come.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Annual April Pilgrimage to Revere

Every year, when we can't stand being inside anymore, and the gray weather that started in October is just starting to let up, Dan M. and I head up to Revere Beach. The oldest public beach in America has a lot to offer: it's transit-accessible and caters not only to locals but to all sorts of urbanites. There's plenty of roast beef and pizza, bars I would never enter, and scary motels that seem to be raided frequently by police. There are people and dogs of every size and color, varied as the litter on the sand. When the weather is warmer, the strip becomes American Graffiti, with all types of choppers and roadsters cruising day and night.

I love Revere Beach passionately and defend it to naysayers whenever the opportunity arises. It's an extremely urban experience, a mirror of the diversity America enjoys and the challenges it faces. In other words, Revere Beach is as real as it gets.

I put my photos on Flickr, but here are some highlights:


Transferring to the Blue Line...


...arrival.


People do the darndest things at Revere Beach, like sunbathing on the wrong side of the beach wall. So I was not terribly surprised to see this woman sunbathing on the wall directly outside the men's bathhouse:



"IF YOU TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, I'LL F**KIN' KILL YOU!" she shouted, as I rather suavely maneuvered my lens to set up a shot of Dan (who is sitting on the wall in the above photo).

"Nothing to worry about," I said.

"You dumb f**kin' kid. We've lived here a long time, and this is OUA TURF! I'LL F**KIN SLICE YOU UP FROM HEAD TO TOE!" she continued, still lying atop the wall. Then, to a crowd of about ten shirtless men grilling in the shade of a house across the street: "SULLY! SULLY! WATCH OUT! HE'S GAUT A KEAH-MRA! HE'S GAUT A KEAH-MRA! WATCH OUT, SULLY!"

Someone across the street mumbled something, and many laughed. I've been going to Revere long enough to know how to handle myself there. To get out of trouble, I did what no lower-Revere Beach denizen ever does: I crossed the wall onto the sand. Meade, who was sitting on the wall, stepped off onto the sandy side as well. The sound of waves and seagulls resumed and the restroom lady resumed her blissful rest.

Lots of groundwater was seeping through the sand and cascading down to the ocean. I'd never seen this before.



A laceless, washed-up shoe caught my eye...



...and we whiled away the afternoon at Santorini, the best restaurant on the strip. We got fried clam strips and sunburn.



After a few hours at the ocean, we headed back to the Blue Line at Wonderland and journeyed headlong into another work week, Dan's in New York and mine on the Left Coast.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

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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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (DH09)


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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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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.

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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.
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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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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Overheard in Teele Square

"Man, all I wanted to do tonight was get it IN. So bad!"

--guy to other guy, walking toward the projects with bags of Chinese food, 2:51 a.m.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

A Word about Quincy

This week, I was working on an essay when I got stuck, wrote a post called "Go Back to the Suburbs and Die," and unwittingly initiated an internet shitstorm here in Bostonia (thanks to UniversalHub.com, also a locus of shit-flingin'). In my post I mention a conversation I had with a girl at a bar in Quincy.

Apparently that's enough to get you an STD. The funniest thing about the many vitriolic comments on my post is that all the references to Quincy, as city or suburb, are incredibly negative.

Quincy is a bizarre place. The more urban parts have the feel of my native Queens, but without the benefit of being part of a much larger municipality. That allows the deeply entrenched cronyism, corruption, and racism of New England--which may or may not be dying out in other cities--to seep in.

In Quincy, the 'poorer' residents are quarantined in the Germantown projects on a peninsula off another peninsula out in the ocean. The community college, the only city-operated community college in the state, occasionally loses accreditation, spends scholarship money on the president's vacations, and owes the city thousands in back rent. You have to love it. It's like the cover stories from the Herald happen there every day.

In a bizarre similarity to Queens, Downtown Quincy shows similar Asian influences as Downtown Flushing, though new buildings funded by Asian developers do not dominate the skyline. I've overheard white residents bitching about the ballots being printed in Mandarin and Vietnamese. And I've actually seen trucks from Flushing making deliveries in Quincy. I also believe that Fung Wah's Boston headquarters are in Quincy--another strange linkage to New York.

Quincy has cool industrial shit, like the giant animal fat refinery and the Mass. Water Resource Authority pelletizer plant. That's where your shit gets turned into fertilizer! I like these places because their existence is required in order for our society to function. You will never see infrastructure like that in the deep suburbs.

