Tag Archive for 'media'

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Waitin’ Tables

Can’t help but pass along this Remain­der from Jason Kot­tke — NY Times food crit­ic Frank Bruni spends a week “under­cov­er” as a wait­er at a [Cam­bridge] restau­rant. In the end, he real­izes the hell that is being a wait­er:

try­ing to be flu­ent in the menu and the food, calm in the face of chaos, patient in the pres­ence of rude­ness, avail­able when din­ers want that, invis­i­ble when they don’t. It’s a lot, and I should remem­ber that.

Does this real­iza­tion damp­en his din­ing expec­ta­tions? Nope:

I’d still like fre­quent water refills. And a mar­ti­ni from hell. Straight up.

It reminds me of the polite lit­tle argu­ments Pres­ley & I have on whether or not to leave 20%, even when receiv­ing shit­ty ser­vice. Though I nev­er advo­cate leav­ing less than 15%, I also think that the bonus tip should be reserved for com­pe­tent, polite servers. What’s wrong with that?

Underground Man” update

Thanks to Mint, I noticed that a few vis­i­tors were referred here look­ing for the text of a New York­er arti­cle writ­ted in Feb­ru­ary 2004 titled, Under­ground Man: Can the for­mer C.I.A. agent who saved New York’s sub­way get the Tube back on track?. I had scanned the text a while back, but my direc­to­ry secu­ri­ty set­tings on my serv­er were tight­ened, and the scans were no longer avail­able.

So, if you’re look­ing for the arti­cle, it’s is now prop­er­ly linked in the orginal post.

I still wish I had a way of extract­ing the text via OCR…

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.

The End of The Connection, Follow-up

A fol­low-up on the can­cel­la­tion of The Con­nec­tion, the Boston Phoenix’s Mark Jurkowitz has a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view with ex-host Dick Gor­don. I almost feel bad for the guy.

(page 2 isn’t linked as of now…)

I for one am still wait­ing for Boston­ist to post a word about this… Pub­lic Radio scan­dals are like celebri­ty news in this town!

Underground Man

After read­ing Dunstan’s humor­ous post on British rail, and the sil­ly respons­es he received from Amer­i­cans and Ger­mans, I was remind­ed of an excel­lent arti­cle by William Finnegan in the New York­er last week, Under­ground Man: Can the for­mer C.I.A. agent who saved New York’s sub­way get the Tube back on track?

After scour­ing the New York­er web site and Google with­out luck, I decid­ed it was worth scan­ning and post­ing the arti­cle. Sor­ry they’re jpgs… I prob­a­bly won’t leave it up very long (file size/bandwidth), unless some­one can sug­gest a way to extract the text of the arti­cle.

I’m your pub­lic library.

UPDATE 9/12/2005: I changed my direc­to­ry secu­ri­ty a while back, so these arti­cles have not been linked. Here ya go:

World AIDS Day — Dec 1 2003

World AIDS DayToday is World AIDS Day, part of a cam­paign to increase aware­ness of HIV-relat­ed stig­ma and dis­crim­i­na­tion. Here are a few resources relat­ing to the AIDS pan­dem­ic and World AIDS Day:

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.

Do Linguists Have Fun, too?

Fresh Air is get­ting stale

ok, some ran­dom stranger per­son called me on my cell phone to tell me that NPR’s Fresh Air was doing a piece on blog­ging. (lis­ten in Real Audio) This Nun­berg guy’s pieces always have this strange fatal­is­tic tone to them– as if the evo­lu­tion of lan­guage over the years has specif­i­cal­ly con­tributed to the debase­ment of civ­i­liza­tion. err some­thing. But then, as if he hadn’t spent the past two and a half min­utes rip­ping up what­ev­er sub­ject he’s talk­ing about, he always has some hope­ful thought for the future of such-and-such… you get the sense that this guy doesn’t spend time enjoy­ing the here-and-now.

