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September 19, 2008

Breaking Globe News: Kids Are Walking To School

There are three types of trend pieces: articles that aren’t about real trends at all, but that are instead attempts to pass off single bizarre occurrences as trends; articles about actual trends that show up every few years in your local arts section (did you know that people are forming book clubs again?); and, finally, articles about ordinary things that editors dream into trends for the sake of filling newspapers.    

The Boston Globe is a remarkable place to find all three of these specimens. I remember the first Living|Arts trend piece I noticed when I moved here from New York; it was about how, and I quote: “a young demographic that includes bike messengers, snowboarders, artists, and musicians has adopted PBR as its beverage of choice.” That’s right folks – in 2004 Bostonians stole the West Coast trend of drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon. Those nutty bike messengers and snowboarders.

Today the Globe delivered a trend piece about one of those ordinary things: walking. And get this – it has a whole green angle to it. The piece – cleverly titled “Walk-to-school movement afoot across Mass.” – brings us to Newton for an example of how “this so-called walking school bus is part of a new citywide campaign this fall that mirrors a growing effort across the state to encourage children to walk to school instead of hitching a ride with their parents.”

First of all – and I know Globe reporters need to be constantly reminded of this – Newton is not part of this city. Neither are Abington, Worcester, Randolph, Shirley, Arlington, Canton, Waltham, Brockton, Stoneham or any of the other towns that this article is about. It’s no secret that the Globe cares little about what happens inside of Route 128, but it’s obnoxious how they refer to any part of Greater Boston as the “city.”

Second of all, in reference to the title, parents walking with their kids to school do not constitute a “movement” (except maybe in the most technical sense of the word). The fight against Apartheid was a movement. The civil rights movement was a movement. This is spoiled suburbanites needing five-buck-a-gallon gas to realize how lazy they’ve been all these years.

I could go on for paragraphs about this ludicrous article, but I’ll leave with this: One part of this piece mentions how some places in Massachusetts are “among 65 communities vying for millions of dollars in safety funds from the federal Safe Routes To School program.” What? The federal government is spending millions of dollars teaching people how to walk? Where else are they flushing our tax dollars – teaching people how to urinate safely? Someone at the Globe should find out; that might be a trend worth covering.

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by Chris Faraone | with no comments
September 18, 2008

Flashbacks: Shopping for the Dalai Lama, how to talk like a Bostonian, and a “ground-breaking” study on homosexuals


5 years ago

September 19, 2003 | With the Dalai Lama set to visit a Buddhist temple in Medford, Chris Wright talked to Hank Peirce, the man charged with welcoming the holy man to town. At the time, Peirce was having some trouble finding a gift to present to the visitor.

" ‘I’m driving myself nuts,’ he said. ‘What do you get the man who has nothing?’

"...One person proposed a pair of Birkenstocks. "I’m not gonna get the guy some stupid hippie shoes," the reverend replied. "Besides, I don’t know what his shoe size is." Another advised a Red Sox shirt with DALAI LAMA on the back. "What number would I put on it?" Peirce asked. "A zero?"

"For Peirce, the most important thing was to get the Dalai Lama something tasteful. For this reason, he rejected the suggestion of a makeover — ‘Oh yeah, Queer Eye for the Buddhist Guy.’ Likewise, the T-shirt that read WHAT WOULD BUDDHA DO? was a non-starter. He thought about gifts that captured the flavor of Medford. But what? ‘There used to be Medford rum and Medford crackers,’ he lamented. ‘But the town’s not famous for anything anymore. Do I say, ‘Here’s a coupon for a nail salon’? ‘A cheese-steak sub’? I think he’s a vegetarian.’ " Read Full Article here


15 years ago

September 17, 1993 | The Phoenix resoundingly endorsed journalist Chris Lydon for Boston mayor.

"We harbor no illusions about Chris Lydon’s long-shot candidacy. Without money, organization, or a geographic base, he has none of the traditional assets that usually translate into victory...

