Beer: House Lager Brewer: Jack’s Abby Brewing Source: Can Rating: *** (7.9 of 10) Comments: A sparkly golden beer with a fresh cut grass aroma, this lager has a grain flavor with a balance of sweet malts. It’s basically a beer’s beer, and it’s delightful
Author: Kaitlyn Greenidge Title: We Love You, Charlie Freeman Publication Info: Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2016 Summary/Review:
This book is difficult to describe in a few sentences. The Freeman family moves from Dorchester to a rural town in Western Massachusetts where they will live in an apartment at the Toneybee Research Institute with a chimpanzee named Charlie. They are part of an experiment to teach a chimpanzee to communicate and were chosen because the children know how to use sign language. There are some immediate racial overtones as the Freemans are an African American family constantly being observed by the white research staff at the institute and it is located in a predominately white town adjacent to a predominantly black town. The book is told from multiple points of view, although the key narrative voice belongs to Charlotte, the older daughter who is the first to feel unease at the institute and at her high school. There are also flashbacks to 1929 where the story of a woman named Nymphadora, a school teacher and member of a secretive society of African American women, reveals the dark origins of the Toneybee Institute. This is a distressing book because it documents the unraveling of the Freeman family set against continuing racial prejudice. It’s upsetting since no character really intends to cause harm by under the circumstances their actions lead to sadness and suffering.
Recommended books: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, Bailey’s Cafe by Gloria Naylor, and In Love & Trouble by Alice Walker Rating: ****
Having not visited in 6 months, there were a lot of new exhibitions I hadn’t seen so I focused on those:
Megacities Asia – 11 artists from 5 cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, and Seoul) create massive, provocative, and interactive works of art inspired by urban life. The works are spread throughout the galleries of the Museum (and outside, and at Fanueil Hall Marketplace) making for interesting contrasts with other art and human experience.
#techstyle – fancy and whacky clothing designed with new technology expounds upon the humor and excess of the fashion world.
Beer: Summer of Lager Brewer: Cisco Brewers Source: Can Rating: **** (8.4 of 10) Comments:
Poured from a can, Summer of Lager grows a foamy head with lots of carbonation bubbling through the golden liquid. The scent is of fresh-cut grass, and the taste follows the nose with a grassy flavor followed by spicy hops and a hint of appe. Tufts of lace cling to the glass and finger-width of head still persists after settling in the glass. It’s a nice, refreshing beer and good for a warm day.
Beer: Camp Wannamango Brewer: Harpoon Brewery Source: Draft Rating: *** (7.5 of 10) Comments: Harpoon prepares us for summer with this refreshing, light and fruity beer. Wannamango pours out a golden color with a full head and tiny bubbles. As the name implies, mango is strong in the aroma, although there’s some apricot too. This is beer akin to a fruit spritzer, effervescent on the tongue and sweet with just a hint of bitter grapefruit. Lots of lacing a sustained thin head even after quaffing. This is good stuff!
Sampled a glass of Escher from a cask. The aroma is of raw grains and grass, while the taste is citrus with a smoothly bitter background. Nice balance of a variety of hops. The mouthfeel is light. Lots of lace on the glass. This beer is tasty and brings me to my happy place.
Beer: Groundswell Brewer: Backlash Beer Co. Source: Draft Rating: *** (7.3 of 10) Comments: This “revolutionary” beer is orangish and opaque with very little head. The aroma is sweet and fruity and the flavor is a sweet biscuit with citrus and hints of spice. Light, frothy mouthfeel, and no lacing. It’s a nice flavor, with a warming aftertaste.
A mix of Hoosac Tunnel Amber Ale and Drayman’s Porter, this “black & tan” is chestnut-brown, cloudy, and has a minimal head. The smell is kind of roasted molasses and the taste is sweet, brown sugar with hints of burnt toast. The lacing is clumpy and the mouthfeel is sticky. It’s a hearty and fortifying quaff.
