Monday, January 25, 2010

Dale Watson's Guitar

Whenever I talk about Dale Watson's guitar, someone gets pissed off. Apparently if I touch Dale Watson's guitar, people get even angrier.

Dale Watson is probably my only living musical hero, a man twenty years my senior who does exactly what he wants/needs to do, and makes a living doing it. Last year, in the men's room of Manhattan's Rodeo Bar, I told a guy who looked suspiciously like Popa Chubby that Dale's guitar wasn't a Telecaster, it was a custom-made Australian Tomkins. The guy sulked off angrily. Oh well.

I've seen Dale play on his home turf of Austin several times, both at the Continental Club and the Broken Spoke. When I met him at the Broken Spoke, and later at the Rodeo Bar, he told me of his affinity for Johnny D's in Davis and vowed to return there.

So when he finally arrived in Somerville tonight, of course I was at the show. But, after an amazing, two-hour set , I refused to stand in the line of couples waiting to talk to Dale. I left, satisfied to have enjoyed some fine, American music.

After I walked out the door, though, I looked back through the slotted blinds of Johnny D's. On the stage, some potbellied, non-urbane, fat bastard in a cowboy hat sat slouched over Dale's battle-worn, custom Australian guitar, slaughtering even the cheesiest blues licks while his wife loudly applauded him. I couldn't even believe that the instrument was still plugged in. "This has to stop," I told my companions, and marched back into the closed club, past the doorman who earlier noted that I was "becoming a regular."

I approached the guy attempting to play the guitar. My right hand found a quarter in the right front pocket of my jeans and I clenched the coin in my fist. When the fat man stood up to relinquish the most important guitar in country music, he stepped on the cable to the amplifier, ripping it out of the guitar. He dropped Dale's guitar on the stage, then attempted to play his own guitar, which he had apparently brought to the show in hope of doing something with it.

Once the fat man moved aside, I picked up Dale Watson's guitar!! Though famously covered with Mexican coins, the guitar was surprisingly light and the fretboard buttery to the touch. I found the instrument cable on the floor and tapped the tip with my thumb--the amp was still live from the set. I plugged the guitar back in, and using the quarter as a pick, started ripping through my song "Teardown Kings," transposed from E to D to match Dale Watson's tuning.

Immediately people began clapping along and moved closer to the stage. Surprised at not being challenged in any way, I shouted: "I paid fifteen dollars, and I'm gonna have fifteen dollars worth of fun!" People clapped more. The suburbanites took offense. I ripped into a few INFRASTRUCTURE leads before the fat man's wife descended on me, ripped Dale Watson's guitar out of my hands, tore the live amplifier cable out of the guitar, and ran off with the instrument, shouting KID, GO HOME! YOU SUCK, KID! KID, YOU SUCK!

You better take a cab home, classy lady! I said, after apparently emasculating the drunken fat hubby. Don't drive tonight. Time to go back to the suburbs!

As I walked away from the stage, I felt a force on my back. The crazy lady had run up to me and grabbed me from behind. She was holding me back with both arms. I felt the fingernails of both her hands through my leather jacket.


I turned around, looked her dead in the drunken eyes, and said: That's even worse.
And walked off.

After that, I somehow ended up talking to Don Raby, Dale Watson's fiddle player, about how he left a successful career developing hardware and software for Dell in favor of a musician's life on the road. I like hearing what I need to hear. Then, I talked for a while with Dale's new drummer, who invited me onto the band's 1975 Eagle tour bus, the Drag N Fly, before they shipped south to gigs in DC and Richmond.

Among other topics discussed, I had the opportunity to ask Dale Watson if he got his guitar back. He made a wincing gesture. That guy was terrible, he said. I just left him to mess around with it and got out of there.

Dale gave me a Lone Star beer to walk home with. But you might want to hide that, he said, the cops have been watching us all night.

Sure enough, a Somerville cop saw me with the bottle, parked and waited for me to walk past him. I stopped in my tracks for about ten minutes. The cop drove around the block with his headlights off, parked again, and waited some more. I had to pour about ten ounces out, but I'm keeping the bottle Dale Watson gave me on my bookshelf.

As for the suburban couple, I hope they made it home alive, but I don't really care either way.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Blue Shirt Cafe: The kid in the TUFTS shirt is saying things like:

"Cleveland is white trash. It's not, like, country white trash, though. It's, like, urban. It's depressing. It's a whole different culture."

Now he's trying to convince the girl he's with that he's not rich.