"But make no mistake about it. Chris Lydon’s central vision has been the single most significant development in this mayoral election. Because in a campaign that’s been smaller than life, he has been the only one with the foresight and the guts to remind us constantly that it’s the city’s very life that’s on the line.

"There’s more to pragmatism than filling potholes and plowing snow. And Lydon’s thoughtful, courageous campaign has redefined what is pragmatic when it comes to saving one of America’s great cities. For this reason, the Phoenix urges a vote for Christopher Lydon next Tuesday, September 21."


20 years ago

September 16, 1988 | As part of the Phoenix’s "Rookie’s Guide to Boston," Dennis Becker, PhD, president of the Speech Improvement Company, offered up some advice on how to talk like a Bostonian.

"When you make the sound of the letter r -- say, in the word ‘park’ -- you find it isn’t pronounced in any one place [in your mouth]. We call it a ‘gliding sound’ because it starts from the back of the mouth and glides to the front. Now, in New England, the r starts in the back of the mouth, all right, but it only goes halfway to the front. What happens is the lower jaw doesn’t close; therefore the sound does not get completely articulated: park, pahk; car, cah.

"The interesting thing about the word ‘Boston’ is that New Englanders don’t always say the letter ‘t’ in that word. They say ‘Boson.’

"There are different New England a’s, too. For instance there’s the Back Bay and Beacon Hill a, which is pronounced like, ‘Let’s go to the bar -- bahhh.’ The jaw doesn’t close at all. It’s very much the same sound you make when you go to the doctor and he says, ‘Open up your mouth and say ‘Ahh.’ Then there’s the flat a found in Somerville or Dorchester. If you look in the mirror, your mouth gets wide and flat when you make this a. We find this a lot in the inner city, also Medford -- Meffeh.’ "


30 years ago

September 19, 1978 | Don Shewey reported on a "ground-breaking" new government study on homosexuals, the findings of which suggest that prior to 1978 people were total dingbats.

" ‘Perhaps the least ambiguous finding of our investigation is that homosexuality is not necessarily related to pathology.’ This simple statement may be the most important and most controversial finding in Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men & Women, the ground-breaking new work from the Institute for Sex Research founded 30 years ago by pioneering sex researcher Alfred C. Kinsey.

"The study, which was published on August 28 after 10 years of work, was commissioned and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health in order to provide objective information on the subject of homosexuality to government agencies and institutions facing decisions about gays."

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by Ian Sands | with no comments
September 17, 2008

Dane Cook Day?!

Of all the comedians who launched their skyrocketing careers from Boston, of all the Ding Ho legends and all the Harvard Lampoon superstars and all the innovative comedians who have helped develop this city into a place where material can blossom from festering slop to tightly-woven tapestries of comedy gold...

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by Sara Faith Alterman | with 1 comment(s)
September 17, 2008

Just what I was thinking!

Not that I think I'm special or anything, but when I heard the news about the Fed's AIG bailout, I thought immediately that Bush's "privatize everything" philosophy was about to turn on its head into "nationalize everything." And sure enough, Cenk Uygur over at HuffPost had the same thought - plus, he argues the point more fully and more convicingly, in his post, "Bush Becomes A Socialist."


Cross-posted to AboutTown.

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by Jeff Inglis | with no comments
September 17, 2008

Underdog Days: Partying with Sonia Chang-Diaz

The Boston political universe has a brand new slogan: The cutest candidate with the shortest rap sheet always (or at least sometimes) wins. And you think you’re surprised.

Despite some optimistic status assessments in the past few weeks, Sonia Chang-Diaz supporters didn’t show at last night’s post-primary jam arrogantly riddled. After polls closed at 8pm, most volunteers at the Alchemist Lounge in Jamaica Plain clutched wine glasses and looked the other way like inexperienced bowlers who can’t face their gutter balls.

