Archive for the ‘Universal Hub’ Category

Wee Beests to Boston

August 28th, 2015

After a very unsatisfying and crowded first go at the Strandbeests last weekend, we had a much closer, leisurely and just better time when the small versions arrived in downtown Boston today.

They brought the same pair of relatively tiny TinkerToy-style, wind-in-sail driven models as at Crane Beach. I write tiny because the videos and promo material for Theo Jansen’s fantastical constructions show titanic versions. Sure it makes perfect sense that they would not try to lug and reassemble the biggies everywhere. Just as sure, it’s disappointing to see 7-foot tall models rather than major-motion-picture-scale ones.

Nonetheless, I grew up on construction toys and bought more elaborate ones for my sons, ostensibly for my sons that is. What follows are some shots from City Hall Plaza this afternoon. Geeks and nerds only need look.


Don’t let the legs and feet fool you. They are under the Strandbeest to stabilize it. These are sail, wind-driven toys. Beest1
beest7 Dutiful intern types do quick assembly on Jansen’s critters, then pull them to a starting area and wait for a good breeze.
beest4 beest3
beest6 When top and side sails fill up and get some oomph, the beest takes off, the feet and legs churn, and it seems to be walking even running.
The legs and feet really do rise and fall as the beest races along. The illusion is of locomotion beest2
beest5 The worker bees are ever at the ready to do quick repairs (frequently needed) and if necessary to pull the beests back for another run and another wait for a breeze.

Pix note: Published under Creative Commons . You are welcome to use them. Just credit Michael Ball once.

Hyde Park coffee, plants and pols

June 3rd, 2015

walshcliapSure, it’s not Eton, but the playing fields of Hyde Park are dear to Bostonians. This morning’s long, varied and elaborate ceremonies at the Iacono Playground and its newly dedicated (tot) playlot saw local pols and staff outnumber the residents.

Ostensibly this was another year of the later Mayor Tom Menino’s coffee with the mayor meet and greet. It was the same and different.

Among the same:

  • Dunkin’ provided coffee and Munchkins, and Whole Foods fruit in cups
  • Boston’s city greenhouses brought 100 or more pots of red geraniums to disperse
  • The Mayor and District Councilor glad-handed all

Among differences:

  • The new Mayor, Marty Walsh, (right) has a strong Dorchester-recognizable accent, but not the gently risible speech stumbles of Menino
  • Walsh also did not insist on personally handing out the flowers, and showing he knew each of our names and family connections in the process
  • While the former District Councilor, Rob Consalvo, appears now as deputy director of Walsh’s Home Center program, his replacement, Tim McCarthy is not the humble font of endless municipal-improvement ideas
  • At-large Councilor Steve Murphy (also from Hyde Park) was a key player. He both helped Walsh dedicate the impressive tot lot to long-time owner of the Hyde Park Pharmacy Richard “Richy” Ferzoco. He also was the originator of DERO (the Diesel Emissions Reduction Ordinance) in Council.
  • Walsh used the event to announce that this signing would be one of many outside of City Hall. Instead of quietly pushing ordinances into effect, he intends to sign more in affected neighborhoods, expecting residents to understand and talk up the good work.
  • This go drew lots of local media, plus heads of numerous Walsh departments, like Public Works, Park and on.

Black smoke

murphymugLest it get lost in, if you pardon, the smoke, DERO is a pretty big deal. It mandates retrofitting diesel vehicles owned by the city and its contractors to modern air-quality standards. According to Murphy (left), this makes Boston the only Eastern city to do this. Also, it seemed close to Walsh’s heart; he said he tried but failed to drive it through the legislature when he belonged in pre-mayoral time.

Murphy cited a 300% above national average childhood asthma rate here, which he attributed largely to diesel emissions. He and other speakers noted this ordinance holds the city and its contractors to a higher standard. It should, for example, mean retrofitting 120 of 400 city vehicles.

