Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thank goodness for Percoset

I've been away from my blog for a little more than a week, because over the Memorial Day Weekend I was diagnosed with viral meningitis.

I was fortunate to be able to recognize my symptoms and get to the hospital fairly quickly, because approximately nine years ago I contracted viral meningitis and at the time, I just assumed that I had a migraine. I'm one of the lucky few who do not get headaches so I had no ability to differentiate between a migraine and meningitis. Because it took me a few days before seeking medical attention, my body was significantly weaker and my recovery was far slower.

What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is a relatively rare infection that affects the delicate membranes called meninges (men-in'-jeez). These membranes cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis used to occur most commonly in infants, but because a vaccine is now given to infants, this infection now occurs mainly in adults. Many forms of meningitis can be contagious among people in close contact.

Viral meningitis is more common than the bacterial form and generally but not always less serious. It can be triggered by a number of viruses, including several that can cause diarrhea. However, people with viral meningitis are much less likely to have permanent brain damage after the infection resolves.

Outbreaks of meningitis, particularly the bacterial form, are rare in the U.S. However, since the early 1990s outbreaks have been increasing for reasons not yet understood. Viral meningitis tends to be less severe, and most people recover completely. Fungal meningitis is the most rare form and generally occurs only in people with weak immune systems, such as people with AIDS.

Fortunately, I am finally on the mend - although I still tire very quickly and need to remain quiet. Today's blog entry was sort of a test to see if looking at a computer monitor and 'exercising' my brain by engaging in writing would lead to a headache or nausea. I'm glad to write that I still feel good (perhaps that is due to the Percoset, but I'd like to think this proves I'm definitely on the mend).

Much of the above information (and medical image) was found on Health Plan of NY. Thanks also to Seres Vivos website for the dog photo.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bonjour Roland Garros

Sunday, May 24th, the 2009 French Open begins. Four time champion, Rafael Nadal, is the obvious favorite, but in men's tennis there are no guarantees. Feisty Muscovite, Dinara Safina, is the top ranked female, but a revolving list of top ranked women players makes it tough to predict who will be victorious when the tournament concludes.

Early round tennis play will be broadcast on ESPN 2. A complete list of the 2009 French Open broadcast schedule can be found on the website, by linking here.

The men's singles draw can be viewed here.
The women's singles draw can be viewed here.

Off to the Ramrod Performing Arts Centre

I am off to see Ryan Landry's latest spoof Willie Wanker and the Hershey Highway. I expect a lot of bawdy humor, plenty of camp and witty social commentary.

Boston Globe's writer, Louise Kennedy said of the Gold Dust Orphans' latest musical, "...wraps unprintable naughtiness around a surprisingly sweet center." Sounds perfect to me.

Just returned from seeing Willie Wanker and the Hershey Highway and found it thoroughly enjoyable. The show is a musical and one with some talented vocalists. All told it was worth the time and money and I would suggest catching the show which now heads off to Provincetown for the summer.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This is how I would like Boston to be year round. I'm not one of these people who praises the change of seasons. I like it warm and sunny so today is perfect.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Flashback Friday: Post Office Square

In the mid 1950s an unsightly four-story parking garage dominated Post Office Square, and the area was completely devoid of both open and green space.

Some 30 years later, the parking garage was demolished and replaced with a beautiful park (officially named the Norman B Levanthal Park) that is enjoyed by thousands of people (including yours truly) on warm and sunny days. During the week a cafe is open that serves coffee, snacks and lunch. If you would like to learn more about the history of Post Office Square, link here.

Top photo courtesy of Bill Horsman.

Nana's 1 year anniversary

It was one year ago today that my grandmother, "Nana", passed away in her home. She was fortunate to have lived a long life and to see all of her children and many of her grandchildren grow up to be happy, healthy adults.

