Saturday, May 29, 2010

Puerto Rico in December

My cousin's wedding invitation arrived in a small box outside my door last night.  Inside was the details of their destination wedding that will take place the first week of December in Puerto Rico.  To make sure we could get a good fare, this afternoon, I hopped on the Jet Blue website and booked our tickets.  We decided we would extend our stay by a few days and turn this into a mini-holiday / vacation.

I went to P.R. for the first time back in January / February 2009 and had a wonderful time staying at La Concha hotel in the Condado neighborhood.  I wrote about the trip in my blog entry, 4 Days in Puerto Rico. This trip will have us travelling a bit outside the city of San Juan to stay at the El Conquistador Resort.  Have you been to P.R. before? Where did you stay and what did you do?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rocca's new menu disappoints

Rocca Boston is a neighborhood favorite, Italian restaurant that opened in the SoWa district of the South End several years ago.  Recently, a few weeks ago actually, Rocca which recently changed chefs also changed their menu; perennial favorites and signature dishes from the previous chef are now gone.

This evening I returned for the first time since the menu change, and I can not adequately express my disappointment.  Most of the options on the new menu were either unappealing or not what I would want to eat at an Italian restaurant (i.e. Pollo Brasato: apple and warm watermelon turnip puree w/ charred cauliflower).  However, of greater concern was the fact that nothing was appealing enough that I would want to try it again.  Everything from the rustic bread which they brought to the table (which is impossibly hard to break apart by the way) to the starters we ordered and shared to our individual main course meals left me wanting more - much more.

Hopefully the new chef, Tiffani Faison, will find her stride and seriously reconsider the menu she's pulled together.  I wish Rocca much success - its a well run, beautiful restaurant with a great lounge and patio, but for me Rocca's new menu disappoints.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Victimized by addiction: US need for oil

This image pretty much says it all.  I've been tremendously upset about this entire situation. Neither the industry nor our govenrment has shown any leadership on this matter. Thanks to BillinExile for sharing the image.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gaga about Glee

I love this show. Who would have ever thought a musical drama about high school would be so successful. Wow, the scene with Kurt's Dad and Finn was the most emotionally surprising I can remember ever seeing on television. If you are a fan and missed the show, you can check it out on

Here is a video of Lady Gaga - the muse of tonight's show.

Senator Brown

A long time ago I learnt to listen to tone and pick up on subtleties.  This talent has served me well in both my personal and professional lives.  It also helps me when I am listening to politicians.  It is with that finely tuned listening that I have followed the junior Senator from MA, Scott Brown, these past few months.  Over that time I've come to realize that he is uncomfortably quiet on GLBT issues. 

When he served in the MA State Senate he was opposed to same sex marriage, but when he campaigned for Ted Kennedy's seat and was asked about his views, in lieu of saying he supported same sex marriage he said "the residents of MA had spoken".  Hmmm.....

Today The Boston Globe is reporting that Sen. Brown has decided he will not vote in favor of repealing Don''t Ask Don't Tell legislation later this week.  He told reporters he's keeping "an open mind" but he would like the Pentagon to continue with their study before he votes.  Hmmm...

I should state that I have never had the desire to marry or serve in the military, but I am personally offended by those who would prevent me simply because I identify as gay.  I also take issue with politicians who are uncomfortable supporting (let alone taking a lead) on these issues.  I have no more patience for politicians who can not see eye-to-eye with me on such issues as: gay marriage, allowing for domestic partner benefits, military service, opposing discrimination at work or for housing because you are gay... These are not 'special rights' and any candidate who will not support these issues - can not rely on my vote.

I know years from now children will go to school and wonder wide-eyed how so many could be so blinded by prejudice, but it is a bitter sweet realization while waiting for that day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Taking time to smell the roses

Spring 2010 has been the most temperate and enjoyable that I can recall.  A moderate winter with nearly no snowfall gave all Bostonians a sense of hope that better weather was on its way and with warm weekends in March and April the normally surly city seemed mostly smiles.

Despite an occassional cold evening or rainy weekend the weather in Boston has been mostly sunny and warm. This stands in stark contrast to the spring and summer of 2009, which was cold and rainy.  Realizing that the weather can always change (and often does here), I don't want to take anything for granted, but I have a sense of optimism that we may be in store for a beautiful summer.

Sitting in my home tonight and looking out at the city below me, I can hear soft conversations of pedestrians walking with friends and the clatttering of plates and silverware from a restaurant patio across the street.  These are the sounds of summer and something I want to appreciate.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Some names do matter. Not sure this would fly in the States, but it sure is funny.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dear Democrats,

We need to talk.

