Saturday, October 31, 2009

Caution - Coyote Sightings in Cemetery

We were hoping for cougars.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Five Candidates Race for the Ted Kennedy Senate Seat

We have ourselves a horse race in the special election here in Massachusetts to replace Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate. Five candidates have qualified for the race. Four Democrats are racing for the next 6 weeks to a primary election on December 8, the winner of which will face the one Republican in a general election 6 weeks later on January 19.

State Attorney General Martha Coakley is the odds-on favorite in early polling (everyone remembers voting her in as AG a couple of years back). As the only woman in the race, she is looking to Emily’s List to make her the 16th woman it has helped the Democratic Party elect to the U.S. Senate. Her reluctant stance on the federal economic stimulus and the health care public option (she says she's in favor, but ...) makes her the most conservative candidate in the race. Martha represents the Max Baucus wing of the Democratic Party.

Congressman Mike Capuano is the other party establishment candidate in the race. He’s running as the liberal’s liberal and the workingman’s workingman. He’s touting the largess he has brought back to his Congressional District (by counting the massive cost overruns on the Big Dig project, I suspect) and his service as Barney Frank’s first lieutenant on the House Financial Services Committee (how’d that work out for us?). Mike represents the Nancy Pelosi wing of the Democratic Party.

City Year Cofounder Alan Khazei is the dark horse in the race. The youngest candidate at age 48, he has never held elective office but has spent his life in public service since starting the much-admired City Year youth service program in 1988 (the signature red jackets are well known around the Metro-Boston area). As such he has perhaps the best claim to the Ted Kennedy mantle. Alan represents the Obama wing and Clinton wing of the Democratic Party.

Businessman Steve Pagliuca is the trojan horse in the race. He made $400 million at Bain Capital and as a coowner of the Boston Celtics NBA basketball team and is said to be willing to spend $20 million of that on the race. He’ll have some big name political consultants and the most TV ad time, but with the bailouts this is probably not the year for a businessman. I look for him to top out at 10% to 15% and finish in fourth place out of the money. Steve represents the big business wing of the Democratic Party (if you didn’t know it had one, think back to Ted’s father Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.).

State Senator Scott Brown is the Republican stalking horse in the race. He currently serves as one of only five Republicans in the Massachusetts State Senate. With no competition on December 8, he goes straight to the January 19 general election. He appeared semi-nude in the June 1982 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine after winning its “America’s Sexiest Man” contest. His daughter Alya went two rounds on American Idol in 2006. Scott represents the “not your father’s Republican” wing of the party.

The RNC would dig up Abe Lincoln if they could to win Ted Kennedy’s seat from the Democrats, so you’ll know if Scott has any chance by whether the Republican Party floods his campaign with money in December. But they won’t risk their high hopes for November 2010 by making a fight out of a losing cause in January. If Scott has an empty stocking at Christmas, you’ll know he has no chance.

My money is on the dark horse candidate Alan Khazei. Many Massachusetts political insiders have made the mistake of writing him off as a long shot. A long shot has little or no chance of winning. A dark horse hasn’t run before so no one has enough information to compute the true odds. I have seen Alan and his campaign staff and volunteers out on the campaign trail, and he is no long shot. He is the candidate to watch.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Charles River on Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pictures taken from the Charles River bike path between the Eliot Bridge in Cambridge and the Bridge Street bridge in Watertown on Sunday, October 25, 2009.

Flying the U.S. Flag

We have had a post or two on what is the proper way to respectfully display the U.S. Flag. The Watertown Savings Bank is doing it the right way, with the U.S. Flag alone on its own flag poll. See how majestic that is.

Bursting the Balloon Boy Hoax Conspiracy

By now there is no point in recapping the story behind the balloon boy hoax, except to note that since the boy was never in the balloon, it should perhaps be called the vomit boy hoax instead.

Still, there are a few lessons on how not to concoct a successful conspiracy:

(1) Don't fake a publicity stunt using a helium balloon that no one would build to look exactly like a flying saucer, except to get publicity.

(2) Don't ever conspire with a 6 year old, they'll either blow your cover or rat you out. Have you ever played hide and seek with a 6 year old? Or asked a 6 year old to keep a secret?

