Sponsor Us for the 2017 Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon


On Sunday, June 4,  I will be riding with my kids Kay and Peter in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon!   The Bike-A-Thon is always a fun event and it raise money for a terrific cause. This will be our fifth time participating.

Based in Boston not far from where we live, Bikes Not Bombs serves two great purposes. First they collect and renovate bicycles to ship to developing communities in Central America, the Carribean and Africa. These bicycles help people meet crucial transportation needs with an easily maintained and environmentally friendly vehicle. Secondly, they help youth right here in Boston learn skills such as urban bike riding and bicycle repair that contributes to building their confidence and leadership skills. Please help us in our efforts by making a generous donation!

Here’s how you can help:

Read about our previous Bike-A-Thons in 2011, 20132015, and 2016.

 

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2015 Year in Review: Memorable Events


I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 20th annual list.

  • 1) January-February – Boston Blizzards – It’s hard to believe that sometime in late January 2015 I was wondering if the kids were going to get any snow days because winter had been so mild.  Then we were hit by blizzard after blizzard accumulating ludicrous amounts of snow on the way to a record 110.6 inches, including 94.4 inches in just 30 days from January 24- February 22, 2015.  It was crazy, it was annoying, but it was also fun, and we all survived with a little gallows humor.

  • 2) February – Snowshoeing – I went snowshoeing for the first (and second) time at the Boston Nature Center and found it a really enjoyable way to enjoy nature in the snow. I’m going to have to get my own snowshoes and plan some longer outings in the future.

 

  • 3) March onwards – Daddy Brew Club – My friend Mike got a homebrew kit and has had me and other beer-loving fathers over on several occasions to brew, bottle, and sample beer.  The social aspect is the key part of the activity although occasionally the beer also tastes good.

  • 4) March 19-21 – MARAC/NEA meeting – The New England Archivists meeting is always fun and this one was extra special as our Mid Atlantic regional colleagues joined us for a joint meeting in snowy Boston.  There was a pub quiz and guided walking tours of Boston led by yours truly in my Boston By Foot hat (followed by beers with my fellow archivists).
  • 5) April-October (but especially the last three months) – The New York Mets pennant-winning season – Since my children were born my time to follow sports evaporated and in recent years as my son has become a baseball fan I spent more time following the Red Sox, but this season I made a concerted effort to return to following the day-in/day-out exploits of my first favorite team, the Mets.  And boy did I chose a good season to do so, as the Mets started off hot with an 11-game win streak, regressed to the mean for a while, and then after gaining new players at the trade deadline and star players returning from injury they caught fire in August and September to win the division.  The exciting season continued in the playoffs against the Dodgers and Cubs, but sadly the good run came to an end against the Royals in the World Series.  But, oh, what a run!

  • 6) April-December – Museum of Fine Arts membership – Got a membership for the first time in years and spent several days visiting and closely studying the art in this terrific museum (1, 2, 3, 4, & 5).
  • 7) April 23-26 – Trip to New York City – Peter, my mother, and I went to New York, visiting the American Museum of Natural History, Coney Island, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Bronx Zoo.
  • 8) April onwards – bicycle speaker – I got a speaker that sits on the handlebars of my bike and thus I can listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks as I commute to work.  Such a small thing makes such a fun improvement to the daily grind.
  • 9) May 17 – Greenway Art & carousel – A gorgeous Sunday afternoon admiring “As If It Were Already Here” suspended over the Rose Kennedy Greenway, followed by a few spins on the carousel.
  • 10) May-October – Casey Overpass Demolition – Each day another piece of the elevated highway in Forest Hills was removed opening up new spaces and vistas.  A fascinating process.
  • 11) June 6-July 5 – Women’s World Cup – Another exciting tournament with many great games.  Our United States team started off shaky but got better as the tournament went along, with dramatic wins against Germany in the semifinal and Japan in the final.  Whether watching with our friends on Cape Cod or with crowds at Boston City Hall, we believed that we would win!

  • 12) June 7 – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon – Pedaled this terrific charity ride with both of my children for the first time.
  • 13) June 13 – PawSox Game – The whole family took in this game with our church group meaning that there were lots of friends in the stands.  As an added bonus, it was Star Wars night *AND* fireworks night.

  • 14) June 28-July 1 – Cape Cod – With our friends the Rosenblatt Rossos we stayed at a rental house in Eastham, swimming in the Bay and the Ocean, roasting marshmallows and creating arts & crafts, and watching the Womens World Cup.
  • 15) July 11 – Green River Festival – A fun festival with music and balloons, but even better, a time to play with extended family.
  • 16) July 31-August 2 – Camping in Maine – Took that kids for their first camping trip at Recompence Shore at Wolfe’s Neck Farm.  Hiking, biking, a farm visit, fresh veggies, and Portland Sea Dogs baseball were all involved.
  • 17) August 31-September 4 – Daddy Day Camp – A week with no school and no camp, so I took the kids on a whale watch, on a Duck Tour and Skywalk, on the Freedom Trail, and to the Barnyard at Retreat Farm.
  • 18) October 10 – Connors Farm – pumpkin picking, a corn maze, and all manner of autumnal pleasantries.
  • 19) October 18 – Boston By Foot Dark Side tour – I lead a special tour for a church group and invited along some dear friends not in the church and had my son take a tour with me for the first time.  A special afternoon of for this tour guide.

