Tag Archive for 'boston'

A New Pair of Sox for the Red Sox

New Red Sox Identities

This design link is near and dear to my heart – The Boston Red Sox recent­ly updat­ed their team iden­ti­ty and uni­forms. Over­all, I think it’s a pos­i­tive evo­lu­tion, though seems a bit nos­tol­gic. I love the gray pri­ma­ry road jer­seys.

Armin Vit most­ly likes what he sees:

Replac­ing the old seal as the team’s offi­cial logo is the lone pair of red, hang­ing sox. Unless I’m wrong, there is no typog­ra­phy asso­ci­at­ed with it. None. No “Boston.” No “Red Sox.” If that’s the case, this is one of the best cas­es of visu­al iden­ti­ty and brand equi­ty becom­ing so strong the icon doesn’t need expla­na­tion. They are sox. They are red. They can not be any­thing oth­er than the Boston Red Sox.

Illustration courtesy of Boston.com

The Big Picture

NYTimes.com isn’t the only NYT prop­er­ty that’s doing inter­est­ing things with blogs these days – Boston.com launched a dif­fer­ent kind of pho­to blog ear­li­er this month, The Big Pic­ture. With its over­sized pho­tos, min­i­mal ads, and hard­ly a pro­mo to oth­er site con­tent, the pre­sen­ta­tion is clear and strik­ing – and praise is pour­ing in.

California Fires

Firefighters work to contain the Humboldt fire which started Wednesday, had grown to 19,000 acres and threatened more than 5,000 structures. (AP Photo/Jason Halley — Chico Enterprise-Record)

Anoth­er inter­est­ing facet about the blog is that it not writ­ten by a Globe pho­tog­ra­ph­er or pho­to edi­tor, but by one of their web­site devel­op­ers. Andy Baio post­ed a great inter­view with the blog’s cre­ator and author, Alan Tay­lor, where he dis­cuss­es his inspi­ra­tion, method­ol­o­gy, and what it’s like being a web devel­op­er work­ing in a journalist’s world. When asked why more news­pa­per sites haven’t done this before, he replied:

Even some of my favorite pho­to sites are often lim­it­ed to ‘Pho­to of the Day’ or ‘24 Hours in Pic­tures’ fea­tures. That’s inter­est­ing, and you can find some mind-blow­ing images there, but I always felt like it lacked con­text, depth, sto­ry.”

Iowa Floods

Brandon Smith carries his two cats, Fry and Bender, to dry land from their flooded and evacuated home on June 12, 2008 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)

As we move to an age where motion graph­ics and video reg­u­lar­ly enhance our tra­di­tion­al news pre­sen­ta­tion, it’s inter­est­ing to take a step back and con­sid­er the pow­er still pho­tog­ra­phy has to tell a sto­ry. And work­ing online with­out the space con­straint of print, news orga­ni­za­tions have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring more depth and con­text to read­ers, through excel­lent pho­to­jour­nal­ism.

405 Sunset

While we were in Boston this past week­end, we stopped by our friend Lind­sey Warren’s stu­dio at BU, where she is just com­plet­ing her MFA in paint­ing. She just sold a bunch of work at the grad­u­ate stu­dent show a few weeks back, and still has some amaz­ing stuff left. We also got to see some works in progress – includ­ing some inter­est­ing print­mak­ing.

But, the best thing about the vis­it was that we pur­chased an amaz­ing paint­ing, 405 Sun­set:

405 Sunset

This paint­ing was fea­tured in the Boston Globe Mag­a­zine last sum­mer:

Lind­sey War­ren uses lurid col­ors and a sur­pris­ing range of tex­tures to evoke a world shim­mer­ing on the edge of dis­so­lu­tion, from the woodsy, dap­pled ‘Pow­er Out­age’ to the crisp, sun-stroked ‘405 Sun­set.’

So we’re excit­ed to get this piece to Brook­lyn, but that will take some time since it mea­sures 4′x 5′– we’ll have to get it crat­ed and shipped.

Take a look at her work, and con­tact her if you’re inter­est­ed in stop­ping by her stu­dio – she’ll be there until mid-June.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘405 Sun­set’

Google Earth in 3D

Google Earth now has 3D-build­ings, and it’s real­ly fun to play with. Here is the Times Build­ing, where I work:

Times Building

A 3D rendering of the New York Times Building in Midtown, as shown in Google Earth.

