Sunday, December 6, 2009

Boston Public Market

Friday, November 6, 2009

Farm City and Garden Girls

Thanks to Slow Food Boston, writer/farmer Novella Carpenter will be at the Fort Point Artists Community Store on Friday the 13th.  So I get to ask the question (spoiler alert) that was making me crazy when I read Farm City
: why didn't you eat the bird killed by the dogs?

The book was a gift from someone who was reminded of me when she heard Carpenter on NPR. We both garden and raise bees in urban neighborhoods that have as much grit as dirt. But pigs and turkeys and ducks, oh my! After reading Novella, I wanted to raise my own pigs but my yard's too small and I don't own a car so couldn't schlep the enormous amounts of food necessary to keep 'em growing. Read the book!

Garden Girl is Roxbury's city farmer but I find her style a little too suburban. Give me the dumpster diving and free-ranging fowl and sow of Novella to the stifling animal pens and pristine raised beds of the Spruill/Moreno compound - even if the latter are mandated by city ordinance.

The History of the Past 30 Years in Greater Boston one newspaper story and all the comments it attracted.

RIP, Brother Blue

These streets need more like you.

Happy Day After Guy Fawkes Day!

Blowing up Parliament is not such a great idea.

Luke Isman's Bicycle Defense Kit

Bicycle Defense Kit
The Bicycle Defense Kit (BDK) offers options for dealing with aggressive motorists. Contained within an altoids tin, the 8 tools vary in detectability, potential to cause damage, and legality.
Specifically, cyclists can:
  • Issue "citizen citations" with official-ish tickets.
  • Label offending vehicles with an "I was a jerk to a cyclist" sticker.
  • Introduce the risk of paint damage with a Jolly Rancher.
  • Create certain coating cremation via DOT3 brake fluid.
  • Make cars stink worse than their exhaust with a carefully-placed stink bomb.
  • Throw a trusty bolt to dent offending traffic as it passes.
  • Lock out loony drivers by filling their keyholes with super glue.
  • Cut through tire valve stems with a utility blade.

It goes without saying that you shouldn't do anything you're not fully prepared to take responsibility for. This project is meant to increase cyclist confidence, not fatalities.
Order a kit: $19.90 delivered (U.S.). Contains 3 citations, 3 stickers, and one of the rest.
If you want to build your own, check out the details (step-by-step instructions) here.

home, contact, me

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Map of Boston Highlands from 1888

You can go here to manipulate this map and read it close up. It's pretty cool how closely you can zoom into various parts of the area. Be sure to play.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Witch Hunt, 2007

One of the scariest things for The Mob (not organized crime, the neighborhood mob) to handle was the idea that the newest-to-the-neighborhood Sober Homes housed sex offenders. Now, if The Mob did a little simple online sex offender registry research it would've discovered that sex offenders were scattered throughout the neighborhood in places other than the Sober Homes. And had been. And if The Mob had thought even just the littlest bit instead of lashing out blindly, it would've considered that while proximity may exacerbate the problem, sex offenders do travel, so whether he lives next door or not, he can getcha.

But if The Mob had researched and if The Mob had thoughtfully considered before lashing out blindly, it would not have been a mob. And it would not have been as successfully manipulated and played by its elected leader, Diane Wilkerson. I watched, I must admit now with some shame, as part of The Mob. Diane is a master of mob manipulation. If any thoughtful remark was made, she quickly and vigorously fomented fear and hatred to divert attention away from real issues and thus avoid having to address them. She verbally attacked and disparaged the vulnerable people living in the Sober Homes as the problem. She deftly crafted a smokescreen of rage and fear and protected the disrespectful, racist developer and the disbarred lawyer behind it. These two men, in my humble opinion, with the assistance of someone with power at the State level, had created the problem and continue to derive benefit from it at the expense of the men and women they purport to aid and, too, at the expense of The Mob.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How Do We Define and Attain the Good Society?

