Archive for July, 2012

Musics Abound Around

July 28th, 2012

Yesterday Copley Plaza. Today Lowell. The same but very different — as in free performances by great artists and bands, but you sure could catalog differences.

Regular readers here and at Marry in Massachusetts know my and my family’s jones for the Lowell Folk Festival.  We’ve done all but one or two of its 26 years, from back when it was part of the American Folk Festival. We think it is without question the nation’s best free music fest.

Pix Note: These are Creative Commons. Credit Mike Ball once and do what you want with them. Click on a thumbnail for a larger view.

Boston and the immediate environs really try to be music central. Festivals like Summer Arts Weekend and the Bean Town Jazz Festival really contribute. Despite the great Berkelee College, various college and conservatory music programs and such, Boston still generally lags real jazz and blues towns in music. Minuses and pluses are another post, but suffice it to write that what’s here are few and either predictable or overpriced or both. Boston is not Chicago, New York or even Cleveland.

We can accept that this area is more for college-aged types, with all that implies.

All that sneering implied, let’s praise what the area has. That area to us includes Lowell. The LFF and vaguely related summer music series are astonishing music pleasures. They’re half hour by car and within easy striking distance in time and money by train from North Station. Let us pause briefly to heap praise.

The festivals are kind of masochistic, sort of death marches. They tend to go for several days and produce the prix fixe dinner syndrome. You’re there. They’re serving up more than is reasonable. How much do you, should you, can you consume?

The LFF has long been like that. With up to eight stages having performances at a time, from noon until late, there’s that all-you-can-eat problem. Plus, this generally comes with built-in conflicts. While many artists/bands perform twice a day and even two days in a row, there are bound to be numerous times when you want to hear and see two or three or four at the same time. Then with all that, how much is too much?

I used to work with a woman from Lowell. She and her hubby go to the festival, but they spend most of their time drinking and eating at the many restaurants, bars, and festival stalls. They catch maybe three shows in a day.

I do like many other anal-retentive sorts, scheduling when the lists of performers ad their places in the LFF grid appear, about a month before the weekend. That often involves listening to their clips on the LFF site and the band sites. You can’t know everyone when the festival folk work so hard to include the best in a vast spectrum of folk music, in its broadest meaning.

In many ways, the very limited menu this weekend in Boston is superior. There are a few thing perking at a time. When we went to Copley Plaza Friday evening, for example, the great, but very prescribed, carte simply appeared. That was Sierra Hull and Highway 111 (bluegrass wunderkind and another Alison Krauss protegé; she’s top right), the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (which finished their elongated set bringing on the oxymoronic Hull and bluegrass god Del McCoury for numerous ensemble pieces [wait, what, acoustic guitar and mandolin with horn-heavy NOLA?!]), finishing with R&B queen Irma Thomas. All was free, each followed in order, and you parked your feet or butt while the glories came to your eyes and ears.

It was a festival for those who don’t want to think or choose. It worked too.

Yesterday, our bully-pulpit preaching, correct-side-of-equality Mayor Menino spoke (very lucidly) and enjoyed the Copley show. We did as well, but maybe not as much as the couple of dozen swing dancers performing on the sidewalk while the NOLA jazz band was on state.  (Those dancers are on the right. There was much more dancing at the LFF, in the Dutton tent built for dancing and at the Kennedy Plaza dance floor [see left where some folk even danced with their dogs].)

The LFF as always has that astounding range of styles. We started with the Ethel Caffie-Austin (gospel) Singers. The leader is above left in white hair and pink dress. We were particularly impressed with member Quandora Louise Hornbuckle to the right of her.

We did the famous bluegrass singer Claire Lynch (top left). She’s shown with band member Mark Schatz hamboning.

Five hours of non-stop music later, we punked out when the rain got heavy, missing a couple of acts. Yet, we got that five straight hours of terrific music. I think the rain may have taught us a lesson about enough being enough. However, when I get next year’s sked in front of me, I may not be able to control myself.