(3) When your son starts throwing up, the TV interview is over, don't do a second interview with another TV program. That's when the county sends someone to take your kids.

(4) Don't conspire with your wife. In theory she can't be forced to testify against you. Reality is a different story, especially if she has been making hang up calls to 911. She'll hang you up to.

(5) You can't appear on Wife Swap twice and expect to have any credibility, especially if you met your wife in acting class.

(6) Don't conspire with an aspiring reality show producer. If they are looking for a reality show to sell, your conspiracy can be their sale.

(7) Don't conspire via email. Those pesky emails have a habit of staying around to prove your guilt.

(8) Don't conspire to make the police look stupid. They have the power to get search warrants and make arrests.

(9) Don't conspire to make the media look stupid. The media was willing to play along as long as the balloon was in the air. And even afterwards, I'll bet every local news station in America perpetuated the hoax a bit to get viewers to watch their late news even after the boy had been verified safe for hours. If it's a hoax, they make money and don't have to pay you.

(10) Don't conspire to make the public look stupid. They'll turn on you faster than the police or the media.

Drew Hickum & The Colonels Play Toad

Toad is our local, and we stopped by Saturday for the late set. It was not crowded like we feared, and no one got heckled like the last time we were here (if you don't count the guy taking the annoying flash pictures).

We caught Drew Hickum & The Colonels, a band out of Northampton.

Drew Hickum.

Drew Hickum and Lisa Marie.

Drew Hickum (guitar, vocals), Lisa Marie (guitar, vocals), Peter Sohriakoff (bass, vocals), and Sasha Starr (drums).

Toad music programming note: Tim Gearnan, who owned Monday nights at Toads for the last decade, has given way to Jen Kearney and The Lost Onion. Yu can still catch Tim on Friday nights at Atwoods Tavern and Sunday nights at the Burren.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Barack Obama Wears the Red Jacket

Barack Obama wears a red City Year jacket at a City Year Chicago dinner in 2006.

More pictures from the event:

Bill Clinton Wears the Red Jacket

Bill Clinton dons a red jacket.

Yes, that's a City Year jacket.

Bill Clinton speaks at a City Year event in Boston on November 20, 2001. "More friends and fewer enemies" was one of his themes.

Bill Clinton wears a red tie for a 2007 meeting with City Year South Africa.

Alan Khazei Wears the Red Jacket

Alan Khazei wears his red City Year jacket at an event today to clean up Shubow Park in Brighton. Alan cofounded City Year, the youth service organization based in Boston and 19 cities around the country. It looks to us like Alan and his campaign for U.S. Senate are shovel ready.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ted Kennedy Wears the Red Jacket

Could Ted Kennedy be trying to send a message intentional or unintentional about who his U.S. Senate successor should be? We noticed that he got photographed a lot toward the end of his life wearing a red City Year jacket. And now one of the cofounders of City Year, Alan Khazei, is running in the special election to replace him.

Ted gets his red jacket from City Year.

With Boston Mayor Tom Menino and wife Victoria Kennedy.


More sailing.

Walking the dogs.

Taking a walk, with the dogs off leash.

Standing on the porch.

Hanging out at the dock. (After the ad.)

City Year corps members in line at his memorial service.

Blue Night at Bull McCabe's

I had a blue night this night at Bull McCabe's in Union Square Somerville. Bull McCabe's is at the corner of Somerville Avenue and Bow Street, just at the corner where you enter Union Square coming from Porter or Davis.

This spot was known as Tir Na nOg until it closed in April 2007 and reopened that June as Union Square, much to the dismay and boycott of the old nOg fans. Long before that it was called the 11th Chapter Saloon. Live music has been the one constant.

The new owner, Brian, who got his legs at Spirit in Porter Square Cambridge, has made friends with the old nOg owners and they've introduced him to some of the old music groups that used to play here (not as old as the groups I remember from the 11th Chapter days).

My blue night consisted of a blue cheese burger with fries, chased with a Blue Moon followed by a Pabst Blue Ribbon. The burger was respectable, the fries were good, and the pickle was excellent.