In another wise pander to a citizenry still staggered by the last dreadful winter, Walsh bragged about heading toward real snow removal. Instead of blocking driveways and moving the snow and its onus to the residents, he said Boston was buying two elaborate snowblower type of equipment. The idea is that the massive machines transfer snow from the streets into dump trucks, which in turn haul them away instead of blocking intersections, drives and sidewalks. Money well spent I predict.

Finally, Walsh said the city has planned $20 million in renovation for parks and recreation. He said it was the largest increase in Boston’s history for this purpose. Here too this crowd-pleasing decision should resonate, or as Walsh put it, “Parks can be used by the little guys, the seniors, and everyone in between.”



Newspaper Withdrawal

May 30th, 2015

From newspaper worshipers and collectors, we suddenly will get only one Sunday and no dailies on our sidewalk. That is big for us and comes as we felt forced into it.

Not long ago, we had three delivered — Boston Globe, all 7 days; New York Times, all 7 days, and Financial Times, all 6 days. We accepted that was too much, particularly when we also got such demanding weeklies as The Nation and New Yorker. We went down to the Globe at 7 days and the Sunday NYT.  Then yesterday, I cancelled the Globe.

The reasons are prosaic. Yet, we grieve. We’ll try the overpriced and hard to navigate facsimile Globe, but I don’t have high hopes of sustaining interest.

We were both newspaper reporters and magazine editors. I came out of J-school. Until macular degeneration blinded my mother at the end of her life, she got multiple papers daily. I grew up reading two or three she had delivered. It was always the local daily (two when we lived next to Manhattan) and the closest best one (like the Washington Post when we were in Virginia).

I offer a 15-minute rant on my disappointment and grief, and what led to this. Click the player below for that.

The short of it is that the greed of the Globe publisher, John Henry, piled on us and broke our will. He exceeded my chokepoint a couple of days ago. There are far better things I can do or buy with $750 a year than make a billionaire richer.

Alternate view

My wife dismissed the latest price hike to $14.34 a week by saying Henry seemed intent on going out of business. That probably is partially true. Globe management clearly likes the online model, publishing with no extra physical and human costs per copy.

Plus they charge top dollar, $3.99 a week for online. That’s more than any other daily, even a bit more than the NYT. Of course, the Times has tremendous expenses, like foreign bureaus and a still substantial reporting and editing staff. In  contrast, the Globe has slashed its staff for many years. Its local coverage is weak and not as granular as the hyperlocal Universal Hub site.

globTo start the sports analogy, I see the paper going for only the home run. Their reporters seem under an edict to produce potential Pulitzer features and series. The sports comes in as Henry is principal owner of both the paper and the Red Sox.

Until he revamped the Sox, locals would snort disdainfully in the direction of the Bronx. The Yankees, they’d say self-righteously, bought their championships by paying for overpriced players. Mirabile dictu. When Henry did the same and the Sox delivered a long-awaited World Series championship, I didn’t hear anyone slamming the local team for checkbook titles.

In fact, Henry’s attitude is to drain whatever he can from his various customers. The Sox ticket prices are MLB’s highest and his paper charges more for both delivered and online versions that comparable or higher quality papers. He seems determined to push costs as high as he can.

What’s a Subscriber?

Newspapers have long been cash rich and inventory sparse. The earn their profits from advertising, for which they get paid quickly or even in advance by those who want the discounted cost. Then unlike book publishers or grocers or most businesses, papers don’t carry large, costly amounts of perishable inventory.

Newspaper publishers long ago lost perspective on the value of their customers. In particular at a time when most cities have a single daily, they don’t have to care.

Yet, the size of the subscriber base gives them a way to price advertising. Most advertisers can’t prove their get their money’s worth from what the ad reps call “selling space” (ooo, space). Yet, defensively, many don’t want to be the only one in their field to pass on advertising…just in case.

You’d think paper publishers would treasure subscribers and do whatever it takes to keep them happy and renewing automatically. Yet many newspapers buy into two relatively modern ideas. First, they use that dreadful term monetize in erecting paywalls, lest hoi polloi read the paper for free. So if you get the paper delivered or pay a separate online fee, you can look. The second and more recent conceit is that physical newspapers are dead. Everyone will read news online on computer, phone or tablet.