What am I trying to say? Quincy needs to be Quincy. A lot of bad happens there, and a lot of necessary happens there, and that's all I know about the city. Certain parts are very photogenic to me, and I get there when I get there.

We may not all want to live in Quincy, but we couldn't live without it.

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"Come on, spring!" shouts a voice from the sidewalk outside.

This is the snowiest of my nine winters in Boston, and I absolutely love it.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Go Back to the Suburbs and Die."

You can always tell which Red Line customers are going to go all the way to Alewife, get in their cars, and drive to their suburban fortresses. They carry trinkets and souvenirs from the most vacant and touristic attractions in Boston--Red Sox and Celtics paraphernalia, Loews Boston Common movie theater cups, tourist t-shirts, etc. As if the city were one giant mall whose homogeneity was just a T fare away (plus Alewife parking fee).

Last weekend I was in a bar in Quincy* when a secretary from the suburb of Abington, wherever that may be, tried to hit on me (or otherwise talked to me for some reason). She asked me where I lived. "Oh," she said. "There's some nice parts in Somerville, I guess." Like you would fucking know. For all these people, the city is the place they drive through or take the T under on their way to their own personal disneyland.

The suburban townies are all terrified of the city. They stick to the safest bets and pray that they don't get robbed on the T. When I see these people clutching their pathetic souvenirs, blocking the doors when they're on the train, and not letting people off the train while they're waiting to board, I think about robbing them.

The suburbanites remind me of the hollow, rich losers I went to Tufts with. Back then, a night out in Boston meant going to the Galleria, because going to a mall was all anyone knew how to do. I hate this culture of the suburbs, where everyone is above average and no one tries to do anything new. A land of people with eyes but no vision, people with big backyards but no curiosity, people with educations but no thirst for knowledge, a culture of lazy fucking idiots whose ignorance remains blissfully unchallenged.
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The post title, one of the most memorable quotations that I've ever overheard, was uttered at a grindcore concert at a Providence loft called The Sickle in the spring of 2003.

*Note, 1/26. I was at the birthday party of a friend who lives in Quincy. I don't actually hang out there.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Massachusetts Super Transit Authority?

Check this out: State Senate would create transportation superagency.

Via UniversalHub. You'll want to read the comments. Only recently have I realized why the Globe previously did not allow comments, well after its parent NY Times did: townies! The battle on this article is not so bad, but I've seen others go horribly wrong.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meeting People in Somerville

or Cambridge or Boston...is impossible. They are afraid of you. They protect their drinks by placing napkins over them when they leave the bar to smoke or go to the bathroom. In the event that they are drinking their beer through a straw, like a fucking retard, they force the straw through the napkin over their pint glass to make clear the point that they will be back and that you are not to talk to them. If you do talk to them, you won't get anywhere. They may be pretty and educated and drinking, but they don't want to talk to you...or anyone. Everyone tries their hardest to be an island, their own island, separate from their friends and anyone they may not know. Boston is the greatest collection of ambitious, capable, and useless people I have seen to date. (New New Yorkers, by comparison, are mostly useless.)

Meanwhile, if you need anything else to do, there are fresh work emails available 24 hours a day from a not-24-hours-a-day business, so that if you ever need a distraction from your surroundings or yourself, there is always a task to be completed, someone else's need to be fulfilled, something to do.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to Cross the Street in Dorchester

We were in Dorchester. We didn't know that we were going to Dorchester, but that's where we had to go, so that's where we went. We grudgingly got off the train at JFK/UMass and started walking through the dimly lit, unsafe passage under I-93.

Shortly thereafter, Chris realized that we were being followed. Chris and I had each just drank a pitcher of Spaten at Jacob Wirth, so we had a little buzz going. The two of us were walking out front, our three lady friends were trailing a good distance behind, and a dark-skinned young guy in a hooded gray outfit had appeared just a little behind them. He was wearing the same outfit that the bad guys on The Wire wear when they go out on foot to execute their rivals.

Suddenly all six of us were walking closer together. Someone said, "Damn, you two guys have all three of these fine ladies to yourselves!" I didn't say it, and I know Chris didn't say it either. The guy was now walking in the middle of our group.

"Don't mind me; I'm just trying to make friends," the dude said. The ladies clammed up and walked faster. I hung back to talk to the guy. I always do that.

