August 27, 2014
Book Review: Book of Ages : the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore

AuthorJill Lepore
TitleBook of Ages : the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin
Publication Info: Vintage (October 1, 2013)
ISBN: 9780307958341
Books read by the same author:

Summary/Review:

Jill Lepore, one of my favorite historians, addresses the question put forth by Virginia Woolf regarding about Shakespeare’s sister being equally brilliant but lacking the…

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August 24, 2014
Book Review: Drinking Boston by Stephanie Schorow

Author:  Stephanie Schorow
Title Drinking Boston : a history of the city and its spirits
Publication Info: Wellesley, MA : Union Park Press, c2012.

Other books by same author: The Crime of the Century

Summary/Review:

It’s an interesting premise to study one city and it’s relationship to alcoholic beverages. Arranged roughly in chronological order, Schorow covers the following topics: Colonial…

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August 23, 2014
Book Review: The Race Underground by Doug Most

Book Review: The Race Underground by Doug Most

AuthorDoug Most
Narrator: John H. Mayer
TitleThe Race Underground
Publication Info: Books on Tape, 2014
ISBN: 9780553398069
Summary/Review:

This fascinating study documents the race between Boston and New York to be the first city to have underground rapid transit.  Spoiler:  Boston wins the race, but the modest Tremont Street subway would soon be overshadowed by New York City opening an extensive…

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August 13, 2014
"Go ahead and vomit at the smugness of the marketing campaign. But putting a price on curbside parking isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that these apps are a poor substitute for real public policy that manages the curbside parking supply for the public good. The ability to store private vehicles for free on scarce public street space is not an inalienable human right, nor does it make cities more equitable. In fact, underpriced car storage has a whole host of negative consequences. In New York, for example, most parking is free or underpriced, so there usually aren’t too many open spots. That leads drivers to circle in vain, clogging the streets and slowing down transit. With a better system of curbside parking management, New York would have faster buses, better air quality, and safer streets — not to mention less double-parking, fraud, and maybe even physical violence. And if cities actually charged the optimal price for parking, the value of curbside parking spaces would be captured by the public instead of being pocketed by a small population of app users. Governments could use the money to improve schools, or transit, or to make streets safer for walking and biking.
So far, most cities have demonized the apps without confronting their own broken parking policies. In a statement against Haystack, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said the app “may artificially inflate the cost of spaces.” But if people are willing to pay more for the ability to access a parking spot, local governments and the public they serve are the ones missing out on the benefits. The status quo that Walsh is defending is essentially a subsidy for parking that hinders transit and street safety."

Don’t Hate the Parking App Profiteers, Hate the Free Parking Game | Streetsblog New York City

July 5, 2014
Beer Review: Samuel Adams Grumpy Monk

Beer: Samuel Adams Grumpy Monk
Brewer: Boston Beer Company
Source:
Rating: ** (6.1 of 10)
Comments:  Sampled on tap at Doyle’s Cafe in Jamaica Plain, probably the best location to try fresh, new Samuel Adams’ beers.  There was a thin head on the beer which had a copper tone.  The aroma is very mild, maybe some yeast and banana scents.  The flavor is a balance of hops and malts, but not consistent.  I…

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May 2, 2014

This is Boston (by Bodhi Films)

April 22, 2014

My son Peter and I took in our first Red Sox game of the season on April 7th versus the Texas Rangers. While the 2013 champions have struggled early on, we were treated to a thrilling 5-1 victory. Yes, it was April baseball, as both teams had a passed ball and an error, and probably deserved some more errors. But a win’s a win. As an extra bonus, we received a David Ortiz bobblehead upon entering. And since Peter is now a member of Kid Nation, we were allowed to enter the ballpark early and watch the Red Sox batting practice from the Green Monster seats, which was pretty awesome.

Photopost: Red Sox at Fenway Park My son Peter and I took in our first Red Sox game of the season on April 7th versus the Texas Rangers.