If you have Google Earth installed, see it for your­self. Or, try land­ing on the deck of the Gold­en Gate Bridge, (just zoom in).

There seems to be data for a lot of cities, includ­ing my home town of Buf­fa­lo, and for­mer home of Boston.

New York to Boston for $1?

Yes­ter­day, the Times took a look at a few new entrants into the East Coast dis­count bus trav­el busi­ness:

We’re fre­quent rid­ers on the dis­count Chi­na­town bus lines, despite their ten­den­cy toward break­downs and shenani­gans. And, a while back I was excit­ed about Vamoose Bus, which was sup­posed to begin NYC–Boston ser­vice with free wi-fi and a guar­an­teed seat. This seems to have fall­en through, as there is now no men­tion of Boston on the their web site.

But it’s inter­est­ing to note the emer­gence of Bolt­Bus and MegaBus – because both are owned by tra­di­tion­al bussing com­pa­nies, not scrap­py Chi­na­town star­tups. Grey­hound owns Bolt­bus, and Megabus is run by Coach USA, par­ent of Gray Line sight­see­ing bus line.

Both are tak­ing a “South­west Air­lines” approach by offer­ing cheap­er fares to those who book ear­ly, but last-minute book­ings will cost about as much as Grey­hound. $1 fares are nice, but I’m most inter­est­ed in the free wi-fi, pow­er out­lets, and enter­tain­ment options. Those fea­tures are worth pay­ing a lit­tle extra.

A New boston.com

new Boston.com
The new Boston.com

I just noticed that boston.com launched a redesigned site, and it looks very nice. You can read the editor’s redesign note here.

The new look is much wider, open, and eas­i­er to read. The Globe page espe­cial­ly shines, though they could bet­ter dis­trib­ute some of the paper’s con­tent across the columns. (And, I wish that they’d ditch the awful curvy logo for some­thing less whim­si­cal.)

Some sec­tions on the site remain unchanged for now – which, accord­ing to the redesign FAQ, was inten­tion­al:

Dif­fer­ent fea­tures and sec­tions of the site are sched­uled to debut on dif­fer­ent days. While we real­ize that this might be con­fus­ing in the short-term, we’ve stud­ied our options care­ful­ly and believe that the grad­ual switch we have planned will ulti­mate­ly result in a bet­ter user expe­ri­ence.

Err, or that was a lot to roll out at once. Still, great improve­ment.

Vamoose Bus

I know what bus I’m tak­ing now, when­ev­er I need to get to Boston or DC:

NYC-Boston bus offers free wi-fi, and reser­va­tions
…will pro­vide rid­ers with free WiFi on its leased bus­es, which are equipped with routers. Vamoose is sell­ing one-way reserved seats for $22.

Free wi-fi and a guar­an­teed seat, for $40 round trip? Done.

More at Vamoosebus.com.

BU Central

Man, I’ve tak­en a long break from this site… a belat­ed wel­come back to all the col­lege kids—I almost for­got about all of you.

And since it’s the new school year, it’s also time for BU Cen­tral to start up. They host bands, come­di­ans and oth­er fun stuff that we nev­er had dur­ing our years there.

Rainer Maria

It makes me laugh when they pop up on Sir­ius Left of Cen­ter, as “up-and-com­ing”.



I real­ly don’t get what the buzz is about, but, I have to respect their live act. I’ve nev­er seen a room of kids go that apeshit over ukule­les.


Oth­er shows will be post­ed on their web­site, but a BU ID required to get in.

ICA Boston


Photo, originally uploaded by droush16.

It looks like the new ICA on the South Boston water­front has to delay it’s Sep­tem­ber open­ing:

In inter­views yes­ter­day, ICA offi­cials, archi­tect Ricar­do Scofidio, and con­struc­tion com­pa­ny man­ag­er John Macomber said that the remain­ing work was not major. Among the pend­ing tasks—termed “minu­ti­ae” by one ICA trustee—was the need to test the building’s tick­et counter and cli­mate con­trol sys­tem.


Asobi Seksu @ Great Scott

Asobi Seksu

Yuki Chikudate and Asobi Seksu performing at Great Scott in Allston.