She is survived by all her children and grandchildren as well as two sisters. Although last May 21st was a sad day, as I mentioned in my blog entry about her passing, previous strokes had robbed her of the life her children and grandchildren had grown accustomed to seeing her live. The memories I have of my grandmother are of her cooking, zipping around Winchester, playing bridge, dashing to or from her winter home in Florida, and too many more to properly list. I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that even though I miss her presence, my memories are fond reminders of the amazing woman I'll always think of as Nana.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wallpaper Magazine honors banQ

The other night Wallpaper magazine hosted a party at banQ, to celebrate the South End eatery's designation as "Best New Restaurant in the World." While I'm a fan of the restaurant and love the location just one block from my house, I'm not sure I would classify the place as the best in the world - after all I have not eaten everywhere in the world (yet). However, I'm glad to see a new restaurant getting some recognition and wish them continued success.

Photograph by John Horner

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Although I'm the first to admit that the television is always on, I do not have a DVR and I do not set my schedule around network programs. However, after watching FOX Television's new show, Glee, that might all have to change. I have not laughed so hard or enjoyed a televsion program this much since Ugly Betty's maiden season. Glee's website indicates that this is Ryan Murphy's latest creation. Murphy is also the creator of "Nip Tuck" - a cult favorite.

Glee centers around Will Schuester, a young optimistic teacher, who wants to revive the school's glee club. Supporting cast includes some interesting characters including the school's cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch (you would recognize her from her role in the movie, Best in Show). The students in the glee club are also entertaining - such as the hunky football QB,Finn Hudson, played by Cory Montieth and the much maligned, Rachel Berry, played by Lea Michele who has a truly amazing voice.

This show is not going to have broad appeal so I hope it can succeed. For fans of witty one liners and great music there probably is not a better show on TV. My favorite line from tonight's show came from glee club diva, Mercedes (Amber Riley) when she proclaimed "I ain't no Kelly Rowland - I'm Beyonce!" Musical scenes included an incredible rendition of Amy Winehouse song, "Ain't Going to Rehab", a nod to several musicals including Grease, Les Miserables and Chicago as well as the cheesy 80's hit from Journey, "Don't Stop Believin'". I'm hooked and I'll be watching this program next Tuesday night. Will you?

You can check out much more on hulu by linking here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Introducing Abby Dion

Yesterday, May 16th my sister, Elizabeth, gave birth to her third child, Abby Elizabeth Dion. Abby has two older brothers Jack (age 5) and Austin (nearly 3). Making my third visit to the Brigham and Women's hospital to see mother, father (Travis) and baby was as exciting as it was the first two times I went to see Jack and Austin when they were born.

It will be exciting to see how the addition of a little girl to the family will change the family dynamics in the years to come. As the oldest of 4 children (one brother and two sisters), it is impossible for me to imagine not having little girls in the house growing up, and I'm glad I'll be able to share that experience with my two nephews as they grow up. I'm also looking forward to having the opportunity to spoil the youngest and only daughter in the family. I'm now an uncle three times over and can not believe how exciting it is.

Friday, May 15, 2009

SoWa Open Market returns

This weekend the SoWa Open Market in the South End returns. The market opens this Saturday and Sunday and will run every Sunday through October 25th from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

This year the market has expanded significantly. An antiques market will be held behind the traditional artisan and crafts market in the former transportation building, which I featured in a former Flashback Friday entry.

Two blocks up Harrison Avenue is an expanded farmer's market that will also draw visitors to the newly remodeled store fronts along Thayer Street, which include galleries and shops like Mohr & McPherson. No doubt this has contributed to Rocca's decision to start hosting brunches again during the Open Market. If you have the chance, stop by and check it out.

Flashback Friday: Cheers

In May of 1993 the popular television show, Cheers, signed off the airwaves. The program was (and remains) one of the most successful television shows in history. The YouTube clip below shows footage from the final party that was held at the bar which inspired the series. Although I was not there, I distinctly remember the event and how drunk the cast was when Jay Leno from the Tonight Show interviewed them later that evening.

I really like this clip from YouTube because it also features Liz Walker and Joyce Kulhawik who have since left the station. I still think that the theme song from the show remains one of the most distinctive and best for any television series.