  • 20) December 27-30 – Myrtle Beach – a holiday visit with grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousin at a South Carolina resort town. We saw a pirate show and lots of gators, played minigolf and much, much more.

Previously:

2015 Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon


On June 7th, I rode in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon for the third time.  I seem to participate every other year, although it’s such a lovely event for a great cause that I need to commit to doing it annually.  I was joined by children Kay, who rode in to co-pilot’s seat, and Peter, who pedaled his own bike for the ten-mile ride.  The three of us were able to raise $615 which was part of the record $209,280 raised by a record 866 riders!  Our donation page is still open to receive more contributions should you be so inclined

When we first arrived at the starting point near Stony Brook station, we saw lots of bikes with brooms sticking off the back.  I thought maybe I’d missed out on a theme for the ride, but it turned out this was a fleet of bikes for a team called The Golden Sneetches.  After checking-in and eating breakfast, we got on line to start the ride and found ourselves behind our nextdoor neighbors who were also festively attired. Note to self: wear a costume next time.

The Bikes Not Bombs staff introduced our ride, warning us that there were steep uphills early on as we headed away from Jamaica Plain, but we’d be rewarded with a nice long downhill after the rest area.  The hills were tough for Peter who rides a single-gear Schwinn.  He complained about having to go up so much and asked repeatedly when we’d get to the rest area, but persevered and kept on pedaling.  Another wrench in the works was that near the halfway point of the ride, we ended up running into a charity 5K run!  A person from that other event insisted that we bike down a side street meaning that myself and a number of Golden Sneetches had to navigate a new route on the fly.

At last we made it to the rest area in Brookline and refreshed by orange slices and Gatorade, were able to carry on with the rest of the ride.  Not only was it mostly downhill, but Peter began to recognize the streets of Brookline as being close to home.  We pedaled past Allandale Farm and the Arboretum and back into central Jamaica Plain to finish the ride.  The kids received medals and we ate some lunch and played for a while before heading home for a much-needed.  Well, the kids were still full of energy, so they played with Mom while I napped.

A refreshing orange slice.
Finishers’ medals
Peter shows off his medal
Kay loves hula hooping (Thanks to Bikes Not Bombs for taking this photo and posting on Facebook)

Previously:

2014 Year in Review: Memorable Events


I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.  I usually try to post this list close to December 31st, but late is better than never.

My 2014 list is a typical hodge-podge of activity.  Some of the events have links to when I wrote about them at the time.  Others I wrote a little bit more about in this post.

January – Furnace – Our furnace overheated and died during our holiday travels last year, and so we had a cold New Years at home, even with new space heaters bought for the occasion.  We got a new furnace installed, and it cost lots and lots and lots of money, but it works very well.  Definitely not a good thing, but certainly memorable, and it all worked out in the end.

January – Ice Skating – Peter took an ice skating class and I went ice skating for the first time in years.  My skates don’t fit anymore – ouch.  But we had fun.  Here’s my first ever animated GIF of Peter skating:

Through the year – Education activism – This year I learned a lot about the crises affecting public education, and joined other parents, students, and teachers to advocate for positive change.  There’s a lot more I could do and should do, but I educated myself on the issues, wrote some blog posts, attended a school committee meeting, and a rally on the steps of the State House.  And there were some positive results, including the defeat of a charter school expansion bill in the Massachusetts’ Senate.

February 1st – Wayne Potash concert – As aging folkies, it was a pleasure to take the kids to our old haunt of Club Passim for this special concert.

March 22nd-24th – New England Archivists Spring Meeting – My only business trip of the year took me to the lovely town of Portsmouth, NH.  Highlights of the conference include a keynote speech by punk rocker Ian MacKaye about his Fugazi Live Series archives and participating in a NEA Jeopardy! tournament (my team won!).

Pondering a Jeopardy! answer.

April 21st – Patriots Day – We took back the finish line on a beautiful spring day, with my whole family cheering on the runners in the Boston Marathon.

April to September – Red Sox season – The 2014 season was not as good as the 2013 season for the Red Sox, but we had fun attending several games, including a few with tickets given by friends who have much better seats than we usually get.  Since Peter is a member of Kid Nation, we can enter the ballpark early to watch batting practice from the Green Monster, and at one game Yankees pitcher Shane Green threw a ball to Peter. We saw rookies Alex Hassan and Garin Cecchini get their first major league hits.  And we sat behind home plate at McCoy Stadium and watching future Red Sox clobber their opponents.  We rode our bikes to Fenway and used the new bike parking.  But probably the coolest thing is when Susan and Peter got to help with the banner for the 2004 World Series Champions reunion in May.  You can see them below the 4 in the photo below.


