Archive for the ‘Universal Hub’ Category

Doyle’s Infested with Bloggers

May 15th, 2008

Blogger neighborhoodsMore than a clown car load of bloggers showed last night. I pronounce our first (insert period here) Rossie/JP/West Roxbury blogger social meet a modest success.

The rush report on the event is over at Universal Hub. Adam over there and I blame each other for this event. I think it was his idea and he claims I made it happen.

As threatened, we met at Doyle’s and from the comments, enjoyed it enough to have more such blobs of bloggers. I suggest that you try that for your neighborhoods or town.

It was without agenda, other than putting faces with blogs/bloggers and talk about our widely diverse blogs. I think we had 17 attendants.

We depended on the curiosity of strangers (and friends) as online invitations. While UH lists seven West Roxbury blogs, none from his list showed. We don’t know whether wading all the way into JP would be too much of a culture shock, but we’ll try to entice or shame them into coming next time. Maybe we can hold it closer to their safety zone, a Centre Street pub or the Pleasant in Roslindale.

However, we ended up with quite a few from Roslindale and JP. We got our share of what passes for celebrities in our little bloggy world. That certainly includes videoblogger Steve Garfield and media critic/professor Dan Kennedy. Plus we got Globe correspondent and ubiquitous free-lance Justin Rice.

Unquestionably though, the best parts were meeting bloggers whose stuff we read and talking with those whose interests and posts are nothing like ours. To those of us who do political or personal blogging, or in my case both, there were fascinating excursions.

Boston Handmade, for one, is for a crafts collective; Jessica Burko showed her geek chops and brought a laptop to access her site

Drew Gilpin Faust Fan Club has real and surreal posts related to the Harvard prez; I have it on good authority that she doesn’t yet know it exists

Learning Strategies has reportage and musings on like its title reads; as proof we did not discriminate by ZIP, this is from Larry Davidson in Dot

Joseph Porcelli, the cops and coffee mugs guy, attended

My Dedham (Brian Keaney) represented the south-of-Boston contingent; actually he was that contingent and lives in the land of always bubbling politics

9Neighbors had Rick Burnes describing his concept of displaying the most active blogs

Involuntary Slacker Alyssa belied the blog’s name and already posted on the literal symposium

The Boomer Chronicles (a favorite) had Rhea standing up for it

Andy’s Blog blogger Andy (Miller) even appeared; he’s been in his cave to pass the Mass bar exam, which he recently did and surely will become a regular poster again

Roslindale Monogatari with Michael Kerpan on film; he and I share an interest in the Tollgate Cemetery and had corresponded

Disclaimer: I am favorably disposed to the Faust blog, which is the idea and output of my uxorial unit, Cindy Thames.

And so it went. We met, we drank, we ate, and mostly we talked. I’ll put a few pix below. Click thumbnails for a larger view of what real bloggers look like.

Andy and Justin Steve Garfield
Andy and Justin (Rossie and the Globe Our famous videoblogger (JP)
Dan and Michael Rick, Cindy and Jessica
Dan Kennedy and Michael Kerpan Rick, Cindy and Jessica
Jessica, Alyssa and Adam
Jessica, Alyssa and Adam  

As an aside, reporter Justin asked me about blogger gatherings and whether this would grow into a BlogLeft type of activist group. I’m sure not. This was pure social and pure pleasure.

BlogLeft is a flapping loose set of political bloggers, pinko variety. We had a big gathering two years ago when Tim Murray was still mayor of Worcester and about to run for lieutenant governor. He was a guest there. We had breakout sessions and got real serious.

Likewise, we co-sponsored the lieutenant governor debate in Lowell and recently had a long, highly political gathering, also in Lowell. This is a serious and action-oriented group…not so with the south by southwest Boston bloggers.

The next time you see us plug an open, in-town blogger gathering, know it not serious, just seriously social.

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Tuck the Earth Back in Bed Day

May 3rd, 2008

Does it make us Wake Up the Earth junkies if we’ve been going for about 20 of the 30 years it’s happened? We dragged our sorry, soggy butts there again today.

The people in the parade were having a great time. See some pix below.

Motley drummers in WUTE parade wave.jpg
Drum was a loose term and the dummers clearly enjoyed their versions. A variety of stilt walkers had a great time striding, walking, dancing and waving.
shake.jpg bugs1.jpg
Some bugs also played instruments as they paraded. Others were not content just to talk. Dancing was in order.

Pic Click Trick: Click on a thumbnail for a larger view.

