Sunday was sunny, so I went for a walk around the adjacent neighborhood–the North End. I was on a pilgrimage ( of sorts) to the Church of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, which incidentally, I had visited before, but had not gone into for reasons that I don’t recall. Anyway, there I was, standing off of Hanover Street in a plaster-fawn encrusted courtyard. The church was very ornate inside, and pretty in a wabi-sabi way, with murals and statues and candles that are run on batteries. It was very quiet.
Back out on the street, passing cannoli-eating, patois-speaking, masses on the sidewalks, I made my way past three favorite eateries: Neptune Oyster, L’Osteria, and Monica’s looking for this cafe I really like, which has wide windows that open to the street and a ceiling covered in football (euro, not american) flags. It’s called, Cafe Paradiso. I guess tourists like it but so do I.
By then I was getting a little hungry, so I stopped into a Gigi Gelateria. What a tourist trap. I say SKIP IT, mostly due to their extremely rude staff. After being ignored for a good five minutes, I asked if, having never been there before, I could taste a flavor. I tasted the chocolate hazelnut ( not great, not very flavorful). Could I try the mint chip? No! Only one taste per customer, he said. Excuse me? I said. Only ONE taste per customer, he said. What, did he think I was just trying my darndest to get as much free gelato as possible and that an effective way to do it was by the quarter-teaspoonful? So, not wanting to get stuck with a six-dollar cup of something that was as equally gross as the one flavor I tasted, I left without buying anything. Good sales tactic, guy–way to reel in the new customers!
So then I moved on to the tourist trap next door, Vittorio, which I love because they have excellent cappucino and I take everyone there who comes to town to visit me. However, on my latest visit, I got an annoying waitress. I understand that you only get paid $2, waitress, i have been there. But believe me that is more than I am getting paid now. So, just let me enjoy my Cappuccino in peace, ‘k? After delivering the check, she told me that she was closing out, could I please pay now? I was in the act of getting out my wallet, so I am not sure what she thought I was doing instead…so as I am taking the money out, I lay it on the table, and was just fishing for the tip when she came up and grabbed the check and the cash I had already laid out, and walked away. All of you out there who are waitstaff–rule of thumb is, let the customer put down ALL their money first, THEN take the bill away. Poor girl thought I probably stiffed her on the tip. Well, after my negative gelato experience, I wasn’t about to run after her with my two dollars.
So that is the North End for you. Full of pushy people and overrun by tourists and the shopclerks who hate them. But if you are willing to be brave, and maybe stop and say a little prayer, it can be worth it for the day out. (Especially if Ben Affleck is there shooting his newest movie….)
Well, I’m finally getting settled in here, and hope to begin posting some more.
One of the first things I did on moving into town was to look for some good Twitter people to follow. Its an easy way for me to see whats going on around town.
Here are a few of the Boston-related Twitter accounts I’ve been following. Suggest more in the comments.
1. @BostonTweet You can tweet things to @BostonTweet and have them show up on bostontweet.com, which is nifty. Apparently that guy eats and pub crawls for a living or something. Good heads up on concerts, events, and chances to snag tix to things.
2. @EvilBostonTweet Remember that episode of Star Trek where Kirk gets split into his good and evil halfs? Yeah. This is pretty much what you think it is. By which I mean hilarious.
3. @Boston_Police Nothing contributes to a sense of well being than a constant stream of Tweeted police blotter stuff. “SHOTS FIRED: 20 Charlotte St., Dorchester, 2 suspects in custody, 2 firearms recovered.” See? You feel better. I knew it.
4. @AmalieBenjamin Boston Globe reporter for all things Red Sox. I know her from her appearances on NESN before games, bringing the knowledge while other female correspondents seemed to bring mostly…umm…something else. You know.
Obviously I’m just getting started. Tell me what I’m missing.
You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.
The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.
The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.
There are a bunch of other things we changed but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!
The folks at MBHQ
I am embarrassed to admit it, folks, but as a music and art afficionado, it was my first time at the Middle East Downstairs in Central Square this past Saturday, for an excellent and eclectic show from Mean Creek, Drug Rug, and others.
As my friend put it,” What a great city we live in! We just saw an amazing show that was as good as a concert anywhere else, for 12 bucks!”
I thought the Middle East Downstairs was surprisingly atmospheric and, well, hip! It had columns, stained glass windows, good lighting, and a floor reminiscent of a roller-derby or jitterbug days. It has a lived in, well-worn sort of feel that makes you want to relax, have a PBR, and get into the music, maybe while dressed in plaid or something from American Apparel. It helped that it was packed with hipsters, art-school types, and young, creative people with outfits and haircuts I will probably be trying to emulate in days to come. The acoustics were good, though not great. Once it was packed with people it was better, but some of the less experienced bands, who don’t realize how important sound adjustments are to their sound (duh) just crank up the volume so that even if you screamed someone a foot away still couldn’t hear you ( I tried it).