 

 

 

 

Helmet Hell

July 21st, 2012

You gotta wonder how the increasing cyclists’ recording drivers will play out. For background, check out the biz/tech angles in a NYT piece on camera mounted on bike helmets.

The short of it is that what started out as a nice system for recording training rides, scenery and such has legal uses. Aggressive and scofflaw drivers on video have a real tough time jiving cops and prosecutors.

My wonder is whether it would change behavior if drivers learned they couldn’t count on the using the cliché that it’s the reckless, wilding cyclists, certainly not the guy behind the wheel, breaking the law. From experiential and anecdotal knowledge, as well as DOT and other stats, those who kill and maim, and those who routinely risk the lives of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, are not on two wheels, rather four or more.

Yet it seems from newspaper reports as well as those personal tales, many cops, prosecutors and judges are eager to believe the mythology of the innocent, law and regulation abiding driver having to watch out for all those terrible cyclists terrorizing the roads with their 30 pound weapons. The extrapolation with this emerging technology leads to related questions. A big one is how will drivers and all those involved in the law deal with increasing proof that far too many drivers are reckless, aggressive, endangering or even homicidal a startling amount of the time.

From what I’ve seen as cyclist, driver, pedestrian and bus rider, a typical driver breaks multiple traffic laws on every single trip. Some are just poor manners, like not signaling turns, thus making others guess, wait, miss lights and so forth. Others could be serious, like running red lights, blocking crosswalks, failing to yield to pedestrians, buzzing cyclists, and cutting off drivers or cyclists. I invite you to follow a few drivers at a safe distance, ideally with a passenger to record what you see. It’s the extremely rare driver who goes more than a few blocks without a moving violation.

Yet the helmet-cam cyclists aren’t out for the majority of drivers who mindlessly disobey traffic laws. After all, most cops can’t be bothered with no-blood/no-wreck violations. Bicyclists are concerned with the aggressive and dangerous drivers who force them off the road, who hit and run, who j-hook them to the pavement, who threaten them first with their vehicles and then often with fists or weapons.

Without the camera, the driver has plausible deniability. After all, don’t we each know what crazies cyclists are, every one?

So, it’s legal to video someone’s actions in public, as in driving down the streets. Cops can’t really hide from their obligations when a cyclist can prove that a motorist crashed into them and sped off, or the like. More helmet cams will mean more prosecutions, fines, suspended licenses, insurance surcharges and maybe even jail time.

How will the driving community react? Will the police tweak their training to remind their officers that a cyclist might be telling the truth about a motor vehicle attack? Will judges have to step back from their identification with fellow drivers over those strange two-wheel types?

I suspect the immediate response from drivers will to try to wheedle out of the proof. Either they’ll call foul on being recorded, or ask whether you want to believe your eyes or their words. Drivers who speak or write of cyclists dearly love their dual fantasy — they are blameless and cyclists at semi-human detritus.

I’m a cautious cyclist in watching out for the loons on four wheels. I do claim a lane, but I never assume drivers will stop at red lights or go the right way down a one-way street or look and yield before entering traffic. Yet, I still get buzzed by bike haters, cut off by ditzes, and threatened by drivers who demand that I get out of “their” traffic lane.

Helmet cams are cheap, money-wise, but precious in concept. Just maybe…

Medical Sigh Science

July 16th, 2012

My comminuted (multiple breaks and pieces) collarbone got the latest treatment or non-treatment. As an example of how medicine changes and maybe or maybe not advances, conventional orthopedic wisdom has again shifted.

Pic note: Click for a somewhat larger view.

Where a badly broken clavicle used to require holding the big pieces together with a plate and screws (pins, in surgeon lingo), recent trends favor non-surgical benign neglect. This surgical info page describes the options.

Previously, the idea and ideal were to stabilize the whole bone and keep the pieces together to promote faster, stronger bonding healing. Now, according to both my ortho surgeon and physical therapist, the new wisdom is that outcomes are no better with plates/screws than letting the components find each other and form enough bone to made a renewed clavicle.