If you’ve been reading the Jamaica Plain A to Z series the past couple of weeks, you may be wondering how a neighborhood in Boston ended up getting named Jamaica Plain. The Plain part is deceptively simple. The area around Jamaica Pond where the central village is located is flat. Yet, other parts of the neighborhood are rather hilly.
The Jamaica part is more complicated. There are three theories behind the name.
It was named by colonial residents of the town of Roxbury who were celebrating Britain capturing the Carribean island of Jamaica from Spain.
The inhabitants of this region of Roxbury liked to drink their Jamaica rum plain, that is without ice.
But the most likely explanation is that the English settlers Anglicized the name of Kuchamakin of the local Massachusetts tribe. Kuchamakin was a regent for the sachem of the Massachusetts, Chickatawbut.
A little more Jamaica Plain history. Jamaica Plain has not always been part of Boston, but it has never been an independent municipality. Jamaica Plain, or Jamaica End, was originally part of the town of Roxbury in colonial times. Jamaica Plain joined two other neighborhoods – Roslindale and West Roxbury – in seceding from Roxbury in 1851 to form the town of West Roxbury. Jamaica Plain was the most densely populated area of independent West Roxbury and home to the town hall (now Curtis Hall). Desiring better municipal services, West Roxbury agreed to be annexed by Boston in 1874 (the original Roxbury had already joined Boston in 1868).
I could find no images of Kuchamakin, not even a sketch, but his name is said to mean “big feather.” In his honor, here is a photo of a big feather in Jamaica Plain. Read more on Native Americans in Jamaica Plain.
Post for “K” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
Beer: Kettle Cup Thunder Foam Brewer: Harpoon Brewery Source: 22 ounce bottled Rating: **** (8.0 of 10) Comments: Poured into a glass, this porter is a dark brown with a thick head with a cocoa aroma a sweet chocolaty flavor with subtle spice. The glass has a velvety mouthfeel and leaves a spotty lacing on the glass. If you ever wanted a spicy hot cocoa experience in a beer, here’s your chance.
Beer: Candlepin Pale Ale Brewer: Castle Island Brewing Co. Source: Draft Rating: ** (6.7 of 10) Comments: A new Massachusetts brewery from Norwood presents this APA named for the regions hardest bowling game. It’s VERY pale, more of a straw-colored cloud with negligible head. The aroma is apricot, a bit skunky, with a grapefruit taste that balances the bitter with a palatable, bready aftertaste. The beer leaves light lacing and sticky mouthfeel. Better than expected!
Beer: Big Red Mitch Brewer: Jack’s Abby Brewing Source: Draft Rating: ** (6.9 of 10) Comments: A different beer, a dark red almost blackish with a bitter grapefruit scent and aroma but balanced with an earthy maltiness. There’s no lace and medium mouthfeel. It’s different, in a good way.
Yesterday we prepared for St. Patrick’s Day at Powisset Farm in Dover with performances in the barn by the Whyte School of Irish Step Dancing and fiddle tunes in the Cape Breton style by Claire Pettit of the band The Cottars. It was a lovely setting, especially since the seats were set up in the kitchen where a cat rested on top of the oven. After the show, we strolled around the meadows, the hayfields, and vernal pools.
Beer: Black Harbor Stout Brewer: Boston Beer Company Source: Draft Rating: **** (8.3 of 10) Comments:
Poured in a brandy glass, this beer is the color of black velvet. The scent is candied cherries or raisins, while the flavor is kind of a mulled wine crossed with coffee (in a good way). A delicious alternative to the same old.
I’ve lived in Massachusetts for nearly 19 years (and in a bordering state for 15 years when I was younger), but despite it being a small state I feel that I have not seen much of Massachusetts. I am the stereotype of the Boston urbanite who rarely ventures outside the confines of the Rt. 128 beltway and certainly never go Westa Wistah.
There are 351 cities and towns in the Bay State and with a handy list on Wikipedia, I was able to determine how many of them I’ve visited. I left out any place I merely passed through – whether in a car, bus, train, or bike – and focus on the places I have a concrete memory of visiting.