United States of American government subsidizes banks and other failing corporate greedstrosities.
Canadian government subsidizes programs to answer questions like these:

Friday, November 13, 2009

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM, Lower Level Conference Room
, Busch Hall

"The Measure of Our Success: How Do We Define and Attain the Good Society?"

  • Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics; Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University; Chair Adviser of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress;
  • Jean-Paul Fitoussi, Professor of Economics and President of the Observatoire Français des Conjonctures économiques (OFCE) in Paris; Coordinator of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress;
  • Peter Hall, Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies, Harvard University; Co-Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research's Successful Societies Program;
  • Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and Professor of Sociology and African and African American studies, Harvard University; Co-Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research's Successful Societies Program

CES Special Event

This panel will feature Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen in person and Jean-Paul Fitoussi via videoconference from Paris. They will discuss the findings of the recent report issued by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress that was headed by Sen, Fitoussi, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

In addition, Peter Hall and Michèle Lamont will be on the panel. Their Successful Societies Program is a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) funded program that aims to quantify the measures of societal success. The resulting book, entitled Successful Societies: How Institutions and Culture Affect Health, integrates recent research in an effort to answer the question of why some societies are more successful than others at promoting individual and collective well-being.


For full background information, please visit the following links:

Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress:

Successful Societies Program (CIFAR):

Successful Societies: How Institutions and Culture Affect Health (Cambridge University Press)

Moderated by
Éloi Laurent, Senior Economist and Scientific Advisor at OFCE (l’Observatoire Français des Conjonctures Économiques).

Contact: Jason Beerman

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

See the World


Cleaning House

There are things you don't notice when driving or riding, things you only see when walking.  State troopers and Boston public works were cleaning out someone's home under the Mass. Ave. bridge at about 10 o'clock this morning.  There were blankets and makeshift beds and even a bike so someone had created an oasis in this dry, almost out-of-the-way cranny of the city.  The Pollyanna part of my brain pretended that the homeless folks who lived here were woken up and moved by city outreach workers to more comfortable, safer, indoor accommodation.  (I like to delude myself daily with dreams of a better world - it helps me to get out of bed.  Some mornings).

And then I got to H Square and as the Spare Change news hawkers waved their papers in my face I thought,  Shit! That home probably belongs to one of these people.  Some hapless guy is out here in the city somewhere working a godawful job (or three) that pays less than minimum wage and he's going to come "home" on this dreary, chilly, wet evening and everything that signified his home will be gone; all the stuff he's managed to collect or assemble to make the place livable now in the dump over by Magazine St. in Roxbury.  Nothing left but the rain streaked cement underbelly of the bridge.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Place Matters

It housed Hook and Ladder #1, a horse drawn fire truck and was built around 1859.

One on One

Tonight, Haley House, 12 Dade St, Dudley Square from 8 pm. - 10 p.m. Mayoral Candidate Mike Flaherty answers your questions. Go. Ask. Vote.

The Donkey Show

Fairies, fairies everywhere; charming, callipygian fairies. I love fairies. So I loved The Donkey Show. The first time I saw it was with a thirty-something friend who's more grunge than disco. I took advantage of the 2-for-1 ticket offer and brought her. She was glad she'd seen it but wouldn't have paid to do so. It's not her scene, she said. I was transported to fairyland. The second time was with my soon-to-be-70-year-old mother and her friends. Watching them watch and be in the show was part of the fun.

The Things I Love Most About Roxbury

Discover Roxbury
Haley House Cafe
Franklin Park
Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
Body By Brandy
Dillaway Thomas House
Shirley-Eustis House

Monday, October 26, 2009

space saver

One Reason Why Roxbury is Regularly Screwed

The Department of Families and Children and the MSPCC like to show their gratitude for the people working in the trenches of child welfare - those who care for kids whose parents either don't want them or are too sick to care for them or a combination of both.

This past Saturday a foster parent appreciation lunch was held at Academy Homes on Washington Street. Foster parents got lunch, simple entertainment, certificates of appreciation and gift certificates to Stop and Shop.