The music itself was great though–a really good show. I would definitely go again. Though next I will be hitting up the Middle East Upstairs, which is not in fact, the Middle East itself, where there is always music inside the picture window, and it is not above the Middle East, but is down two doors at the other Middle East and at the back by the bathrooms and up the stairs above Zuzu…why they don’t just give the places completely different names is beyond me, but then, that might kill the eclectic treasure-hunt quality of establishments that Boston has refined so well….
photo credit: Mean Creek at the Middle East. www.jessicahutfless.com
I saw this on Boston.com today, and was more than a little excited. A month ago when we started the process of moving to Boston I noticed that MBTA was absent from the list of systems that Google Transit offered. As a newcomer to the area on my way to a job interview I used the MBTA.com trip planner, which was, let’s say, functional. But clearly not Google. I use the big G’s maps on my phone regularly, and having transit as an option will definitely make my life a little easier.
At first glance of some test addresses thrown in to Google Maps, I notice the time schedule. What’s the next bus/train to come by? What time will you arrive, given the transfer over to the red line? Miss that one, and how late will you be? This is the future, people! Put those accordion folded bits of paper in the trash where they belong, and pull out your high tech portable communication device of choice.
Hi! My name is Lukas, and I’m moving to the Boston area with my family in about 3 weeks. I’m excited to be a part of Metblogs, as a way to discuss our experiences and hear from others who live in this great city.
Here’s what I think you can expect from me:
1. Wonderment. Just about every place we visit we’ll be seeing for the first time, so expect a bit of awe and wonder in my posts. I’ll do my best to flesh that out with more descriptions, but my focus will likely tend towards “things that are awesome.”
2. Family. We have 3 kids, and we’ll be living in a tiny apartment. Most places we visit leave a strong impression based on how family-friendly they are. Do the men’s rooms have diaper changing facilities, or just the women’s?
3. Baseball. I know there are plenty of other places to get sports news, but I’ll probably mention the Sox.
4. Personalities. This is not our first time moving to a new city, but I never tire of local flavor. Expect to hear something about the interesting guy next to me on the subway, or see some camera-phone pictures of action on the street.
Sound good? Sound horrible? Say hello in the comments, tell me what makes this blog great.
I was partaking in my favorite procrastination pasttime…surfing the web…when I came across this post in a blog sponsored by Boston.com/The Boston Globe. The hilarious thing about this article is not the content, but the comments that follow it.
This is one of my favorites:
Well, Flynne, not everybody who reads the reporting in the Globe lives in Brookline…shocking, I know…so not all of us who have to deal with wild turkeys are doing so while walking around Coolidge Corner. So, those of us who do not live in Brookline (and there are QUITE a few of us…again, I know this is shocking) actually DO appreciate the “ingenious” garden hose suggestion.
Brookline is not the center of the universe. Imagine that.
There is some serious hatred of Brookline and Newton residents. I mean, I think Brookline and some of its residents are really annoying and self-righteous in many ways, but I don’t feel the hatred like some of these people. I do have to say, however, I found myself laughing more often than not. If you are a sensitive Brookline resident that can’t take a joke, then don’t read the comments. For everyone else, make sure you scroll down. It’s hilarious!
I’m a bit embarassed to say I made my first trip to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston last weekend. The excursion took much longer than it should have, especially since Thursday nights offer free admission; however, I’ll be making my second trip today.
Tara Donovan’s breathtaking work is on display.
I can’t say enough about how much I loved this exhibition: http://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/exhibit/donovan/
Bring your friends. Bring your enemies. This exhibit is awesome.
Hi all metblog readers. I am hollygolightly and I’ll be posting on metblogs Boston now and again! I have been living in the Boston area since 2004–First in Cambridge’s Central Square and Inman Square and now in the Beacon Hill area. I am a grad student in Fine Art, so I have a good sense of what is happening on the Contemporary Art front in Boston. But I am also interested in general goings-on about town–and will appreciate your comments!
This week, on the forefront of my thoughts is, of course, the recent elections. I am optimistic about the sea change–and am thankful to be living in a Blue State where every other young person I talk to seems just as head over heels about Obama as I am.
Let me extend a proverbial pat on the back to all you MA residents who got out there and voted! It is your right–and I am glad to hear that the voting turnout was 90%….ladies and minorities especially, generations of people fought hard for your place at the ballot box. Way to exercise the right!