We went to The Plan at Great Scott on Sat­ur­day night to see the Brook­lyn band Aso­bi Sek­su — I got some good shots of them and two of the open­ing bands.

As I wrote ear­li­er, the new record Cit­rus is an incred­i­ble step for­ward for them, and the live show suc­ceed­ed in dupli­cat­ing the wash of gui­tars and noise, with­out com­plete­ly cov­er­ing up Yuki’s voice. They’re nice peo­ple, too.

The oth­er great thing dur­ing the set were the lights and smoke effects… so cool. The Plan peo­ple are real­ly show­ing up the old Cam­bridge clubs, because it was freak­ing cool.

West Elm in the Fenway

West Elm in Boston!Appar­ent­ly, West Elm is com­ing to the Fen­way, in the new Trin­i­ty mixed-use com­plex under con­struc­tion between Boyl­ston & Brook­line Aves.

Our house is all IKEA, but if you have a bit more mon­ey to throw around, West Elm has some nice stuff.

Hockey East Champs

Hockey East ChampsMy alma mater Boston Uni­ver­si­ty clinched the Hock­ey East Cham­pi­onship this past Sat­ur­day, win­ning in 2–1 OT against Boston Col­lege. Now, they’re off to the NCAA tour­na­ment, ranked #1 in the nation. They haven’t done that since 1997, when I was a sopho­more, and had noth­ing bet­ter to do on Fri­day nights than go watch the games.

And, if that wasn’t enough, a guy who played on that 1997 team, Chris Drury, is cap­tain­ing my home­town Buf­fa­lo Sabres this sea­son. They’re near the top of the con­fer­ence stand­ings, and one of the most excit­ing young teams to watch. We’ve got seats at the Gar­den for Sat­ur­day night’s matchup with the Bru­ins.

BC sucks!

Back-Bay Apple Store, Part II

Boston Apple Store DesignSome details are final­ly start­ing to emerge sur­round­ing Apple’s plans for the con­struc­tion of a sig­na­ture Flag­ship retail store in the Back Bay, Boston. IfoAp­ple­Store reports that ren­der­ings of the pro­posed design have leaked (see left), and that the back­ward-look­ing Back Bay Archi­tec­tur­al Com­mis­sion has seri­ous mis­giv­ings about the 3-sto­ry mod­ern glass struc­ture.

This is a shame… our won­der­ful­ly acer­bic alter­na­tive news­pa­per, The Week­ly Dig, said it bet­ter than I can:

Putting aside the men­tal gym­nas­tics it takes to believe that one glass build­ing would destroy the neigh­bor­hoody feel­ing of a three-lane boule­vard that hosts a mall, a con­ven­tion cen­ter and the city’s sec­ond-tallest tow­er, Apple’s run-in with the BBAC rais­es a more imme­di­ate ques­tion: Is a cabal of frigid elit­ists sti­fling Boston’s growth while they defend some bull­shit Brah­min con­cep­tion of what an ex-land­fill should look like?

I sym­pa­thize with those urban plan­ners and crit­ics who reject the strip-mal­l/­park­ing-lot 20th-cen­tu­ry method of devel­op­ment — God knows, Boston is as pedes­tri­an-friend­ly as any city in North Amer­i­ca, and we’re bet­ter for it. But, there are many exam­ples of new projects designed to mim­ic the look of 19th-cen­tu­ry Boston, with­out suc­ceed­ing in pre­serv­ing any sense of neigh­bor­hood cohe­sion. One glar­ing exam­ple of this is the mam­moth Hotel Com­mon­wealth, in Ken­more Square, which I’ve com­ment­ed on in the past. That build­ing has as much “old-world charm”, as a 1970s-era French Tudor style sub­ur­ban tract home.

Mandarin Oriental BostonWhat I find strangest of all, is that this is a rel­a­tive­ly small par­cel of land we’re talk­ing about. Con­sid­er that on the very same block, across the street, Man­darin Ori­en­tal is build­ing a huge hotel, in front of the Pru­den­tial Tower/Mall, at street-lev­el.

If one of these devel­op­ments is going to change the char­ac­ter of the neigh­bor­hood, I’d wor­ry more about that project.

