Saturday, July 31, 2010

In Cambridge, A Different Kind of Weed For Sale

Spotted for sale at the Harvard Square/Charles Hotel farmer's market on Fridays and Sundays: purslane. That's right, purslane for four bucks a pound. Could this be another twist on the old story line of country rubes being taken in by erudite urbanites? In this version, clever farmers milk their lettered city customers eager to pay top dollar for locally grown, organic produce.

Purslane: one of the most common of weeds (which is what we call all plants for which we don't know the name and have lost track of the use), it flourishes everywhere here in the city. It flourishes everywhere. Gardeners pull it from their cultivated gardens as often as they weed. It pullulates in the cracks and crevices of streets from Dudley to Brattle and anywhere else there's a bit of soil.

Crunchy and high in omega-3 fatty acids, purslane is not only abundant, it is delicious and nutritious. It's also free. While foraging from places where there's lots of vehicular traffic is not a good idea, if the soil in your yard is relatively heavy metal free, give it a taste, at the very least. Thoreau, while at Walden, enjoyed his boiled and salted while others like it raw in salads.

Ultimately, as long as they have buyers, no one can begrudge farmers one penny of what they earn or charge for the fruits of their labors - even if that fruit is just a common plant readily available for the pickin'.

Friday, July 30, 2010

How (Not) to Get to the MFA

Let's start at the sign. This lonely little sign, at the corner of Park Drive and Brookline Ave., across from the Sears Center. This sign in the middle of nowhere, with no other signs pointing to it or away from it.

Turn right, it says, turn right here onto Park Drive to get to the MFA. After turning right, there's a sign for the Longwood area and the hospitals, a sign for the Gardner Museum, even a little sign for Fenway but no sign to the MFA. And there are three possible route options: 1. make a hairpin turn left back onto Park Drive (or is that the end of the Riverway? or both?) 2. go sorta in the middle onto the Riverway and into JP and beyond or 3. go straight past the Sears Center into Brookline toward Cambridge.

Which will it be? Door number one, door number two, or door number three? Two of the three options could get you to the MFA (one in a roundabout way) , but only if you already know how to get there. Or are ignoring that one little hopeful related to nothing sign and relying on your GPS, smart phone, or a good, old-fashioned map. Welcome to driving in Boston. Don't forget to pack your patience and sense of humor.

Or better, leave the car at home and to get to the MFA, (assuming you're sleeping in the metro Boston area) make your way to Copley Square and take the number 39 bus to the MFA. It's much less confusing than the Green Line and you can see a bit of the city en route.

Walkers can, again from Copley Square, get on Huntington Avenue and walk west for a little more than a mile to get to the MFA. That's probably the most hassle free way to do it and the nicest, weather permitting.

After you finally make it to and have had enough of the MFA, go for a stroll through The Fens and the gorgeous Victory Gardens on the west side of the museum and then grab lunch in one of the small eateries on the west side of The Fens. The area around Peterborough and Kilmarnock streets has Turkish, Thai, Japanese, Italian, and Brazilian food provided by small independently owned restaurants.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nice Try, Dan. A Parking Warning to All Out-of-Towners

The former site of Crate and Barrel on Brattle Street in Cambridge has been buzzing with construction activity all summer. Everyday, work crews arrive to demolish the old interior and construct a different one for the new tenant, Anthropologie.

Guys on the site seem to have come mostly from the suburbs and so were unfamiliar with Cambridge parking meter rules. The first few days they'd leave their cars and trucks in the same spot and keep feeding the meter - a big no-no, which I too learned the hard way. After two hours, you've got to move the car to a different spot or you'll get a ticket - even if there's money in the meter.

Electrician Dan gave it a good shot but the meter reader (I see as many men as maids working the meters in the Peeps Republic) will always win.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Got rock?

Overheard in Dudley Square this sultry summer evening: "Got rock. Got weed". The sales pitch was tendered outside of the always bustling Giant Liquors on Washington Street. A six-pack of Natural Ice and your preferred illegal smoke all in one quick errand. Would you like cocaine or marijuana with that bottle of Heineken?

It reminded me a little of the Symphony Road area in the early '80's. In those days the Symphony Wholefoods was a Stop n Shop. You could drop in for a loaf of bread, some milk, a bag of weed, and a hooker. One-stop shopping at its finest.

Heading south from Dudley on foot, one must run the gauntlet of drunks, panhandlers, drug dealers and all other manner of societies cast-offs who throng the sidewalk in front of the store and it can be a little scary passing by when you're on your own.

Giant Liquors does everything they possibly can to deter loitering by posting a sign on 8x12 paper behind the cast iron grate that covers the windows. The sign, in bleached out 14 point type, reads: No loitering. No trespassing.

Business thrives.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Punchdrunk Slut

Scored six tickets to Punchdrunk's next show which will stage in London this month. The Duchess of Malfi is a co-production with ENO. Tickets went on sale Friday, 5 June online and sold out within hours.

Yes, I am gloating. Yes, I will follow them anywhere.