This may be a hard letter to read, but I need to figure out if this relationship is still healthy for me. For the longest time, I thought we had something special. Remember how much fun we used to have back when we were young, and control of the Congress and the presidency was just a crazy dream? You always used to ask me for help, and you knew I'd never turn you down.

You were so adorable when we were courting. Sure, you never really understood me, but I liked that you seemed to try. The White House cocktail parties were totally fun, and that Easter Egg Roll is something I'll always cherish. Or remember the time you let me march in the Inaugural parade! Other than that whole Rick Warren thing, I really thought we had a connection.

I know you kept telling me that you weren't ready for marriage, but I was willing to wait since you had promised so much else in the meantime.

But now, I've kind of had it. I'm just not getting what I need out of this relationship. You rarely call me anymore, and when you do it's to ask for money. We talked about joining the military together -- but now it seems like you are flaking on that commitment. You promised to protect me from the homophobes at work, but you don't seem to be in a hurry to actually do it. And that Department of Justice brief thing was just cruel. I'll never understand why you did that.

It almost seems like you're embarrassed by me in public. I know not everyone in your family approves of us, but before you got your new job, it seemed like you didn't care what they thought and were always ready to fight for me. Now, it's like you're a different person.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I still think we have a future. I want us to have a future. But I need this relationship to be healthy for both of us. And I just can't get excited anymore by your empty promises and half-gestures.

I need you to take a real step. You know what I'm talking about -- the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.

I still worry every day that I can be fired in 29 states just because I'm gay. And my friend who is transgender can be fired in 38 states. I know you can do it. You've helped protect people from employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability and many other characteristics. Each time my friend and I have been left behind. It's our turn. ENDA's time has come.

It's our turn to be welcomed into the military as well. I want to serve my country openly and proudly. I was so excited when you promised you would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year after 17 long years of putting up with it.

Now, I can't even get you to talk about DADT.  You promised to change. I know that you can. But why should I stand by your side when you can't keep your promises to me?

I get that you're scared. But I'm scared too -- scared of losing you. You need to prove to me that you really care. You need to finally give me the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, like you promised.

I have enough disappointments in my life. I need you to not be one of them.


The Gays (and all those who love and care about them)

Thanks to Courage Campaign for writing this and A cheeseburger and the bathroom key blog for bringing it to my attention.  If you agree with this then perhaps you'll post this on your site too.

Free stuff to do in Boston this weekend

The obvious choice this weekend is the annual EarthFest concert that will occur on Saturday, May 22nd at the Hatch Shell.  More than 125,000 people are expected to attend the concert hosted by Radio 92.9 FM.  Even the event is quite green with a free bike-valet program available to encourage people to leave their cars at home. The music line up this year includes Collective Soul, Gin Blossoms, Crash Kings, and Marcy Playground.

If the idea of spending quality time with 125,000+ people does not sound appealing, invite a friend or two to come over to your place (oh yeah, suggest they bring a 6-pack) and watch the Celtics play the Magic game, time: 8:30PM.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Massachusetts economy picking up steam

Today' Boston Globe includes some positive news about the local economy in the article Mass economy speeds up, jobs coming says forecast. "The Massachusetts economy is recovering at a quickening pace that will lead to more hiring over the next several months, setting the stage for an expansion that could create more then 200,000 jobs over the next five years...The forecast is somewhat brighter than one released six months ago. The New England Economic Partnership, a nonprofit analysis group, prepares and presents forecasts for the region and the six New England states twice a year."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blithe Spirit playing at The Lyric Stage Co.

I just purchased tickets from The Lyric Stage Company to see the Noël Coward play, Blithe Spirit on Friday.  According to Wikipedia the play is about an English socialite and novelist who invites an eccentric clairvoyant to his house to conduct a séance, hoping to gather material for his next book. The scheme backfires and he becomes haunted by the ghost of his annoying first wife who makes continual attempts to disrupt Charles's current marriage to his second wife. Sounds like it is good for a few laughs, right? If you've seen this production or one from another theater company, please let me know what you thought.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

365 days old

My niece, Abby, turned one this past weekend. I first wrote about her one year ago in my blog entry, Introducing Abby Dion. Proud parents and excited older brothers are huddled around tiny Abby in that picture. Now one year later she still seems quite tiny, but an emerging personality is there. She's all smiles and looks adorable in her birthday dress as she poses for pictures on her big day.  

Monday, May 17, 2010

My first concert: The GoGo's

Today at the gym I suffered a major flashback when I heard the early 80s girl-band, the Go Go's playing.  This "New Wave" band from L.A. has a soft spot in my heart because they were the first legitimate concert I attended.

When I was in 8th grade I went to see the Go Go's perform at "Concerts on the Common" in Boston with my two friends Tom and Brian (incidentally, I'm still friends with these guys). I could not find any videos from shows in Boston, but the one below is how I remember them back when I saw them in 1983.