Scooterist killed in Boston

I am shocked and hor­ri­fied by a report in the Globe today, that a Scooter­ist was killed last night in a col­li­sion with a truck:

Police were search­ing last night for the dri­ver of a trac­tor trail­er sus­pect­ed of strik­ing, drag­ging, and killing an 18-year-old man rid­ing a motor scoot­er at the Mass­a­chu­setts Avenue onramp to the Mass­a­chu­setts Turn­pike.

After the impact, the truck con­tin­ued down the ramp, tak­ing the scoot­er and its rid­er with it, police said. Both were found at the bot­tom of the ramp, which was closed for sev­er­al hours after the acci­dent, police said.

Even more dis­turb­ing that this, the dri­ver either didn’t know the col­li­sion occured, or fled the scene:

After hit­ting the teenag­er, the dri­ver of the 18-wheel­er stopped momen­tar­i­ly on the Turn­pike to look at a tire that was on fire, said Boston police spokesman David Estra­da. He refused the help of sev­er­al Turn­pike work­ers and drove off with the tire ablaze, police said.

We don’t know much about the vic­tim yet, but this inci­dent should serve as an impor­tant reminder that motor scoot­ers are not toys — they are motor­cy­cles. Too many peo­ple just buy a new twist-n-go Ves­pa, with­out much expe­ri­ence rid­ing, or knowl­edge of safe rid­ing habits. We fre­quent­ly see Ves­pa rid­ers in shorts and t-shirts, with no hel­mets or gloves, duck­ing in and out of busy city traf­fic. This is sim­ply insane.

Do your­self a favor — take a motor­cy­cle safe­ty course. It’s well worth the $200, and you get a dis­count on your insur­ance.

Boston Scooter Rally


It starts tonight — the Boston city ral­ly. Watch out if you’re walk­ing or dri­ving around the city in the next few days… espe­cial­ly in the Fen­way, which is ground zero…

But, it kicks off tonight in All­ston, at O’Briens — the amaz­ing Jam trib­ute band, All Mod Cons are play­ing. See you there.

12 Bars of Christmas Charity Pub Crawl

We par­tic­i­pat­ed in the 12 Bars of Christ­mas Char­i­ty Pub Crawl in Boston last night, with dona­tions going to the New Eng­land Cen­ter for Chil­dren and the Boston Med­ical Chil­dren with AIDS Pro­gram.

Ned & Presley

I feel a bit guilty claim­ing this was for char­i­ty, since all we did was drink heav­i­ly, over and 8-hour day, in a pack of San­ta-hat wear­ing rev­el­ers… but, we did had a lot of fun with Jason, Kim, Casey, Jess, and the rest of the pack. Thanks to Autumn, for orga­niz­ing.

Scorpion Bowl

Noth­ing like shar­ing a Scor­pi­on Bowl with anoth­er man’s wife…

Scorpion Bowl

K. and Ned at Lolo’s birthday celebration. Tiki Room, Lansdowne Street, Boston, Sept 17.

Larry got it Right in Mystic River

salonlogo.gifAn open let­ter to the author of an oth­er­wise good review of Mys­tic Riv­er in Salon:

Hel­lo Ms. Zacharek,

I did enjoy your review of Mys­tic Riv­er, and am look­ing for­ward to see­ing it this week­end. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed your obser­va­tions on con­cep­tions of neigh­bor­hood, and on the film’s sense of place.

While it’s true that Boston’s many neigh­bor­hoods are more self-con­tained than most cities’, I think it’s a leap to assume that this clan­nish­ness is total. It’s equal­ly true to argue that all of Boston is insu­lat­ed from oth­er parts of the coun­try. There is a dis­tinct com­mon Boston cul­ture, which includes things like lan­guage, val­ues, and tra­di­tions (red sox).

And while there may be an evi­dent us vs. them dynam­ic between cer­tain groups in the city, there is always a cir­cling of the wag­ons when Boston is fac­ing out­ward to the rest of the coun­try. So there must be more to this place than the sum of its parts.

Which leads me to ask you about this:

His part­ner is played by Lau­rence Fish­burne, who wasn’t told, unfor­tu­nate­ly, that black peo­ple in Boston don’t speak with a Boston accent.

I know it’s a minor bone to pick, but what expe­ri­ence or knowl­edge did you use as basis for that com­ment? An assump­tion that only Irish-Bosto­ni­ans drop their Rs and As? Michael Dukakis cer­tain­ly would debunk that state­ment.

