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?