At one table, conversation turned to the upcoming mayoral election. Ms. State Worker thought Menino had been around too long. Ms. AFSCME, likewise, thought it was time for a change. Conversation turned to race and Ms. AFSCME stated that this country is not ready for a black president (all the more reason to get one in there) and that only reason Obama got elected was cause Dubya screwed up so badly (which is probably true). Ms. Runs Her Mouth said it didn't matter who got in - they're all the same and nothing ever changes.

"People have to create change. Everyone's gonna vote, right? Everyone here is gonna vote?"

"It's all in the hands of the lord," Ms. Runs Her Mouth asserted. "That's why I don't need to worry about it. The lord will decide."

Ms. BTD amen'd as did Ms. Stellar Foster Mom. And the retort of "the lord helps those who help themselves" was lost in the din of amens.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Looking Good at Both Ends of Dudley

At one end of Dudley, you can learn about Maximon, the Santiago Atitlan Mayan Lord of Looking Good. At the other end, you can shop at this store which has been in Dudley Sq. since the '30's. (It's grated cause the picture was taken on a Sunday).  Current proprietors came on board in the '50's. They sell some kick-ass wigs that'll keep you looking good.  For every book store in Harvard Square, Dudley has a hairdresser or barber shop.

Maximon, who was once persecuted and made to go underground, is a partier. I don't think Harvard Sq. does have a liquor store but Dudley has two on the same block and at least three more within easy walking distance. Giant Liquors is open on Sundays, thank Maximon, when the rest of Dudley is shuttered, cause if there's anything the poor and disenfranchised need, it's legal drugs.

Is this a great storefront or what? I see an old-fashioned soda fountain in there. Or a flower shop.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blasphemy Day

Religion is only one excuse that people use for being intolerant, condescending, and distended with hubris and righteousness. Journalism and science are two others. An auto da fe in the name of science and rationality is still an Inquisition.

Feed me instead Knowledge of Angels.

Roxbury Fun fact of the Week

What is the State Rock (yes, State rock) of Massachusetts?

Stars in the Square

Riding into Harvard Square Tuesday morning, I noticed a bunch of cops and a crowd gathered around the T station.  Trouble, I thought, some kind of early morning, drug fueled fight.  Or the Red Line crapped out again.  But the crowd was eerily quiet and the cops weren't moving.  Rounding the Out of Town island, I saw the film camera.  All the faces of the people in the crowd, lifted toward the scene of action, resembled a mass of worshipers praying at the altar of their god.  Who in this case is Fame and Hollywood.  One of my colleagues, a talented filmmaker  in his own right, spotted Ben Affleck.  But the real stars in Harvard Square  that day were Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, Punchdrunk people, speaking at this class.

The Donkey Punch Drunk Show

Unfortunate for rhetorical reasons only that The Donkey Show and Punchdrunk run simultaneously. In my excitement to spread the word about both, after seeing The Donkey Show and touring the Old Lincoln School, I rushed into work and exclaimed, you have to check out The Donkey Punch! Oops. I didn't even know what a donkey punch was until this past summer and I wish I'd never learned.

The Thing I Hate Most About Roxbury

Roxbury (like the world, I suppose)  is full of incredibly bruised people.  The legacy of slavery, a history of second class citizenship, racism, poverty - these are all serious bruisers.  But so many folks ignore their personal pain and channel it toward thwarting good in the world.  It's an I hurt, I'm gonna make you hurt too way of being.  And it's most destructive coming from the folks in the area who have done well for themselves and are working (allegedly) to restore the area to its rightful place as a gem in Boston.

Victimhood, embraced too long, forges its own chains.  The negativity, hostility, blaming, and subtle undermining are wearing on me.  Deal with your own shit, please, and stop blaming everyone else.  Thank you.

Sheep No More: Screamer in the House

A cry rang out, one I didn't recognize, and it turned out to be a scream from an audience member.  A scream she repeated a few times when startled.   She was fine so it was kinda fun.