Vis­it an ele­men­tary school in Chi­na­town, and you’ll see the chil­dren of Chi­nese immi­grants say­ing cah and pahk, just like many of their teach­ers. Maybe not to the exag­ger­at­ed degree that you’d find on the South Shore or in the Kennedy fam­i­ly, but it’s there.

Would you sim­i­lar­ly argue that blacks born and edu­cat­ed in Chica­go don’t speak with a Great Lakes Mid-West accent?

The Boston accent orig­i­nat­ed in East Anglia, when the first Eng­lish colonists came from. It’s been refined and extend­ed by a immi­grant groups of all kinds (not to men­tion a few of us trans­plants from oth­er parts of the coun­try). I think there is a mis­tak­en assump­tion here, and I’d hate for non-Bosto­ni­ans to get the wrong idea when watch­ing this film.

Ned ned.suckahs.org

Now, I’m not a native Boston­ian, but I have been here for near­ly a decade — and I know many peo­ple that grew up in this town, and share the local accent– be they from his­pan­ic, black, or oth­er back­grounds. Does any­one dis­agree? Am I over­re­act­ing to a small bit in an oth­er­wise good review?

UPDATE: Ms. Zacharek kind­ly respond­ed to my let­ter:

Hi Ned — Thanks for your let­ter. I actu­al­ly took great pains to make it clear that the clan­nish­ness shown in the movie isn’t total — the neigh­bor­hood of the movie seems to me very much like South Boston (though plen­ty of peo­ple are writ­ing in say­ing, “No, it’s Charlestown!” or “No, it’s Dorch­ester!”) I think the point is, there ARE pock­ets of Boston that are par­tic­u­lar­ly clan­nish, and Lehane’s sto­ry is pred­i­cat­ed on that.

And the L. Fish­burne line…I just went in and cut that from the piece, because it seemed to be a bone of con­tention with sev­er­al peo­ple. I lived in Boston for 15 years (it was only four years ago that I left), and I nev­er heard a per­son of col­or speak the way Fish­burne does. Then again, all of Boston is set up so that a white per­son (like me) nev­er needs to come into con­tact with a per­son of col­or unless he or she makes a great effort to do so. So it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble that there are African Amer­i­cans in Boston who speak like Mark Wahlberg and I just nev­er heard them. In any event, it did seem like a mis­guid­ed act­ing choice to me.

Any­way, thank you again for tak­ing the time to write in with your thought­ful com­ments, and best wish­es –

Stephanie Zacharek

I’m hum­bled that she respond­ed so gen­er­ous­ly, but now that I think about it, I’m feel­ing a bit like the PC Police. I didn’t want her to self-cen­sor her­self, but I thought that I should say some­thing.

Rally Cap

I’ve been wear­ing my ral­ly cap since the 5th inning.

Wow. Trot wins it in the 11th inning on a home run to the deep­est part of Fen­way.

The Hotel Commonwealth

Ken­more Square, Boston, has always had a rep­u­ta­tion for being a lit­tle bit seedy—much the way Times Square used to be. It boasts a major Sub­way inter­change, the best Ball­park in the Amer­i­can League, if not all of base­ball, and it used to be home to a diverse group of small busi­ness­es and restau­rants.

When I first moved to Ken­more Square, in 1996, there was a Methadone clin­ic, a punk-rock venue called the Rathskeller, a late-night restau­rant called Deli-haus, a grit­ty cof­fee house called Fuel, and a bunch of oth­er busi­ness­es housed in the clus­ter of Brow­stones on the oppo­site side of the Square. In 2003, chalk these land­marks into a new chap­ter of Lost Boston.

When Boston Uni­ver­si­ty pro­posed bull­doz­ing much of the south side of the square, and replac­ing the cen­tu­ry-old brown­stones with a “Euro­pean-style” hotel, city and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers large­ly sup­port­ed the idea… large­ly, I sus­pect, because BU was will­ing to pay gen­er­ous­ly to relo­cate affect­ed busi­ness­es with neigh­bor­hood asso­ci­a­tion ties, such as Cornwall’s Pub. Also, the uni­ver­si­ty is giv­ing mil­lions to upgrade the Sub­way sta­tion and traf­fic con­fig­u­ra­tion in the Square.

