Friday, February 27, 2009

Oh brother...

Thanks to David from wickedgayblog for posting this on his blog today. I would have missed this otherwise.

Flashback Friday: Boston Garden

Long before the Fleet Center and the TD Banknorth Garden, there was the Boston Garden, a stuffy, loud place that the Bruins, Celtics, and Boston sports fans called home. Although the doors closed in late 1995, its glory days had come and gone for sure. I definitely appreciate the comfort of the "new" Garden, but the original will always have a place in my heart.

Check out the old elevated green line also in the picture - Causeway Street can now see the light of day and seems bright and sunny with all that removed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lights, camera, crash

One of the things I enjoy about working from home is that I feel like I am more aware of my neighborhood. This afternoon is a perfect example of what I mean. Around lunchtime I heard a huge crash outside my window so I immediately stopped what I was doing to look outside. What I saw on Harrison Avenue was a line of cars and up the street one block in front of Ars Libri was a large SUV (Hummer?) that had rammed itself into another vehicle with people were running around and shouting. All of this seemed very strange but even more wierd was the fact that I noticed Harrison Ave. was blockaded and there was a cop in front of my building just watching everything.

Apparently this was a film shoot. Since Gov. Patrick signed into law tax incentives for the movie industry, the SouthEnd has been awash with filming crews. However, I've never really seen live action shots during the day. Usually, I just see crowds of people standing around and trailers lining side streets.

I checked out the LoadedGunBoston blog, which often reports filming activity in the area but did not see any mention of what this might have been for. However, Sam Baltrusis' entry from Wednesday this week, "Boston ranks No. 6 on list for indie films" made me wonder if it was an independent crew filming. Either way, it was a fun distraction to watch from the comfort of my apartment window for a few minutes today.

My aching muscles

About two weeks ago I first wrote about the fact that I had started working with a personal trainer to help me build strength and trim some excess fat in my entry Hitting the gym.

Since then, I've had four more sessions and we've worked nearly every major muscle in my body. I have to admit that I feel sore for a few days after each session and there have been a few nights where I have woken in my sleep because the effort of rolling over has proven too much for my tired (pathetic) muscles.

I don't believe there has been any weight loss, but even in just the handful of sessions we've had, I can feel my body tightening. I don't think there are visible signs others would be able to notice (even if I weren't bundled like an eskimo), but I certainly can feel changes. Additionally, lifting with Stu is more of a cardio workout than I had anticipated and on the days that I run, I've noticed that I'm not nearly as winded and hardly struggle so I'm probably going to be able to get back into the pool sooner than I expected to move my cardio work outs from the treadmill to the water.

As you can probably tell, I'm really pleased with the progress to date. Working out with a trainer makes the time I'm at the gym pass more quickly, there is no doubt that I benefit from his help (he pushes me harder than I would and he corrects my form when I tire or lose concentration), and most importantly, by having someone waiting for me - it is harder to skip out on going to the gym.

I realize it has only been a couple of weeks and much of this is still new, but I do feel more confident in my ability to meet some personal fitness goals, and I know that having Stu there to push me is a big reason why I have that sense of confidence.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Carnival in Brazil starts with a bang

While many Americans are familiar with Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it is purely minor leagues as compared to the celebrations that happen through out many of the Carribean and South American nations.

Clearly Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro put all other parties to shame. Each samba school develops elaborate floats that are several stories tall and include thousands of dancers / revellers who are all choreographed. Celebrations through out Brasil have started - check out some of the amazing photographs has posted for Carnival 2009 by linking here.
This morning I received the following e-mail which I thought was a beautiful message so I wanted to post it here so I would be able to refer back to it from time to time.

There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did,
who won't anymore, and who always will.
So, don't worry about people from your past,
there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.
Be kinder than necessary
because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Roll of the dice: Obama's economic stimulus package

It seems like the recession is the topic du jour every day and provides journalists, politicians, economists and everyone else for that matter with hours of speculative conversation. While I don't understand everything discussed, I feel like there seem to be two main thoughts on how best to handle the crisis. The first is a more laissez-faire approach that suggests letting the market self-correct with minimal involvement by cutting both taxes and spending. The second is reminiscent of FDR's approach advocating government spending for large-scale projects to get money into the economy and create jobs.

