Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend wanderings . . . NYC and beyond

Details of a staggeringly complex mosaic wall in Harlem is just one of the sights on my walk today in NYC. More to come as a summary of weekend to weekend wanderings in both Boston South End last weekend and NYC this weekend. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Regina Spektor in Boston . . . Spektacular

Twenty-nine years old and she's got a body of work more extensive than many songwriters can boast in a lifetime. Regina Spektor put on a generous display of her multiple talents for close to two hours tonight at the House of Blues. I got there a few minutes after 6:30 and the crowd was already wrapping around the corners of Lansdown Street. Doors opened at 7. The concert was supposed to begin at 8 p.m., which it did, but with an opening act. My ticket brought me to the "mezzanine" — a place with seats, I thought. Not. You have to stand against a railing and look toward the stage. I got there early enough to get a good view of the stage. And I waited until after 9 p.m. before she finally made her entrance. (Luckily, my bladder of an earlier posting cooperated for all those hours so I didn't have to lose my place at the railing.) She looked very happy on stage, comfortable, humble, but giggly because as she said midway through her performance, "I'm a lucky bastard!" to get to play her music to us. And we were very dedicated fans, most of the people in this huge crowd knew her songs word for word.

Wiped out tonight. Maybe I'll add some more details tomorrow along with some pictures from the weekend, but I had to get this news out to you, especially to my writer friends. I kept thinking, "Poetry is certainly not dead in Boston." Her fans, mostly in their 20s, love her poetic lyrics, her melodies, her subjects—ones that range from found wallets to the story of Samson and Delilah. She's playing again tomorrow night at the Orpheum. She played piano, electronic keyboards, an electric guitar, a chair, and during the last moments of her encore, a shofar.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Bladder: A Mexican Chihuahua

I was in the Apple store today having my one-to-one lesson when I noticed a very distinguished Italian gentleman, Domenico, who was also having a lesson only he was accompanied by four Mexican Chihuahuas. Immediately I begged to take their pictures: Joconda, Boccacio, (I can't remember the other two names) and their master agreed. Seeing them brought me back to an illustration (above) I did quite a few years ago when I was working on the first draft of my memoir: The Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie. The book hasn't yet made it into print, but I'm still very occupied by many of its themes including the power of the Mind/Body connection. This is an excerpt from the 90s decade of the book that accompanied the illustration above. You'll find some pictures of today's chihuahuas after the excerpt. Please feel free to comment about any of these images or the excerpt. Do you believe in the power of the mind/body connection? Let me know what you think. Enjoy.

My Bladder: A Mexican Chihuahua

How can my bladder know when I’m nearing home? When we get within sight of my apartment building, it suddenly becomes hyperactive and wants to empty itself. Can my bladder read street signs or what! If it seems to know when I’m home, then maybe I can talk to this nervous, yet intelligent little organ. I experimented. I imagined my bladder was a yelping tiny chihuahua who needed some calming. I envisioned cuddling the frantic little canine against my shoulder and saying, “Just calm down! We’ll be home soon.” As I did this in the privacy of my own mind, I noticed that the fear of peeing in my pants vanished. Dignity returned as I made my way to the mailbox, the elevator, the keyhole, the coat rack and finally the toilet seat. If I can talk to my bladder then why can’t I talk to all the other parts of me?

Here's Greg, one of the excellent, brilliant One to One teachers at the Boylston St. Apple store. He's cuddling Domenico's most recent arrival: Jocunda.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On the cusp of change . . . summer to fall

Before I had a chance to post some summery pictures from this weekend's explorations, the cold wind was blowing through me, whispering the sounds of long winter's approach. I'm not ready yet! I just got my air conditioner in the window less than a month ago. The icy gray sky and buildings all blended together into a monochrome of what's ahead. Still, I came home from my walk through this new season invigorated. Here are some pictures that go from gray back to summer.

On my walk to the Kendall, I encountered the sounds of steel drums, floats, fanciful costumes from the Caribbean festival.
Before walking to East Cambridge, I took a stroll through the Fenway Victory Gardens to take in the Fens annual celebration party/cookout. Olga (below) was the winner of the Best Spring Color for her garden plot. She's been gardening at the Fenway Victory Gardens for over 15 years.

Coming back to today's windy walk, here's a bit of "fall cleaning" I caught outside the Eliot Hotel on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Commonwealth Ave.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

TGIF . . . . on Thursday

Micro post tonight. I'm not a savvy drinker. My knowledge of wines is embarrassingly as brief as this post, but I've found one drink for adults that I like. And it's an exclusive concoction you can find only at Burton's Grill on Boylston St. in Boston. It's called a "Pinacatini" or more accurately, a Pina Colada Martini. It's got the sweetness of a Pina Colada mixed with the sophistication of a martini. I met some buddies at Burton's last night to unwind and reconnect. And it was the experience of the Pinacatini that I had several months ago that caused me to suggest Burton's as our meeting place so that I could taste another one to see if it was as good as the first time. It was. And the appetizers: risotto fritters, fried calamari, meat rolls, and chicken rangoons (I'm not remembering the exact names, but the descriptives are close enough for you to find them on the menu) provided ample fill for the three of us. The final gustatorial delight was a caramel, heath bar, ice cream, whipped cream crunch that we split with three spoons. Yum!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Somerville, Davis Square icons . . .