Two hours later their candidate would be crowned queen of the Second Suffolk Senate District. But it would be a long night before they realized that she knocked the incumbent unconscious.

Despite Chang-Diaz earning endorsements from the Globe, Herald, El Mundo, Bay Windows and the South End News, few major newsmakers believed that she would win. The Globe had an intern on the case, and the Phoenix sent a guy who’s only been on staff for two days. The first news truck – from NECN – didn’t pull up until 10pm, at least a half-hour after everyone essentially knew that Dianne Wilkerson lost.

At first there were far more local reporters than there were heads to interview. This was exciting for my friend, who ran around giving nonsense quotes (“I voted for Sonia because she represents change,” I overheard her tell one reporter). This, by the way, is a lesson in how useless man-on-the-street interrogations truly are. It’s a good thing that all reporters but me avoided the free pizza though; that would have truly compromised their coverage.

Emotions rumble when underdogs prevail. After restraining cheers for nearly an hour after rumors of victory surfaced, the first sign of outright celebration honked by in a beat up compact car with a Chang-Diaz sign on the door. The candidate walked in the Alchemist minutes later; by this time there were three news vans out front, not to mention NPR correspondent Bianca Vazquez Toness performing her notorious nudge to the front. 

The Chang-Diaz entrance was relatively epic, as people hugged with little regard for any drinks they spilled on one another. “I stand before you honored to the core,” the winner said, struggling to out-smile her tears. Chang-Diaz then thanked the gamut of her supporters – a list that seemingly included everyone but Mayor Menino and Governor Patrick – and even had sweet words for Wilkerson, though her closing promise will likely be interpreted as a slap: “No matter what – I hope to always be a senator who keeps her standards high.”

Some might think a name like Chang-Diaz would attract significant minority support. And while enough voters in Mission Hill, The South End and Chinatown clearly picked her at the polls, those who came to celebrate were predominately young gays, thirty-something professionals, and mature hipsters. Upon looking at my outfit, one dude who fit into either one or both of those first two categories commented that “Sonia must have the b-boy demographic as well;” he might have a point, but I’d say it was more likely the entitled progressive vote that pushed her over the top.

Though it’s the most generic acceptance speech line in the political playbook, Chang-Diaz got it right: “There is a lot of work to do.” Many Wilkerson supporters remained faithful no matter how openly she disgraced her constituency, and those people will be difficult to woo. Either that or they’ll stop caring now that the primary, and essentially the election, is over.

On my way out I saw an older gay couple walking toward the Alchemist with no clue about the rally. One saw the campaign signs and commotion and, realizing that Chang-Diaz won, expressed his disapproval: “Disgusting,” he said. Without hesitation they entered the bar anyway. Interpret that however you like. 

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by Chris Faraone | with 2 comment(s)
September 16, 2008

Was David Foster Wallace working on an Infinite Jest movie?

Of the many things we've read about David Foster Wallace in the days following his shocking, sad death, this post on Vulture probably go the biggest reaction - it seems that before he died, Wallace may have been working with filmmaker Sam Jones on adapting Infinite Jest.

There had always been rumors of an eventual film adaptation of Wallace's sprawling, inventive novel/samizdat, but we tended to dismiss them out of hand - how would such a thing work? What would they cut? How would they deal with, among other things, Mario Incandenza? The only way we could see it happening would be as an HBO miniseries... but HBO apparently passed on producing one, even after buying the screenplay. Here's guessing this one doesn't happen either.

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by Ryan Stewart | with no comments
September 16, 2008

Primary Colors: On the street with the Sonia Chang-Diaz Campaign

I called Sonia Chang-Diaz’s Campaign Manager Deborah Shah yesterday to ask if her soldiers were pulling a traditional java-driven all-nighter before today’s primary, in which her candidate is challenging State Senator Dianne Wilkerson for her Second Suffolk Senate District seat. My plan was to surprise them at 4am, when volunteers and even candidates tend to say the darndest things. But Shah doesn’t operate like that: “My way of running a campaign is not having people stay up all night,” she said.