I’ve only had surgery once in my life, three-plus years ago for a badly broken leg. I shall permanently wear a titanium rod inside my left tibia from my knee to ankle. I’m not eager for more cutting, drilling, pounding, and other internal carpentry.  Yet, I already have a tangerine-sized lump above my left pec. Chums who had broken their collarbones as teens or 20-somethings have insisted I feel their residual bumps, which are much smaller. They said they had simple, single breaks, which may account for the difference.

Several other folk with related knowledge, including Uncle whose daughter is in the PT/rehab biz, concur on the shift from plates/screws. While plain old logic suggests that bones that fuse into their original alignment will be much stronger than those that lump up more randomly, the surgeons say their studies don’t support that. Hard to believe, but in my case it’s a bit late to speculate.

What’s amusing to me, even being an non-controlling participant in this current treatment scheme, is knowing that the science in medical science is mostly not linear. Unlike the concept we grew up hearing, treatments don’t inch or leap ahead to better and better outcomes. Instead, they mostly seem to move in and out like the tides.

I recall my first awareness of that when I was in elementary to middle schools. My mother ran Red Cross chapters, which included planning for and overseeing such courses as first aid and home nursing. She was really annoyed to have to replace those texts and see her instructors were tweaked as the AMA and similar bodies changed their minds with new research truths. I think of covering wounds, particularly burns. Yes bandage; no, open air; no, salve; and on and on, somethings changing with each new major study more than once a year.

Truth be told, docs and medial societies can be incredible faddists. Studies can contradict each other, despite following precise and detailed methods and even being replicated by others. The science can be approximate or fungible, which leads to funky doc punditry. It’s the now-we-know syndrome that comes with the fad of the latest findings. Generally no one dies from the sudden shifts, but I long ago lost faith in the concept of inexorable medical advances.

Certainly even worse than shifts in perceived surgical best practices is drug pushing. So many adults end up with one to a dozen or even more prescriptions. I think of my late in-laws who’d each fill a window sill with their daily meds when they visited. My wife remarked to her mother that those were a lot of different drugs. Her mother agreed and said she asked her doctor if they were all necessary. She reported that he asked her which she’d like to stop, and when she picked one said if she stopped taking it, she’d die.

More commonly, docs find it far easier to treat symptoms with drugs than actually to diagnose the cause of the symptom and, to think back to the ideal of the profession, cure the patient with the like of nutrition, behavior modification and such. So, the docs are more likely to say that taking this or that drug will add two or five or more years to the patients’ lives.

These pharmaceutical company promises may or may not have validity per patient, but we can be sure the benefits don’t compound. That is if you have six prescriptions for drugs your doc says will add those years to your life, you can’t expect the benefits to add up. If it did, we might all expect to live to 150 or longer.

I hark back to childhood when I was never seriously sick, but a pediatrician seemed magic. Swollen tonsils got a single penicillin shot in the butt and cleared up quickly. Nowadays, I”m aware people past their 20s or 30s tend to end up with chronic conditions or ambiguous symptoms. Very much unlike the mystery disease article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine or an episode of House,  we don’t get a team of dedicated, resource (including time) rich doctors who do what is necessary to diagnose and cure us. In fact, we can be pretty sure, our nurses and doctors won’t have the time and inclination to listen to our symptoms and consider our self-diagnosis.

Back to my increasingly lumpy formerly unified collarbone, I didn’t have a lot of options. In the ER and next week followup, the orthopedic surgeons said the muscles would likely keep the bones close enough. I could have insisted on a plate at the time or when I saw the big gap at five weeks, could have pushed to the then big deal of opening me up, re-breaking the bones as needed and then using the plate. So, really, no choice by that time.

Now if I don’t have another trauma to that collarbone and if normal activity including free weights doesn’t snap the new version, the outcome will be acceptable. I won’t project or anticipate. I’ll just go with the idea that the current treatment trend is OK.