Last week I put my tourist hat on and walked down Highland Avenue from my art studio into Davis Square. Over the years, Davis Square has transformed into a very "in" place filled with live music clubs, the best ribs in town, a small live theatre, multiple coffee shops, a cool hot yoga studio, and a pulse of city living with a down home spark. The Rosebud Diner at 381 Summer Street, just as it branches off of Elm, is a 1941 vintage streamliner built by the Worcester Lunch Car Company. The Rosebud one of Somerville's most cherished icons. You'll see lines of hungry breakast seekers outside the diner on weekend mornings. The bacon had the perfect crunchiness —and a generous amount of it dressed my two eggs over easy. Some of the wait staff have been there so long they've made a career of welcoming smiles and speedy service that keep the reputation of the Rosebud as one of Boston's Best.

These floor tiles are original, along with most of the tile work and stainless steel sheething. In addition to the "car," the Rosebud has expanded into the lot behind the car to add a lounge that has live music at least 4 nights a week. Dolores (below) and Helen (above) have been waiting tables at the Rosebud for years.

Some other scenes from Davis Square will give you a feel for this friendly, comfortable neighborhood where people move about with a welcoming, and unpretentious air, just like the kind that greets you when you walk into the dining car at the Rosebud.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chicken Little, "The Sky is Falling!"

The building shook me awake a few minutes after 3:30 a.m. this morning. Maybe an air conditioner fell out of a window and smashed to the sidewalk. Maybe I was dreaming. I turned over in bed. Soon fire engines were on the scene and when I looked down from my second floor window I saw a section of white car and bumper on the sidewalk. None of the usual screeching of brakes, this driver had just plowed into the foundation of our building to stop his trip.

When I ventured outside—by this time, closer to 4 a.m.— just after the paramedics had placed the driver on a stretcher, I took these shots to share with you. Apparently the driver did not die from impact, he's "ok." I can't imagine how ok he is. Here's a close up of point of impact:

I'm crawling back to bed. Maybe I can get in a couple more zzzz's. Buona notte, or should I say buon giorno. I pray the driver will have a full recovery—not only from the accident, but more importantly from whatever is happening in his life that drove him into our wall. I've got more pleasant images to show you tomorrow from a recent walk in Somerville. Here's an image I took in front of a Highland Ave house that fits the occasion for tonight's incident. Hold on!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Being a tourist in your own town . . . keeps home new

Many years ago I ran a bed and breakfast in Brookline Mass. called The William Wood House. The name came from an old map we found in the town hall that showed the plot lines of the streets of Brookline and there at 71 Perry Street was the name William Wood. It turns out he was an architect (Am I confabulating? It's been too long and perhaps fact and fiction have blurred.) or a builder and his name was on the plot along with the footprint of the house as it appeared in the late nineteenth century. As the proprietor of a bed and breakfast, I had lots of tourist information to share with my guests who came to me from all over the world. One of my favorite moments in running this little (we only had three guest rooms) guest house was to eavesdrop from the kitchen as these travelers got to know each other over my apple-infused Jiffy muffins and coffee. What began as polite "please pass the cream," soon warmed into lively bursts of laughter as the volume of their voices rose into a more friendly pitch. The first thing I did after selling the house was to take myself on a ride around historic Boston on the Trolley Tour. I wanted to see the city for the first time the way my guests had seen it. I learned that the fences in Charlestown that surround Bunker Hill Monument had been melted down cannons, and lots of other facts I had never known before. Just about a year ago I went on one of the Duck Tours and learned some more Boston trivia.

Yesterday I went to the CambridgeSide Galleria to board a genuine Riverboat to glide along the Charles River and learn more facts about Boston: membership in community boating is under $20 a year; entrance to the Magazine Beach municipal swimming pool is only 5 cents; the enormous Genzyme building has only 100 employees; 30 percent of the population of Boston is students; Mass General Hospital is the first hospital in the U.S. that used anesthetics for surgery; the B.U. bridge has the rare distinction of being one of the few bridges in the country over which planes pass over cars which pass over trains which pass over boats; the dome of the State House was painted black during World War II; the statue of John Harvard in Harvard Yard bears no resemblance to John Harvard the man who founded the college; and assorted other entertaining tidbits that I've forgotten because I couldn't find a pen in my purse to write everything down on my little note pad. Aside from the ongoing fact-o-logue, what I really enjoyed was the warm sun on my face, the wind as it tossed around the saris of my fellow passengers and the new perspectives of old places. Buildings viewed from the boat appeared more sculptural to me as I enjoyed how the play of light and shadow highlighted their forms in a way I can't notice while driving.

On the way back to the little cove of the CambridgeSide Galleria landing, our guide pointed out a totem style sculpture that celebrates the diversity of the residents of Cambridge. I'd never heard of this unique public art, nor had I ever seen it on previous visits to the mall, but now I know about it and you do, too. The artist's name "Tyler" appears in one of the bronze cast plates at the bottom of the piece. If you click on the images, you'll see lots more detail. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Going and coming . . . it's the season for it

It's that time of year once again when the streets around Boston play host to thousands of students coming and going. One outgoing student's trash could likely become one incoming student's treasure. The lobby of my building has already offered up a couch, shelving, and some novelty lighting that some outgoing tenants chose to leave behind. One minute they're there and the next minute grabbed up by someone. This is also the season for curbside pickings. But beware! Choose wisely. Even though conditions should peak over Labor Day weekend, the scenes in this posting are representative of what we'll be seeing over the next few days.

And for a welcome change of scene away from material trash and treasures, there's always a staggeringly beautiful sunset you can catch from the Mass. Ave bridge to calm the nerves during these last days of summer.