April 22, 2014

Fifteen years ago, I attended the Boston Marathon for the first time.  I knew about the race from an early age, because even in southwestern Connecticut where I grew up it is a big enough event to warrant lots of news coverage.  I also knew enough to be envious of Massachusetts’ schoolchildren that they got an extra holiday that fell on a lovely spring Monday.  But in 1998, I was skeptical that watching people run could be all that entertaining.

Still, I gave it a chance and rode my bike to Cleveland Circle to take in the race.  There was a thrill to seeing all the motorcycles, the press van, the time clock, and finally the small of elite runners zip by.  But what happened next it was really surprised me.  The ordinary runners, the people running to raise money for charities, or to prove something to themselves, or just because they love running began to arrive on the course, first in a trickle then in a big pack.  And the crowds of spectators grew and became louder and they cheered on EVERY. SINGLE. RUNNER.  I walked along the course, following the runners all the way down Beacon Street to Kenmore Square and then on to Boylston Street to the finish line.  Then I rode the green line back to Cleveland Circle along with proud finishers wearing mylar blankets, feeling like I was surrounded by large baked potatoes.

Boston is a town known for its reserve, something that to outsiders may appear aloof or rude.  But on this day, Patriots Day, there’s a near Bacchinalian explosion of good feeling as every spectator expresses their love and support of other people, the majority of whom are complete strangers.  I read stories of experience marathon runners who describe Boston as unlike any other race as the entire course tends to be lined with people offering constant support.  In fact, these runners say that they can’t even leave the race, because the spectators push them back onto the course, which is borderline aggressive, but done with the best intentions.

Last year, this celebration of the best of Boston humanity was marred by the two explosions near the finish line that killed three spectators and wounded hundreds more.  And yet, that Boston spirit was still there as people – both medical professionals and amateurs – rushed to the injured.  There quick action and selflessness save many lives and has been encapsulated in the idea of Boston Strong.  In the wake of the bombings, Bostonians were frightened and saddened, yet also calm and determined.  People I know from far away seemed more freaked out, wondering if anyone would want to run the marathon in the future, perhaps even canceling it entire.  President Obama got it right when he said “Next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.”

Since that first marathon in 1998, I’ve tried to watch it every year when I can get off work.  Last year, I did have the day off from work but was unable to convince my children that they would want to go watch people run and cheer for them.  We went to the playground instead.  In retrospect, ambulance that passed us by at incredible speeds as we were on our way to the playground were certainly responding to the bombings. I learned of the bombings from checking my smartphone while watching my children play.

I knew that I would have to watch the 2014 marathon no matter what. Luckily, the kids were agreeable, and my whole  family watched the marathon today.  We returned to my favorite spot at Cleveland Circle.  Conveniently, there is a playground tucked behind the buildings on Beacon Street, so the kids could take a break.  My daughter Kay peeked through the fence and shook some noisemakers while cheering on the runners.  My son Peter was more intent on watching the race and spotting some friends of ours among the pack.  He gave high five to runners and one woman stopped and talked to him about her stomach cramps. It was a gorgeous day, a great marathon, and really everything that Patriots Day in Boston is supposed to be.

Related Posts:

Boston Marathon 2014 Fifteen years ago, I attended the Boston Marathon for the first time.  I knew about the race from an early age, because even in southwestern Connecticut where I grew up it is a big enough event to warrant lots of news coverage.  