April 22nd-25th – Spring Break in Virginia – Peter & I visited my mother in Virginia and spent time exploring Colonial Williamsburg and playing at Go Karts Plus.

June 15 – Father’s Day – Tradition dictates that Father’s Day is celebrated with brunch and a nature walk.  This year we dined at Nancy’s Airfield Cafe in Stow and then explored the swamps and caves at Rocky Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.

June 12th – July 13 – World Cup – I loved getting sucked into the quadrennial event, and following the ups and downs of the US Men’s National Team.  Particularly fun was attending public viewing parties in Watertown (see the celebration of Clint Dempsey’s goal against Portugal below) and at Boston City Hall.  Then I spent the entire final making bad puns on Facebook.

June 21st – BTU School Summer Blastoff – Ostensibly a fundraiser for our son’s school, but moreso this was an opportunity to get out of the house and dance the night away with Susan.

July 20th & 27th – Cambridge Common walking tour – For the third time, I had the privilege of researching, writing, and leading a walking tour for Boston By Foot.  This time we explored the endlessly fascinating history of Cambridge Common and it’s environs.  The official tour had a good turnout despite a downpour.  If you missed it, we’ll be running it again on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 2 pm.


August 17 – Crane Beach – All summer long my daughter Kay asked to go to the beach.  Finally, as summer was drawing to a close we made a day-long outing to Crane Beach in Ipswich.  It may have been the best day in Kay’s young life.  We’ll have to return to her happy place more often next summer.


August 30 – September 2 – Great Wolf Lodge – We met up with Susan’s parents at Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania for four days of swimming, sliding, playing, and eating.  It was cheezy fun.


September 20th – Baseball Clinic – My son loves baseball and so there was no doubt that he would enjoy a free baseball clinic for children  hosted by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Jim Rice Field in Roxbury.  Former major league ballplayers instructed the children. They practiced throwing with Rich Rodriguez and Joe Johnson, outfield drills with Billy Sample, baserunning with Al Severinsen, and infield drills with John Tudor (seen handing a ball to my son below).


September 27th – Rockin’ With Raptors – The annual festival at the Boston Nature Center, the Mass Audubon nature center closest to our house, was a blast. There was barbecue and cake, birdhouse building, face painting, music, live animal demonstrations and many other activities.  And of course, the stars of the show were the birds of prey.  Peter was particularly devoted to asking the volunteer lots of questions about the raptors.


October 11th to 13th – Cooperstown – We went away for Columbus Day Weekend to Cooperstown, NY, staying at the lovely Lake House Hotel and visiting the Farmers Museum during the annual Tractor Fest, the Cullen Pumpkin Farm, and National Baseball Hall of Fame.


October 20th to 27th – Jury duty – I served on a challenging criminal trial with contentious deliberations.  And I was appointed foreperson.  It was a stressful week, but hopefully we made the right decision.
November 23rd – Kay leads church in dancing – One day at the beginning of church service at Hope Central in JP, my daughter went up in front and started dancing in circles.  Then the pastor joined in.  Then several people throughout the congregation started dancing in circles as well.  It was a special moment.

November and December – Nana’s visits – My mother came to visit twice late in the year spending lots of quality time with the grandchildren.  Nana and Peter played chess, we visited the zoo, we saw “Peter & the Wolf” at Symphony Hall in November, and celebrated Christmas together in December.


November 29th – New England Revolution Eastern Conference Championship – Peter and I jumped on the bandwagon as the New England Revolution made their way through the MLS postseason.  We joined 10s of thousands of fans in Foxboro as the team won the Eastern Conference against the New York Red Bulls.  The next week we saw the sad MLS Cup Final loss against the LA Galaxy on tv.

 

Previously:

Boston Marathon 2014


Fifteen years ago, I attended the Boston Marathon for the first time.  I knew about the race from an early age, because even in southwestern Connecticut where I grew up it is a big enough event to warrant lots of news coverage.  I also knew enough to be envious of Massachusetts’ schoolchildren that they got an extra holiday that fell on a lovely spring Monday.  But in 1999, I was skeptical that watching people run could be all that entertaining.

Still, I gave it a chance and rode my bike to Cleveland Circle to take in the race.  There was a thrill to seeing all the motorcycles, the press van, the time clock, and finally the small of elite runners zip by.  But what happened next it was really surprised me.  The ordinary runners, the people running to raise money for charities, or to prove something to themselves, or just because they love running began to arrive on the course, first in a trickle then in a big pack.  And the crowds of spectators grew and became louder and they cheered on EVERY. SINGLE. RUNNER.  I walked along the course, following the runners all the way down Beacon Street to Kenmore Square and then on to Boylston Street to the finish line.  Then I rode the green line back to Cleveland Circle along with proud finishers wearing mylar blankets, feeling like I was surrounded by large baked potatoes.