Phat and Fat: Down For The Count

July 14th, 2012

After some healing, I’m still limited athletically but got the OK yesterday from a physical therapist to go back to elliptical machines…provided I do not use the arms. Apparently my broken ribs are merely painful and my multi-fractured clavicle is half fused. Towering, grinning Jeff in Beantown physio agreed with the surgeons that I needed to be very careful about weight bearing and muscle straining for another six weeks.

And this is prime bicycling season. It grieves me.

I’d done the boring stationary bike, while being specifically forbidden from real cycling. Yet, I’ve had passionate, sweaty, prolonged encounters with the West Roxbury Y’s Cybex Arc Trainers and was pleased to do some real exercise after a month and a half walking and that stationary bike-like object.

I was intellectually but not emotionally prepared for the predictable side effect of having lost a substantial amount of weight. The machine measures energy expended and reports the calories. It starts with you setting the type of program, the time, the exertion level and your poundage.

This time, I weighed about 14% less than the last I used an Arc Trainer. Sure enough, despite soaking my shirt and shorts, I saw about 250 fewer calories used in the hour.

I was mildly disappointed, but this is what is supposed to happen. By the diet cliché, when you lose weight, you use fewer calories when you exercise. You simply aren’t lifting and moving the same amount around.

Of course there are numerous wild cards here. For one, despite the medical/nutrition chant of calories-in/calories-out, the basal metabolism rate for a given rate is ONLY AN ESTIMATE…yours almost certainly will vary. Research on this that looks good to me (Volek and Phinney) finds that at least three-quarters of us don’t fit that highly oversimplified formula.

For another, metabolic rates do change. Age, illness, activity change, and dozens of other factors can up or depress rates. Then there’s also the somatotype, with extremes of ectomorphic and endomorphic bodies not at all following the formula.

Then as I dutifully recorded today’s machine report on my sweaty hour, I briefly mused, why do I bother? I have carefully recorded caloric intake and expenditure for years. I have found poor correlation for the amount of aerobic exercise I do (a typical day would have me losing between 0.39 and .75 pounds — absurd and it doesn’t happen). My niece and my mother before us similarly kept records. We measured and weight, as well as used the package nutrition figures and the diet software’s figures. Despite the fantasies of doctors and nutritionists that if the calories-in/calories-out calculations don’t work, the answer is not that the patient is delusional, dishonest or inaccurate. Alas, I have good software, keep damned accurate counts and measures, and have to conclude that my metabolism is too efficient.

I do have factors that slow metabolism. I’ve lost more than 10% of my body weight…several times. I am older. Those with a few other factors account for some of the difference. I believe after years of records and a frightening amount of reading and experimentation, that I have to accept that my metabolism does not follow the basal estimate.

As a side note, I think programmers would have a hit with an heuristic nutrition program. Imagine a program that takes several months of calorie input and exercise output, links them to weight and body fat measurements (I do those two once a week), and then adjusts your calculated basal metabolic rate to reality. It would regularly fine-tune the rate, learning as you report your poundage and fat. Then when you saw 0.15 loss for a given day, you’d have some faith in its accuracy. There’s money to be made from us many million dieters!

Back to my question, this is like the other measurements I take. I do keep records. I do learn from them. They confirm or contradict my hypotheses. I personally adapt to the fantasies and failures of doctors and nutritionists. To do that, I need a baseline and data to reference.

After finally accepting that the food pyramid was junk science for me and ending up after my nutrition research with lower carb/higher protein and fat, the daily recording and weekly measurements are more important that ever. I can’t trust my doctor or nutritionist to customize my diet for fat loss and weight maintenance. I have to do that.

Following my bike crash, I feared backsliding and gaining weight/fat. I haven’t, even with dramatically less aerobics. Apparently part of the body healing broken bones is increased metabolism for the healing period. Ah.

Before the wreck, I had begun slowly adding grams of carbs to the diet weekly. The idea in the carb-based diet books is to see what your set point is for carbohydrates. The theory is that the FDA’s estimate of 300 grams per day is wacky and way too high, but there’s some level above the initial low-carb standard of 25 grams per day that will work, and some level that will make you start regaining weight and fat.