Whether or not you iden­ti­fy with my bemoan­ing the loss of a funky piece of an oth­er­wise bor­ing city, what is not in ques­tion is the pub­lic reac­tion when the work­ers final­ly unveiled the facade. For a hotel look­ing to project Con­ti­nen­tal lux­u­ry and flair, it looks like a repro­duc­tion on the back lot at Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios, or, per­haps, Main Street USA, Dis­ney­land. Tacky, cheap, and an insult to a city with tru­ly excep­tion­al archi­tec­ture.

I am not, I think, and elit­ist when it comes to archi­tec­ture… I think clas­si­cist ideals of style and mate­ri­als are prefer­able to 90% of all avant-garde rub­bish of the past 50 years. But, BU and the devel­op­ers cheat­ed by try­ing to copy the style of the French Sec­ond Empire, while using mate­ri­als com­mon on a Wal-Mart job site. Instead of lime­stone, let’s use fiber­glass. Brick too expen­sive? Sub­sti­tute fiber­glass for the real thing. And, the dorm­ers can just be cut-outs—I mean, who looks that close­ly, right?

The fact is, this hotel would look pret­ty good from your car on the Inter­state at 75 MPH, if it were locat­ed out in the sprawl belt of I-495 and 128. It’s car­toon col­or and fea­tures would blur from the high­way strip. But, this hotel is in the heart of the city, with thou­sands of pedes­tri­ans walk­ing by each day. And it looks Mick­ey Mouse, com­pared with the sur­round­ing build­ings.

The pho­tos I took, unfor­tu­nate­ly, fail to show how bad the facade real­ly is. Trust me, it looks as if they were try­ing to save a few bucks… which is pre­cise­ly not the image you’re going for in a 4-star hotel that wants to charge hun­dreds of dol­lars a night. Appar­ent­ly, BU and the devel­op­ers are going to spend $2 mil­lion to “fix” the facade. Good luck.

Zakim Bridge

I was futz­ing around in Pho­to­shop the oth­er day, in-between work­ing on some free­lance gigs… (it’s com­ing matt!)… and I cre­at­ed this lit­tle vec­tor­ized ver­sion of the new Charles riv­er bridge in Boston. I think it’s fab­u­lous that the city named it for Lenny Zakim, a civ­il rights activist and com­mu­ni­ty leader—especially giv­en that he passed-away in 1999.

I cer­tain­ly under­stand why gov­ern­ment build­ings and oth­er projects are named for WWII heroes and long-dead (some cor­rupt) politi­cians, but I’m encour­aged by this choice… It’s a mod­ern, per­son­al and mean­ing­ful choice.

Per­son­al­ly, I’m kind of ambiva­lent about all of this Big Dig stuff. Ele­vat­ed high­ways are evil, so I will be glad to see the Green Mon­ster come down. Still, what will be put in it’s place? And at what cost? The cur­rent plans call for most­ly green “open” space, sur­round­ed by sur­face roads that might have as many as 4 lanes. Whoa. Wait up. You’re replac­ing 8 lanes of ele­vat­ed high­way, with 8 lanes of mod­ern, wide-lane sur­face streets. Not to men­tion the 10 lanes under­ground.

It would be a mis­take to try and cor­rect the trans­porta­tion and urban renew­al mis­takes of the 1950s, by drop­ping a nar­row park in the mid­dle of all that asphalt. This city needs to knit back togeth­er the fab­ric of a neigh­bor­hood that was sheared in two. That means mod­er­ate­ly-scaled build­ings, shops, caf?s, side­walks and, in the mid­dle of all this: a park. Maybe with a foun­tain. And, you’ve got to min­i­mize traf­fic. Make it dif­fi­cult for cars to move through there.

Down­town Boston burned in 1872, so rein­vent­ing down­town is noth­ing new. I’d hate to think that this sce­nario would unfold: Devel­op­ers get to build tall, pri­vate sky­scrap­ers cut off from the street; the fire depart­ment gets wide traf­fic lanes; the tree-hug­gers get the rest as dead “open” space. That’s a recipe for a non-place. This should be the place… the des­ti­na­tion.