Another younger woman came up to me demanding, "Where do I go?"  When asked that question, sometimes I shrug, sometimes I point in two possible directions at once, which is what I did for her.  She whimpered and pulled out her Blackberry, its screen like another spotlight in the hall.

"Are you ok?"  I whispered.  She was sniffling and snuffling.  She was freaked out.

"The elevator guy separated me from my boyfriend," she said.

"It's ok.  You'll be ok.  Go to the bar.  Catch your breath.  Text him from there."

So she went into the middle of the main corridor with her Klieg light of a Blackberry.

I fed her to Norman.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Relocalization Conference at RCC

What's so funny about peace love and localization? Beaucoup, according to Ms Average American. Better to commiserate over a glass of chardonnay about the obscene bonuses Wall Street continues to award itself and Global Warming rather than actively try to thwart the obscenity and warming. Someone Else will take care of those things. Ms American secretly hopes/believes that somehow/someday she'll be one of them, the blessed few who are financially rewarded no matter how badly or how much they screw up their own businesses and other people's lives. Their scales must be much different from those the rest of us use. Or they use their scales for false measurement while we just hold ours over our eyes.

Fortunately, about 200-300 people in the greater Boston area are willing to work for peace, love, and localization and these folks showed up yesterday to get the ball rolling here in Massachusetts or to join others already in motion.

In the Main Tent: Peak Oil, Environmental Havoc, Big Money in Washington, and Isolation and Alienation in Our Communities - which are all interconnected and part of the same problem that needs to be undone by all of us on a local level with the globe in mind. If that makes sense.

Chuck Turner welcomed us, Frances Moore Lappe inspired us and though Mel King and Bill McKibben spoke, I couldn't hang around to listen to them. The break-out sessions included Building Local, Sustainable and Just Food Systems and Applying Democracy in the Face of Corporate Power

The concept that most piqued my interest was Transition Towns. My neighborhood in Roxbury is in transition and I'd like that change to be in the best possible direction. Permaculture, everyone?

My gripe about the conference? We didn't need the to have the problems at hand detailed - speakers were certainly preaching to the choir - about Peak Oil, about Global Warming, about the value of supporting local agriculture. And along those lines - could we work a little on making the presentations a little more pithy and dynamic?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sleep No More Stewarding

An interesting experience, stewarding for the Punchdrunk/ART production Sleep No More but the audience can influence the tenor of the night. And last night's audience was AWFUL. For those of you conversing at full voice: you suck. For those of you waltzing around all night without a mask: you suck. And you suck really bad.

Part of the beauty of Punchdrunk's vision and magic is their trust in the audience, their belief that the audience is a focal point of the production. There are no other theatrical productions that I've experienced where a member of the audience can be treated to an intimate one-on-one performance. And all that's required on the part of the audience to become a part of that magic and genius is openness and trust, requited. The production is a mystery best explored on your own, without your crew, without your honey. Go explore by yourself and compare notes at the end of the night. Be willing to be a little unsure, a little off center. Play the game. Play the play. The play is play.

Last night's audience was too - I dunno - mean-spirited? Afraid? Dull? Certain? Perhaps they'd consider themselves too clever, too sophisticated to be caught up in the playfulness of the event, to play with the venue, to play with the experience. Not willing to risk a little fooling, they become fools. That ugly, hard, practical, unimaginative attitude brought a really nasty energy to the whole site. Production crew and stewards were in bad moods by the end of the night thanks to the onslaught of the philistines.

Hopefully, they'll all stay home next time and tell their equally unworthy friends to do the same. Being around all those creepy people left me spooked in ways Macbeth and his Lady never could.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I am Positively Punchdrunk on Sleep No More

Cawdor Seeds

I can't remember the last time something got me this excited. It's an experience on every sensory level. Gorgeous to look at and touch and listen to and smell - even when it isn't.

I've become an acolyte - passing out the cawdor seeds cards, buying tickets as birthday presents and for my baristas, volunteering to steward.