Who did you see at your first concert and where was it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spring 2010 SoWa Art Walk

The weather this weekend in Boston was beautiful, drawing thousands to my neighborhood to check out the SoWa Art Walk.  I snapped a few photographs while I was walking around today and put them into an online photo album. 

Click to play this Smilebox photo album: sowa artwalk may 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Palindrome pride

I love palindromes. Why I don't know but I think they are pretty cool and this afternoon while I was surfing the web, I stumbled across one of the longest palindromes I've ever heard in my life. What is a palindrome you may be asking?  The definition (according to Merriam Webster) is a word, verse, sentence or a number that reads the same backward or forward.  So easy examples would be "bob", "winnow" or "1881". However, once you get beyond a few letters I'm hard pressed to think of palindromes, which is why I was so impressed when I read this one, "was it a cat i saw". 


Do you know of any other palindromes that are equally impressive?

The Great American Trailer Park Musical

Tonight I'm off to see The Great American Trailer Park Musical from the SpeakEasy Stage Co. at the Calderwood Pavilion.  According to the website, the show is about agoraphobia, adultery, spray cheese, road kill, hysterical pregnancy, kleptomania, flan and disco. When Pippi, a stripper on the run, comes between Dr. Phil-loving, agoraphobic Jeannie and her toll-collector husband, neighbors Betty, Lin and Pickles team up to save their friend's marriage.

Sound like something you would enjoy? Grab tickets online here or call the Boston Theatre Scene box office at 617-933-8600, but do it quickly as the show is only here until Sunday, May 30th.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Free stuff to do in Boston this weekend

Boston has vibrant downtown neighborhoods that come to life on each weekend during the warmer months when you can venture outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.  Thus far, the weather in 2010 has been less of a nemesis and more of a friend.  This weekend Friday looks to be rainy, but Saturday and Sunday should be in the low 70s with plenty of sun; making it ideal for people who want to partake in the SoWa Art Walk.
Held each spring, this event draws thousands of people into the neighborhood to come and see the 200+ artists who exhibit their work. Studios will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 11am - 6pm.  Need directions on how to get here or want to look at a map to see where the studios are located - link here.

If the art walk is not your thing, pay a visit to Boston's most famous brewery, Sam Adams. Their summer brew is now on tap everywhere in the city, but you can sample it for free and see how it is made in their brewery in JP.  It is fairly close to the Orange Line Stony Brook T stop, and you can drive and park for free on the weekends.  The tour is free but a small donation is asked at the very beginning; proceeds go to a local charity.  For more information about weekend hours call ahead, (617) 368-5080.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How big is the BP oil spill?

The explosion on April 20th, which left 17 workers injured and 11 missing and presumed dead is spilling from a well 5000 feet below sea level, discharging 200,000 gallons of crude oil a day according to the official estimate (though over 2 million a day, by private estimates).  As of May 6th, the spill covered at least 2,500 square miles of ocean surface. 

Appreciating how massive this spill was difficult to conceptualize until I stumbled upon Paul's blog, which allows me to compare this to major US cities like Boston, NY and San Francisco.
Don't live in or near Boston, NYC or SF?  Thanks to Paul Rademacher's blog you can see how big the spill would be in your home town. Check it out by linking here:

I'm Gaga about this cover

OMG - this 13 year old kid is amazing.  Check out the audience reactions as they realize this kid can really sing.  Thanks to Brenton over at Aussielicious and Dave over at WGB for bringing this to my attention. My school recitals were nothing like this.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm a sucker for romance

Something you may not know about me is that there is hardly a romantic comedy or romance flick / play that I have not watched.  No matter how formulaic, I prefer romantic comedies because I like a good laugh or two thrown in with a "happily ever after". 

The reason I say this is because for the past 6+ months I've been following a blog about a couple that resides in the Albany, NY area.  The blogger, Alan, and his partner recently came to Boston so they could legally marry and now he is sharing pictures and stories.  I've enjoyed reading his entries and I thought you might as well.  The blog includes past trips to Boston to stake out locations for everything from where they would stay to where the rehersal dinner and actual wedding would take place. I have to give Alan credit too for his artistic eye - he has some beautiful photographs, which he uses to help tell his story.

Alan's blog:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What will it take to break our addiction?

As the saying goes, "Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 

Shame on BP for this latest oil spill.  Shame on our government for not doing more. But mostly shame on America for not learning from our past and insisting that we break our addiction to oil.
Photo found on Just a Jeep Guy Blog.