About Cheers
Starting in 1982 the series lasted 11 seasons, filmed 275 episodes and won countless awards.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jerry Springer - The Opera

Friday, May 15th, I am going to see Jerry Springer-The Opera. This is the latest production from The SpeakEasy Stage. The show which opened May 1 runs though the 30th so if you think you might find this interesting, get your tickets now before the show sells out or ends. The performance is at the Calderwood Pavilion and tickets can be purchased at the box office on Tremont Street or online here.

About Jerry Springer - The Opera
The only work in history to earn "Best Musical" honors from all four major British award groups, Jerry Springer - The Opera, is a fascinating mix of high art and low culture. Witness America's favorite talk show host as he suffers the worst day of his career in the funniest, most talked-about musical ever.

Why the Republican Party infuriates me

In the past I've written about the fact that I am a Democrat. Last summer I took a stab at articulating why I have such strong party affiliation in an age when most people rebuke political parties in, Why I am a Democrat.

In my post I wrote,"I would welcome some parity from the other side... Until the day comes when the Republican Party can look at me as someone who is not mentally ill; not a person who has chosen a life of perversion; and not a threat to their marriages and family values - I will be a Democrat with a capital "D". No apologies; no exceptions."

This clip which I saw on WGB is precisely the thing that infuriates me because although there are plenty of Democrats opposed to same sex marriage (like nearly the entire party's leadership), I feel as if there can be reasonable discourse, and more importantly I have a seat at the proverbial table. By contrast the clip below includes delusional rantings and what I would consider hate mongering from our Friends at Fox News and other conservative commentators who in many cases are leading voices within the Republican Party.

So when I'm asked why I am a Democrat, I answer with a question and inquire, "Why won't you speak up and change the Republican Party?" Currently, my sexual orientation essentially bars me from any meaningful participation in the small tent party more commonly referred to as the Republican Party.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Miss Piggy contracts swine flu

Entertainment Tonight is reporting that America's favorite sow, Miss Piggy, is quietly recovering from what is speculated to be an acute case of H1N1 Flu - more commonly referred to as Swine Flu.

At 2:15am on Monday, May 11th, Miss Piggy reportedly arrived at LAX on a privately chartered jet from Puerto Vallarta Mexico. A limousine rushed to pick up the gaunt looking celebrity who walked slowly to the awaiting car just steps from the aircraft. Miss Piggy has been in seclusion since arriving back home and has not returned any calls. Her publicist is also keeping her snout shut. However, yesterday Kermit the Frog broke the silence and issued the following statement, "Miss Piggy has spent the past few weeks in Mexico to relax before her summer tour and is feeling fine. She would appreciate her privacy right now while she prepares for her pending tour."

Local paparazzi have been staked out at Miss Piggy's pen in Beverly Hills since her arrival earlier this week hoping to get a photo of the convalescing pig.

Lifeguard on duty

Last year I mentioned my cousin, Matt Albiani, in my entry Urge to Travel, because he had a covershot on November 2008 issue of OutTraveler.

Matt recently published his first book entitled, Life Guard on Duty. The book will be available on in the coming weeks but you can pre-order a copy by linking here.

You can check out his website which includes more photographs of life guards as well as some of his other work by visiting:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lieberman refutes Cheyney's accusations

I will be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of Sen. Lieberman, but he is a Senator who marches to the beat of his own drum much like his friends, McCain (AZ) and Specter (PA). My dislike really stems from his support of President Bush's "war on terrorism" and very critical tone to anyone who questioned those policy decisions.

For that reason, I found it suprising to hear Senator Lieberman criticizing Dick Cheyney. Over the weekend the former VP had gone on CBS's program "Face the Nation" and accused Obama of making the nation less safe. Politico has a nice (brief) write-up but I thought I would include a part of Lieberman's quote since he is so well regarded as someone who is 'tough' on terror and clearly not an Obama supporter.

You can watch the interview by linking to the Politico article here.