"Where's the party?" he asked.

"Straight ahead."

"I just got off work. I been workin' hard for my Pomeranian. I'm a security guard, long-ass hours. It's like union shit. I got a pit bull, too, and my pit bull is the Pomeranian's bodyguard! Hey, what's your name? Mine's Junior."

When we got to the corner of Dorchester Ave, and the bar where my brother was playing came into sight, Junior got all serious.

"So, you just drink?" I told him, no, I have a job.

"No, you don't do any other drugs? Nothing?" Seeing increasing humor potential, I asked in some convincing tone what his crew was "slingin.'"

"Oh, we got e, coke, weed, everything. Not here, though. In Quincy. You gotta come down to Quincy with me."

"Where in Quincy?"

Suddenly we noticed that we were across the street from our destination and we had to cross Dorchester Ave. I caught up to the others, who were waiting for an opening in the traffic. But Junior walked out in front of us and shouted:

"YOU IN DORCHESTER! THIS IS HOW YOU CROSS THE STREET IN DORCHESTER!"

And then he broke from the group and walked right into the rear side panel of a speeding, green, 2-door Civic. His knee made a grotesque pop! as it struck the car. It sounded like a two-liter bottle of soda hitting the pavement after a long fall.

The car screeched to a stop about thirty yards away. And then, the inevitable. The backup lights turned on, and the car rolled slowly back to us. The driver, a stout black male of about double Junior's mass, emerged. He stood in the middle of the roadway and his eyes hit Junior's with an executioner's stare.

"I'm straight," Junior said, hoping to walk away.

"Let me tell you something," the driver began, walking aggressively toward us. I wondered if he might mistake my group for Junior's posse and shoot us all, but one quick glance at the group reminded me that his making this connection was a sheer impossibility.

The driver went on: "When you're crossing the street, n*gger, you better watch to see if there's any cars coming." Junior tried to say something. "Next time, I'll run your ass over."

Suddenly, there was no traffic, just the stopped Civic and the confrontation in the street. I looked up. Directly across the street was my brother, playing bass in his cover band, That's What She Said. They were right in the front window of Tom English's bar (the Tom English in Dorchester, NOT the Tom English in Southie). I waved to my brother as we crossed the street, knowing I had just acquired another story.

Back in the street, the two guys were really having words now, telling each other not to front but stepping gradually toward each other. We passed a large crowd of middle-aged white townies smoking on the steps to the bar. One woman shook her head as I walked by her, saying to no one in particular, "He's gawna get his ayss kicked."

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Afterword: This morning I recounted this tale for my friend, Rachel, who claims she also met a Pomeranian-owning, drug-dealing Junior at the Quincy Center T stop when she was living there.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Change of Seasons?

Is it not summer anymore in Boston, or is it just sleight of nature? Every year when it becomes cool outside, it reminds me of all the pleasures and anxieties I faced my first autumn here, back in 1999. There's part of me that knows it will probably be ninety degrees again in late September, but there's also the part of me that fears the winter. At least we have variety and the emotions inspired by it.

On a related note, the perfect thing to be listening to while looking backward and forward at the same time is WFUV. This amazing radio station, based at Fordham U in the Bronx, astounds me for two simple reasons. One: it is a live creation generated by a handful of talented DJs. Two: the music they play is perfectly crafted, performed, and recorded. If you've read this far, you must check it out.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Discovering Castle Island and Sullivan's

I'm surprised to have discovered the foil to New York's trendy-but-delicious Shake Shack, in Southie of all places. The unsurprisingly named Sullivan's, a long-operating burger and seafood shack, serves as the gateway to the best part of Castle Island Park and all the urban treasures it offers.

Last night, I showed up at Castle Island for the first time ever before taking in a show at the Pavilion. I had always wanted to check out the park and fort at the mouth of Boston Harbor. City Point, the location of Castle Island, is only about seven miles from Teele Square. After spending way too much time installing a rear fender on my new bike, I headed out across much of the city at rush hour. No cars drove into me, and I arrived at Castle Island in about 50 minutes, starving.

I expected that once I arrived, I'd take a peek at the harbor and then find a slice of pizza deeper within Southie. Upon biking into the park's crowded lot, though, I noticed that everyone around me was eating crinkle-cut fries. A brick building with the word Sullivan's on it seemed to be the source of the fries. I locked my bike to a tree (where are the bike racks, DCR?) and entered.