Instead, driving away Boomers and their children is leaving subscribers, influence and money on the floor.

You can tell you’re dealing with the truly dumb when she or he says, “I wasn’t even born yet!” (always emphatically). That is to cover for ignorance of history, ideas or technology. That covers and excuses nothing. Bragging about what you don’t know and won’t think about is a major flaw.

Yes, some people skim news online and pretend they are informed. We saw that even with the WWII generation who began to get all their news from TV snippets. The dumb have always been with us.

Pushed away

The Globe‘s default customer support is, of course, now an online chat. I typed with Jill there, saying among other things that we wanted to cancel delivery. I allowed that we’d try the facsimile version for a bit, even though it was also overpriced. She said they had no mechanism to handle credit-card info in the chat (more tech failures, says I). She’d call me the next morning.

She did and we set it up. I didn’t berate her personally but did say that Henry’s crew was greedy and had pushed too far with the most recent of numerous price hikes. Like a good soldier she said she had no input into pricing, that they just got the memo and worked with the new reality. However, she did let slip that many callers were unhappy and cancelling.

By my long term habit as well as age, I should be the subscriber the Globe wants to keep. They certainly don’t understand how to do that.

Their online subscription model seems unlikely to work well to increase revenue. Perhaps their margins will fatten, but higher percentages of fewer dollars is a poor business model. Plus the fickle 20-somethings and younger are unlikely to play.

Passing of the Torch Light Switch

November 30th, 2014

Even if our longest-serving Mayor Tom Menino hadn’t died so soon after leaving office, today would have been strange. His replacement, Marty Walsh, threw the light switch on  the Christmas tree in Logan Square.

LoganlightingThat’s in Hyde Park, Menino’s part of Boston (and mine). As a city councilor, then mayor for so long, Menino was the tree guy. He loved the square, the event, the happy kids, the young step dancers and other performers, greeting the constituents, and showing off his phenomenal memory of our names and details. One year when he was ailing, his wife Angela, stood in and up for him, but this was different.

A tree lighting without Tom Menino is a shock to the HP psyche.

Let me note that Walsh did well. I don’t know if he has it in him to be as charming, as avuncular, and as jolly as Menino. I can leave it for others who did business with the city to haul out their favorite vignettes of how Da Mare could, would and did figuratively break their knuckles in negotiations. As a constituent I never experienced that in my decades of dealing with him.

Pix clix: Click a thumbnail for a larger view. If it opens in the same window, use your browser’s back button or command to return.

License note: All pix are Creative Commons-Attribution. Do whLoganhorsesat you want with them. Just give Mike Ball credit once.

Walsh is a passable pol. He got elected and reelected to the MA House then the mayoralty. Oddly enough though today in Logan Square, he seemed to get a lot more pleasure out of high fiving the kids than he did glad-handing the voters. Could the new Mayor be shy?

The crowds were also passable. I estimate that half to two-thirds as many who showed as in previous years. That was surprising in that we had relatively balmy 4:30 PM weather. It’s gotten to be a very localized joke that the event brings snow, sleet, bitter cold and strong winds.

However, as always, the kids had a good time. There were silly rides for the littlest ones, fried dough and cotton candy for the shameless and those with strong stomachs, and draft-horse cart spins about.

LoganfaceOh, yes, and the face painting occurred in the Logan Square Barber Shop. That’s where I get what little hair I have trimmed. I found it peculiar that while the barbers were not doing the deeds, kids adults alike were in the three chairs getting done up like tigers or with Patriots’ logos on their cheeks and foreheads.

On the dais, we had the usual suspects — Santa, Rep. Angelo Scaccia, District Councilor Tim McCarthy, At-Large Councilor Steve Murphy. the commander of the local police precinct and such. In no surprise, I kept overhearing the lament of no-Tom-Menino. That’s certainly not Walsh’s fault, but he has a lot of history against his back.



Freedom of Peek

March 5th, 2014

With mixed thoughts, I see that MA’s high court ruled today that perverts on the subway can legally take upskirt pix. (The news broke on Universal Hub, here. The Supreme Judicial Court’s decision is here.  )

Of course, doing so is intrusive, tacky, and and, well, sort of, some kind of assault.