Lieberman said on Monday, “Our guard is up. In fact, I'd say that when it came to Afghanistan, obviously, this Obama administration has put more resources into the fight against terrorism than had previously been the case,” Lieberman added in an interview on MSNBC. “On balance, we remain as safe as we can possibly be in a world in which there is Islamist extremists who want to attack us.”

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hitting the gym

I've not stepped on a scale since my last weigh-in for the medical research project, which concluded in January. However, I was not pleased with the weight gain from participating in the study so starting the second week of February I started working out with Stu, my trainer at the BSC South End. After today's work out I weighed in at 195 lbs with 19% body fat. After a quick check on where I had to enter my weight as well as several body measurments it calcluated the same body fat percentage as the trainers scale so even though I'm skeptical of both readings, I'm still pleased with the results.

I have to tip my hand to my trainer because after feeling like I had hit a plateau in my work outs, recently I've noticed new gains. This week I set a new personal best benching 215 lbs and doing overhand pull-ups with out any help. These are not milestones that really have any meaning for other people but it does make me feel good because when I started I was benching approximately 150 - 160 lbs, and I needed assistance with machines to subtract some of my body weight to do the overhand pull-ups. We'll see where the next few months get me as I continue to work out with Stu.

Rollins Square

Rollins Square is located between Washington Street and Harrison Ave in the heart of SoWa (South of Washington). This area of the South End more than any other has flourished in recent years as previously vacant buildings and empty parking lots have been transformed by developers in partnership with the city of Boston.

Rollins Square was the first apartment complex in the neighborhood built with public access to green space. The open courtyard is meticulously maintained and since opening in 2003 the trees have flourished. In a few more weeks flowers will also be added to the courtyard adding more color and fragarance. I thought I would share these pictures to show off how beautiful this space is right now.

Facing 2 Rollins building

Facing 519 Harrison building

Facing Town Houses

Facing Washington Street

Facing Harrison Avenue

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Company of Men returns to South End

The Loaded Gun is reporting that shooting for Ben Affleck's movie, "The Company of Men" has returned to the South End for more filming that will last through May 15th. The film stars Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones among others.

Back in April much of Union Park was closed off for filming at 5 Union Park. If you are into star gazing it might be fun to spend some time sipping a latte or two from The SouthEnd Buttery on Shawmut Avenue.

Thanks for the tip from Loaded Gun. Fortunately, I no longer have to fight to find street parking so I won't be cursing at all the trailers taking up valuable street parking real estate.

Flashback Friday: Kiss 108

This week's flashback is a nod to a Boston radio powerhouse that shaped my musical tastes and fed my obsession for Pop and Dance Music. If you grew up in the Boston area during the 1980s chances are you too listened to WXKS FM better known as Kiss 108 and you are familiar with names like, Lady D, Dale Dorman, J.J. Wright and of course the late "Sunny" Joe White.

I loved everything about Kiss 108 in the 1980s. I loved that they played "Wishing on a Star" by Rose Royce every Saturday at 12:00pm. I can still recall the first time I heard the song when I lived in Atlanta in the early 90s and the DJ played it on my evening commute home. I was totally caught off guard and had to laugh at myself when I realized why.

Those names I mentioned along with a handful of other DJs have been off the air for a more than a few years now and Kiss 108 has not played "Wishing on a Star" at noon on Saturday's for a while. So today at lunchtime I'll hum a few bars from the Rose Royce classic and think of "Sunny" Joe White and his cast of characters who played such a big part of my teen age years.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hitting the gym

It has been about three weeks since my last entry about my work outs. I'm proud to admit that with few exceptions I've been mostly faithful about going to the gym. My torso could never be confused with the image above, which I've added as both inspiration and incentive, but on the whole I feel better about how I look. I still have no idea how much I weigh (nor do I care), but I would really like to drop one more waist size. However, I simply can't bring myself to give up all the cheese, ice cream and french fries I consume.