I want to throw a table through this kid's head. I have studio headphones on, and I can still hear him.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

3:15pm: Five-Man Crew From D&R Paving,

which did not work on the corner job previously, is now using one level to analyze the sidewalk's...flatness?

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just heard a guy at the liquor store say to the clerk:

"Nippa Goldschlaggana Pahliment Light"

Ten years in and the accent is still fascinating.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Life According to Diesel Bathroom Wall:


Graffito #2: Wisdom comes from solitude.



Monday, June 22, 2009

The Worst Sound on Earth

The fancy new condo building across the street in Teele Square has its own tiny garage. The driveway crosses the busy sidewalk on Broadway, so there is an alarm that sounds whenever the garage door is open. Residents seem to open the garage door when they leave their apartment, then walk down to their Audi, start it up and drive away. All the while, the alarm sounds, warning pedestrians that a vehicle might cross the sidewalk. The alarm shuts off if the resident remembers to close the garage door.

The first alarm the building used sounded like a giant blender full of mice. The horrific squealing sound would bother me at all hours of the night and day, too high-pitched to tune out. Then, there was a long, silent period. I figured that people had complained and that the alarm was gone for good.

Last week, a man came with a pickup truck and a ladder. He banged and banged with his hammer, and installed a strobe light where the old alarm he had been. Then, he installed a new alarm that sounds like cattle being electrocuted. The thing buzzes in a loud, obnoxious, staccato meter. And it NEVER SHUTS OFF. All day and night, the thing buzzes. I'm listening to a CD at my desk, and I can actually hear the alarm clearly over my music.

Of course, some douchebag has left the garage door open once again, which is why the alarm continues incessantly. I wonder what I will do to resolve this.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Teele Sq Wreck

Somerville Police cruiser 187 appears to have been involved in a serious crash with a white compact car at North St. and Broadway. Both cars were just towed out by the infamous Pat's Towing. A DPW salt/sand spreader has found mid-spring work sanding the oil-slicked Broadway.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


As of 3:55p.m., 4/28/09 has broken a Boston temperature record. I wonder what the Somerville cabbie who told me that global warming was a liberal myth makes of this.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

From Teele Square to Logan Terminal C in Eight Minutes

Today's Green Cab driver did just that, averaging exactly 60.0 miles per hour over the entire trip. As he flew from the inside lane of the Zakim Bridge to the outside lane at 5:50 a.m., I said, "Man, you're gonna break a record."

In a heavy Hatian accent, he replied: "That's what I DO, baby. I know how to DO IT."

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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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Monday, March 16, 2009


The landlords serve up a new delicacy.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Winter in New England

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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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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Work-for-Food System Continues to Function.

Landlady promises a fried zucchini sandwich for dinner if I help shovel this afternoon. I love it.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

The Somerville DPW Snow Removal Circus

What else could you call three dump trucks, four pickups, two gigantic wheel loaders, a skid-steer loader, and a rubber-tracked sidewalk plow scraping up every bit of heaped snow in Teele Square at the height of rush hour?

Nimbly navigating obstacles... that people can finally enjoy ice-free sidewalks...

...for the day and a half before the next storm.

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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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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meeting People in Somerville

or Cambridge or 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, December 21, 2008

The Union Square Scene

The City Section of today's Globe has a neat little article about the performance venues in Union Square, Somerville, and the "roots" music they promote.

I've been saying that of all the cities I've experienced, Austin and Boston have the best music scenes out there. The growth of live music in Union Square has definitely been a boon for the the elusive Boston scene, whose hotspots move from square to square, staying one step ahead of gentrification and one step farther from the nearest T-stop.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Most Fucked Up Night of My Life

It is 4:42 a.m. I am here at SOLOPAD with Dan M. and Jason W. We spent 2 hours at some random girls' house, making pasta. It didn't go so well.

On the way back from Porter to Teele, saw this accident scene, guarded by State Police, which probably means that people died. Will update in the morning with fatality tally.

As we approached Teele, at 4:37 a.m., I made a comment to my people that the mythical and mysterious 89/93 bus would be coming at any moment. Sure enough, it did. Recall that this is a bizarre bus that is not on the MBTA schedule and purports to run from Clarendon Hill to Sullivan to Downtown Boston. We flagged down the driver and interrogated him.

This was, in fact, my first time seeing the 89/93 *not* from my apartment, but on foot. "Where are you guys trying to go," asked the driver, a full hour before the actual MBTA schedule would start. "We can take you anywhere you want to go." I pointed out that the 89/93 does not exist on any schedule, but seems to run every night. "They only have me doing this on Saturdays," said the driver, and piloted his empty and unknown bus into the night.