Sure, you can state the all too obvious — women ought to wear underwear, whether they do or not, they should keep their legs together if they wear a skirt or dress. Most do. Too many don’t. I don’t want to see flashes or swathes of underpants of women or men.

Yet, what is it that seems to excite so many? Why are there websites devoted to upskirt images? Why would anyone watch a Victoria’s Secret Fashion show? Why is lingerie the, if you pardon, butt of so many comedy routines? Why do women as well as men fixate on bras and panties?

Truth be told, I remember in early puberty being turned on by men’s magazines in barber shops and plain old catalogs showing women déshabillé. That was the euphemism for in your underwear. Back then, a movie was really risqué if an actress appeared in underwear, without the dress covering the clothing that in fact covered their prurient parts.

Even today, there cultures and subcultures titillated not by the actual body parts, rather the garments that hide them. For example, Japanese press and literature frequently alludes to men’s fascination with and hope for glimpses of underpants.

As I began dating, I quickly learned to favor and choose the real over the fantasy. Is that all this fetish is about?

Even if the crotch clickers with cellphones don’t grow up and out of their fixation, even it the SJC says that’s legal, you’d hope that the targeted women and the other passengers would at least call them out.  That might stop them…unless they are into public humiliation.

JP Music Fest Tunnel Down

September 8th, 2013

Why was I surprised? I commented again, as I have for the past four years, on the annual Jamaica Plain Music Festival.  I love it, but I am not a slavish schmuck who will defend it in every aspect against all critics.

I thank UniversalHub for its one-sentence citation that produced a thousand or so hits on what was fundamentally a photo spread. Yet, the few commenters who went on and on about how I had no right to dare criticize the audience can stuff it. Sorry, kiddies, I lived 21 years n JP, saw it swing to hipster-lite, and do damned well have that right.

Here’s a word or 12 to the anonymous sorts at UH, come over here or even stay on UH and leave a email. We can deal with your issues.

Regardless, I had a busy day yesterday and didn’t really comment on the third or so of the groups we heard and saw. For a recap, let me spew:

  • Red Dog, was not ready for even minor league. It’s a garage band, heavy on bass guitar, that is strong on beat and very low on lyrics. Try again.
  • Allison Francis. She does good deeds and has good politics, but there’s a reason she was at the top (lower end) of the bill. Her voice is so-so and lyrics predictable.
  • Afro D All Starz. were super hot. Theywere a relative big band with a variety of instruments, voices and words. Expect to hear more of and from them. We loved them.
  • Jesse & The Hogg Brothers. We found them entirely forgettable. As Southerners ourselves, we were stunned by their simplistic, clichéd words and sentiments. This was like someone making fun of New England Yankees. No. They exceed the limit of cute.
  • What Time Is It Mr. Fox? Shtick or not, these guys win. They have good costumes and far better music. They went far beyond clever, blending camp and good to great music, both instrumental and vocal. We’ll buy their stuff.’
  • Peter Sykes. Tinny and under-amplified harpsichordist was perfectly adequate for recital-classic tunes. He was not right for an open venue to engage a large audience.
  • Hobo Chili. A fun group came in with lots of horns and other instruments and a variety of vocalists. They were totally fun, but no way would you say they were your weekend listening choice. They are really strong on horns and can likely develop.
  • Coyote Kolb. They are better on their website than at Pine Bank. There’s a Black Keys pretense that they did not deliver in JP. I like their recorded tunes, but their JP Fest showing was bland.
  • The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library. This was a big hit of the afternoon, both musically and visually. We were amused by the sexy librarian conceit but more pleased by the solid performance and lyrics. Their CDs are well worth the price.
  • Merrie Amsterburg. She has a tinny voice, worthy of a student broadcaster on WERS. Nuff said.

Overview of our afternoon, is that we got a lot for free, but not everything was a gem. Do come…every year…and expect fine entertainment. If your go to the Lowell Folk Festival at the end of July, you’ll return with some keeper CDs and at least two new favorites you wondered how you didn’t know before the weekend. The JP Music fest might produce one or two on on great year that are spectacular.