I re-signed with my trainer, Stu, last week and bought a 20-pack of personal training sessions at the BSC South End, which was nearly equivelant to the cost of my airfare to Brasil last autumn. I briefly flirted with the idea of letting my sessions with Stu expire, but I realized last week as I was slogging through a workout on my own that I never seem to match the intensity nor the variety of work outs he throws at me. A good example was our nearly 90-minute session last night. He had me gasping for breathe within 5 minutes and although I never feel the pain following our workouts like I described in one of my earlier entries, My aching muscles, I can definitely notice a difference the next day. For now, I'll try to be more disciplined and maximize my time with Stu. I've come to the conclusion that vanity is expensive.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thank you Maine

The Boston Globe is reporting that earlier today Governor John Baldacci signed a bill making Maine the fifth state to allow gay marriage. Similar to Vermont, the state of Maine has legalized same sex marriage through legislation rather than litigation. This bodes well for LBGT couple's around the nation.

Now NH and RI remain as the only two New England states yet to legalize same sex marriage.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Parking can be tough in Boston...

When I was walking to the BSC South End gym today, I noticed that someone left this driver a note on their windshield.

I feel compelled to make a few comments. First, I've seen far worse parking in the city so this seems a bit harsh. Second, I doubt this helps Boston's image as an unfriendly city. Third, that is damn funny... In case you can not read the fine print, the person has checked off "two spots for one car" as the reason why the person parks like an asshole. Other options on the flyer include, "ummm...a little too close"; "over the painted lines"; "that's a compact?" among others.

You can go to YouParkLikeanAsshole if you would like to ticket someone in the near future.

Texts from last night

My brother forward me a link to this site, TFLN (for short). If you have a few minutes and want a good laugh, check it out textsfromlastnight.

Here is a sampling of what you will find:

(563): i puked out the bus window last night on the way home. i remember it, but i don't remember everyone else screaming to put their windows up.

(732): So...we accidentally left a bag of puke in your sister's room. Heads up.

(301): She got kicked off the plane and spent the last four hours in a holding cell with the feds.
(301): but she's really nice

Friday, May 1, 2009

Aunt Sadie's is downsizing a bit. On a stroll down Union Park this afternoon I noticed a sign indicating that retail / commercial space was available so I popped my head in to inquire if the South End's favorite Aunt was considering a move. At times, I can be very nosey like that inquisitive.

I was told that Aunt Sadie was going to occupy their original space rather than both store fronts on Union Park so the store will downsize - no doubt in part due to the economic battering all retailers have felt lately. Fortunately though - the store will remain which is good news because I would be broken hearted if the store were to leave the neighborhood or close all together.

Feel free to wish Aunt Sadie well by buying something (preferably not from their ever growing baby selection)... The Souh End store is at 18 Union Park (between Shawmut and Washington) and can be found online at

Movie coming this August: Julie & Julia

Thanks to WGB for sharing this video clip. Meryl Streep does a 'wicked good job' playing Julia Child.

Although Julia Child was born in CA and lived in Europe for years, she really became quite famous when she started her cooking show here in Boston on PBS affiliate, WGBH. The Smith College grad settled in Cambridge and through her cooking show became a local and international icon for decades. Check out the movie trailer - it is worth the two minutes of your time.

Flashback Friday: The Rat

The Rathskeller (known as The Rat for short) was a live music venue for more than two decades in Boston’s Kenmore Square. The Rat was Boston’s version of CBGBs - a dingy place best known for hosting up and coming punk and rock bands. During their years of operation bands like The Cars, Pixies, Police, Ramones, and Talking Heads played here.

However, both the music scene and Kenmore Square changed by the late 90s and so the Rat finally closed its doors for good in 1997 (the year I moved back to Boston).

Now occupying 528 Commonwealth Avenue is the Hotel Commonwealth's restaurant, Eastern Standard. According to wikipedia, in recognition of the Rat's place in Boston's punk rock history, the restaurant's bar offers a cocktail named after the concert venue, which consists of fernet branca and coke.

For those feeling nostalgic you can check out The Rat's myspace page at