Boston By Foot Tour of the Month: Harvard Yard


On Sunday July 29, I coordinated another Tour of the Month with Boston By Foot at the very familiar location of Harvard Yard. While it may look like a patch of shady grass surrounded by many, many brick buildings and a few stone buildings, there are some secrets and stories that made the tour a lot of fun. I took photos of the tour, trying to be artsy this time to avoid reproducing the same images one always sees of Harvard. Look for some images below and check out the complete photo album at Othemts.com.

 

Photo Album

 

Memorial Church

 

Sever Hall

 

Tanner Fountain

Movie Review: Punk’s Not Dead


Last night at the Brattle Theatre I saw Punk’s Not Dead (2007) a fun documentary about the music, the lifestyle and the culture that is punk. Starting with a history lesson, the movie takes us back to the birth of punk – the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and many, many others. Punk democratized music because just about anyone could form a band. This do-it-yourself mentality carried over into producing punk records, creating punk record labels, publishing punk magazines, forming networks of performance spaces for punk bands (usually someone’s basement), and finding places for all the bands to stay while on the road (usually someone’s floor). There’s no division between the bands and the fans.

Fast forward fifteen years. To the outside world, punk is long gone but then returns with a vengeance. Foreshadowed by Bad Religion and Operation Ivy, Nirvana stormed the charts and set the stage for more commercially successful punk acts like Green Day. Of course, punk never went away and many of the bands from the 70’s continue to perform and record right up to this day including the Sub-Humans (one of whom is this movie’s most interesting commentator), the appropriately named UK Subs (two band members discuss the band’s many lineup changes) and the Adicts who still have the same lineup they started with in 1975. These bands talk about growing old and raising families while still living the punk lifestyle (with cute images of their children rocking out).

And then there’s punk’s third generation, one that is labeled “pop punk” at best and includes bands like Good Charlotte and Sum 41. Older punks criticize these bands for going for image over substance, saying that punk is more than colored spiky hair and jumping up & down in rhythm. Always contrary, other older punks are just fine with these younger bands doing there own thing. Didn’t the Buzzcocks sing of love (the documentary then shows evidence that love songs are more common than many punks would like to admit)? Still, the spirit of punk is alive in kids 13-15 years old, forming bands and playing a house party in Echo Park, CA or in numerous places around the world where punk thrives.

Love songs or not, the heart of punk it politics. One interviewee said that “punkers are just hippies with teeth” as they take on the government, big business, and the norms of society. Yet there’s still a lot of controversy. Is a punk song in a car commercial a sign of punk success in working its way into greater society or is it selling out? If corporate sponsors help bring your tour to a greater listening audience is that a betrayal of punk ethics or is it just taking money from the man?

There are no easy answers to these or any other questions. The movie is overly ambitious in trying to cover punk from every angle and will probably disapoint some diehards while confusing some of the uninitiated. Despite all that there are a lot of clever, funny, and insightful bits and best yet some rocking good music. So I liked it, and if you disagree, feck ya!

Beer Review: Blanche de Bruxelles


A unique Belgian-style Witbier courtesy of Charlie’s Kitchen.

Beer: Blanche de Bruxelles
Brewer: Brasserie Lefebvre
Source: Draught
Rating: * (5.9 of 10)

This beer is unfiltered so it is very cloudy in the glass.  The beer takes on a bright, almost florescent yellow color that make one really want to not think about the Manikin Pis boy on the tap handle.  There’s only a faint aroma of a musty wheat scent.  The taste is good, light and refreshing and very fruity.  This would be a good beer to mix with lemonade for a shandy/radler.  Not a great a beer, but a good beer for a hot summer day.

If I ruled the world (part 1)


I love this post on Universal Hub called Shut Storrow Drive! I’ve long thought that the Esplanade and the Paul Dudley White Bikepath are shining stars in the galaxy of beautiful sites in Boston. And yet they are pressed into a small piece of riverfront by the glaring eyesore of Storrow Drive. I’m all for getting rid of Storrow and reclaiming the riverfront. After all, that was James J. Storrow’s vision and civic authorities added the highway after his death despite his widow’s protests.

Better yet, it would provide an opportunity to improve public transit by restoring the A Branch of the MBTA Green Line. This line to Watertown was disbanded in 1969 although tracks were still on the streets until a few years ago. My new A Branch would start at North Station, follow the riverfront where Storrow Drive is now and after passing the BU Bridge would use air-rights on the Massachusetts Turnpike. The trolley would either be elevated over the highway, run down the median, and/or run alongside the highway as far as Newton Corner. Then the last leg of the A Branch would go down Galen Street to Watertown Square. There could also be a spur go through the Harvard’s new Allston development and connect to the Red Line and buses at Harvard Square.

And while I’m at it, I’d think an F Branch running from North Station to South Station along the Greenway would be a great idea. This would be similar to what they did in San Francisco to replace an elevated highway with trolley lines. Instead of having these new parks surrounded by 2-3 lanes of cars on each side how about dedicating one side to trolley tracks (and a bike path)? This trolley would be useful for tourists wanting to visit the North End, Fanueil Hall, Aquarium, Rowe’s Wharf, and the Children’s Museum. Business people taking commuter trains into North and South Stations can be whisked to their offices. And while not replacing a much needed North/South rail link, it would provide a useful shuttle between the two stations.

That’s my dream anyway.

Low-flying Planes Over Somerville


Somerville News: Planes flying over Somerville believed to have tripled: Residents on hills feel it most by George P. Hassett.

I’m well acquainted with planes taking off from Logan and buzzing the rooftops of Somerville.  Oddly, had I been asked I would have said it doesn’t happen quite as often as it used to, maybe 4-7 years ago.   Have I just grown accustomed to air traffic or am I living on the wrong hill?