“Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves


It’s not often that country music cracks into my New England bubble, but Kacey Musgraves “Follow Your Arrow” stands out musically and especially for the upbeat, empowering message in the lyrics.

You can read the lyrics on this YouTube clip because I can’t find an official video for this song.

What music is causing you to stand up and pay attention?  Let me know in the comments.

Photopost: Wachusett Meadow


For Father’s Day this year, we once again visited one of the most beautiful places on earth, Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton, MA.  I guess it’s a tradition now.

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Frog on a log. Far fewer than we saw last year.
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We had no idea what these red bumps were so we showed this picture to the naturalist. He believes it’s the remains of a slime mold.
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Looking out over the Beaver Pond.
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Daisy in the meadow.
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The Meadow changes with every step as the contours shift with a new perspective.
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Purple flowers (I’m an archivist, not a botanist, all right!)
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More wildflowers.
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The stone wall, a New England tradition.
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Frog on a lily pad.

Previously: Photopost: Wachusett Meadow (2012)

Song of the Week: “GMF” by John Grant


John Grant of Colorado, but now residing in Iceland, introspectively recounts his failings with ethereal beauty and laugh-to-keep-from-crying humor on his single “GMF.”  The kicker for me is the lyric in the chorus “You could be laughing 65% more of the time.”  Sinead O’Connor provides backing vocals.

All Songs Considered and Sound Opinions have released their best music of 2013 (so far) episodes.  What music is making the year for you?

US Open Cup Soccer Comes to Boston


On Wednesday June 12th, the local soccer club the New England Revolution played a game on Boston soil for (I believe) the first time. The match saw the Revs face the New York Red Bulls in the Fourth Round of the US Open Cup.  If you’re not familiar with the US Open Cup, it is a knock-out tournament open to soccer teams from amateur levels to the lower professional divisions and on up to Major League Soccer similar to the FA Cup in England and the Copa del Rey in Spain.  This is the 100th year of competition for the US Open Cup which has a rich if overlooked history.

MLS teams like to schedule US Open Cup home games in alternate venues to allow a more intimate setting in front of fans who may not usually make it to their league games.  The Revolution wisely scheduled this match at Harvard University’s Soldiers Field Socceer Field.  Most Revolution games are played at Gillette Stadium, designed for NFL football for their roommates the New England Patriots, and located in the podunk town of Foxborough* about 30 miles southwest of Boston.  Both the field and cavernous stands of Gillette are ill-suited to soccer.  Harvard’s field veers to far in the opposite direction of being too intimate with seats for only 2,500 fans, but it is a good first step for the ultimate goal of having a professional men’s soccer team call Boston home.

A rainbow crossed the sky before the game and continued to reappear in the first half with the two ends of the bow appearing to reach from goal to goal.  The Revolution’s die-hard supporters groups marched in before the game and filled up a grassy berm at one of the goal ends where the lead the fans with rhythmic chants and flag waving.  Even some Red Bulls supporters came up to occupy the opposing end of the field.  All of this created a wonderful atmosphere for the enthusiastic fan’s in attendance, and most importantly the Revolution won an exciting game 4-2.  They advance to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup versus DC United, which will be played Maryland on June 26th.  It was great fun riding the MBTA #66 bus home after the game on a bus full of happy Revs fan.  The team is now 1-0 on Boston soil.  Let’s hope we can do this all again.

Some more thoughts on the game from New England Soccer Today.

* Sorry to insult Foxborough, which I’m sure is a lovely town, but the stadium itself is poorly located with no access by public transportation and even auto access is along one road (US 1) that is several miles drive to the nearest interstate.  The NFL has wealthy season ticket holders, corporate interests, and lucrative television deals so they can afford to pretend it is still the 1960’s/70’s and turn their backs on the cities.  Professional soccer (like baseball, hockey, and basketball) needs to tie themselves with the resurgence and growth of the urban core as amply demonstrated by the successful soccer specific stadiums in Portland, Vancouver, Montreal,  Kansas City, and even Houston.  Seattle is even able to make it’s urban NFL stadium a big draw for soccer.  The Revolution or a new team in one of the lower divisions would be wise to settle into Boston and take advantage of an untapped market of college students, young professionals, and immigrant communities with time and money to spend.

 

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Book Review: Cape Cod by Henry David Thoureau


Author: Henry David Thoureau
TitleCape Cod
Publication Info: New York, NY : Penguin Books, 1987 [originally published in 1865]
ISBN: 0140170022
Summary/Review:

This book collects essays Thoreau wrote on several trips to Cape Cod and was published after his death.  Thoreau’s great journeys were rarely far from his home in Concord, and yet the descriptions of every day detail are as if he’d traveled around the world.  No more so than his writing about Cape Cod which after a century and a half of time passed sounds like it could’ve been a journey to Mars.  The writing is beautiful whether he’s describing a shipwreck, beachcombing, or the people who populate the sand-covered villages.

