Bad Boston

By PHOENIX STAFF  |  January 17, 2007

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Ron Borges is a fine boxing writer. But his football columns are tainted by his consuming, unquenchable hatred for the New England Patriots, especially head coach Bill Belichick, who’s won us three Super Bowls in the past five years. Then there’s WEEI, the powerhouse sports-talk station that’s all but antithetical to nuanced and knowledgeable sports discussion. Whether they’re running clueless blowhard Glen Ordway or crass bigot Gerry Callahan, the station caters to the lowest common denominator, whipping listeners into a racist, sexist, homophobic lather. Stop listening. Stop reading. Write letters and ask for offensive on-air “talent” to be fired. Support the city’s good sportswriters — Edes, Ryan, Silverman — and keep tabs on the bad ones at Boston Sports Media Watch and Dan Shaughnessy Watch. Get your news from Sons of Sam Horn. And if you need sports radio, tune in online to New York’s WFAN. Sure, they mostly talk about Yankees and Mets. But you learn more any time Mike and the Mad Dog spend even a half hour on the Red Sox than you do listening to an entire week of 1440 AM.

We need a drink
Hey, how about revamping our puzzlingly stingy, stifling, and anachronistic LIQUOR-LICENSING PROGRAM. In other cities across the commonwealth, liquor-license availability is tied to population growth, which triggers automatic increases and ensures there’s enough to go around. But not here. No, here, we have a paltry fixed number — one that rarely increases, and only after much deliberation.

In 2005, Boston was out of licenses. Nine-hundred-seventy restaurants had them, and at that number it would stay. If a newly opened eatery wanted one, its only hope was to wait until another establishment closed and then buy its license for astronomical prices — as much as $70,000 (beer and wine) or $300,000 (all-alcohol). All this, of course, has a way of squeezing out small neighborhood bars offering cheaper prices.

In the waning days of 2006, after a year-and-a-half battle with Beacon Hill, the Boston Licensing Board was finally allowed to issue 55 new, non-transferable licenses. They cost $200 for the application fee, plus an annual charge of $1500 to $2000.

This is a good thing. (Well, perhaps not for the restaurateurs who were forced to plunk down three grand for a license.) But it’s just a start. As the city grows and the economy chugs along, those 55 new licenses will be all bought up.

It’s time to loosen the grip dating back to 1906, when blue laws were written by bluebloods fearful of the Irish. That’s just lame.


Art for our sake
Boston touts itself as a cultural hub, and it’s got a right to. But it’s a high-art hub, with fabulous museums and theater, and a great symphony. This city would do well to BRING MORE ART TO STREET-LEVEL. More murals. More sidewalk sculpture (and no, that eyesore at the Porter Square T stop doesn’t count, nor do all those cows). What permanent visual-art installations do is set a tone in a city; they announce that this is a place that values the arts, that buzzes with creative energy. Boston should look to Cambridge (the Middle East mural comes to mind, among others) and the Cambridge Arts Council’s commitment to spending one percent of capital expenditures on the incorporation of public art.

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