So, you are your own scientist and you are the universe of one in the lab. Slowly add carbs and see the effect. Ease off if you have to and if things go real sour, drop back down to that initial 25 grams for a week or two to reset.

I’ll note that I am aware that a scale weight may vary from 1 to 4 pounds naturally and temporarily. You may have a water-weight gain, perhaps from alcohol use. You may be constipated and loaded up. The causes go on and on, but the lesson is not to flip out from a single divergence.

I also believe in weighing weekly. Many people, my wife included, are daily sorts. That strikes me as a bit obsessive and likely meaningless. If I need to adjust, I think a week is a good touchstone.

So, there we (or I) have it. I record daily and measure weekly, knowing that the software reports on the results are inaccurate. Having the reference is important to me. Seeing the graphs of weight and body fat measures are key. In fact, as a mesomorphic sort, I think the body fat number is much more important than pounds. When I lift free weights, I actually get a little heavier, my metabolic rate seems to increase, and my body fat percentage goes down. Weight up and fat down; that’s OK.

This series includes:

Call it Lifestyle on the intellectual and emotional commitment to low-carb
Watching the Struggle on my grandmothers diet woes
Wrestling with Fat on overcoming fear of dietary fats
Hunger? do you starve on a low-carb diet?
Low-Carb Eats on what’s on the menu in the regimen
How Much of What Food on calories-in/calories-out cliché
Dr. Cadaver on mindless trust in group averages
Who’s Counting on body fast v. weight
Part 1 on pants don’t lie

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Pols With Blinders

July 13th, 2012

Candidate Deval Patrick suddenly made blogging significant in Massachusetts six years ago. Sure, he treated us new-media sorts like press/broadcast, but it was two way. He estimated smartly and rightly that what came to be called netroots could swing elections as surely as any ethnic group. It worked for him.

Two years later, it worked for his good buddy, a certain Barack Obama. Each guy ended up with adoring, earned support from bloggers and other new media types. Of course, we grubby bloggers were not alone in our support. Yet, the rising internet-related folk, largely teens and 20 somethings did make the difference in Obama’s victory. While other candidates seemed to snort at Patrick and Obama courting the young and the idealists, hey, it worked for them.

Gone.

At yesterday’s annual Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s ascendancy-to-office street party, I mourned the demise of visionary pols, replaced by academicians and biz sorts. Simultaneously, my Left Ahead co-host Ryan Adams has likewise drawn attention to the dwindling number of political bloggers, particularly locally. This whimpering little trend dovetails precisely with politicians’ indifference. Finally and obviously, following the Citizens United rape of the campaign system, candidates understandably look to bucks, bucks and bucks, and away from the direct and online interpersonal reactions that determined the results in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

I have a double fret for the 2012 election. First, I fear that the young voters are not sufficiently engaged to vote and to get others to do so. Second and more pervasively, I fear that voters weary of woes, recession, and fears of the future would vote the fantasy, that is, they’d go for a Reagan or Bush the Lesser jive about guns-and- butter or roe insanely trick-down economics. Regardless of decades of continual winger failures in economics and public policy, the siren call of the myth lives in the simple minded.

On the positive side for us lefty sorts, the Republican Party in general and Mitt Romney in particular are doing their worst to alienate voter groups. Any woman, African American, Latino or poor person would be an absolute fool to vote for Romney. Yet even with the evidence, we know that 40% or more will vote the fantasy way.

With November only a season away, I wonder about the strategies of the big shots, like Presidential and Senatorial candidates. They aren’t going for the netroots. In fact, all the candidates are viewing blogs, podcast shows and such as tertiary or lower addenda to their campaigns. They aren’t seeking out the influential and/or smart bloggers and other analysts.

Does this mean that the four years of bloggy influence has come and gone? Alternately, does this mean that the current crop of would-be office holders are not savvy enough?