The less said about the event, the better, but you need to experience it. Really. Go!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Slug Season

It must be all the rain so far this summer because my garden is pullulating with slugs and snails. At the beginning of the month we came home to find scores of them oozing trails along the front steps and retaining wall. And we found this massive critter, seen here alongside my 3 in index finger for size reference. Really!

So what have I done with them all? Sluggo may work but it needs to be reapplied after each rainfall. Given that it rains everyday, that seems like a waste of money. Likewise, beer traps (a plastic cup - I reuse yogurt containers - with a couple of inches of STALE beer in the bottom) work but the traps have been overflowing with the rain and I don't often have stale beer.

I read once that the best pesticide a garden can have is the gardener's own shadow. I've taken to plucking up the little slimers and, depending on how altruistic I'm feeling, disposing of them in various ways. Initially, I'd just grab 'em in my bare fingers and lob them into the street where the sun and cars would do their thing. Growing tired of trying to scrape the thick sludge of slug ooze off my fingers, I'd then wrap them in a leaf of some kind so there was no direct contact. What about gloves? First, those, too, due to the incredible volume of slug and snail slime, clotted with the stuff. But mostly I was too unwilling to run up and down 2 flights of stairs to get the gloves because I did not want to be distracted from the battle. One moment's glance away from the enemy and it might roll under a datura leaf and live another day to glut itself.

As the war waged on and they ate more and more of my tomatoes (reseeded on their own from last years plants! no tomato blight here) and my dahlias and my thyme and whatever else they could slither over, I started feeling a little less like a Buddhist believing that all life is sacred and a little more angry. I'd collect them in a big plastic tub and soak them in vinegar to kill them. Why vinegar? I dunno - anger isn't very rational but I think I think it was a reaction against the slime. I wanted to purge them of their slime. And there was something gratifying about watching the bucket burble.

I did think about eating them. No, not raw, though I imagine if you were a very early and/or very hungry human their plumpness might be tempting. Around the same time I was thinking about eating them, so was The Weekly Dig.

Snails are pretty chewy and there's a reason they're served by the French doused in butter and garlic - everything tastes good in butter and garlic - so if they had any real palate value, you could eat them like raw oysters. I don't know about slugs.

Maybe next year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Does First Really Matter?

A search of the term “Roxbury natives”, in Hollis Catalog, the Harvard University library database, pulls up exactly what you’d expect if you lived in the metro Boston area and paid too much attention to maimstream media: Life Without Parole: Living in Prison Today; In Her Own Words: Women Offenders’ Views on Crime and Victimization: an Anthology; The American Drug Scene, An Anthology; and The Modern Gang Reader.

And I just wanted information about the indigenous populations who lived in Roxbury before the Puritans came. But history is the propaganda of the victor and the Puritans founded Harvard so you can’t really expect them (Harvard, Puritans, history as it’s been written by them) to think beyond the world as they have created it – however in need of transformation that world may be. Roxbury is full of poor black people and so is indelibly linked in the minds of both the elite and the maimstream with prison, gangs, and drugs. Also, drugs, guns and gangs. Unwed mothers with children by various fathers and social welfare cheats are also part of the myth of this particular Other (poor black people) but the former is becoming slightly less anathema and illegal aliens have cornered the latter label.

Mixed in with the books on drugs, prisons, and crime (not poverty, injustice, and hypocrisy – evidence that racism is alive and kickin’) are some on feminism, schools, and the incredibly rich early history of the neighborhood. While Back Bay was still merely a swamp, Roxbury was integral to the early development of the colony as well as the American Revolution.

Indigenous people in Roxbury? I’ll keep looking and let you know what I find.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gentrification in Highland Park

It’s the subtext of many community meetings; the Lexus XL in the room. Sometimes the accusation is direct: “It’s all the new people moving here who are creating parking problems”. Its indirect form usually begins, “Well, in the 20/15/50/10 /60 years I’ve been here, I’ve never/always/sometimes…” But the message is not only about commitment or dedication to a neighborhood, it’s the expression of fear – fear of new things, fear of change, fear of gentrification.