Boston is a town known for its reserve, something that to outsiders may appear aloof or rude.  But on this day, Patriots Day, there’s a near Bacchinalian explosion of good feeling as every spectator expresses their love and support of other people, the majority of whom are complete strangers.  I read stories of experience marathon runners who describe Boston as unlike any other race as the entire course tends to be lined with people offering constant support.  In fact, these runners say that they can’t even leave the race, because the spectators push them back onto the course, which is borderline aggressive, but done with the best intentions.

Last year, this celebration of the best of Boston humanity was marred by the two explosions near the finish line that killed three spectators and wounded hundreds more.  And yet, that Boston spirit was still there as people – both medical professionals and amateurs – rushed to the injured.  Their quick action and selflessness saved many lives and has been encapsulated in the idea of Boston Strong.  In the wake of the bombings, Bostonians were frightened and saddened, yet also calm and determined.  People I know from far away seemed more freaked out, wondering if anyone would want to run the marathon in the future, perhaps even canceling it entirely.  President Obama got it right when he said “Next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.”

Since that first marathon in 1999, I’ve tried to watch it every year when I can get off work.  I’ve also gone to the battle reenactment and parade in Concord and a baseball game at Fenway Park (attending the dawn reenactment at Lexington and riding in the Midnight Madness bike marathon are still on my to-do list).  Last year, I did have the day off from work but was unable to convince my children that they would want to go watch people run and cheer for them.  We went to the playground instead.  In retrospect, an ambulance that passed us by at incredible speeds as we were on our way to the playground was certainly responding to the bombings. I learned of the bombings from checking my smartphone while watching my children play.

I knew that I would have to watch the 2014 marathon no matter what. Luckily, the kids were agreeable, and my whole  family watched the marathon today.  We returned to my favorite spot at Cleveland Circle.  Conveniently, there is a playground tucked behind the buildings on Beacon Street, so the kids could take a break.  My daughter Kay peeked through the fence and shook some noisemakers while cheering on the runners.  My son Peter was more intent on watching the race and spotting some friends of ours among the pack.  He gave high five to runners and one woman stopped and talked to him about her stomach cramps. It was a gorgeous day, a great marathon, and really everything that Patriots Day in Boston is supposed to be.

 

Related Posts:

2013 Year in Review: Memorable Events


I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

My 2013 list is a typical hodge-podge of activity.  Some of the events have links to when I wrote about them at the time.  Others I wrote a little bit more about in this post.

20 January – A Winter Day Out in Providence  – My wife left for a business trip, and I took the kids out for a successful outing to Rhode Island which included playing at the Providence Children’s Museum, a Providence Bruins‘ game (complete with thunderstix), & Harry’s Bar & Burger for dinner and ice cream sandwiches.

8-11 February – Blizzard of ’13 – also known as Winter Storm Nemo, dumped 25 inches of snow on our hometown making much delight for the children and cooperative snow removal ventures with the neighbors.  The photo below is from our outing to Centre Street in Jamaica Plain to pick up beer & cheese.

28 February – Beck Song Reader Concert – I was part of a 50-voice choir bringing Beck’s songs of sheet music to life.  You can see me singing out from the back row in the photo below. 

Spring & Summer – Peter learns to bike – My son learned to ride a pedal bike.  Now we need to work on braking.

15 April – Boston Marathon bombing – My kids and I were at a playground far from the Marathon route when it happened, and even if we’d gone to watch we’d have been far from the finish line, but it was still shocking to hear of the deaths and injuries.  Especially considering that Patriots Day is a civic holiday that is perhaps the day on the calendar when Boston is at its most joyous, communal, and supportive.  That spirit shined through with the many people – professionals and amateurs – who rushed in to help the wounded.  I was touched by the outpouring of support for Boston, and if anything good has come out of this it is that they typically self-deprecating Bostonians are far more positive and  confident these days.  A few days later, we had the weird shelter-in-place alert, but still spirits were kept up as we shared news and jokes through social media.  Not something I’d want to live through again, but I’m grateful for all the people who chose to help and that the casualties were not as bad as they could’ve been.

language matters


27 April – Regan Youth League Baseball Parade and Teeball – My baseball-obsessed son started playing teeball and we marched through the streets of Jamaica Plain, even stopping to sing.

May & October – Kindergarten Arboretum Field Trips – I stepped into a new role in fatherhood as I served as a chaperon on two school outings to Arnold Arboretum.  I particularly like the spring trip when the kids got to see a snapping turtle up close and personal. 

May to Present – Hope Central Church – We were in search of a new church closer to home and found a new spiritual home at Hope Central.

2 June – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon – This time my daughter was my co-pilot on this great fundraising ride through the city.

12 June –  US Open Cup game – Professional men’s soccer comes to Boston for one night only and it was great.

16 June – Father’s Day Outing to Wachusett Meadow – Two years in a row makes it a tradition, no?

28-30 June – Family Gathering in New Jersey – Susan’s family gathered in New Jersey to celebrate her Aunt Thelma and cousin Glen.  Peter enjoyed playing sports and video games with his many boy cousins.

14 July – Circle the City on the Avenue of the Arts – Huntington Avenue became a pedestrian haven for just one day.  I lead a walking tour.   Peter played lots of soccer.