Inside, chaos! Picture a Revere Beach street scene on steroids and/or coke--well, more steroids and more coke. To use one of my mother's favorite words, the scene around and within Sullivan's on an average weeknight is absolute BEDLAM. The diverse crowd swelled and ebbed as employees barked order numbers. Behind the counter, nearly a dozen teenage white girls in green t-shirts and shorts took the orders, counted the cash, did the cooking, handed out cardboard trays of food to their more diverse customers. I asked if it was always this insane. Yup, the girl said. I paid her just $4.75 for a cheeseburger, fresh-seeming fries, and a soda.



I ate outside with dozens upon dozens of others, taking in the sickly salty yet soothing and cool air of the North Atlantic. I watched joggers and walkers ring Pleasure Bay, but what I really wanted to see was the harbor, which was just over a hill, behind the the old fort and out of sight. By the time I finished my fries, I was already late to meet my friend at the Pavilion. I took a quick walk to the real waterfront anyway. I checked out the little fishing pier that I've seen a half dozen times from the Harbor Islands ferry, and it was crowded as always. Giant, widebody aircraft roared overhead, beginning their transatlantic journeys. A middle-aged nerd with a giant, old aviation frequency scanner repeated the air traffic commands for his wife. Castle Island seemed the rare place where you could show up anytime with a camera and find great shots of people doing whatever they do.

What makes Sullivan's and Castle Island truly great is their location--urban, yet desolate, at the tip of Southie and nestled behind the Conley Container Terminal. This keeps the people real. Meaning: you'll see families of all colors and sizes, a guy with a horrendous, undressed, facial knife wound waiting next to you for his burger, small children and old men staring upward in wide-eyed wonder at giant aircraft roaring overhead, and no suits whatsoever. I like it there, and I will go back soon.




What do you see? -- Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster -- tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they here?.
--From the few pages of Moby-Dick that I read

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no energy left

With which to write two posts, one about biking to the urban gem that is Castle Island, another blaming cul-de-sac people for my not getting anywhere with the ladies tonight. Maybe in the morning.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Late Night(s) on the MILF Divorcee Circuit

They always come out of the woodwork in even numbers from Brookline and New Hampshire. They flirt with the city and its filth and its youth and its music. Sometimes they have sheepish, middle-aged non-husbands in tow. Sometimes they dispense advice about waiting to get married and when to produce offspring. I think: if they can find these places so easily--Wally's and Toad, for instance--are these places really that cool? Why do they start talking to me if they don't want to talk to me?

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sunrise, Solstice

Melissa tells me that the sun is already up at 5:30! Indeed, weather.boston.com confirms that the sun will rise at 5:31 tomorrow! This is one of my favorite differences between Boston and New York: the summer days are 30-50 minutes longer. (And October through April is gray).

Shit! I didn't think this started happening until mid- to late- June. One of my pipe dreams during a particularly miserable summer was to wake up and do a bike ride every day at sunrise. I never got up once, and I haven't had an operable bike since August.

I need to get up early tomorrow, and then I need to get a new bike.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Overheard in Davis Sq Station

In aggravated tone: "..so then the caups tell me I beat my grandmother with a plant..."

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wally's on Tuesdays

Wally's on Tuesdays is the place to be for serious music. They don't carry name-brand stuff; instead, the heavy r&b-funk-jazz that is played seems to come from far deeper in the well that commercially sanctioned music is skimmed from. If you are a musician or aspire to be one, the effortless actions taken by the players, who change week-to-week, can often damage your ego (in a way that can only be repaired through practice, practice, practice). At Wally's, talent and legend well up in the brownstone walls nightly...and there's never a cover.

Wally's at Closing Time on Flickr (rb).
Wally's official site (redesigned).

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Last or Second to Last Red Line

Three out of four consecutive nights.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

saturday night

that's that.

it's over.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

SCARY AND DEPRESSING WINTER BOSTON!

Fantasized about June 8th.

It came this morning....7° on the way to Logan, with the massive, opaque plumes of steam moving glacially slowly through the blank, promiseless sky. Awesome power.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

I love snow.