There. I wrote it. But the G-word is rarely, if ever, uttered in meetings and I’m not sure why. It could be out of civility or from an understanding of how volatile a discussion of gentrification could be.
What bothers me is that I, as a relative newcomer to the neighborhood, am probably considered by the Old Guard to be gentry. (pause on my part for belly shaking laughter). The criteria for this assessment? That I’m new, that I’m white, and that I bought here after the era of stunning affordability that a neighborhood this beautiful, historic, diverse, and in such close proximity to downtown provided. Although my house was a good deal, it was no longer a steal.

Steal. Gentry. Gentry steals. They steal history, they steal community, they steal property and and increase property values forcing the folks whose families lived through disinvestment, neglect, arson, and urban blight to move away. This is the fear – some of it based in the reality of dislocation experienced by people when the South End was gentrified.

I am not gentry. I’m proud of my blue collar roots although I’d like to rise above the tedious restraints of its income levels. And I tend to be ultra sensitive to the fears of the Old Guard. Maybe too sensitive.
At one recent meeting, the usually quiet Lexus in the room revved its engine. An Old Guard member insinuated the G-word when she argued that “In the 24 years I’ve lived here…”

A New Guard retort from a very active community member brought her up short. “Does my opinion count less cause I’ve only been here two years?”
Old Guard, New Guard, black, white, rich, poor – there’s really only one Guard: a combined community effort to guard the humanity of the people in the neighborhood with respect for both the wisdom of the people who have been here a long time as well as the energy and insights brought by newcomers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Scoop Your Poop: It's the Law!

Turns out it is a City Ordinance for pet owners to clean up after Fido and Felix - well, Fido, anyway.

From the Animal Control page of Boston's website:

The City of Boston's dog fouling ordinance, section 16-1.10a of the city code, requires dog owners to remove and properly dispose of any feces left by their dogs. This ordinance covers waste left by your dog on sidewalks, streets and parks, and on your neighbor's yards.

When walking your dog, the law necessitates you to be prepared for such occurrences and be equipped with a bag or some other means of feces removal. After it is removed, it is important to dispose of the feces properly, either in a toilet or in a trash container (after being secured in a plastic bag).

These laws are intended to protect the public from potential hazardous health conditions, and prevent environmental pollution caused by dog waste.

A call about feral cats yielded nothing helpful.

Cats and Dogs

From the 'hood email thread:

"First and Final Warning


There are three young men who have been walking a medium size Black German Shepard dog in the early evening on Fort Avenue and Highland Street . One of the young men wears a parka coat, the second had on a white sweat shirt with a baseball ca p, and the third had on a short dark winter jacket. The young man wearing the parka is the one leading the dog and encouraging the dog to do his business in the yards on Fort Avenue . Two homes have already suffered from this prank on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

The behavior has been observed.

This is the first and final warning: please stop your dog from doing his/her business on other people’s property. Thank You!"

From me:

Not sure but I thought it was a city ordinance that dog owners were required to scoop their dog's poop? It's not to be left on the street, curb, or sidewalk either. Or is this just an other of my outlandish dreams of civic activity, responsibility, and harmony?

I'm going to guess that the young men in question aren't on this email list so this particular "first and final warning" may not be very effective.

I've been thinking about a "scoop your dog's poop" sign for the offenders on Juniper and Rockledge. Poop scoopin', or not scoopin' the poop, is not just a problem on Highland Street or Fort Ave.

And since you got me started, what about the people who feed but in no other way care for cats? We've got two veritable feral cat colonies on Thornton and Juniper Terrace. The poor things just keep breeding and breeding and they get NO medical attention. It's unfair to the animals and it's an unpleasant burden to the neighbors who have to deal with pounds of stinky, disgusting cat poop in their beloved gardens.

Peace out.