12 August – Georges Island – Vintage Baseball – On a beautiful summer day, we sailed to the Harbor Islands and traveled back in time to the dead ball era.

20-25 August – Family Camp at Purity Springs – We spent a week at the Purity Springs Family Camp in New Hampshire with some of the friendliest people ever, our days packed with activities like lake swimming (and jumping), archery, paddle boarding, pooh sticks, canoeing, knee boarding, s’mores making, cookouts, and hiking.

2-8 September – New York City trip – Another great trip to the City with Peter and his Nana.

14 October – Tufts Health Plan 10K – Our friend Sharon coaxed Susan into participating in this run.  I enjoyed watching with the other spouses and children.  And Susan did great finishing all 10 of the Ks.  We are all so proud of her.

30 October – Red Sox Win the World Series – A great season, especially when viewed through the eyes of a five-year-old.

10 November – Claire & John’s wedding – Our dear friend Claire, godmother to our children, married a charming gent and we had a blast.  The kids played their part in the wedding ceremony and then at the reception we played, and hugged, and danced, and toasted the newlyweds.

“Cheers!”

25-31 December – Christmas Travel – We’ve just returned from our annual holiday swing through North Carolina and Virginia.  This year was extra special as the kids got to see all of their grandparents, all of their aunts and uncles, and most importantly, play with all of their cousins.

Goodbye 2013, you will be missed.  Hello 2014, can’t wait to see what you have to offer.

Previously:

Open Streets on the Avenue of the Arts: Circle the City


Bostonians enjoyed easy access for walking, biking, skating, playing and more on the outbound lanes of Huntington Avenue on Sunday, July 14th thanks to the Circle the City Open Streets program.  Thanks to Walk Boston, I was able to participate in the event reviving my Boston By Foot Avenue of the Arts walking tour.  A small but curious group joined me on the 90 minute walk from the Christian Science Center to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

After the tour, I met up with my wife and kids to take in more of the activities.  My son Peter was drawn to the Super Soccer Stars activities at Northeastern University and happily played soccer with the coaches and rotating cast of children for about three hours.  I had little trouble convincing my daughter Kay to be my copilot on a bike ride up and down the Avenue of the Arts.  We enjoyed the Boston Cyclist Union’s demonstration cycle tracks, listened to a drum circle, watched dancers, heard a loud synthpop duo, rode alongside marching bands, and got high fives from passersby.

Despite scorching hot weather, it was a fun day out for all the family and something I’d love to see more often.  Before I get to the photos, I have two quick, mild criticisms.  First, the map and program didn’t seem to have enough helpful detail about the types of activities going on or even a good sense of where to find some things (for example, I think my tour may have had more people if they had a better sense of what it was and where to meet, but I also had this feeling looking for other activities).  Second, the stretch of Huntington from Ruggles to Brigham Circle felt like the activity tents were spaced far apart.  It’s also a less shady part of the road, unfortunately.  It didn’t seem too welcoming to pedestrian activity and I didn’t see many people walking here.  Maybe the activities should be grouped together more closely to lend it a better street festival vibe?

 

Cross-posted at my Boston Bike Commuter blog.

July 14th: Open Streets on the Avenue of the Arts


This Sunday, July 14, 2013, Circle the City and The Fenway Alliance present Open Streets on the Avenue of the Arts.  From 11am – 4pm, Huntington Avenue will be closed to motor vehicles and open for fitness, yoga, bikes, dance, arts, kids activities, and walking tours AND MUCH MORE.

postal

 

I’m particularly excited about this event because thanks to Walk Boston I’ve been invited to reprise my Boston By Foot walking tour of the Avenue of the Arts.  Imagine a walking tour where we can step safely out into the street to take in new perspectives on the architecture and history of the institutions that line the avenue!  And the best part is that the tour is free.  If you are interested in learning more about the cultural institutions on Huntington Avenue, this is the day to do it.

As we walk along this cultural corridor we’ll explore the history of Huntington Avenue and learn about:

  • landmarks created by two of the most remarkable women in Boston’s history: Mary Baker Eddy and Isabella Stewart Gardner
  • not one but two acoustically perfect concert halls
  • not one but two historical figures named Eben
  • the oldest artificial ice sporting arena in the world
  • Boston’s lost opera house
  • the many innovations and contributions of the YMCA
  • the site of the first World Series game
  • expansion and development at Northeastern University, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • and much, much more

Meet at the Christian Science Center plaza on Massachusetts Avenue at 11 am for the 90 minute tour.  And leave time to make a day of it because there will be plenty more activities to enjoy on our Open Streets!

 

Support Bikes Not Bombs!


This weekend I will be riding in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon with my 18-month daughter Kay as my co-pilot.

Bikes Not Bombs is one of my favorite charitable  social justice organization because it uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change. This includes shipping restored bikes to International Programs in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean where sustainable transportation is vital for economic development. Closer to home, Youth Programs in the Boston area teach bicycle safety and mechanical skills to local teens building self-confidence and personal responsibility. Please make a donation to help the world-changing activities of Bikes Not Bombs. Better yet, come join us for the ride and/or for the post-ride festival at Stony Brook.