I am wondering what you all are up to this coming weekend in light of the recent elections because I’m feeling this to be a cause to celebrate, aren’t you? Any ideas to commemorate the Obama-rama with cakes, parties, champagne, fundraisers, balloons, public displays of affection, walks in the park, music, etc? I expect the general good mood to overflow into the wee hours of the weekend and am wondering if anyone has heard of anything particularly geared towards celebrating the democratic victory. If nothing else, I’ll be eating 10 cent buffalo wings at the Red Hat–but that won’t be until monday, of course.
…was controlled pandemonium. I know, contradiction in terms, but there is no other way to describe it. There was singing, screaming, crying, dancing, leaping in the streets, but not one window was broken, no one was beaten. I barely saw any cops. I hope you’re not surprised to hear that Cambridge is a Democratic stronghold, as is Boston, as is Massachusetts (despite our penchant for Republican governors).
The members of a finals club (Harvard’s version of a frat) all congregated on its building’s front steps and sang along with a projected recording of the Black National Anthem. THAT was a fascinating site…a bunch of white male teenagers belting “sing a song…” as loud as they could. Only in America.
Students jumped into the streets and congregated around the Newsstand. They dissipated just as fast. See? Controlled chaos.
I can’t describe my emotions right now. I go from insane laughter to tears in an instant. My heart is racing, and I’m not sure how much more it can handle. But I’m glad I’m in a blue state tonight. I’m glad Massachusetts didn’t let its bruised ego over the Hilary loss get in the way of doing the right thing. And I’m so glad that I participated in making this day happen.
Tomorrow is a new day.
The proposed law would eliminate the state income tax by January 2010.
This proposed law would reduce the state personal income tax rate to 2.65% for all categories of taxable income for the tax year beginning on or after January 1, 2009, and would eliminate the tax for all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2010. The personal income tax applies to income received or gain realized by individuals and married couples, by estates of deceased persons, by certain trustees and other fiduciaries, by persons who are partners in and receive income from partnerships, by corporate trusts, and by persons who receive income as shareholders of “S corporations” as defined under federal tax law. The proposed law would not affect the tax due on income or gain realized in a tax year beginning before January 1, 2009. The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.
WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO
A YES VOTE would reduce the state personal income tax rate to 2.65% for the tax year beginning on January 1, 2009, and would eliminate the tax for all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2010.
A NO VOTE would make no change in state income tax laws.
We went around and asked people what percentage of their taxes they believed government wasted. They said 41%:
“On average, Massachusetts voters estimate that the state government wastes 41 cents out of every dollar in state taxes that they pay. Even voters who think the state is headed in the right direction feel that more than one-third of their tax dollars are being wasted.” (Source)
From what I can gather, that’s really what proponents did. I’m not kidding. This is the survey question: ““How many CENTS out of every dollar you pay in state taxes would you say is WASTED by the state government?”
That’s it. That’s the survey that’s headlining this campaign.
“Follow up question for you. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?”
In 2012, I’m going to propose Question 7 — a bill to get rid of paper plates in Massachusetts. We waste more paper with those damn paper plates sticking together. This is going to be the groundwork for my campaign: a survey question that asks people “How many paper plates would you say Massachusetts residents waste every year?”
Me: “Sir, how many paper plates would you say Massachusetts residents waste every year?”
Sucker: “Oh, I’d say — 23.7% of paper plates are wasted. They stick together.”
Me: “Thank you. Please vote ‘Yes’ on Question 7 in November.”
Sucker: “Will do.”
I think I’ll hire these guys to do the survey, they did the one this year:
Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates.
According to their website: “The firm has earned an unparalleled reputation among the leading survey research and campaign strategists in the nation. In this age of accelerating change and instantaneous communication, the proactive management of perceptions has never been more important. ”
“[...] the proactive management of perceptions [...]” — that’s exactly what I’m looking for!
The proposed law would downgrade the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana to a civil, rather than criminal, penalty. Those 18 years or older will be subject to a $100 fine (and forfeiture of marijuana); those under 18 will be have their parents notified, etc.
This proposed law would replace the criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana with a new system of civil penalties, to be enforced by issuing citations, and would exclude information regarding this civil offense from the state’s criminal record information system. Offenders age 18 or older would be subject to forfeiture of the marijuana plus a civil penalty of $100. Offenders under the age of 18 would be subject to the same forfeiture and, if they complete a drug awareness program within one year of the offense, the same $100 penalty.