Shah might be the calmest political operative I’ve ever seen or heard the night before an election; in my experience frontrunners act busy so they don’t seem arrogant while underdogs freak out of necessity. Shah was cool though: “We’ll be here at 5:30 tomorrow,” she said. “You’re welcome to come down.”

I show around 7am – just as the donuts and coffee arrive. Things are relatively calm, though some mania bubbles over tardy volunteers. “I’m really concerned that we haven’t heard from a lot of these people,” Shah tells her 12-strong support staff. “Some of them are our best people.”

Like pre-teens whipping out camera phones at Miley Cyrus shows, Shah’s workers frantically grab their cells and start dialing. “They’ll be here soon…something about an alarm clock,” one young woman reports after contacting a late helper. “Yay – I just got a text back over here,” another volunteer announces. “Don’t you remember he had court this morning,” a third caller reminds her colleagues about one straggler.

Shah runs an organized office, which is critical when campaigning in a district that’s been as brutally gerrymandered as the Second Suffolk. The territory – from Jamaica Plain through Roxbury, Mission Hill, Back Bay, Chinatown and even Beacon Hill – is so immense that it’s largely perceived that Chang-Diaz lost her sticker campaign against Wilkerson two years ago because her operation was simply unable to get stickers to enough voters. This time, however, Chang-Diaz isn’t playing; not only is her name on the ballot, but her camp is mobilized. Sort of.

Shah’s maps and ward lists are clearly marked on large printouts sprawled across the walls, but the one-time primary day volunteers don’t know what they’re staring at. Warm bodies are warm bodies though, and she even half-jokingly asks if I want to work as a runner. While I can’t help for reasons both ethical and my not having a car, I hit the road with Peter Lin, a community organizer who’s known Chang-Diaz for a while, and who today is responsible for delivering refreshments to people working inside the polling stations.

I’ve never understood the obligatory donut and coffee runs; particularly in Boston where there are three Dunkies for every six caffeine addicts. The first two polling stations have no Chang-Diaz volunteers passing out literature (there are two Wilkerson supporters at the first spot in the South End). Clearly it would have been more efficient to use these java runners outside the precincts; after sitting through 20 minutes of excruciating drive time muck to get there, Peter arrives at his second stop on Tremont Street to discover that his poll worker doesn’t even want anything (and if he did, there were already three boxes of communal Joe for the sipping).

After leaving Peter I snake through the district on my way to the Phoenix. Though it’s closing in on 8:30am, political pedestrians would have trouble knowing that it’s primary day, let alone who to vote for. The last polling spot I walk past is virtually abandoned save for a few scattered Wilkerson folks, and I’m not seeing the thousands of leftover campaign signs that generally turn up on primary and election days.

Throughout this campaign there’s been a lot of talk about how difficult yet critical it is to get voters to the polls. But from the looks of things this morning it’s not so easy to get volunteers out either.

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by Chris Faraone | with no comments
September 15, 2008

Lonesome Cindy McCain


I delved into Ariel Levy’s lengthy New Yorker profile of Cindy McCain with the belief that I would emerge feeling much like I do after watching most romantic comedies aimed at female audiences: vaguely annoyed, not particularly moved, and bored and frustrated with the predictability of it all. After all, I’ve heard Ms. McCain’s rare public speeches, her insistence that family values are the core around which our ailing society must revolve (despite the fact that her relationship with John began with love at first sight at a cocktail party - while John was still married and living with his first wife and three children), and her cutesy, winking, astoundingly unfeministic reminders that behind every man is a supportive woman, which makes me want to hurl any nearby object at my radio.  