Dan snapped this photo of us talking to the 89/93 driver on his cell phone...

And that is that.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The 89/93

Sometimes, when I stay up really late, I see the 89/93. The 89/93 is a bus that doesn't make any sense.

The 89 is a bus that runs from Clarendon Hill, Somerville to Sullivan Square, Boston. The 93 is a bus that runs from Sullivan Square to Downtown Boston. Both of these buses start running around 5:20 a.m.

Once in a while I have a weekend visitor and we are sitting here in Teele Square, drunk off our asses, at around 4:20am. We will see an OUT OF SERVICE bus heading down Broadway eastbound, then returning westbound with 89/93 on its route indicators. This bus exists on no public MBTA schedule, and it rolls through Teele Square an hour before either the 89 or the 93 start running.

Sometimes, I am sitting here riffling through photos I want to post or working on song lyrics at, you know, 1 or 2 am. It is always under these circumstances that I remember the few times I saw this 89/93. Does it really exist, and, if so, what purpose does it serve...especially if no one knows about it? Should I stay up and see if it returns? Going to bed seems like conceding all types of defeat.

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Ed the Republican

C. and I sit down to dinner at the 99 Restaurant in Assembly Square. Unlike most national chains, the restaurant is impeccable and the floor sparkling. Soon after ordering, an older divorcee takes the open stool next to us. Before long, conversation happens. He's a republican. Ballots in multiple languages are an affront to his patriotism, since John Quinzy Adams made English the national language in 1786. The liberals want to build low income housing in Assembly Square and move the T stop to the projects so the welfare moms won't have to walk so far to the train. He knows a great bar in Bimini--it was featured in a famous thriller. He made his ex-wife become a Marlins fan after she abandoned Boston, her children, and the Red Sox. He rents out property in New Hampshire, the "live free or die, motherfucker state" and when his international student tenants lit charcoals in the gas grill, he showed up wearing a .45 to yell at them. The last mayor of Somerville, a liberal's liberal, tried somehow to cancel out his concealed carry permit but political connections prevailed. I'm not sure if he is packing heat at dinner, but I don't want to ask.

As I work through my turkey tips and 48 ounces of IPA, I think: I shall refer to Ed as my new Parrothead friend. Sailing the Virgin Islands and hanging out at the shooting range. It just fits.

When he gets up to leave, he puts on a dark green bomber jacket that had been draped over his stool. Three logos adorn the jacket: one on each sleeve and one on the back. All include Jimmy Buffet's name.

Somehow satisfied, my perpetual hopeful hopelessness justified, I leave. C. and I plot an awesome urban exploration of abandoned Assembly Square, chug Jim Beam in East Somerville, drink more at the Cantab. After all that, I finally get home to write this up, having traveled many miles using nothing but public transit and my own two feet.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

East Somerville Bubble Wrap

Remember the simple joy of popping bubbles of air trapped in cellophane? In East Somerville, the locals have a slightly more sinister approach to stress relief.

Just minutes ago, while waiting for the 89 bus, my brother and I witnessed two young, heavily inebriated locals come acros a discarded mattress on Broadway. One, wearing plaid shorts, drew a boxcutter, got down on his knees, and began tearing the mattress apart. Broad blade strokes ripped into the covering, much of which the perpetrator tore off with his bare hands. Disturbed, his companion slowly backed away and moved in the direction of Khoury's State Spa, the "oldest bar in Somerville," famous for stabbings and men's room hand-to-hand drug deals. As his companion slunk away, the boxcutter wielder tore deeper into the mattress, ripping out pieces of yellow foam and throwing them on the sidewalk.

Soon, he noticed his friend had left him. PAUL! PAWWWWL! GET DA FUCK BACK HEA! PAWWWWL! GET DA FUCK BACK HEA! Even more enraged at being left to destroy the mattress alone, he put his back into his labor and the blade of the boxcutter soon snapped off, clinking onto the sidewalk.

Our protagonist paused for a second to bring out a new segment of blade, then went back to his anointed task, just cutting and tearing and ripping and stabbing on a cool late summer night.

This continued for several minutes. Eventually, someone came out of the house, stood menacingly on its porch, and told the young psychopath to get lost. Dejected, he trundled up Broadway to Khoury's and met some friends out front.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Second Return of The Sidewalk Job From Hell

They're baaack. Constant destruction and re-pouring of this corner started before I moved into the neighborhood last July. That's right: this sidewalk job has been going on for over a year. This morning we see one man doing the work, three watching, and--my favorite--the "police detail" officer also watching.