Rating: ***1/2

2013 Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon


On June 2nd, I participated in the 26th annual Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon along with my 18-month old daughter who rode in the copilot’s seat. This is the second time I’ve participated in this event, having previously ridden the 2011 ride with my son (who is now too big for the bike seat, too little to ride on his own).  I hope to make it an annual tradition as it is really a spectacular event.  The rides are pretty laid back with lots of support for volunteers and other riders.  I’m particularly impressed by the number of children participating, riding alongside their parents.  Groups of teens also raised lots of money and participated in the ride, once again impressing me with all the wonderful things Boston youth can do.  The Bike-A-Thon ends with a festival where there are lots of delicious food, music, and fun things to do.

Altogether, this year’s Bike-A-Thon had record 559 registered riders and raised a whopping $162,567 to support the work of Bikes Not Bombs!  The ride may be over, but you may still support this worthy cause by visiting our rider page and sponsoring us.

This year, we participated in the 15-mile ride.  While the preceding days saw temperatures soaring into the 90s, the ride day temps were a more comfortable low 80s.  I sweat an awful lot but at least I didn’t have to worry about the ride being dangerous for my daughter.  She enjoyed the cool breezes of Daddy’s exertions, and I looked out for the shady coverage of benevolent trees whenever possible.

The day started at Fazenda coffee shop with my wife Susan & son Peter, and then we were off to Stony Brook station on the Southwest Corridor Park bike path to register for the ride.  There was a bit of salmon swimming upstream as we encountered the 25-mile ride heading out as we were riding in.  One of the stations at check-in was to have bike mechanics check up on the bikes.  I went over to have the saddle on my seat tightened because it was rocking back and forth, only to learn that I also had broken spokes on my bike wheel.  The mechanic took them off and told me to take the bike in for further repairs after the ride (which I did at the Bike Not Bombs retail shop the next day).

We set off on the ride, which is something of an adventure since it goes through parts of Boston I rarely visit, particularly West Roxbury and Hyde Park (most of my commutes take me in the opposite direction).  It’s nice to see different neighborhoods, and I particularly enjoy riding on the bike path through the Stony Book Reservation (mostly because it’s shaded and downhill).  One of the odder moments on the ride, we passed by a house with chickens in the yard and then a boy who must’ve been around four-year old hopped on a bike and started riding down the bike path with us.  I would’ve thought him just an enthusiastic biker joining in the ride, except that he was also weeping uncontrollably as he rode.  Several riders also heard an adult calling from the house.  I caught up with the boy and tried talking with him, but he ignored me.  Luckily, a woman on the ride was able to convince him to ride back with her to his house.

The rest break was in a shady picnic grove with lots of snacks and drinks.  Kay enjoyed chewing on orange slices.  Lots of other riders complimented Kay for being adorable and I enjoyed this so much that I probably spent too much time at the rest area.  I think there were only a half-dozen bikes left when we set off again for the second part of the ride.  As the riders were more spread out now, the rest of the ride felt more solitary for Kay & I although we sometimes passed or were passed by other riders, particularly families riding with young children on their own bikes.  Several fathers pointed out that they started out with the baby in the bike seat and continued riding each year.  One even told me about his son falling asleep on his back in the bike seat.  “He’s 35 now!”

Time flies, and so did the Bike-A-Thon.  Soon we found ourselves rolling back into Jamaica Plain on the “hidden” road between Forest Hills Cemetery and the juvenile detention center (I always forget that it’s back there).  Then we zipped through Franklin Park and soon were back on the Southwest Corridor bike path.  Peter & Kay were at the finish line cheering for us.  We had some delicious food and listened to the groovy marching band before heading home for a well-earned rest.

Boston By Little Feet Tour, or My (Nearly) 15 Minutes of Television Fame


Boston Neighborhood Network Television recently filmed the Boston By Foot Little Feet walking tour and I was the lucky guide captured on film:

Here I am leading a Boston By Foot tour geared towards children aged 6-12 years old.  BNNTV captured me on April 16, 2013, the day after the Boston Marathon, but despite the bomb attacks you can see that downtown Boston is bustling with activity.  A lot of children came out for tours that day but I was assigned to wait for latecomers and thus ended up leading just one child and his mother (and the cameraman!) so it’s not very representative of a typical tour where there’s more interaction with the children rather than me just talking.  All the same, it’s fun to see myself at work and enjoy my brush with television fame.