Levy’s piece defied my expectations, though. Her profile of John McCain’s blonde, size-0-St.-John-skirt-suited, “pampered and brittle” wife was brutally honest, fantastically observant, and extremely well-written. There are some anger-inducing moments in the piece - like when a family member recounts the time McCain described herself as an only child at her father’s funeral, despite the fact that her half-sister was sitting in the front row. There’s also her quirky tendency to fabricate critical details in many of her stories. McCain loves to recount the trip to Bangladesh, during which Mother Theresa encouraged McCain to adopt a ten-week-old orphan with a cleft palate. The Christian Science Monitor reported on August 20 that that whole Mother Theresa part is false. Levy writes:

“The stories that Cindy McCain tells all tend to have the same elements: secrecy, unilateral action, revelation. She is a kind of blond Lucille Ball in these tales, always up to something, never wanting to be found out by Ricky. But her madcap (if genteel) fifties-housewife sitcom persona is complicated by the more troublesome aspects of these anecdotes. She often leaves out a detail or two, omissions that change the shade of the story.”

Overall, though, the piece mainly made me feel sad. I feel sad for Cindy McCain. This is a portrait of McCain as someone who basically raised her children alone (she stayed in Phoenix, while John was in DC five days a week - for the past 20 years), was addicted to painkillers for at least three years (she admits to taking 10-15 Percocet and Vicodin pills a day: “When the kids were young and I was alone with all these babies, by Thursday I’d have a pity party”) before her husband even noticed (and then it was only because a pending DEA investigation forced her to fess up to him), spent four months on her own, recovering from a stroke, and now lives in constant fear that she’ll inadvertently say something that’ll screw up McCain’s campaign:

“McCain zigzags constantly between the two roles she was brought up with: she is the brave, individualistic Westerner who can ride the range and fly a plane and then the polite, fragile lady of the house with the flawless outfits and the duct-taped mouth. These are very different roles, but they both require privacy. Being a campaign spouse—or the First Lady—is an exceedingly public role. It is little wonder, then, that when she is on the campaign trail Cindy McCain often looks miserable... This is women’s work, as the McCains have defined it: to keep their own suffering quiet.”

This is picture of Cindy McCain as woman who suffers silently, but puts on a good “first wife” front, and John McCain as a man who’s always been too busy to pay any attention. How’s that for family values?

More: The Lonesome Trail: Cindy McCain's nontraditional campaign, by Ariel Levy

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by Caitlin E. Curran | with 2 comment(s)
September 14, 2008

David Foster Wallace: suicide

There are literary heroes, and he was one. On Friday, David Foster Wallace hung himself. He was 46 years old.

From the archives:

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by Nina MacLaughlin | with 9 comment(s)
September 12, 2008

Flashbacks: Steve Almond’s bid for the California governorship, must see Christian TV, and bank robbing in the ‘70s


5 years ago

September 12, 2003 | In announcing his campaign for the governorship of California, Phoenix writer Steve Almond outlined the issues he planned to run on.

"Southern California secession. Anyone who’s lived in California knows that SoCal is fundamentally another state. I will simply ratify this reality, in the process cutting off all water supplies from up north. The administration will then charge Hollywood’s richest stars $1000 per gallon of water, thus erasing that pesky deficit.


Car-pool or die. In an effort to unclog the roads of our fair state, I will introduce legislation that makes car-pooling required by law. Simply put: if you do not find at least two people to accompany you each morning, you will be subject to an automotive execution, to be staged in a live pay-per-view event each month.


Secretary for a day. In an effort to raise additional funds, and to involve ordinary citizens in government, various key roles (secretary of agriculture, secretary of transportation, and so forth) will be filled by lottery. These newbie politicos will, if selected, become the basis of a reality-TV program called Wow, I Run the State!" Read Full Article


15 years ago

September 10, 1993 | Liz Galst reported on a couple of AIDS educators who were venturing into gay cruising areas armed with condoms and safe-sex advice.