On the other foot, hand and head, the cold drizzle kept the crowds to maybe a fifth of the usual. It wasn’t enough to trigger the rain date of next weekend, but it is not going to be the vendors’ best WUTE day.

RIPbanner close RIPbannerAt the basketball court just below the Stony Brook T station, the on-court memorial shrine to murdered 20-year-old Luis Troncoso had to be off, apparently not to harsh the festival’s mellow. Yet a hand lettered banner running along the back of the court remained.

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Not Paranoid Enough?

April 22nd, 2008

There’s a lot of JP, both in length and diversity. Maybe I misdirected my comfort yesterday.

I walked with a newly met woman about 10:30 a.m., assuring her that the Lallement bikepath on the Southwest corridor — tracking the Orange Line — was safe. At the Forest Hills end, she asked whether it was okay to walk then. I told her that yes, in the daytime, but maybe not at night.

She had eyed the seedy sitters and I recalled the late-night bike bandits who’d knock riders down and take their wheels.

I tend, not surprisingly, to bike on that bikepath. When I do walk it, I like to follow the stick figure signs, keeping the bike side for cyclists, even though they are few. I recall the many oblivious strollers often blocking the whole bike side while risking their infants or looking and listening to phones. Don’t be that guy, Mike.

Oddly enough, I was on foot because of my road bike. I finally admitted that those scraping sounds meant I could no longer pretend my brake pads would last forever or regenerate. The Shimano 105/Ultegra pads are hard to come by. International over in Newton had sold me the wrong type already. I was delighted to call at 10 a.m. on Patriots Day and find that Community Bicycle Supply at the far reach of the South End would be open.

I headed up, both to get the right pads and to do a cardio session. That’s about five miles. We live at the very bottom of JP, kind of the pendant on the chain of the long, narrow neighborhood. We’re a mile below Forest Hills in the last couple of blocks of JP.

The woman walker, Wanda, and I headed north. She had dropped her car off in Dedham for repairs, taken a bus to Forest Hills and figured to get a warm-up for her workout at Mike’s gym, a mile or so up the corridor. She is bookkeeper for the Mass Public Health folk and works in JP. She was just not used to walking over to Mike’s.

I’ve biked and walked that path for many years. Quickly she and I got past any thought of evil en route. We spoke of our teenagers, school, sports and gyms.

So that evening, my JP-ness got a jolt reading about Luis Troncoso, the 20-year-old gunned down on a basketball court on the corridor at about 4 p.m. yesterday. That would be the court next to where JP Wakes Up the Earth, the court one half block beyond where Wanda and I parted.

I don’t think I lied to her, not intentionally. I still know the bikepath is safe. It appears his murderer targeted him specifically, so the place and time of death have little implication for the rest of us. The young father is dead still.

I also know that, geographically, fancy folk Pond Side and even Brookline are closer to this violence than we live. Somehow though, as disparate as the various JPs are one from another, the neighborhood link is powerful. I might well have led Wanda right into a scene of death, had timing been slightly different. That’s not what any of us want in our neighborhoods.

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Moody Bonsai

April 18th, 2008

Hmm, a fine name for a comic detective or perhaps a ballad singer might be Moody Bonsai. Instead, I dubbed this opportunistic tree-to-be in a Waltham garage.

bonsai11.jpgFor centuries, a preferred Japanese method of finding naturally dwarfed trees, bonsai, was to visit cemeteries. Such volunteer plants might grow from a seed in a mausoleum roof or cornice. With just enough blown soil and rainwater to barely survive, those trees became stunted, without human torture to their miniature ideal.

A form of this has been occurring in the city parking garage behind the Watch City Brewing Company (I recommend the FNA, a very hoppy ale). A seed insinuated itself in a seam on top of a wall and the resulting evergreen shows the sculpting by the wind off the adjacent Charles River.

Pic Click Trick: Click on a thumbnail image for a larger view.

bonsai2.jpgAlas, some city worker may decide to save the granite from this interloper and pull it. Otherwise, it may simply die on its own from lack of nutrients. We can’t say it didn’t try.

If you have reason to visit either the pub or plant, be aware that the ticket dispensers are still hosed. The garage provides the noble service of enough space for the lunch crowds at the many and varied Moody Street eateries.

park.jpgIt’s cheap at 25¢ an hour and allegedly self service. You:

  • Enter the garage or parking lot
  • Walk up to the ticket dispenser
  • Push a button for one, two, three hours or all day ($1 for the works)
  • Insert your coins
  • Put the resulting ticket on your dash so the constabulary can see what you pay for and fine you if necessary

Last month, the dispenser would just eat the quarters and offer nothing in return. Yesterday, it produced this ticket, which as you can plainly see…nothing.