We can do the you-get-what-your-pay-for jive. Lowell is far better, but, hey, JP is free, is local and easy to get to.






Sanity Rally, Boston Style

October 30th, 2010


Six hundred and forty-two, at last check, clicked Like for the Rally to Restore Sanity Boston. They must have gotten lost on the way.

Generously, 200 of us were there, sans JumboTron (insurance and permit troubles, report the last-week organizers of the satellite Rally to Restore Sanity), sans big name hosts and musical guests, sans undercurrent of one-upping Glenn Beck’s self-indulgent right-wing cliché fest. With all the things it was without and all it wasn’t, it vibrated soothingly with the feelings of yesteryear. It was like a hippie event, at least for those of us old enough to recall those.

Truth be told, most of those at the rally looked old enough to recall.

The crowd largely milled about, chatting amiably, snacking and in general producing the feeling of a coffee hour at church. Adhering to the no bummer, no hater requests for signs, some were hipster wry, as in this one reading, I HAVE A SIGN. sign
littlemore There were a few short-lived cheers, like, “Stop the insanity.” Some of the placards seemed to channel Jon Stewart, like this one.
The requisite unverbalized jibe also appeared, in the form of a coffee party. coffeeparty

One pol worked the crowd. Jim Henderson, independent for Secretary of the Commonwealth. He wondered about the efficacy of this. Several people approached him to say they were voting for him, but at least one fellow took some of his handouts to re-hand out.

In the main, it was a civilized, mannered gathering, in the spirit Stewart requested. Some might say that made it a bit boring. Then again, is that bad in this era of ranters, haters and screamers?

Maples Flashing and Burning

October 22nd, 2010

’tis the season…to admire the premature defoliators. Our sugar maples abound in Hyde Park, all Boston and New England.

They also flash and crash, with short, intense color. Far more patient trees, such as Norway maples and beeches, deliver the color and coverage long after the sugars are nude.

With apologies to botaniphiles (surely not a word), I note that plants, even large trees, are very, very short on brains. They can’t benefit from psychological counseling for their problem. How is it that we have not breed these colorful trees for longer display?

Consider (and click a thumbnail for a larger view):

mapleriver From the historic stone Paul’s Bridge, the contrasting undercoat of the dark Neponset highlights the too eager maple.
In Boston, often sugar maples are on every street corner. maplecorner
maplereadytodrop Several maples in the backyard are as garish as any fop. They remain delightful, but for all too brief a time.
Even the decrepit ancient maple in the front — all too eager to let wind take its branches the rest of the year — seems to know when it is time to perform. oldandpretty
maplesteps To the eye is one thing; underfoot is another. When the maples finish their tricks, someone has to move, compost, bag and otherwise deal with the little dainties on the ground.


Grocery Has No Place for the Weak

March 16th, 2009

A wave of maturity washed over me yesterday. It will surely pass, but I’ll enjoy the accompanying equanimity for the moment.

In my pathetic but relentless expansion of leg use, I push what I can do with my comminuted fibula and titanium-rod filled tibia. The symbol of feebleness, my walker, is folded and hidden. I go as I can on crutches until fatigue and discomfort park me on a chair or bench.

Yesterday, I was back at the gym using the one aerobic machine I can, the SciFit Pro1000 upper body exerciser. It’s sort of a hand cranked bicycle, with no wheels. I sit and operate the hand levers. While I could set it to a weight-lifting mode, I am using some of the hill programs, which elevate my heart rate, take a lot of power to use, and even make me sweat.

crutchesAs the company so graciously puts it, this series of products is “for complete workouts by elite athletes or severely deconditioned users.” So, I’m not a gimp trying to walk, I’m deconditioned. There may be a time in a month or so when I can get in the pool and at the least drag some laps. Right now my fibular shards and the two-piece tibia don’t allow a push off and besides, I could not get into and out of the pool yet. Meanwhile, it’s a minor thrill to be using my body a bit.