…the only thing blog­gers seem to have in com­mon, is that they have a lot of time on their hands, and an exhi­bi­tion­ist streak…

god, his tone of voice when he says that betrays his elit­ism and, dare I say, his gen­er­a­tion. We know which side of the cul­ture war that he’s on.

Still, I’m not going to deny his points, nor am I wor­thy of mount­ing a com­pli­cat­ed defense of ‘blog­ging’… I think that blog­ging is just anoth­er demo­c­ra­t­ic exten­sion of the spir­it and free­dom that the inter­net offers. Nun­berg admits this, but you get the sense that he doesn’t see in it much inher­it val­ue. I know there are good blogs, bad blogs, depress­ing blogs, and joy­ous blogs.

Yet, there is some­thing inher­ent­ly Amer­i­can in it, I think. In so far as any­thing can be such a thing.

NewsBlogger is Back! There is

News­Blog­ger is Back!

There is this whale trapped on a fish­ing line out in the waters off the cape — and because of weath­er or what­ev­er, they have been unable to free it. So, they’ve been shoot­ing it full of pain killers– hop­ing that it will go uncon­sious, so they can help it out. I ask, how many drugs does it take to sub­due a whale?

Slate has a story today

Slate has a sto­ry today about the new diet coke ad cam­paign– the one nar­rat­ed (bizarrely) by Ben Affleck, where he talks about his new (com­mer­cial) wife and how she stopped wear­ing sexy under­wear. The whole coke cam­paign (includ­ing coke & diet coke com­mer­cials) has been an amaz­ing suc­cess. Pep­si is still sell­ing their sug­ary non­sense to 12-year-old boy-band fans– while coke is tak­ing chances and hit­ting the mark. Jacob Dylan– now that’s a media dream. (oh, and so is Ben Affleck, though I can’t fath­om why)

Salon self-promotion

Salon is doing a lit­tle bit of self-pro­mo­tion on their cov­er sto­ry today about media con­sol­i­da­tion online. The arti­cle focus­es on the trou­bles inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ers are fac­ing in the shad­ows of AOL, Microsoft, Dis­ney & Via­com. But there was an inter­est­ing pas­sage con­cern­ing Microsoft’s Win­dows XP:

As Microsoft read­ies the next mass-mar­ket ver­sion of Win­dows XP, provoca­tive tid­bits of its “inte­gra­tions” have sur­faced. The most out­ra­geous gam­bit is a lit­tle inno­va­tion known as Smart Tags — a tool that auto­mat­i­cal­ly adds new links to doc­u­ments. You don’t choose where on the Inter­net these links point to; Microsoft does.

In Win­dows XP, Microsoft intends to extend Smart Tags to the Web brows­er, usurp­ing the hereto­fore-unchal­lenged right of a Web site oper­a­tor to decide where links point.

Smart tags scare me.

Presley and Harry Potter

Pres­ley has been read­ing the Har­ry Pot­ter books late­ly, (with great enjoy­ment i might add). Slate has a fun­ny arti­cle in their cul­ture­box, about fan­ta­sy writ­ers.

Christopher Lydon

There have been a cou­ple of good arti­cles com­ing to the defense of Christo­pher Lydon, host of the Con­nec­tion, over his recent con­tract bat­tles. Here is one rea­son to val­ue this man– he has the moral courage to stand up to John Sil­ber, and chal­lege him on his terms. Here is a pas­sage from the Globe:

In a remark­able 1990 inter­view with incen­di­ary guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date John Sil­ber, Lydon stopped the then-Boston Uni­ver­si­ty pres­i­dent in his tracks by com­par­ing him to rap group Pub­lic Ene­my and sug­gest­ing that his mes­sage ”pushed right up to the edge of rev­o­lu­tion­ism, sex­ism, some­times even anti-Semi­tism.” (Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, Boston Uni­ver­si­ty holds the license to WBUR and has offi­cial over­sight of the sta­tion.)

The New Yorker. Online?

has conde’ nast final­ly decid­ed to go ahead with an online ver­sion of The New York­er mag­a­zine?