Although people are fairly impassioned about what needs to be done, I'm pretty certain that both schools of thought could ultimately work. The real question in my mind is how long would it take and what would the U.S. economy look like after? How many jobs would be lost forever? How many more Americans will be living below, at or near the poverty level? The questions go on and on, but despite the postulating in the media nobody really knows the answers to these questions. Views are shaded by philosophical biases that either advocate for the more laissez-faire or FDR approach.

However, since state and local governments from coast to coast seem to be increasing taxes and fees for both businesses and citizens and since it is unlikely we will curb spending with one war (hopefully) wrapping up in Iraq and another ramping up in Afghanistan - I simply don't understand how the first approach realistically can even be tried. That leaves me feeling like the only other option is the proverbial - Plan B - or the second option of government stimulus.

So even though I don't know what to expect from Obama's $787B stimulus package, I feel like it is realistically the only option available. The decision to commit to this path is not something one makes easily, and I will continue to respectfully listen to those with dissenting opinions on the matter. However, I will need more than dogmatic, philosophical opinions about cutting spending and taxes as reasoning.

For the laissez-faire approach to be tried, the Federal government needs to remove the US from the world-stage and our many costly obligations as well as ensure that states and cities work in conjunction to cut spending and taxes. Otherwise, this approach seems doomed to fail, because we will not be adhering to the principals of less spending and lower taxes. I don't think the US will ever willingly remove itself from the world stage and I don't know how the Federal government can make states and cities stop raising revenues through taxes and fees so the point might be moot.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Opening night: Of Mice and Mink

Tonight the Gold Dust Orphans latest play, 'Of Mice and Mink' opens at what Landry drolly refers to as the Ramrod Performing Arts Center. Showtime is 8pm and runs through Sunday, March 15th so don't be late or miss your chance.

If you've never been to a Ryan Landry show 0r if it has been quite awhile - check it out. Do your part to stimulate the economy by supporting the local arts scene. This is one group that is certain to stimulate you back.

Tickets can be purchased online at TheaterMania or by phone at 866-811-4111 - $30.00. If you go - please shoot me an e-mail to share your thoughts.

Flashback Friday: V-66

This week's post references Boston's first (and to my knowledge only) 24 hour music television channel called V-66 which aired for the first time in February 1985. The station went live just as I was starting high school and was responsible for turning me on to the Boston music scene. V-66 was often referred to as the poor man's MTV since it was not a cable TV station so they played a heavy rotation of local bands nobody outside of Boston knew, such as Til Tuesday, Face to Face and New Man.

YouTube has a great clip that shows some of the station's VJs and has vintage footage. Link here to see the clip.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Southwest airlines coming to Boston is reporting that Southwest airlines is coming to Logan Airport later this year. You can read the story by linking here. I've never flown the ariline, but I like the fact that their presence will likely drive down some fares. In the article, Forrester Research Inc. is quoted as saying about the arrival of Southwest is "a huge coup for Boston" and the city's travelers because wherever Southwest goes, lower airfares follow. To that I say Amen... the cheaper it is for me to travel - the more I can do it.

I'm not planning to fly Southwest - I really am not a fan of the airline and the stories I've heard about passengers stampeding planes to get a seat is not for me. However, I know many people who love the airline (including my Mom and Dad). It is also likely to help families looking for cheap destinations to get away with their kids. Initially the airline will only have 8-12 daily departures, but I'm sure that will grow over time and give some of the other discount airlines (i.e. AirTran) a run for their money.