Actually, if you want to the booth on the far side of the open lot, the dispenser in the shelter there may be more functional, but less amusing.

I had a long lunch meeting and had put in 75¢, not so you could tell that. I really doubt the enforcement agent will bother until they fix the box. I’m sure I could have used a single quarter and saved an entire 50¢. I hope Waltham uses my largess to help with repair.

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Inner City Comes Visiting

January 29th, 2008

Have lunch downtown with your adult son…and what happens? I returned to my boring one-block street in JP’s Woodbourne to find every form of police vehicle, plus a guy in a garish FBI jacket.

FBI agent

Updates via Adam: Apparently the guy in the red cap that the FBI and city had to convince to come out was the (alleged) perp. There was a CVB cover here and a MassMostWanted one here. Thanks muchly, Adam.

I used to laugh at my grandmother in a small county seat in the eastern panhandle (apple country) of West Virginia. She was always at the windows and sent me to the volunteer fire house whenever the alarm went off. They wrote the emergency names and address on the chalk board and Mable had to be first to know who was in trouble and of what type.

Cuffed ladOur section is so quiet and crimeless, I had to wander out to chat with the cops. Unlike the TV dramas, we had no pistol duels or screaming. No one called, “You’ll never take me alive, copper!”

Pick Click Trick: Click on a thumbnail for a larger image.

Perhaps more interesting than those fellows who were in plastic cuffs were the many officers of various agencies. You could certainly see who had been a Marine and still had the buzz cut with gray hair. I must say that for others the effect of a silver mullet is not a good fashion statement.

Checking the trunkI’ll update when I discover the real story. Neither MSM daily nor the freebies was carrying anything. I share the frustration of Adam over at UniversalHub in getting a 509 — bandwidth exceeded, trying to get something from Boston Police Department News.

I figured it was drugs because of the FBI involvement. That would be quite the news in our staid little corner of town. The folk in that new house have had visits from cops a few times for being loud. They don’t seem to notice that this very quiet block has one of the city’s best known and respected cops on it, and that no one else has loud parties or yells obscenities at their kids…at least not so anyone can hear.

Selfishly of course, we hope that this helps reduce their youthful exuberance.

So far, the city cops outside my front door said that they think one or more recent guests were involved in bank robberies. (What does Adam write, innocent until proven guilty? In this case, that would have the caveat of and until we know the accusation.)

I know the fellow in the white sweatshirt. He was in cuffs, then free. The ectomorph with the Mohawk on the other hand is a stranger to the block. He went away with new companions to discuss the matter at hand.

It’s all too much for a tiny niche with no notable behavior. To be continued…

Minor and Major Update: The Boston Globe ran a slight amplification on the Woodbourne police flurry in Woodbourne yesterday. Angel Robles is a suspect in numerous bank robberies, but so far cops have charged him with one — BOA in Roxbury on 1/4. The BPD News is back up and has a lot more, including the likely identify of the handcuffed guy, who they say is held in investigation of other bank robberies.

Thursday Followup: The Boston Herald returned at least briefly to its old self with a nice feature on the robbery suspect. O’Ryan Johnson located the city detective, Steven Blair, who explained the police work behind the bust. He also said why we neighbors hadn’t noticed him or odd activity:

He said the crew was tough to track because they had no fixed address and slept wherever they laid their heads at night.

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Milkweed That Ate JP

January 26th, 2008

Milkweed on LamartineWhile I am ecstatic that I have been able to cross-country ski so many times in Boston this winter, my seed packets sing little ditties to me. I have herbs, vegetables and flowers whispering to be from their flat packets in 20s and 50s.

Milkweed on Lamartine alsoSomehow, I can’t stop myself from obsessing on future foliage as I bike or walk about JP. It’s not time to start the seeds…not yet…not yet.

Today, it was all too evident on Lamartine Street, where the equivalent of a beachfront view is the Southwest Corridor with the Orange Line. Yet even there, aggressive plants proclaim their splendor. (Please forgive me. I am a certified Master Gardener. I can’t help myself.)

It appears while I wasn’t looking milkweed is poised to overtake JP. As evidence, I submit a couple of pix of 7-foot canes just waiting for spring moisture and plaint earth. It’s as though Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors had aged into white hair. The evil urge to thrive remains.

The wispy white pod floss and brown seeds care little for the snow, wind and cold. They can wait. Don’t be surprised if the 2008 version comes tapping at your windows.