SingPositive, JP Spring Concert on Sunday, May 19 at 4 pm


Awake My Soul

Join SingPositive, JP! for our Spring Concert!
Sunday, May 19th, 4pm @ St. John’s Episcopal Church (1 Roanoke Ave.)

“Awake, My Soul” – celebrating spring, change, growth, and rebirth
with JP’s biggest intergenerational chorus and band

Songs from Mumford & Sons, Michael Jackson, The Muppets,
James Taylor, “Hair,” Peter, Paul and Mary, and more

Tickets available at the door or by emailing us:
$10/adults, $5/kids ages 2-16.

“Join” our Facebook event and invite your friends!

Photopost: Wake Up The Earth 2013


Spring descended on Jamaica Plain this past weekend with the annual Wake Up the Earth Festival presented by Spontaneous Celebrations. This was the 35th annual festival, an event that grew out of the “highway revolt” of the 1960s & 70s when local activists opposed the construction of highway infrastructure in Jamaica Plain & Roxbury, leading to the creation of the Southwest Corridor as a system of train lines, bike paths, and parks that we enjoy today. Ironically, some people who want to create new prioritized highway infrastructure for cars marched in this year’s parade which I guess shows that this festival takes all kinds.  The festival itself was home to many tents of activists of many causes, food, games, and musical performances.  My family and I sang a few songs with the intergenerational chorus SingPositive, JP in preparation for our concert on May 19th.  We also danced to Maaak Pelletier’s jam band the Mystical Misfits as they played Grateful Dead classics.  Finally, the potato sack slide down the hillside was great fun for everyone.

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A peace sign and yin yang grow out of the hillside at Jamaica Pond’s Sugar Bowl.
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Peace and flowers!
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The Brendan Behan quote seems appropriate to the occassion.
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Spanish banner for the festival.
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Here comes the parade.
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The stilt walkers always impress.
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I’m pretty sure this woman participates every year.
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The theme of the year is snakes and these folks won the Best Family Costume award.
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Hula hooping is another big highlight of the festival.
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Mobile percussion unit.
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The wolf and the lamb dance in the street.
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A rocking marching band and dancing stilt walker.

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Scholars from my son’s school march.
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Getting brassy.
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The Mystical Misfits lead the dance.

More photos from the parade and festival on Universal Hub and JP Patch.

Previously:

Songs of the Week: Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live


The songs in my head this week, of course, are the songs I’m rehearsing for a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live.  The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00.  Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs.  My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs.

Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!

The choral centerpiece is a song called “The Wolf is on the Hill.”  In this video, you may hear us rehearsing a couple of weeks ago.  We sound even better now.  At the end of this clip you can also hear a small portion of “Title of the Song” which is the grand finale of the concert.

The choir is also accompanying Sarah Ribdau and Peter Moore on their rendition of “Please Leave the Light On When You Go” and Peter Moore’s take of “Heaven’s Ladder”:

The choir is participating on a fifth song as well, “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard” by Molly Zenobia.  This may be my favorite of all the songs I’ve heard, but you’ll have to take my word for it and come to the concert to hear it, because there is no demo.

Some other songs you will hear at the concert include:

  • “Why Did You Make Me Care” by Mary Bichner:

  • “Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings” by The Highland Drifters
  • “Sorry” by Endation
  • “Old Shanghai” by Mary Bichner

This barely scratches the surface, as there will be a dozen more songs plus choreographed dance performances for each number.

So buy your tickets now!!!

Beck’s Song Reader Concert


Next week, I will singing in a 50-person kick-ass choir as part of a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live.  The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00.  Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs.  My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs.  Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!

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2012 Year in Review: Memorable Events