"As part of his job, Chris Wittke and fellow outreach worker David Kegler...offer safer-sex supplies, information, and referrals to the men who frequent the bushes. ‘One of our interventions is called the ‘stealth condom drop,’ he explains. ‘We make up these little packets of condoms and lube and safer-sex info and hang them in the foliage with clothespins.

" ‘We’ve found that this totally crazy stuff happens. Like at one location, the queens take the packets and put the clothespins right back where they were. I can go back and find 60 clothespins and just put new packets up.’

"Wittke and Kegler also try to establish a presence in the parks so that the men will talk to them about their AIDS concerns. Material evidence suggests the outreach is working: used condoms and lube packets litter the ground in the cruising areas they service."


30 years ago

September 12, 1978 | Larry Simonberg was digging the religious programming on channel 25, the Boston outlet of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"The talk on television talk shows is rarely worth attending to, but consider the following pieces of information I’ve recently picked up:

-- The Phoenicians visited Davenport, Iowa.

--A woman who saw two sandaled feet and the bottom part of a white robe realized it was Jesus.

--Athletes live a clean life.

"These are the kinds of nuggets mined on the 700 Club, a nightly 90-minute mélange of chat and song telecast by the Christian Broadcasting Network, and its Boston outlet, channel 25.

"...The show features a wholesome-looking studio audience, a wholesome-looking band and a wholesome-looking set that adds churchly arches to the usual desk and sofa. Presiding over the kingdom is Pat Robertson, a CBN honcho who pushes salvation much in the manner Will Rogers, Jr. pushes cereal..."


35 years ago

September 11, 1973 | Reporter Vin McLellan got some choice quotes from Mark Frechette, an actor-turned bank robber who had recently robbed a Brigham Circle Bank.

"It was going to be a ‘personal revolutionary act,’ said Frechette. One of the little rebellions, the system is designed to absorb...It was just a little personal act (‘I mean, man, they’re all insured anyway’) but ‘banks deserve to be robbed.’ The people who work in banks are the ‘real criminals,’ said Mark, taking back more than they give, living all for a profit. ‘They hold back so much, man, they hold back so much.’

" ‘Besides, he said, ‘robbing a bank is a really fuckin’ honest thing to do -- standing there cleaning out a teller’s cage -- man, that’s about as up-front as you can get.’ Embezzling from a bank might be dishonest, he said, but standing there with a gun, putting yourself on the line -- ‘that’s about as fuckin’ honest as you can get man!’ "

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by Ian Sands | with no comments
September 12, 2008

Home for the Horror Days

Yesterday was my first visit to Ground Zero.  I haven’t stayed away for some righteous reason, but because I’ve always felt like going there is like going to Sparks Steakhouse expecting to see Castellano get shot again (only there’s no tenderloin).  I’m part of the silent New York majority that dies a little every time we hear land-locked rednecks claim that national security is their primary concern, and that deplores the political opportunism and fanatical patriotism that erupted in the wake of 9.11; my favorite late night pass time used to be swiping magnetic flag ribbons off of car bumpers (I must have stolen all of them, because no one seems to have them anymore).

I arranged to drive down from Boston when Obama and McCain announced that they were putting politics aside for the day.  In addition to their visiting Ground Zero together, both candidates pledged to suspend negative advertisements; that’s right – a whole day without McCain accusing his opponent of supporting sex education for kindergarten students.  I know these guys are patronizing megalomaniacs, but I found this to be considerably outrageous.

However, thanks to Mike Bloomberg – who I suspect will be remembered as New York’s finest Mayor since Fiorello LaGuardia – the elephant and donkey show was mostly kept out.  It was still a red, white and blue circus, but Bloomberg denied both candidates the chance to stump, while still allowing them to make brief visits several hours after the early morning ceremonies.

I found few surprises down at Ground Zero.  With the McCain and Obama parade missing, it was pretty much business as usual: short generic speeches from politicos and other leaders, and friends and family reading the names of lost love ones.  Tourists filled the observation deck staring at the vast mass of heavy machines, rocks and rubble; and when they got done mourning some went shopping at Banana Republic, Godiva and the other stores conveniently located in the memorial.