April 14, 2014
"As a Boston Public Schools parent, I get the urgent need for more quality options. Charters have a place at the education table. But is it too much to ask that politicians pause to look in the eyes of the families of children who attend Boston and other district public schools? They will find no disdain for charter families there. They will see determination to stop charters from taking a disproportionate share of state education aid. This year alone, Boston lost $87.5 million in state aid, and that was just to approximately two dozen charters. The figure will ascend to terrifying heights if the charter cap is lifted.
Politicians will also see anger at the charter lobby for labeling our city’s public schools failures. It reminds me of a bully, grabbing our kids’ lunch money while taunting “nanny, nanny, boo boo, our schools are better.” Traditional public schools are not failing. They deserve support, not scorn. Many Boston Public Schools excel in growth and achievement on state tests, from Orchard Gardens, to Boston Latin Academy, my daughter’s school, which last year had the highest tenth grade scores in the state.
I have other reasons to be proud of my children’s schools. Boston Arts Academy admits students who have struggled academically, engages their creative passions, and sends 94 percent, my senior included, on to college. Two of my children graduated from an elementary school that offers rigorous advanced work classes for students whose first language is Spanish. My son’s current school, the Washington Irving, provides students with disabilities an environment where they can succeed.
In important ways, district schools succeed where charters fail. Take those special needs students at my son’s school. They make up 27.8 percent of our student body. Quite a few are former charter students, some from a school up the street. Charter lobbyists tout that school, the Edward Brooke, as a slam-dunk success. They won’t tell you that the Brooke’s student population includes just 6.9 percent students with disabilities, and an astoundingly low 1 percent English language-learners.
It’s long past time to look those English language learners in the eye. Ride the MBTA Blue Line to East Boston, and visit the Patrick J. Kennedy School, where 70 percent of students are learning English. Then go up the street to Excel Academy charter. Take a look at Excel’s 6.2 percent ELL population, and tell me that charters serve the same students as district schools.
Charters are known for “no excuses” discipline, giving demerits for mismatched socks. How about demerits for inequity? Where is the outrage over the nearly 40 percent suspension rate at Boston’s City on a Hill charter? When will charters admit that their high school graduation rates hide huge attrition, especially acute for boys of color?
Finally, when will politicians take responsibility for the negative impact charters have on urban districts and families? Our eyes are ringed with worry. We’re hemorrhaging, losing social workers, paraprofessionals, enrichment opportunities, safe transportation, and chances for our children to thrive.
The money charters snatch for schools that serve far, far, fewer of our state’s most vulnerable students isn’t the only thing draining us. But it’s a steady stream now. What will happen if we open the floodgates to even more such schools?"

‘We’re real parents in a real crisis’

April 14, 2014
Performance Review: Sesame Street Live - “Elmo Makes Music”

Performance Review: Sesame Street Live – “Elmo Makes Music”

My daughter Kay & I took in the performance of Sesame Street Live – “Elmo Makes Music” at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre on April 12 at 5:30.  I am a long time devotee of Sesame Street.  Kay is very fond of Elmo.  It was a match made in heaven.

The basic story is that a new music teacher named Jenny moves to Sesame Street.  Since the…

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March 25, 2014
Boston Public Schools Budget Cuts: The Legislature Needs To Hear Our Voices

Boston Public Schools Budget Cuts: The Legislature Needs To Hear Our Voices #Mapoli #Bpsbudget #bospoli

The Massachusetts State Legislature is still coming to terms on the Senate Bill 235/House Bill 425 “An Act to Further Narrow the Achievement Gap.”  There’s a lot of pressure on our elected leaders to lift the cap on charter schools without first getting a better understanding of how funding charter schools in the state negatively affects the funding and resources for district public schools.…

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March 24, 2014
"There is a burden, though. There were those who asked in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon whether the race, or any race, would ever be the same again. But the “Boston Marathon Bombing” had nothing to do with the Boston Marathon. It had to do with two sick souls who were looking to strike out at enemies who, being imaginary, could be played by any strangers conveniently packed on a sidewalk. It is the obligation and privilege of the running community to start scrubbing away that stain. By running the marathon again, this year and next year and every year to the ending of the world, we will restore the Boston Marathon to what it was and will be again: the premiere marathon in the world, the amateur’s Olympics, the only legend any runner has a chance to be a part of."

Back to Boston | Runner’s World & Running Times

March 20, 2014
Boston Public Schools: Budget Cuts: Maintain the Cap on Charter Schools

#BPSBudgetCuts: Maintain Cap on Charter Schools @soniachangdiaz

Following up on my earlier post regarding severe budget cuts to Boston Public Schools, here is an issue that requires immediate attention from any residents of Massachusetts who read this blog.  Currently there is legislation moving through the Massachusetts legislature that will decide if the cap on charter schools in the state will be lifted.  This is a contentious issue as vocal groups of…

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March 11, 2014
Crack Goes the Charles!

Crack Goes the Charles!

February 26, 2014

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