Southwest's announcement comes quickly upon the heels of another airline that started flying out of Boston's Logan airport recently - Virgin America. From a branding perspective I can not think of two more different airline companies. Considering the current economic difficulties this is welcome news and probably not something many other cities are seeing - airlines adding routes and expanding into a new market. Even though both airlines are starting with a modest number of daily departures out of Boston their presence is certain to add jobs (if even only a few at a time) and that certainly plays well for Boston and the local travel industry.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Provincetown in winter currently has a collection of photographs entitled, winter in Provincetown. I never grow tired of that tiny town at the tip of the Cape. You can read the corresponding story by linking here, or you can link here to see the pictures.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wild Nights

In honor of Valentine's Day which just passed, I've included a poem about love. I am no poet, so I've chosen a poem from Massachussetts native, Emily Dickinson. Her words ring true some 150 years later showing love endures.

Wild Nights
By Emily Dickinson

Wild nights. Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port
Done with the compass
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden.
Ah, the sea.
Might I but moor
Tonight with thee!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hitting the gym

In January 2009, I completed a 4mos medical research project, which I wrote a bit about on my blog. The study at MassGeneral Hospital is ongoing and examines the effects testosterone has on bone density. While I found participating in the study fascinating one of the results was I put on an extra 5-10 unwanted pounds.

I've never been one to stress about my weight - mostly because I've never had to. However, I've never really had a great body either and over the years I have became more conscious of my soft midsection and lack of muscle tone. My partner had noticed the change in my body and my frustration with the weight gain and for Christmas surprised me with a few sessions with a trainer at my gym. Yesterday, I had my first session with my trainer, Stu, who appears to be both friendly and sweet. His warm smile, can-do attitude and chiseled body is almost more than I can stand. The first work out passed quickly, was definitely a learning experience and more fun than I expected. I do hope that I can build a relationship with Stu and he can push me so I can drop the weight I've gained and possibly help me get into better shape. I have no goal weight - rather I would like to get back to fitting comfortably into my clothes.

I'll try to write more about my work out routine and do my best not to obsess over Stu who has pecs and biceps the size of Nick Auger (the model in the photo). Aside from being healthier, it would be great to feel better about how I look.

Gold Dust Orphans are at it again...

Ryan Landry's group of campy misfits announced their next show will be a take off of the Steinbeck classic, Of Mice and Men. I was never a fan of Steinbeck's stories so I'm curious how Landry will twist this story. His last play, All About Christmas Eve, was really fantastic and will be tough to beat.

The Gold Dust Orphan website provides the following storyline to entice people to come and see the show.

"Of Mice and Mink" tells the tragi-comic story of Georgie (Larry Coen) and Linda (Rick Park), two "not so pretty" hookers living through the current "not so great" depression without a friend to lean on or a pot to piss in. Entertaining delusions of one day "getting out" our heroines soon arrive at "Lula Mae's Cat Ranch," a bottom of the barrel brothel on "the wrongest" side of town. The situations and characters they find there prove less than desirable and while Georgie tries her best to keep their "thin web of dreams" from breaking. Linda, on the other hand, (a woman-child in the body of a dangerously powerful "She Hulk") is no help at all. Naturally, when tragedy strikes, it seems obvious that the mentally challenged Linda is responsible. Or is she? The answer to that question and others are the surprises that await you in "Of Mice and Mink".

Sounds good to me. Showtime is 8pm and runs from Friday, February 20th through Sunday, March 15th. Tickets can be purchased online at TheaterMania or by phone at 866-811-4111 - $30.00.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Flashback Friday

Do the bands Letters to Cleo or Til Tuesday mean anything to you? Do you remember the song "Mother Mother"? Then you will appreciate this concert from the Safe and Sound benefit held in Boston back in 1997.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Really? SNL on Michael Phelps

I agree with everything Seth Myers has to say about this non-controversy, and oh yeah, leave Michael Phelps alone.

Fighting H8 in CA and beyond

Saturday's NY Times article, "Prop 8 Donor Web Site Shows Disclosure Law Is 2-Edged Sword" is an interesting article because it seems to pit political ideals of creating greater transparency with concerns for individual safety, but is this really the case?

The article is talking about the website, eightmaps, which has taken the names and ZIP codes of people who donated to the CA Proposition 8 ballot measure this past November and overlays the data on a Google map. The NY Times article asserts that several of the donors for Prop 8 have received death threats and their privacy has been violated, because of what eightmaps has done.