Outside on the waterfront, suited cubicle types went about their business eating lunch and gossiping.  A skirted bagpipe player blew relentlessly, but he was ignored as much as it’s possible to ignore a bagpipe player.  It felt like September 10, 2001.  I stopped for a Bloody Mary.

Back near the walkway into Ground Zero I found the only protestor that I saw in the five or so hours I was down there.  Her name was Desiree – an attractive Latino lady in her late thirties who I would have considered hitting on if she wasn’t holding up a sign that said “NoBama” and shouting “If you people don’t want this to happen again then don’t elect a president who has the word “bomb” in his name.”  I asked if she had reservations about being the single partisan detractor on the street, and she gave me the old Tupac: “Only God can judge me,” adding, “I’m not a Republican or a Democrat – I’m a Christocrat.”  

As the afternoon developed the mood lightened up; firefighters filled bars in the surrounding area, and some people even had barbecues on the street.  I headed to The Patriot – a legendary downtown dive whose flash-prone top-heavy bartenders some might argue are the reason terrorists hate us.  A couple rounds got my emotions running.
I cried yesterday, and not only when they read the name of my college blunt buddy who I lost that morning seven years ago.  I cried because most Americans learned nothing from our tragedy, or from the political ineptitude that followed.  This administration is poised to wreak 9.11 several times over in Pakistan like it has in Iraq, and people are still reading Us magazine and waving flags around.  I won’t be surprised if a 9.11 theme restaurant shows up in Times Square.  

Before you write me hate mail and post comments about this soulless account of New York’s Ground Zero ceremony, consider the folks who truly desecrate the memory of those who fell in the towers.  Picket Rudy Giuliani next time uses his 9.11 story to make millions on the motivational speaking circuit; contact a representative who regularly endorses dangerous foreign policy legislation.  Their public relations people will at least pretend to care about your artificial media-inspired sanctimony.  I won’t. 
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by Chris Faraone | with 3 comment(s)
September 09, 2008

Enough about the Collider already!

This is all just viral marketing for the Watchmen movie.

A popular story for the last few months on both the internet and in the mainstream media has been the Large Hadron Collider (pictured.) And by now, we get it: it's a big particle smasher, scientists think it can recreate the Big Bang, but there's an almost nonexistant chance that it can create a black hole that would eventually destroy the Earth. You are not blowing our minds by telling us this; we're all well aware by now.

It does look kind of cool, though, we'll give you that.

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by Ryan Stewart | with no comments
September 05, 2008

Fourth time's the charmer for Darien Brahms

I love music, know a lot about it, seldom write about it, but I'm inspired my good-buddy Darien Brahms (self-styled Tomboy Fatale) up in Portland, Maine who releases her fourth solo CD (appropriately titled Number Four) on Saturday, September 6, at that city's SPACE Gallery.


Darien's done a lot of things: musically those include jazz, country, folk, rock, and protest. She also paints -- woodwork. Seriously, that's her day job.

Anyway, Darien is a modest sort, who doesn't know (or won't acknowledge) the extent of her own talents. Her latest self-produced CD was a long learning experience for her in terms of production technology. She claims she learned a lot, and she's right about that. This is a richly produced and well engineered (she did both) album that seldom, if ever, overplays the studio gimmicks.

 Number Four, which was five years in the making is not one of those albums where once you've heard the "good song," you've heard them all. I'd call every song on this thing "good," and more to the point, different from the rest. Sort of a sampler of musical styles covering pop to hip-hop to rock to country with no one example being trapped purely in it's signature genre. 

 You can test-drive some of this at Brahms's MySpace page. The current pick for hit single seems to be "Sweet Little Darling," which is indeed infectious -- a little old-school soul, a touch of bubblegum, and references to Memphis horns. All in all difficult to get out of your head. But the harder, more challenging cuts are even more rewarding, especially, "I'm So Afraid," which effectively turns fear into kind of scary power. And "Too Late for Whitey" doesn't so much break new ground as invent it vis a vis Brahms's past efforts.