Offenders under 18 and their parents or legal guardian would be notified of the offense and the option for the offender to complete a drug awareness program developed by the state Department of Youth Services. Such programs would include ten hours of community service and at least four hours of instruction or group discussion concerning the use and abuse of marijuana and other drugs and emphasizing early detection and prevention of substance abuse.
The penalty for offenders under 18 who fail to complete such a program within one year could be increased to as much as $1,000, unless the offender showed an inability to pay, an inability to participate in such a program, or the unavailability of such a program. Such an offender’s parents could also be held liable for the increased penalty. Failure by an offender under 17 to complete such a program could also be a basis for a delinquency proceeding.
The proposed law would define possession of one ounce or less of marijuana as including possession of one ounce or less of tetrahydrocannibinol (“THC”), or having metabolized products of marijuana or THC in one’s body.
Under the proposed law, possessing an ounce or less of marijuana could not be grounds for state or local government entities imposing any other penalty, sanction, or disqualification, such as denying student financial aid, public housing, public financial assistance including unemployment benefits, the right to operate a motor vehicle, or the opportunity to serve as a foster or adoptive parent. The proposed law would allow local ordinances or bylaws that prohibit the public use of marijuana, and would not affect existing laws, practices, or policies concerning operating a motor vehicle or taking other actions while under the influence of marijuana, unlawful possession of prescription forms of marijuana, or selling, manufacturing, or trafficking in marijuana.
The money received from the new civil penalties would go to the city or town where the offense occurred.
WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO
A YES VOTE would replace the criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana with a new system of civil penalties.
A NO VOTE would make no change in state criminal laws concerning possession of marijuana.
Some of the arugments on both sides:
Those in favor of decriminalizing the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana note that the bill, in instituting a civil penalty, would prevent violators from acquiring a “CORI” record (Criminal Offender Record Information). These documents record every appearance that an individual makes in a state court for a criminal offense, regardless of whether they are convicted or not. Proponents of the new bill suggest that the record can threaten employment, housing, and education opportunities.
Proponents claim that the state would save $30 million dollars annually, associated with enforcing the current laws regarding marijuana possession. (http://sensiblemarijuanapolicy.org/about-initiative)
The penalties for juveniles would actually be more harsh than they currently are, entailing community service (ugh) and attendance in drug awareness programs. I like this argument because, on the one hand, we decriminalize the possession of marijuana and reconceive of the drug’s role in our society, and then we bring the hammer down on the minors — people who can’t even vote on the law and are receiving a message that “the grown-ups” don’t see the drug as being as detrimental as it once was (and hence, the decriminalization). Bravo.
Eleven other states have decriminalized marijuana, and they’re doing fine.
You probably don’t even know which states they are. Well, do you?
Not in Favor
The naysayers argue that the penalties for first time offenders aren’t as harsh as the other side makes them out to be:
For qualified first offenders, especially teens and young adults, the District Attorneys offer diversion programs that steer kids away from the courts, put them on probation and then dismiss the charge. If first offenders are actually arraigned in court for marijuana possession, Massachusetts law requires that they be placed on probation and that, at the successful conclusion of probation, “the case shall be dismissed and the record shall be sealed.”
By imposing a civil penalty, the citation for possession of marijuana will actually be more accessible than information contained in a CORI record (Source). I find this to be the most interesting argument from either side. Unfortunately, for those not in favor of Question 2, this argument undercuts the basis of their position: that marijuana’s effect on society is serious, and therefore, the penalties for marijuana possession should remain harsh. According to that logic, they should be favoring more public access to one’s infringements of the law.
Regarding claims by the other side:
- Claim: “Question 2 claims that it will protect our children from a criminal record that will prevent them from ever receiving student loans.”
- Response: “Under current federal law, the only way an offender can be denied a student loan is if he is convicted of a drug offense while he is in school and already receiving federal aid, and then he loses his aid for one year. He can lessen that one year period if he completes drug rehabilitation. If he is convicted again, under the same conditions, he loses his loan eligibility for 2 years.” (Source)
- Claim: “Massachusetts will save $30 million.”
- Response: First, proponents of the bill commissioned the report where that figure was unearthed from. Second, “[...] if Question 2 passes, police officers will have to spend the same time and effort as they do on a criminal case. They will have to confiscate the drugs, question the offender, write a report, transport the drugs to a secure site for destruction, and deliver their report to the police station as well as city hall for accounting purposes. The time spent will be the equivalent, if not more, than what the police spend now.” (Source)
Opponents also go ad hominem on George Soros and mock the “grassroots” characterization of the bill’s proponents. I don’t know.
They talk about the number of criminals who are arrested with marijuana in their system, blurring the line between causality and correlation for the reader.