To Ryan’s musing, there are fewer local blogs. Many of my old chums no longer publish the electrons.

As one illustration, I had an amusing set of interactions with US Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren and her handler yesterday on Chesterfield Street at Menino’s party. I wore my HICKS FOR ELIZABETH button. Warren saw it and said twice she love it, adding once again how great my yellow glasses frames are. In contrast, her handler did her best in the scrum to keep me away from the candidate.

Warren and I both worked the crowds from different angles. I chatted up political chums, such as Menino, MA Treasurer Steve Grossman and City Councilor Felix Arroyo, and other podcast guests. Relentlessly on her own, Warren worked the hamburger and ice-cream scoffing folk of voting age all around the booths.

As our loops intersected a few times, at one point, I handed Warren my HICKS button.

I tend to think of her as relatively straightforward and courageous. Yet, under the admonition of her handler, she got gutless. I asked the handler whether Warren still intended to go on a BlueMassGroup show; she said yes. I said that Left Ahead was still waiting for another visit, to which she said it wouldn’t happen. That kind of gun-shy behavior is nto suited to the valorous.

In fact, when I handed Warren my button, she said again that she loved it, but suggested I give it to her later and looked at the glowering eyes of her handler.

We can put it down to pragmatism or cowardice for the button and the Left Ahead re-visit. We must put down the cluelessness about new media to a simple lack of vision. The current candidates somehow missed Patrick and Obama’s lessons, relying instead on the dull and improbable ads and even newspapers.

I guess we can’t expect every election cycle to be filled with insight and wisdom.

Free-dumb on the 4th

July 5th, 2012

Visiting #1 Son and DIL around Independence Day of course has been full of obvious and subtle examples of freedom and restrictions. While the Fourth is ostensibly about casting off colonialism and occupation, we boomers go far beyond that.

Growing up with WWII parents and WWI grandparents, we are filled with grand and even naive ideals of cultural and personal. Those were reinforced by that newish TV, movies and all around us. American exceptionalism and frontier concept of freedom characterize and drive us.

My curmudgeonly comment today includes exasperation with 20 and 30 somethings who would try to excuse ignorance and lack of analysis saying they weren’t born when this or that occurred. That shows only a lack of knowledge, curiosity and perhaps intellect. The world did not begin spinning when you nor I arrived.

With my hoary head, I noticed our airport experiences and the heavy symbolism of a trio to Alcatraz.

For the former, recap it with removing shoes and belts keeps no one safe. We are both delusional and sheeplike pretending otherwise. Chants about sacrificing for safety or even that the mere theater of arbitrary and ineffectual TSA regulations and procedure dissuaded terrorists from plying their hellish aims are sad and un-American.

More to the metaphor on the Fourth, ferrying to the Alcatraz tour was an object lesson in freedom as well. Ceding all liberty as punishment for crimes is an Independence Day meditation.

We coursed through our day and night until early on the Fifth, interacting with other revelers, residents, citizen, cops barkeeps and such. We experienced the relative liberty boomers idealize in most places. We did show our papers – train, and boat tickets, credit cards and such on demand. Some instances were silly overkill, like three times each in the snaking, cordoned ferry line for The Rock, but in the main, we perked and went at will.

As a nation, we definitely have freely ceded too many liberties to feed our collective post-9/11 insecurities. We’re not likely going to regain those soon or easily.

Grooming Corridor

July 1st, 2012

The mini-kingdom of tonsorial parlors in Hyde Park is undoubtedly Logan Square. Salons and barber shops specializing for black women, white men, black men, Latinos and Latinas, plus nails and braiding abound in a tiny stretch at the start of Fairmount Avenue.

River Street goes south and turns right to head west at the HP municipal building, with Fairmount heading east. It’s that stretch of a few blocks that starts with the Logan Square Barber Shop and sees all those related but different places on both sides of the street.