I give points to Brian, who came up while I was eating and asked of his own initiative how I had wanted my burger cooked. When I said medium rare he remarked that my half-eaten burger looked medium well, and took half off the price (half off is my favorite price). Medium well is how my grandmother always cooked burgers, so I quite enjoyed it all the same.

We hung out for a while, and caught the opening set of The Cherry Orchard. Their rendition of Eleanor Rigby made it an especially blue night.

Bull McCabe's (named after the character in The Field) wants to be the west end of the Union Square Irish pub crawl. You can start a Bull McCabe's, make your way to Sallie O'Brien's, then Precinct, and the Independent. Or crawl back from there to Bull McCabe's.

You can now crawl the new streets and new sidewalks of Union Square, nearly complete after a couple of years of construction. They've got some trees to plant and just a few other things left on the punch list.

Mums the Word

Fall really is here with all the mums around Harvard Square.

Brattle Florist.

On Brattle Street.

Outside Bertucci's Pizza.

On Mount Auburn Street.

University Place.

Charles Hotel Courtyard.

In front of Pronto.

Charles Hotel Courtyard.

Steve Pagliuca Opens Office in Harvard Square

You can see your reflection in the U.S. Senate campaign office Steve Pagliuca has opened in Harvard Square. Pags is running for the Senate seat that was held by Ted Kennedy.

Wonder what's going on behind the drawn blinds.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Town Takes All the Parking

Ben Affleck has been filming the movie The Town in Harvard Square. The movie is about the bank robber subculture in Charlestown, and they shot some scenes at the Cambridge Savings Bank (which will be the Cambridge Merchants Bank in the movie) and around the corner on Dunster Street.

The movie crew put up its own temporary street signs. If you are not with the movie, good luck finding parking in Harvard Square!

The director's chairs.

Crew sets up in front of Cambridge Savings Bank.

Required grainy picture of Ben Affleck with his crew.

Movie trucks take all the parking spots on JFK Street.

Mr. Cesspool can stop anywhere he wants, for however long he wants. Yes, the sign says Tow Zone, No Stopping. We certainly hope Mr. Cesspool eventually gets towed away.

Filming at night on Dunster Street.

More filming at night.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Microwave Art

Glass plate aged for 20 years, loaded with leftover refrigerated lasagna, covered with a paper towel, and microwaved on high for 2 minutes in a 2005 GE Spacesaver.

The heat expansion of the glass was slowed by the cold lasagna, causing the outside of the plate to expand faster and separate from the colder center of the plate. The paper towel placed over the lasagna had a slight roll - two opposite sides of the paper towel touched the plate so as to hold in the heat and vapor while the other two sides were curled such as to allow heat and vapor to escape. The diagonal break followed the center line of the open ends of the paper towel.

What happened to the lasagna? After reassembling the broken pieces of the plate to confirm that there were no missing shards of glass, I ate it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Happened to the Seasons in New England?

It rained here most of the day, then turned to snow mixed with rain. Big wet snowflakes that stuck to car tops and windshields but melted after a few moments on the 40 degree ground. This was the year without spring, followed by the year without summer, and now may be the year without fall.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bowled Over and Boarded Up

For years the Bowl & Board store at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Trowbridge Street served as a landmark for the eastern end of Harvard Square.

The family-owned chain started in 1966 as a single store in Hingham, and ultimately expanded to stores in Brookline, Cambridge, Martha's Vineyard, and Providence, Rhode Island. The stores specialized in kitchenwares, other housewares, and furniture, often with a hand-crafted look. When founder Bill Giarrusso retired, daughter Maria took over the island store and son Mark took over the mainland stores.

The Hingham store closed in January 2008. The Cambridge store followed in August 2008, with a move to a new location in Davis Square, Somerville. The Brookline store closed in February 2009, as the company tried to stave off creditors by reorganizing in bankruptcy.

The story, which has been followed closely on NPR's All things Considered, seems now to have reached its final chapter. That is Chapter 7, bankruptcy liquidation.

The doors are now locked at the Davis Square location, and the landlord has put Lease signs in the windows.

The Coolidge Corner location in Brookline remains empty.

The building at landmark location in Harvard Square still carries the remains of the Bowl & Board signage, and has been empty now for over a year.

Even the company website has been closed down.