Though Brahms as toured around and opened for big-name acts and such, she tends to stick pretty close to Casco Bay these days. This album could (and to my mind should) change that. 

And if you don't believe me, here's what long-time Phoenix music writer Brett Milano said about the album.

"What a voice Darien Brahms has-warm and earthy and full of deep blue intrigue; you hear it once and want to learn any secrets she's telling. You wouldn't want to waste this voice on mundane songs, and that's not the kind she writes: Whether exploring the spiritual, the sensual or the grey areas in between, she doesn't shy away from the messy emotional territory where you gain the greatest insights and have the most fun. While she'll always be a rocker at heart, her fourth album adds some idiosyncratic touches of blues, lounge pop, even hip-hop. It's all smart and adventurous, with a few of the sharpest hooks I've heard this year."
-Brett Milano, author of The Sound of Our Town -- a History of Boston Rock and Roll

You might also want to read Sam Pfeifle's Portland Phoenix review of Number Four.




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by Clif Garboden | with no comments
September 05, 2008

Sarah "Barracuda" Palin

The lighter side . . .
The Boston Globe earlier this week quoted an Alaskan resident  who announced that, among her many other accomplishments, Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin had once been named Princess of the Fur Rendezvous, which we can only guess means she had the honor of clubbing the first baby seal of the season.


Now the darker side . . .
The Internet is a puzzling convoluted place, sometimes presenting ethical dilemmas. For example, my friend Comrade April out in LA forwarded me a forwarded copy of a quite telling write-up about Woman for All Seasons and VP nominee Sarah Palin, written by someone who has known and dealt with her in Wasilla, Alaska.

 Confoundingly, the text begins with an invitation to share the content followed by an admonition not to post it on any blogs. Without wanting to mess the author up, I nevertheless note that the memo is already available online at something called My Two Buck$.

So it's not really secret after all. And why should it be? This is a fairly level-headed appraisal of the woman the GOP wants to put a proverbial heartbeat away. Don't harass its author, but everyone should read this. Just don't let on who told you.


 And back to a little levity . . .
Our loyal West Coast co-conspirator also sent along this remarkable iconic photo of Ms. Palin, apparently preparing to shoot liberal swimmers. Is it real? Dunno. Surely it's a PhotoShop masterpiece. Then again, if you go by Palin's own RNC speech, people will believe anything.



NOTE: This sort of photo-phun is fun, but, in general, we in the elite liberal media need to be careful to attack this pistol-packin' mama on her lack of qualifications, not her inherent absurdity. Too many of those famous undecided voters apparently identify with her. And who can blame them? How pathetic do you have to be to call yourself undecided in this election?

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by Clif Garboden | with no comments
September 04, 2008

Nerd Alert: Ghostbusters 3 is a go (the script at least)

"Ray, when someone asks you if you are a God, you say yes!"

Variety is reporting that Columbia Pictures has commissioned a script for a third Ghostbusters film, one they intend will reunite the cast of the original films.

This has been a long-rumored possibility. There was a video game originally slated for release this fall which featured voice work from Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. But that was removed from the '08 release schedule, collateral damage from the Activision-Vivendi merger; officially, it's been delayed until next summer. There were rumors earlier this summer that the Apatow gang was going to get involved, rumors that were re-stoked by Aykroyd himself just this week. But this is the most concrete news yet: an actual screenplay, written by two producers for the US Office (Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg.)

Sure, they're all old and mostly heavier now, but why would this not be awesome? Even if Rick Moranis isn't interested?


In other movie news: Aaron Eckhart revealed that he knows the 'official" fate of Harvey Dent. Resume speculating about the villain for the next Batman film.


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by Ryan Stewart | with 1 comment(s)
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