I think that all reasonable people can agree that threatening supporters of Prop 8 should not be tolerated. However organizing boycotts of businesses that donated to the proposition, raising awareness to educate and change perceptions and engaging the supporters of Prop 8 in reasonable dialog should be encouraged. This is considered political activism and is a virtue - not a vice. The NYT article seems to make such actions sound wrong when they write, "some donors to groups supporting the measure... have been boycotted." I'm not sure why this is a problem.

While those who crafted the CA Political Reform Act of 1974, which requires all political contributions greater than $100 to be made public certainly never envisioned the power of the internet, it does not mean that the reasons for passing the reform act should be reconsidered as the NYT alludes when they write, "most striking example of how information collected through disclosure laws... may be undermining the same democratic values that the regulations were to promote."

When MA legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, a website called, raised the ire of many who opposed gay marriage by publishing their names and addresses. The website actively encouraged Gays and Lesbians (and their supporters) to reach out to those opposing marriage equality in the state - not to threaten them but to engage in dialog. The court of public opinion played a HUGE part in finally legalizing same-sex marriage in MA and the same will be true for CA and the rest of the country.

Mercury rising


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shepard Fairey exhibit at the ICA

Fairey's works have come to the Institute of Contemprary Art (ICA), and I am looking forward to visiting the museum's West Gallery to see the exhibit entitled, "Supply and Demand".

The ICA website refers to, Shepard Fairey as "one of the most influential street artists of our time". However, I like him because of his use of bold colors and iconic imagery. I remember the first time I saw his Obey poster and more recently his Obama Hope image, which was plastered through out Boston and catapulted Fairey's name into the general public. However, you need not trust my untrained eye or juvenile descriptions of his work, The Boston Globe review of the exhibit is filled with praise. You can read the full review here.

I will admit that I prefer going to Boston's museums in the colder months because it is a way to forget about the miserable weather and get out of the house. If you've never been to the ICA or if it has been awhile since your last visit - check out this exhibit and let me know what you think. The exhibit opened last week and will run through mid-August.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'mpossible - $100M Grant to Find an AIDS Cure

There has been so much bad news of late, I wanted to share a story currently on and The Boston Globe which is reporting that the founder and owner of Cambridge-based, Intersystems, has made a $100M donation to find a cure for AIDS.

The grant will be paid out over the next 10 years in $10M increments and will be shared with other research facilities, including Harvard and M.I.T., but the majority of the donation will be given to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). To read the full story online link here.

4 Days in Puerto Rico

This was the view from our hotel room in Puerto Rico. On this visit we decided to stay at La Concha Resort (a Renaissance property that opened in 2008). I would highly recommend this location for anyone who enjoys nightlife since the hotel lobby bar proved to be one of the most fun and popular bars in San Juan. The DJ plays late into the night great music I would love to hear Boston clubs playing. I've included a few photos of the resort and hotel.

Aside from keeping busy doing nothing we also ate very well. Many of our friends on previous visits had stayed in the Isla Verde section of San Juan which has a large beach and is a bit closer to the airport, but La Concha is located in Condado - a 15 minute drive from the airport and a bit closer to Old San Juan. This appears to be an affluent neighborhood with many great restaurants. I won't go into too much detail with each but if one enjoys Asian cuisine then Budatai which is located across the street is a must. Additionally, we ate at Ummo (an Argentinian steak house), Jam (a funky Caribbean inspired menu) and Koco in the beautiful El San Juan Hotel and Casino. All of these places were worth the visit.

The hotel also had a sandwich shop called Sidewalk and there is a great Puerto Rican restaurant for cheap eats and hearty breakfasts near by called Pelayo which we visited each morning. All of these suggestions were provided by the hotel's concierge who did a wonderful job of listening to what we wanted and making excellent suggestions.

I've returned from our 4-night minivaction feeling refreshed and alive. Now I hope the feeling can last so I can avoid contracting another bout of GetMeTheHellOutOfHere Syndrome.