I welcome anyone's attempted explanation of why anything in the photo is necessary.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Preteen Invasion

Yesterday I found a crowd of about two dozen Asian preteens outside my living room window. They appeared to have a young, Caucasian counselor leading them around Teele Square. Tonight, in Davis, a troupe of chain-smoking young teens who said they were from Spain sat within inches of my head--I was reading Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent on the skylight roof of the subway station (how Somerville). When their charge-type person, a late thirtiesish lady in a white dress, came to retrieve them, they followed her up College Avenue, many lit cigarettes still in hand. What the hell is going on?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sidewalk Job from Hell, Year Two

Remember the city sidewalk job outside my apartment that took five months to complete last year? Last Friday at 7:30am, this guy showed up with a giant concrete saw and cut a lot of it up.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: DPW Checks the Flags Before the Parade Begins

Start here, scroll down.

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Refreshment Stand

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: The Parade Arrives at Walnut Street!

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: SPD Honor Guard

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: SPD Auxiliary

They're not cadets, right?

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Biker Cop

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: SFD Prius

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Waltham American Legion (Post 156) Band

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Laid Up

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Driving

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Watching

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Picking up a Water Bottle

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Poland Spring!

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Volunteer Tossing Water Bottles to Marchers

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Aleppo Shriner

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Aleppo Shriners

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Tattooed Spectators

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Happy Nuns

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Expressing Displeasure

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Aleppo Shriners

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Middlesex Sheriff Charger

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Middlesex Sheriff Honor Guard

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: The Crowd at Central Street

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Jazz Band

These guys are awesome. The whole band plays atop a vintage pumper outfitted with a mixer, amp, and speakers all around. They sound great!

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Happy Marcher

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Kids with Fake Dogs

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Spike's Hot Dogs Guy

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Watching from Within

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Free Candy

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Celtics Fan

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Roma Band

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Fans of Roma Band

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Keeping the Girls Cool

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Mayor Curtatone Approves

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: Ready for Anything

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: The Lone Shriner

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Somerville Memorial Day Parade 2008: The Aftermath

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I interrupt these 97 new photos to bring you the Somerville Memorial Day Parade in its entirety.

Click here for 41 shots on Flickr.


Monday, May 19, 2008

It is nice

to be back in my natural habitat.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Making a Stressful Day Slightly Less Terrible

Landlady just offered meatballs and ziti for lunch!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Medford Fire Detail

Police details at construction sites are a sore topic in Massachusetts politics. (For those of you just joining us, "details" are a required, privately paid police presence at all road construction and utility sites. Almost no other states require these, and the cost is ultimately borne by the taxpayer/consumer.)

Even more arcane, outdated, useless, and wasteful is the fire detail, which is required in the Boston area at a variety of events (link to Cambridge's regulations).

Across the city line in Medford, Tufts University recently bought the Sacred Heart Church and Rectory from the Archdiocese of Boston, helping the church pay off its dozens of abuse victims and fanning the anti-intellectual, anti-"expansionism" fears of blue collar Medford.*

Apparently Tufts is making the church into some type of convention center. Its rectory was just torn down, which surprised me, and I passed by the demolition zone at about 6:30pm. Pacing around the rubble was a Medford fireman talking on his cell phone. A beat up old Medford Fire Crown Vic was parked across from the demolition equipment.

I suspected that this might be one of those strange fire details. So I returned on foot around 10:30pm to see if the firefighter was still guarding the ruins of the rectory, watching the jagged chunks of brick and plaster for a wisp of telltale smoke. The cruiser was still there and the scene dark. As I grew closer, I spied a weak white light coming from within the vehicle. The firefighter was reclining under the reading lamp with the driver's door slightly ajar, relaxing with a newspaper.

So the fire detail does exist, and in Medford, firefighters receive overtime pay to guard piles of rubble 24/7. Both satisfied and disappointed, I walked to Davis to take advantage of the weather. There I found that new pavement markings were being applied in the square. And the striping crews were being protected by cops and cruisers from Everett and Somerville.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

An Arrest in Somerville

Traffic Stop

Backup Arrives

The Tow Truck Arrives for the Suspect's Car, and the Suspect is Cuffed.

Suspect is Detained

The Wagon Arrives--Bringing Donuts

Spectators Gather

Reading of Rights and Preparations for Transport

Preparing for Transport

Removing Evidence from the Suspect


Time for Paperwork...

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