I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

  • Sing Positive, JP – a year long highlight as my son Peter & I sang and formed community with other JP residents of all ages.  We performed concerts in May (part 1, 2, & 3) and December with special appearances at Wake Up the Earth and the Lantern Parade.
  • Discovery Museums – my mother visited in February and we took Peter to the Discovery Museums in Acton where Peter explored the small but creatively-designed rooms of the childrens museum and woodworking in the workshop at the science museum.  We returned to this new favorite place several more times over the course of the year.
  • Breaking the ice on Jamaica Pond –  After brunch at The Haven, Peter and friend Jordan strolled around the pond on a chilly day and cracked ice and chucked rocks.
  • Wilson Mountain hike – We got an explored nature with a spring hike to the top of Dedham’s Wilson Mountain which included “rocky fun time” clambering up the boulders along the trail.
  • Red Sox games – This wasn’t a great season for the Old Town Team, but Peter & I enjoyed a four-game Sox Pax where we sat in the bleachers for a (a very hot) Patriots Day, Memorial Day, a Wednesday in June, and a Monday in August.  The Sox won three of the games and Peter got to run the bases with the other kids at the final game.
  • Mets game –  My other favorite team also played poorly this season but I did make it to join friends for the Banner Day game,  one of the 20 wins for Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, and wept after Johan Santana threw the Mets’ first no-hitter on June 1st.
  • Kay’s Baptism – Family descended on Boston in late April for our baby girl’s baptism including all the grandparents and her namesake Aunt Kay.
  • Fathers Day at Wachusset Meadows – I was a very lucky Dad who got to snuggle with his kids, have a delicious lunch, walk through the beautiful Wachusset Meadows, and then stop at a roadside ice cream parlor.
  • Tall ships in Boston – Another exciting outing with the kids, visiting tall ships at the Charlestown Navy Yard.
  • Day Trip to Lowell – We made a mid-July outing to historic Lowell taking a journey by boat along the canals and river and then catching a Lowell Spinners baseball game.
  • Summer Olympics in London – I was really inspired by the crazy but beautiful opening ceremonies and enjoyed watching various events with Peter on my computer who then went on to reenact the games with his preschool classmates.
  • Summer Arts Weekend and Esplanade Playspace – Peter, Kay & I enjoyed a performance by Dan Zanes & Friends, watched some Irish step dancers, and then played on the new playground along the Charles River.
  • Circle the City – The Greenway and several streets in Downtown Boston were closed to auto traffic so we enjoyed strolling, biking, playing and dancing in the street.  They should really do this every Sunday.
  • Farewell to Child Care – Peter said goodbye to his friends and teachers at Soldiers Field Park Child Care at a bittersweet goodbye circle.  It was time for him to move on, but sad for all of us to leave many good people behind.
  • South End Tour of the Month – I served as one of the guides for another magnificent Boston By Foot neighborhood tour that attracted 125 people on a Sunday in late August.
  • Canobie Lake and White Mountains – We enjoyed a great family vacation to New Hampshire featuring a visit to a charming amusement park, climbing up the Flume Gorge, visiting the longest candy counter in Littleton, and soaring up Cannon Mountain on the aerial tram.
  • Kindergarten – Peter started attending K1 at our local Boston Public elementary school and instantly having a great time making friends and learning new things.  As a family we’ve enjoyed playdates and picnics and making the school part of our everyday life.
  • Weekend in Washington – Peter & I flew to our nation’s capital for the Columbus Day weekend staying with our friends the Rossos and visiting museums and the National Zoo.
  • Hurricane Sandy – We were fortunate that in Boston, the hurricane just meant staying cooped inside for a day with only downed sticks and leaves (and a billboard near Forest Hills station) knocked over, but this storm hit close to home with the extensive damage to New York City (where my family is from and many friends and family still live) as well as New Jersey and Connecticut (two states where I used to live).
  • Peter’s Birthday Party – Peter turned 5 with a cast of thousands joining him at the YMCA for games, a moonbounce, and baseball-shaped cupcakes.

Previously:

Singing in the Fall


In the coming months I will be singing thrice weekly with a variety of organizations.  It looks like it will be a lot of fun, although maybe a challenge for time commitments as well with rehearsals starting this week.

For the first time, I will be singing with the Mystic Chorale.  The fall concert Pastures of Plenty – Woody Guthrie at 100 will take place Saturday, Nov 17, 8:00pm and (my birthday!) Sunday, Nov 18, 3:30pm at Tremont Temple in Boston.  I’m looking forward to singing songs written and inspired by one of my all-time favorite persons.

My son and I will also once again be performing with SingPositive, JP.  This multi-generational, family chorus will be making our sophomore outing with a concert themed on Optimism in Hard Times on Sunday, December 16th, 4pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain.  If you are looking for a musical, community experience, I definitely recommend looking into SingPositive which is branching out into other communities in the Boston area.

Finally, my daughter and I will be attending regular classes of Music Together at the Children’s Music Center of Jamaica Plain.  There’s no performance with this one but it may be the most fun.  I enjoyed singing with my son when he was little and look forward to repeating the experience and introducing my baby girl to music and rhythm.

This post is partially shameless self-promotion to get you to come out to my performances, but I also hope that anyone looking for opportunities to sing and perform music in the Boston area (with or without children) will see this post.  I highly recommend all of these organizations and suggest you check them out and get involved if you’re interested.  If you know of any good singing and music activities in the Boston area, let me know in the comments.

Photopost: Ecotarium


My son  and I journeyed to the Ecotarium for Free Fun Fridays.  The Ecotarium is a science museum surrounded by outdoor compound including nature trails, animal exhibits, a playground, and even a train ride.  We had a great time with the only downside being that my parochial Bostonian view found the drive to Worcester a bit too long.

All aboard.
Walking on air.
A fox named Sox.
Turkeys on the prowl.

Photopost: Wake Up the Earth 2012


Some photos from back on May 5th when Spontaneous Celebrations presented its annual Wake Up the Earth Festival in Jamaica Plain. This year we not only watched the parade but my son and I also participated in the festival, performing with Sing Positive JP.

