Archive for the 'Boston' Category

Boston Says ‘No’ to WalMart

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

I am so happy to report that Boston Mayor Menino will not endorse a Walmart that is aiming to set up in the city. I couldn’t be happier. Here is quote from a Boston official: “Dudley Square is a unique and special place in the heart of the city, and we don’t believe Walmart is in keeping with that uniqueness,’’ said the mayor’s spokeswoman, Dot Joyce.

It’s the rare city that can stand up to the pressure that mega-corporation Walmart applies. What happened to anti-trust legislation in this country?

If you want to learn more about how Walmart operates, check out the documentary WalMart: The High Cost of Low Price.

Here’s a whole bunch of anti-Walmart websites.

The Death of Mayor Bloomberg’s Mom

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Around these parts, the death of New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s mom is big news. Why? Because Charlotte Bloomberg lived most of her life in Medford, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. With her son’s extraordinary wealth, she could have lived on the French Riviera, or anywhere she wanted. But she was happy to stay in quiet, little Medford. For those who knew her, Charlotte was a firecracker. She died at age 102, but had the energy of a much younger person. Read this line from the glowing Boston Globe obituary on Charlotte Bloomberg:

“As the center of our family, our mother’s unimpeachable integrity, fierce independence, and constant love were gifts that profoundly shaped our lives and the lives of so many who knew her,’’ [Mayor Bloomberg] said in a statement. “Our family recognizes how truly blessed we have been to have her live such a long and full life, and to be able to carry her spirit with us forever.’’

Mayor Bloomberg was known to call his mother every day. I’m impressed.

Tuning My Violin from 60 Miles Away

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

If you are an amateur violinist like me, it is sometimes difficult to learn how to tune your violin. It’s especially hard when the weather is very changeable because the strings react to big temperature swings, like we are experiencing now in Boston. Last night I was trying to get my strings tuned so I could practice and I was having a helluva time. I tried for about a half-hour to make it work, and still no dice. I was frustrated. I didn’t want to bother my teacher, but I thought, I will just text her. She usually says, “Come on over and I will help you,” since she lives just a block or two away in our neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.

My phone rang. She had received my desperate text. She was in Rhode Island rehearsing with an orchestra for a performance and had just a few minutes, but wanted to help me. I idly plucked my A string, which was the most difficult one to tune. She immediately said, “That’s a C.” I have an electronic tuner and I watched as it registered “C.” She was right! Then she listened as she told me to loosen the string, tighten the fine tune, etc., etc. “That’s a B.” “You are very close.” She gave me more instruction. “There, that’s A.” She did it all by phone. She’s a genius. I was blown away. She suggested that this scenario of tuning-by-phone could make a great commercial for AT&T, and I agreed. Then I happily got off the phone and proceeded to massacre Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto 1.

I Had My First Violin Recital (at Age 52)

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

As many readers of The Boomer Chronicles know, I started violin lessons a year and a half ago. I had always loved the sound of the violin but never pursued lessons. Finally, around the age of 49, I had the time, money and motivation. As I began to seek out a teacher, I had a few false starts. For instance, I was all set to sign up for an adult education class but realized the schedule would not work out. Then I searched for a teacher in my neighborhood by reading flyers at the local library and other places. Again, nothing worked out. Then I learned of a professional string orchestra that had formed in my neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, Mass. It was called A Far Cry, and the interesting thing is, they had a storefront. So on my neighborhood’s monthly First Thursday art openings, I visited the storefront, met some of the young, enthusiastic orchestra members and got the names of four possible violin teachers. I emailed them, and settled on one.

I went to my first lesson and I knew I had found the right person.

Sure, I wish that string instruments had been available to me as a schoolkid, but it’s better late than never. I love learning the violin.

As for my recital last weekend, a great crowd of about 30 friends attended it. It was nothing fancy. It was me and my teacher playing for a few minutes. I made some mistakes, for sure, but it went well.

I want to send a special shout-out to my former housemate Cat, who with her kind indulgence, tolerated and even supported my practice sessions early on. And my current roommate, Blair, who does not object to the practice sessions, either.

And, of course, my incredible violin teacher, Liza, who is a world-class musician, yet is willing (and enthusiastic) to teach kids and me. How lucky I am!

Wal-Mart Coming to Boston? Not If I Can Help It

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Every day, another community has to fight off mega-corporation Wal-Mart. Now the retailer has set its sights on Boston, where I live. For years, I’ve added my voice to the protests of Wal-Mart and other similar big-box retailers. Here’s why:

  • They kill small, independent businesses and change the character of the areas they enter
  • They make a profit at the expense of their employees’ health and ability to earn a decent wage
  • They use sweatshop labor overseas
  • If Wal-Mart locations do not work out, they leave behind a big box, a parking lot, unemployed people, and ghost towns where all the competing stores closed down long ago

Here are some places to look for information on fighting Wal-Mart:

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a group fighting big-box stories, and promoting “buying local.”

Here’s a tool kit for fighting Big Box sprawl.

Check out Sprawl Busters.

Long Johns

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Today I rummaged around the house looking for the dreaded long johns. Wearing long johns signifies bitter cold. Today in Boston it’s in the 20s. My long johns are interesting because they still have a hole in the leg where a dog attacked me one day last year. Otherwise, I try never to think about long johns.

Author Patricia Cornwell Is Nesting in Boston

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Patricia Cornwell, 54, has been living in my neck of the woods, Boston. Here’s a report on some real estate she recently purchased. To be honest, I’ve never read a novel by Cornwell, but I know she’s a super-popular crime writer. I have, however, read Cornwell’s nonfiction book, Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed, in which she solves the mystery of Jack the Ripper. I thought she nailed it. Anyway, I hope I run into her someday in Beantown.

What Do You Want to Learn?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

It’s interesting living in a college town like Boston. Around this time of year, everything turns to college. The arrival of a new class of freshmen can be exciting but it can also lead one to review one’s life, even if you are not a college student and in fact may have graduated some 30 years ago. Personally, I believe in learning all your life. Here is what I intend to learn this (academic) year:

Continue with my violin lessons

Take a cooking class (maybe ethnic)

Maybe take another bike repair class and actually try to change a tire by myself

And you? What would you like to learn this year?

We Had a Boston Seafood Extravaganza

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

In my continuing quest to enjoy more seafood before the entire ocean is saturated in oil, I invited five friends last night for a Seafood Extravaganza on my back deck. Living in Boston it’s easy to procure fresh seafood, so I went down to the Harbor to Yankee Lobster and bought six Maine lobsters ($5.99/lb.), 4 lbs. of steamers, 1 crab, 3 crab cakes, and lots of lemon and butter. I steamed the shellfish in a combination of beer and water. The meal turned out great. Accompanying our meal were a concoction of watermelon and fresh mint, as well as beer. A good time was had by all.

My Friend’s Book on Pornography is Getting National Press

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Why should you care about pornography? Because it affects all of us, whether we use it, just see it around, or completely ignore it.

My friend Gail Dines, 52, a professor at Wheelock College in Boston, has written a new book called Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality. In a column for the New York Post, Gail says today’s pornography is not

your father’s Playboy. Type porn into Google and you won’t see anything that looks like the old pinups; instead, you will be catapulted into a world of sexual cruelty and brutality where women are subject to body-punishing sex and called vile names. It’s not surprising how little women really know about porn today, since most women avoid looking at these sites. Not true for the men I meet, especially the college-age and even high-school boys. They have grown up with porn and, for them, this has been their major form of sex education.

And here’s an article on Pornland from The Guardian in the U.K. I hope you will get the book and read it.