Not powdery, silent, country snow. Nor skiing snow. Urban snow. We've had three storms in the last week in Boston, and there are three- and four-foot heaps of ice and snow everywhere. White is the cure for gray. When the dull skies don't keep their promises for weeks, that's when I worry. Thank you, snow. Fuck you, S.A.D.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Overheard in Logan

Pastiche of quotes from young Korean-Amerian male in white hoodie with shaved head, screaming into cellphone about two feet from my head.

HOW OLD AM I? I'M A GROWN-ASS MAN, BRO. I BEG THEM, SEND ME TO IRAQ, SEND ME TO IRAQ. I GOT CLOSE QUARTERS COMBAT TRAINING. I'M GETTING TRAINED BY TWO NAVY SEALS, BRO. I'M KOREAN, BUT I LOVE MY FUCKING COUNTRY. I WANNA DIE FOR MY COUNTRY. I'M SICK OF READING NAMES IN THE NEWSPAPER OF THESE PEOPLE DYING OVER THERE. WE'RE COMING INTO A GENERATION WHERE THE ONLY WAY TO BE ANYTHING IS TO DIE AND HAVE YOUR NAME ON A WALL OR A FUCKIN GRAVESTONE. THAT'S THE ONLY WAY I'M GONNA MAKE MY PARENTS PROUD. SEND ME TO IRAQ. I'LL DIE, BUT I'LL KILL A COUPLE NIGGAS BEFORE THEY KILL ME.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Big Dig adds new layer of coddling for suburban commuters.

As if the $15b price tag, increased carbon emissions, and huge encouragement of driving to work alone were not enough, the Big Dig will now pander to drivers who use cell phones--by allowing all cell phone customers to pay $7.6m to add reception-providing cables to the tunnel walls. The Globe reports that many drivers who "multitask" may now "be able to chat on their cell phones uninterrupted." Massachusetts Turnpike officials, who stand to gain a lot of rent from this development, claim that cell phones in the winding tunnels won't create threats to safety. But the Globe reported on an activist's investigation into the tunnels' high crash rate on July 24 and published a reader's letter supporting the activist's work on July 25.

We need to get people out of their cars. We need to cut down emissions in Urban Boston. We need to encourage safer driving through a statewide headset-only law. This development makes accomplishing any of those goals seem a little less possible.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Body Splattered on Congress Street in Soulless Southie

I really didn't want to be in a cab this morning, and when the Terminal A ATM turned out to be out of cash, I just took the Silver Line. In the glass and glitter part of Southie were many flashing lights, belonging to Boston, Massport, and State Police vehicles. In front of the building that Silver Line buses pass through, a lump under a white sheet with a spurt of escaped blood slowly drying on the dewdamp asphalt. What happened?

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Large Northeastern City Takes Valuable Harborfront Property and Uses it to Expand Port

And it's Boston. This is awesome!

In the Northeast, we never get new industrial stuff to photograph. But as usual, the private development on public land is being run by at least one ex-state official, just like the MBTA commuter rail. And the Globe illogically uses the words "cement" and "concrete" interchangeably in its article.

I know that's why you come to my blog. To read about the difference between cement and concrete.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Now I got worry.

It's been pretty much dark out all day. The cars have their headlights on. I have all the lights in my living room on so I can see my work. Six more months of this will be bad. I can either hope for good weather (HA), or try not to work by myself in my house every day.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Being Young is Easy (By Yourself)

I just had the greatest date, with myself. It involved about 14 miles of biking, the Edward Hopper exhibit at the MFA, the Ingrid Michaelson/Jenny Owen Youngs "anti-folk" double-bill at the Paradise Lounge, and a scallion pancake in Brookline.

First, I decided to finally see whether the Hopper hype was worth it. Left at 7:03 for the 8pm showing and made it there in only 30 minutes flat. Shame on the MFA for not having a single bike rack. World-class my ass.

I give you my notes from the exhibit, unaltered and uncensored:

"b. 1882
sold 1 painting 1st 41 yrs

[The Lonely House, '23]

illus/printmaker until '41

ALL OF THESE
PAINTINGS ARE
REALLY PHOTOGRAPHS

shards of past--surrounded by extremely rich-looking people--their offspring give them away

wall words continually use "vernacular" and "middleclass" interchangeably...could you do that once?

'John Sloan's lusty nudes were the working-class counterparts to Hopper's more withdrawn middle-class women'???