IDEA! Boston ‘T’ Blog

Today I was sit­ting at the 1369 cof­fee­house in Cen­tral Sq., as I do most days of the week, read­ing the papers and gen­er­al­ly absorb­ing the hap­pen­ings… some guy in a shirt-and-tie fret­ting over Excel spread­sheets at his lap­top on my right. Anoth­er guy on my left, copi­ous­ly prac­tic­ing Chi­nese-look­ing script for words like “cow”, “apart­ment” and “love”. Ahead of me was a man in his mid-40s sit­ting with his young son, who was play­ing Game­boy and occa­sion­al­ly chat­ting with some of the peo­ple who work there. One of these girls was tak­ing a break with a cof­fee, bagel and the New York Times. I liked her Lacoste Izod polo shirt.

Any­way, I had time to sit there, in-between read­ing the Globe, Her­ald, Times and the Cam­bridge Tab, to think about the mer­its of liv­ing in a place like Cam­bridge. I real­ly have a lot of love for this side of the river—be it the bars, the wacky aca­d­e­m­ic types walk­ing around, or the Red Line. It’s got such a com­mu­ni­ty feeling—even for some­body like me who prefers to sit and watch rather than inter­act.

For some rea­son, I began think­ing about NYCbloggers.com, a project that intend­ed to cre­ate a geo­graph­ic com­mu­ni­ty of New York blog­gers, based on which sub­way stop they lived near. I love maps, pub­lic trans­porta­tion, and I couldn’t help but be in awe at the shear balls it must’ve took to tack­le such a project of that scope. I thought, why not try to do that in Boston?

Now, I know there are tons of Bostonite blogs, espe­cial­ly giv­en the 250,000 uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents that are here. BostonBlogs.com is doing a good job of set­ting up social gath­er­ings for us Boston-based blog freaks—although I can’t bring myself to attend one. Call it social pho­bia. Avoid­ance. What­ev­er.

Still, attempt­ing to tack­le some­thing on the scale of nycbloggers.com would be a chal­lenge. Christ, mak­ing the maps them­selves would pose all kinds of issues. And would blog­gers in Boston be inter­est­ed in such a thing?

New York­ers famous­ly have attach­ments to their dif­fer­ent sub­way lines—be it the F, A/C, 1/9 etc. It would be inter­est­ing to see the same kind of B-line or Red-line pride here in Boston. Once the back-end data­base stuff is devel­oped, I could see branch­ing out to oth­er cities—Buffalo per­haps? Pub­lic Trans­porta­tion needs a cheer­leader!

If any­one in Boston reads this and think that it is a worth­while endeav­or, shoot me an email. Maybe it’d be a good col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Boston as a Blueprint

The new Plan­ning news feed at the right of this page is already reap­ing inter­est­ing rewards—among the inter­est­ing links, an arti­cle that dis­cuss­es Boston and it’s neigh­bor­hoods. May­or Meni­no has made neigh­bor­hood-based com­mer­cial devel­op­ment a pri­or­i­ty over the past decade or so, and it’s just the kind of thing that makes eco­nom­ic sense. In award­ing grants to indi­vid­ual small busi­ness own­ers, (most of which is fed­er­al mon­ey any­way), for lit­tle improve­ments such as new store facades, Boston has cul­ti­vat­ed a neigh­bor­hood approach to devel­op­ment. Occa­sion­al­ly, big “urban-renew­al” projects, such as the new Ritz-Carl­ton mon­stros­i­ty in Chi­na­town, do get built, but usu­al­ly they include some kind of mixed-use, (even if that mixed-use is upscale in this very work­ing-class neigh­bor­hood).

It’s nev­er been a very sexy thing to talk about, but the suc­cess­es of this pro­gram can’t be ignored, and many cities are start­ing to emu­late Meni­no. Buf­fa­lo is try­ing to cul­ti­vate this, through the cre­ation and encour­age­ment of city neigh­bor­hoods such as the “Pan-Am Dis­trict” around Elm­wood Ave in North Buf­fa­lo. Even pri­vate col­lege cam­pus­es such as Can­i­sius are con­tribut­ing to the qual­i­ty of their sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods by pro­vid­ing low-inter­est mort­gages to pro­fes­sors and staff, to encour­age them to live near the schools. Now, answer me this: Why is the major state school, SUNY at Buf­fa­lo, locat­ed in Amherst (not buf­fa­lo)?