In alphabetical order, here’s the list:
So there we go, 84 Massachusetts’ cities and towns, about a quarter of the total of 351. What I’m going to do is try to make an effort to visit all 351 municipalities, take a picture of myself by a local landmark, and post it here. I don’t know how long this will take (and I’m not even sure how one gets to Gosnold, the smallest community in Massachusetts), but I’ll do my best.
Edit on 1/11/2016: Thinking of some places I’ve been on outdoor adventures in western Massachusetts and realizing I can add a few more municipalities to the list.
Charlemont (Mohawk Trail State Forest) Lenox (Tanglewood Music Center) Mt. Washington (Bash Bish Falls)
There are probably others that I will add if I remember them, but this brings the list to 87!
Do you live in Massachusetts? Tell me about your city or town? What local place should I not miss when I come to visit?
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 gallowshumor.
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).
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!
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.
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.
Beer: EHOP Collaboration Brewer: Harpoon Brewery / Deschutes Brewery Source: 22 oz. bottle Rating: *** (7.5 of 10) Comments: Boston’s Harpoon collaborates with Oregon’s Deschutes on a beer celebrating that both breweries are employee-owned. They celebrate their Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) with this Employee Hops Ownership Plan (EHOP). And the workers controlling the means of production is a treat for us all! The beer pours out a copper color with a thick head. The scent is caramel with a malty sweet flavor with hints of spice. A good solid beer and addition Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series (which means it’s a limited edition, so try it soon).
On another solo visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, I completed touring the Art of Europe galleries, traveling through 17th-century Dutch and Flemish, gaudy 18th-century French decorative art, 19th-century art deemed worthy by the Academy, and finally Impressionism and post-Impressionism.
Then I took the guided tour of the Art of the Americas wing, learning more about old favorites and some new surprises. I’ll probably work my way more methodically through those galleries on my next visit. Before departing I stopped in the Made in the Americas exhibition which was mostly decorative arts and textiles and seemed less interesting than similar exhibits at the Peabody Essex Museum. And I finished with the delightful Musical Instruments collection. I wish I could hear a concert on those instruments.
I like how Christ’s hands rest on the bottom frame.Hans Memling, “Christ Blessing,” 1481
Baby Jesus holds his own foot. That’s very baby. Tilman Riemenshneider, “Virgin and Child on the Crescent Moon,” about 1490-95
Face to face. German (Cologne School), Detail from “The Crucifixion,” around 1485-1515
Ready to paint you! Rembrandt van Rijn, “Artist in his Studio,” about 1628
Join the feast! Jan Steen, “Twelfth Night Feast,” 1662
Antonio Stradivari, “Small Violin (violino piccolo),” 1774
The most disturbing artwork can be the most effective. Joseph Mallord William Turner, “Slave Ship,” 1840
Between Vermeer and Hopper. Vilhelm Hammershai, “Woman in an Interior,” 1900-09
Sarah Bernhard was metal! Sarah Bernhard, “Fantastic Inkwell (Self-Portrait as a Sphinx),” 1880
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, “Victorious Venus,” 1903
Vincent van Gogh, “Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (La Berceuse),” 1889
Is the male figure taking a selfie? Auguste Rodin, “Eternal Springtime,” 1881
Looks like she’s ready to dance with the museum visitors. Edgar Degas, “Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer,” 1878-81
Time to rest. Antonio López García, “Night Niña con los ojos cerrados,” 1998
Beer: Original Brewer: Mighty Squirrel Brewing Source: 22 oz bottle Rating: ** (6.7 of 10) Comments: I’ve never seen a beer with the protein content listed on the label before. Does beer even have protein? Mighty Squirrel’s gimmick is that it is a beer one might enjoy after exercising, offering some nutrition with the buzz. It pours out a reddish gold with low carbonation (also low carbs) and a thing head. The smell is of fresh grains and the taste is smooth and malty, rather bready with caramel. It has a light mouthfeel. There’s nothing heavy at all with this beer and the flavor is not bold, but I can see it having it’s place after a run or a game.