They argue against propositions that aren’t being made. Prime examples include statistics regarding marijuana use and the operation of motor vehicles. The proposed bill has nothing to do with encouraging driving while under the influence. The statistic they need to make an argument, is one showing an increase in the number of marijuana-related accidents as a result of decriminalizing the drug. They don’t present that.
They don’t even present numbers on the increase in marijuana usage based on the decriminalization of it.
As I mentioned in a previous post, in these weeks leading up to the election, I’ll be covering what will arguably be the most important (if not the most tangible) questions before Massachusetts residents on November 4th: the three statewide ballot questions.
Statewide Ballot Question 3: Dog Racing
The proposed law would prohibit dog racing in Massachusetts where betting/wagering occurs after Jan. 1, 2010. The civil penalty for dog racing would be $20,000 at a minimum.
This proposed law would prohibit any dog racing or racing meeting in Massachusetts where any form of betting or wagering on the speed or ability of dogs occurs.
The State Racing Commission would be prohibited from accepting or approving any application or request for racing dates for dog racing.
Any person violating the proposed law could be required to pay a civil penalty of not less than $20,000 to the Commission. The penalty would be used for the Commission’s administrative purposes, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature. All existing parts of the chapter of the state’s General Laws concerning dog and horse racing meetings would be interpreted as if they did not refer to dogs.
These changes would take effect January 1, 2010. The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.
A YES VOTE would prohibit dog races on which betting or wagering occurs, effective January 1, 2010.
A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws governing dog racing.
Here are the arguments on both sides:
Those in favor of prohibiting dog racing in which betting occurs argue that dog racing is “cruel and inhumane.” I don’t know that voters should be so concerned with the “inhumane” aspect of this — I don’t believe the ballot question is suggesting we begin treating dogs like people — but I think the cruelty element is definitely present.
Caging: The cages they keep the dogs in are too small by some peoples’ (i.e., the Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center) standards.
The runs used for similarly sized dogs at the MSPCA Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center are approximately five times larger than the cages used at local racetracks.
Injuries/Fatalities: Dogs, like race cars, crash.
According to state records more than 800 racing greyhounds have been injured since 2002, including dogs who suffered broken legs, paralysis, head trauma and even death from cardiac arrest. A greyhound is injured every three to four days in Massachusetts.
More arguments here. There is also greyhound rescue, as well as some adoption agencies in Massachusetts. And if dog racing disgusts you, and you abhor exploitive, cruel treatment of animals, I might also suggest this website.
Not in Favor
Here is their decree in its entirety:
Parimutuel dog racing has taken place in Massachusetts for over 70 years, now only at Wonderland dog track in Revere, and Raynham/Taunton in Raynham. The greyhounds are owned by caring dog owners, not tracks. There is no mistreatment of the dogs as claimed by animal activists. The State Racing Commission fully regulates the industry, has veterinarians on duty at each track, and maintains numerous programs for the welfare of the dogs during their racing careers, and for adoption when their careers are over. About 1,000 people will lose badly needed jobs if the proposal is enacted. The Commonwealth, Revere and Raynham will lose badly needed revenue. From 2000 to 2007, these tracks paid over $40 million to the Commonwealth in commissions and fees, as well as other taxes related to their racing activities. Finally enactment will likely subject the Commonwealth to suits by the tracks for taking their property.
This is what I’ve gleaned:
- We’ve been doing this for like a wicked long time. It can’t be bad, because we don’t do bad things for a wicked long time.
- “The greyhounds are owned by caring dog owners [them], not tracks [us].” This might be my favorite argument, because they are essentially arguing that the reason dog racing is so perfectly harmless is because they, the tracks, don’t own the dogs — caring dog owners own the dogs. I guess this means that the implicitly uncaring tracks that feed, shelter, and oversee the health of the animals with on-staff veterinarians have just a marginal effect on the well-being of the dogs.
- Fine — we treat the dogs like not so well, but if you vote “yes” on question 3, about 1,000 people will lose their jobs! In these difficult economic times, we can’t afford not to race dogs.
- “The Commonwealth, Revere and Raynham will lose badly needed revenue.” Wait, Revere makes revenue?
- “Finally enactment will likely subject the Commonwealth to suits by the tracks for taking their property.” Okay. So we don’t really have an argument. Just know that if the people democratically decide to pass this bill, we’re going to sue the shirts off their backs. Yes?
The worst part about the defense is that they don’t even present their strongest, and perhaps only, argument: dogs are not humans, and by privileging them, you are restricting the freedom of rational human beings who choose to attend racing events.