As part of my lowered but not extinguished aspirations, I push a little here and there. I still can’t tool around the neighborhood, but I am not immobile. Yesterday after the gym, my uxorial unit and I went a grocery on the way home. I did not accept sitting in the van and thumped in. While she shopped for a wee cart of things, I tried to feign that I too could look for comestibles. I had no way to carry them, but I walked with my head high anyway.

We went to the West Roxbury Roche Brothers. It is locally famous for its regular coverage on Universal Hub. Moreover, videoblogger Steve Garfield hyperlocalizes this particular store. It is somewhere between a large green grocer and a giant supermarket. If some of the clerks were any more Irish, they couldn’t even understand each other. Shoppers call out to each other and employees.

So, while Cindy was wheeling around snagging yogurt and such, I was exercising and trying a bit of confidence building on my own. That didn’t work out too well.

grocery cart

I am definitely less hurried than I was five weeks ago on the day of the big break. I was surprised to find that I mellowed a little, wet with that wave of (at least temporary) maturity. I found a series of folk, largely 30-something and 40-something women charging directly at or rushing inches in front of the big old guy on crutches.

I quickly saw that either:

  • They didn’t have good upbringing or
  • They weren’t in the moment (as Sherlock Holmes would have said, “You see, but you do not observe”) or
  • They didn’t have enough brain power to process other humanoids while they chase a particular food stuff

Two different husband units following these careering shoppers quietly apologized to me when their wives either caused me to rock back on my crutches or literally brushed into me. They apparently were used to seeing a focused grocery hunter in action.

I quickly realized that I normally would have thought evil of these women. Yet perhaps because of my relaxed and reduced pace, I found them amusing.

Very short people at the gym had already conditioned me a bit. Hobbling from the workout area to the main exit generally meant passing by lines (or more accurately line-like clumps) of five to nine-year-olds. Some haven’t learned to be aware of or considerate of others and some are just chatting away being little kids.

A parallel between those Roche shoppers and the Y kids is that they seem used to adults accommodating them. While I grew up in a time and in places where we held doors for each other and no child would ever think of pushing an adult aside to get to the door first, that is not here and now.

I do enjoy the simple, warming grace of consideration. Beyond being attentive to the elderly or disabled, making minor moves for even big guys laden with packages is just plain nice…and it’s nearly free, with only the cost of a few seconds lost.

The middle-aged women in Roche Brothers surely were not being malicious. Had they thought about it, they likely would not have threatened the guy on crutches. The point is that they didn’t think of it and likely won’t the next time or times.

These are the same folk who push their carts at other people, parking willy-nilly on any side or even in the the aisle middle. They are busy, not thinking about it and reflecting their family culture.

I hope I can retain my humor and calmness about such interactions. They are so common that moving them from annoyance to amusement could be a real stress reducer.

I think I’ll stay emotionally ready for my next grocery visit.

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Ciao Bella Luna: One of Several

August 21st, 2008

A good chef doesn’t need to be a porker, but it’s hard to trust or believe one who’s skinny either. I like my cooks to like their food.

The new executive chef at Jamaica Plain’s Bella Luna, Jacob Zachow, has a hand like a ham and a smile you can trust. Bloggers at Tuesday evening’s food fest there left with a renewed or new affection for the Hyde Square pizza/bowling/club joint.

The short of it includes:

  • He’s been there for two months
  • He’s revamped the menu, leaving favorites and adding his gems
  • They’re there for months until they move to the Brewery Complex under the …FENREFFER chimney to a single floor
  •  If you liked Bella Luna’s food, expect the same and better. If you haven’t been, what’s the matter with you?

Jacob is very approachable. I learned among other thing:

  • He grew up in Cooperstown, New York, a relative hick even by even by our third-tier sized city.
  • He moved a couple of blocks from his Hyde Square kitchen and really likes JP.
  • He had previously been at the Mohonk Mountain House, where rich people play golf and dance stiffly.
  • That was across the Hudson from the Culinary Institute (CIA) where friends became cookies (and drank in New Paltz, where he was). We were able to compare memories.
  • He loves being at Bella Luna and getting a chance to do his own thing instead of the predictable.
  • He’s not afraid to add spice (consider his skewered shrimp with a biting mint pesto).