Here’s a sample of our chorus’ singing:

Related Posts:

Hub on Wheels 2011


My son Peter & I participated in Boston’s citywide bike ride Hub on Wheels yesterday, our second consecutive year of participation. Participants could ride a 10-mile route on Storrow Drive or extend it to 30 and 50-mile routes around the city. We did an abridged version of the 30-mile route ending at the Arnold Arboretum since it’s near our home.

The ride started at City Hall with thousands of riders (apparently 5000 total) lined up past the Old State House. It was exciting to turn Storrow Drive into a big bicycle party. Peter enjoyed passing his day care center twice. The route then followed the Muddy River along Park Drive and the various Ways (River, Jamaica, and Arbor) to the Arboretum. Honestly the ride went by almost too quickly for me. We started at 8:08 am and arrived at the Arboretum around 9:20. I’d like to ride farther but there’s only so long one can expect an active 3-year-old to sit still in a bike seat.

The event went off without a hitch, with perhaps the one exception of the rest area at the Arboretum. The portable toilets and snack stands were set up along the road right in front of the visitor center creating a huge bottle neck as thousands of bicyclists tried to cram in. Last year the rest area was deeper in the Arboretum where Meadow Road and Forest Hills Road meet allowing a place for bikes to pull off without obstructing ongoing traffic.

Nevertheless, Peter & I had a good long snack on the hill by the visitor center. The bike traffic cleared out quickly and about fifteen minutes later it seemed that almost all the other cyclists were well on their way. We stayed in the Arboretum to play at Peter’s favorite little bridge, throwing rock and sticks in the stream.

Hub on Wheels is a great event and I love that every year Boston becomes more and more of a bicycle-friendly city. I’m going to have to figure out how to ride next year since Peter will have outgrown his child seat.

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Video of thousands of cyclists at the starting line:

Related posts:

Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon & Green Roots Festival


On Sunday June 26th, my son Peter & I rode in the fundraiser Bike-A-Thon for Bikes Not Bombs.  We were able to raise $376 for this worthy cause (feel free to add to our donations).  All-together 464 riders raised over $135,000 to support the work of Bikes Not Bombs!

My photos are online and some other great photographs from a professional photographer are also available.

The 15-mile riders prepare to set out.
  • There were rides of 65-miles, 25-miles, and 15-miles in length.  We rode the shortest of these, the longest I could expect Peter  to stay still.
  • Riders were sent off with a “trumpet” blast played through a modified set of handlebars.
  • The PA system was powered by cyclists spinning on stationary bikes.
  • There were an impressive number of children riding on their own bikes on the 15-mile ride.
  • Some of the steepest hills were near the start of the ride challenging everyone especially the young children.
  • The first place I’d never been before was the Stony Brook Reservation which featured a bike path through the woods that felt miles away from the city.
  • The path rather gloriously zipped downhill, but wet pavement and downed leaves forced me to be cautious.
  • Near our rest break there were well-uniformed adults playing baseball.
  • We returned to urban Boston passing through the rusty but charming Hyde Park area.  The neighborhood was very quiet on a Sunday morning.
  • When I finally returned to parts of the city I’d been to before on Walk Hill Avenue, I didn’t recognize it at first.
  • Another new discovery is a corrections facility right behind Forest Hills Cemetery.  I live on the opposite side of the cemetery and never knew it was there.
  • In Franklin Park we saw men playing cricket in the field by the zoo.  We were not able to find a toilet or port-a-potty that was  open (several were chained shut) for when Peter really needed to pee.
  • At the finish of the ride we were awarded medals made of old bike parts! Mine was a chainring, Peter’s a brake lever.
  • The Green Roots Festival was a great follow-up to the ride (and very JP).
  • Free food for the riders, which was delicious – hummus, beans, salad.  Yum, yum, yum!
  • Musical entertainment include some great drummers.   Peter enjoyed that a band of bucket drummers had left their instruments out for children to play with.
  • Children of all ages enjoyed zipping down the hillside on potato sacks down a large strip of cardboard.  Peter spent most of the afternoon doing this.  There were no real rules other than that you had to get off the slide so as not to be in the way of the next slider.
  • Other activities we admired but didn’t participate in included yoga, face painting and massages.
Weeeee!

Tired but happy we went home to cool off in the wading pool.  I had a great time and would love to do this ride again next year.  Come join me!

Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon


Would you like to help out a cute 3.5 year old kid and his dad as they ride a bike 15 miles around Boston to support Bikes Not Bombs?  Then donate now to support our efforts for the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon.

My son Peter & I love riding our bikes around Boston and look forward to the 15-mile ride around the city on June 12th to support Bikes Not Bombs. Bikes Not Bombs is a great charitable organization that helps the youth of our city through programs that offer bike safety lessons, teach mechanic skills and encourage a healthy life. As a result of Bikes Not Bombs programs, kids learn confidence and leadership skills. Bikes Not Bombs also refurbishes bicycles and ships them abroad. These bikes help people in Central America, the Caribbean and Africa fulfill necessary transportation and technological needs in an environmentally friendly manner.

Please consider making a donation to sponsor us and support Bikes Not Bombs. Better yet, sign up and ride with us!

Thank you very much.