Yesterday, I got a haircut with folklore and barber lore, then I chatted with a barber specializing in African-American hair. No one seems to know quite how the hair center arrived, but everyone with an opinion seems to think there’s plenty of business for all.

As a sidelight, I recall a lecture a couple of months ago by Anthony Sammarco in the nearby library. His Hyde Park (Then and Now) is harmless enough, basically a photo collection with a little commentary in a series you likely have seen. One aspect that stuck with me was that even before Hyde Park became part of Boston (1912), it had a shopping shtick. Close by Clearly Square (a few blocks west and within sight of Logan Square) was a clothing and haberdashery conglomerate. Two large department stores and fitting shops were where many, particularly area men came for suits and shirts and such.

Now for some inexplicable reason, Logan Square is where hair comes to be snipped and styled.

We around here hopped for yet more restaurants. Alas, several promising ones have open and closed in the past few years. Most recently, first TC’s Coffee couldn’t make a go of the pastry biz and the mother eatery Townsends closed with a whiff of scandal. For those, I loved her baked goods, as did so many, but she apparently did not have the traffic of the likes of the close-by Dunkin’. The restaurant with its full bar (including a remarkable collection of ales mated to the meals), was the political and social club meeting place as well as a virtual home to Council President Steve Murphy. I sat with many pols and others by happenstance, at events, for interviews at one or the other. Lackaday.

However, a few healthy restaurants remain, notably The Hyde (disclaimer, a son works there). 

We have several particularistic churches in the same stretch, but mostly it’s hair and nails. For a bit of humor, the most popular woman’s salon, big, busy and rich went south. Salon Capri was between the two squares and where my wife went. They uber-suburbanized themselves though, planting in Dedham’s Legacy Place, making themselves difficult for former customers to get to as well as more expensive.  That might have been a harbinger of doom for the hair biz here, but certainly was not.

Perhaps symbolic of the vitality of this genre was that Qadosh (oriented toward black women) just took over TC’s Coffee. It had been next to one of those odd little churches. TC’s space is airy, has big windows and benefits from the rehab the restaurant owners had performed on what used to be the preeminent hotel on the Neponset River before it decayed. After a month with not even a hand-written sign of the salon name, Qadosh has painted its door and taken the old TC’s Coffee sign out of its frame, surely in preparation for its own lighted one.

Next is Los Magicos Barber Shop (fairly new), seeming to specialize in Latinos. Across the street is Hair by Changes, a full-service place, doing nails on hands and feet, waxing, tanning, facials and such. Heading west, there’s Mona Lisa Beauty Salon, then Luu & Nails.  Close at hand is Finesse, which claims to service men, women and children, but notes shaves and fades, suggesting more of an emphasis on black men.

Up at the River Street bend, on one side is the Logan Square Barber Shop. Opposite are a braiding salon and women’s salon that notes both they speak Spanish and can relax hair.

On my haircut day, I was in the chair with Al, who is widely called Elvis for his appearance. He spoke of his background as the Wahlberg boys’ barber from his Dorchester days. He is never short of opinions. He could not explain how so many hair joints migrated to Logan Square. However, he was plain that he had been surprised to find his shop the only one left in Hyde Park oriented to white men.

Hyde Park covers a lot of streets, but he may be right. I can’t recall another. When we live in Jamaica Plain, we ended up in Roslindale Square for haircuts and begrudgingly, finally tried Logan Square BS. We like the guys, haircuts and prices.

In several towns, I’ve had black barbers tell me they’d take a chance on my thin, Nordic type hair, but they didn’t know how to cut it right. Here, I’ve cut the hair of two of my sons. One has my kind of hair and the other has the thick, dark hair from my wife’s side of the family. Those require very different skills and electric razor guides.

I stopped by Finesse on the way from my haircut to speak with a barber out front for a smoke. He too couldn’t figure out how so many salons and barber shops concentrated in three blocks. Yet, he said everyone seemed busy and thriving.

Now I can’t stop myself from thinking that if the barber shops and salons do so well, they’ll need to invest their profits. Might they finance restaurants?