Screen in NY Movie="gray, not silver, gray," from something I wrote

FACES VIEWING NIGHTHAWKS

TEXTURE OF
THE SURFACE
OF THE
IMAGE
"

I started thinking about grind and how Hopper ground and I wanted to write new grind. In the guestbook, at the end of the exhibit, I wrote:

[Name:] RB 7/25/7
[Comments:] GRIND.

They didn't have any little magnets of "Sun in an Empty Room," because it was a suicidal painting, so I didn't buy any magnets. I retrieved my bike from a parking meter post.

Close enough to the Paradise Lounge, I figured I would at least check out the show DB had let me know about: Jenny Own Youngs with Ingrid Michaelson opening. The girl:boy ratio was about 15:1, no joke, so I just hung out with a Maker's. Jenny was an excellent musician, but her performance seemed unfortunatley anticlimactic after the POP! of Ingrid Michaelson and Allie Moss. At the show neared its end, I left and got a scallion pancake across the street in Brookline, after reading a very decent Weekly Dig article on scallion pancakes between sets.

When I returned to the Boston side of Comm Ave, all was dead and the musicians were loading up their autos. I wanted to talk to Allie Moss but she was on her cellphone. She looked at me as I unlocked my bike and then I biked BU Bridge/Memorial Drive/Harvard Sq/Porter Sq/North Cambridge/Teele/home with no lights and didn't get killed and now I'm typing this shit because, as everyone says at work, "I feel compelled to."

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Blessed with another autumn day.

It's June 14--59° and cloudy. Just like the day before. Whenever I REALLY start to like it here in Boston, the weather strikes.

On another note, we are one week from the summer solstice. My plans to wake up and see the amazingly early sunrises--around or before 5am, which we never had in New York--have been repeatedly thwarted by my inability to get out of bed.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Capturing Scary and Depressing Winter Boston

You have to land on a redeye from at least as west as Denver, completely exhausted, to see it. It has to be about 7:29 a.m., with the useless February sun just having risen. It has to be at least ten degrees below freezing, with the air so thin that any exposed part of your body feels ready to explode into the icy vacuum. The smokestacks of the Mystic River power plant in Everett and the US Gypsum plant in Charlestown have to be blasting aternating columns of steam and haze directly upward, at opposite ends of the faded Tobin Bridge. This is just setting the stage for the ride out of the airport. As your cab navigates the snaking ramps to the Sumner Tunnel, you catch a glimpse of all the hundreds of pointed woodframe rooftops in East Boston, then see the sun's weak rays reflecting off the anonymous and and unidentifiable skyscrapers downtown.

How to pack it all into one shot or series of shots?

This is what I think about as summer begins to arrive.

I need a tripod, an arctic suit, and an elevated vantage point in East Boston to nail this.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

No Maps of Urban Boston?

It's amazing that there are no maps on the web showing the ring of smaller (but very urban) cities that ring Boston--like Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Quincy, Chelsea, Revere, Brookline, etc.--in their proper context.

I'm not looking for a map of "Greater Boston," which includes all the suburbs clear to New Hampshire and Worcester, or a map of "Boston Proper," which includes only neighborhoods in the smallish municipality of Boston.

The municipality of Boston has about 600,000 people, but when you add up the populations of the ringing cities, you find that the urban agglomeration has about 1.2 million people.

However, with no centralized government, planning suffers. And there are no maps on the web that I can use to show my brother neighborhoods he might want to live in.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

F. Star Market

No one seems to realize how overpriced Star Market in Porter Square is. I guess it has something to do with the clientele: yuppies who will pay whatever things cost. I stopped in to buy orange juice last night. A carafe of OJ usually costs $2.50. Not here. $4.69.

That's an additional 88% for nothing (except, maybe, "convenience"). I call it the Cute Yuppie or People Watching Surcharge. But we all know that Market Basket has better peoplewatching, and we all know orange juice should not cost $4.69.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Overheard on 88 bus, Friday evening.

"I mix Heineken with vodka. BAD mix, nigga! That shit FUCKED up my stomach! BAD mix, nigga! Not gonna mix that again."

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Doing business in Boston is as easy as ripping your own heart out with your bare hands.

Cost of Aqua Teen Hunger Farce in Boston, versus unexpected costs incurred by Turner Broadcasting in major American cities:

Austin $0
Atlanta $0
Boston $2m
Chicago $0
Los Angeles $0
New York $0
Philadelphia $0
Portland $0
San Francisco $0
Seattle $0

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