The manager, Carol Downs, was also full of herself in a gracious and informative way. I wasn’t all that polite and asked bluntly whether the previous chef had left in a huff or gotten pushed out. She said that no, he had been there three years, a pretty good tenure for the top guy, and was ready to move.

She too lamented the loss of the basement bowling alley when they move. They’ll add some games and have space for bands on their one-floor (much larger one-floor) central space. She’s aiming for the same ambiance.

I estimated 50 to 60 bloggers by my grouping of 10 count. That’s pretty good and  and more than we got for our first WR/Rozzie/JP fest. In our defense though, you had to buy your own beer at ours. Sadly too for this week, St. Gaffin did not show. While I didn’t know many of the bloggers at Bella Luna, several I did know asked me if Adam was coming. He and Steve Garfield (who did attend) are our idea of peer celebrities.

I confess my family has gone there for many years. Lackaday, my uxorial unit was ill and did not attend, and was thus unprepared to compare perceptions. However, she’s pleased that they have long carried one of our hot-weather wine standards, Muscadet. They had little kids’ food when we had little kids and adult spiced entrées for us. There was bowling in the lower level, and we’d catch music when bands that included friends played. We may live at the other end of JP, but this is our neighborhood too.

Both the Globe and the Gazette covered the capitalist tragedy-ette of the mini-complex feeling forced out by what they describe as an 85% rent  hike.  While there is a dispute over whether the restaurant carried the landlord or the other way around, the short of it is that Bella Luna got bumped out over a huge rent increase, it cut a deal with the Brewery complex, and there’s an extension to let them prepare the space and old landlord to find new tenant(s).

I’m sure the pleasant flacks for Bella Luna don’t want to know the business that is not of their business’ business. However, the freebie evening brought up:

  • My slightly sordid past of swag and freeloading.
  • Public relations and those who do it.
  • My shameless willingness to continue that legacy long after my journalism is over.
  • My fascination with my real avocation, cooking and eating.
  • Chefs I have known and related cooking stories.

In fact, this was savvy PR at its best. Like Deval Patrick and Barack Obama showed, a little attention to bloggers and occasionally recognizing them as community journalists is cheap purchase  of coverage. We each have our followings and provide coverage and credibility you aren’t likely to find in MSM, for whatever that’s worth.

I’ll deal with each of those and reference related topics’ posts as they go up here or at Friendly With Food. Meanwhile, here and at Marry in Massachusetts, I’ll post lightly or not at all for a week or so.

For more focused coverage, you can see a few pix at Steve’s Flickr feed. Andrew and I had a nice chat and he was quick on reporting at Changing Way. There are several foody bloggers there sure to post too.

And More Update:  Over at Cave Cibum, Pam has a short post and there’s another pic from one of the We Are Not Martha women at Better Than Cupcakes.

When they do, food will likely be up early and late. A bevy of young women (one even featured red sequined ballet slippers) served the noshes Jacob prepared. There were a couple decent wines (red overly chilled though) and two trendy drinks, a mojito/cosmopolitian variant and a Martinique (vodka, Cointreau, mango nectar, rose water and lime juice).

There was a bit of buzz early from a couple of us who had heard that the rush would mean they catered the blogger offerings. Not so…Jacob was everywhere.

My respect for him swelled as I peered over the kitchen bar to see his flying fingers. There was the tender morsel of pork on a non-greasy sweet potato chip with a corn salsa. The executive chef personally whipped out an office-desk sized tray of them.

I am much into presentation and Jacob seems to be too. While my chums at the CIA dissed garde-manger, I have always respected both cold foods and artistic display of all food. Watching Jacob work, I shall expect pretty plates on every visit.

We has black-bean based sliders with a great cumin, hot-pepper zip. There were a few crowd pleasing mundanities, like fried mozzarella, but in the main, food was like Oscar Wilde described ideal lovers, chosen for their good looks. The sustenance was both pretty and palatable.