Birthday celebration

Last night I celebrated my birthday with friends and family.  I'd like to thank everyone who came it meant a lot, and I had a fantastic time. I've included a collection of photos from last night.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Birthday celebration

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Commencement season

With 260,000+ students enrolled in 50+ colleges and universities, Boston and Cambridge may have more students than any other city.  This also means that graduation ceremonies will dominate the city for the next several weeks.

Having so many people leave the city over the span of 6-8 weeks has a profound impact. The city develops an empty feeling that is compounded when many residents start heading for Cape Cod, the islands (Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket) as well as places like Newport, RI and the coast of Maine. On the plus side, street parking becomes easier and life slows significantly; if only for about 10 weeks. However, that slower pace of life is still a few weeks away and won't be felt until "commencement season" concludes. 

Last night, across the street from my home the Mass College of Art and Design had their Senior Fashion Show, which operates as a sort of commencement for these newly minted fashionistas.  The event looked quite beautiful, and I could not help but go over and check it out.  I've included a clip of all the graduates promenading down the runway.  Earlier in the evening, each designer had their spotlight showcasing a number of looks - this was the end of the show.

"The Gulls" opening weekend

This is the opening weekend for Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans' latest show, The Gulls. Although I've yet to see the play - you can be sure that they will have an interesting (and thoroughly modern take on) Hitchcock's "The Birds".  

If you happen to catch the show at the "Ramrod Performing Arts Center", I'd love to hear from you.  In recent years' Ryan and his troupe have become a tour de force in local theater showcasing their creativity and ability to push the envelope.  If you've never been to one of the Gold Dust Orphans shows, check it out.

More about the Gold Dust Orphans here.
Tickets are $35 - $45 and can be purchased online here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Gallows - new south end restaurant

Move over Coppa there is a new restaurant ready to open in Boston's trendy South End.  If rumors are to be believed, very soon The Gallows will be opening in the space previously occupied by Sage.  Renovations at The Gallows are nearing completion and none to soon if you ask me, because since Pho Republique's departure that block has sorely lacked a neighborhood restaurant. 

As was first reported in February by Grub Street, the menu is moderately priced with most entrees less than $20.  The menu is described as "contemporary New England fare" and will include items like stuffed burgers and fish and chips, made with a choice of stout or light beer batter, and served with handmade chips and malt vinegar aioli. Sounds delicious to me.  I can imagine hanging in the front bar which has dramatic views of the Cathedral and can offer interesting people watching.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Free stuff to do in Boston this weekend

The first Friday of each month this group randomly takes over a traditionally straight bar and call it their own. Lines can get long with some nights drawing hundreds of guys. This Friday BGQB will be at Sanctuary in downtown Boston.

First Friday - SoWa Artist Guild
If the bar scene is not your thing, Friday, May 7th is the first Friday of the month which means the South End's many artist galleries at 450 Harrison Avenue will be open to the public. Parking is plentiful and you can spend a couple of hours looking through some very unique galleries. If you get thirsty after all that walking there are several lounges and restaurants just steps away (sorry those are not free). This is a bit of a precursor to the SoWa Art Walk which will occur on Saturday and Sunday May 15 & 16 from 11:00am to 6:00pm, but I'll write more about that next week.

Fort Point Channel open studios
Continuing with the 'art' theme, on Saturday and Sunday, the Fort Point Channel neighborhood which in many ways has become the 'new' South End is having their own art walk which will include 50+ artists and artisians. For those coming in from outside the city, there is free parking across from 249 A Street.  Fort Point open studios is from 4-7pm on Saturday and from 12-5pm on Sunday.  Visit, for more details.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dusk in Boston

The weather in Boston has been beautiful.  Days have been sunny with temperatures in the low 80s and high 70s making it feel more summer-like than spring.  Dusk on Tuesday in Boston was absolutely gorgeous.

Unfortunately, I was slow to pick up my camera but I was able snap a few shots including this photograph of a fading rainbow.

Bon appetit

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Videos from Paris

My siblings gave me a Flip so I could video my trip to Paris. I used it quite a bit but I've determined I'm not cut out to be a movie director.  A steady hand, good eye and baritone voice to narrate is required (none of which I have).  However, here are a few clips.

April 29th @ Logan Airport

May 1st @ Le Louvre Museum

May 2nd @ 4Pat - Restaurant in Marais

Photos of Paris

I arrived home to Boston and I want to share some of my memories while they remain fresh. However, before I start I'd like to thank everyone for their nice comments, e-mails and to my friends and family who left such nice messages wishing me a happy birthday.

The quick trip to Paris was wondeful. I spent most of my time strolling the streets, eating and drinking far more than one person should ever consume in a day and enjoying time relaxing with Sergio.  I was also able to connect with our friend Alicia and even meet her handsome, new boyfriend.

I will write more about the trip, but since pictures tell a story so well - I thought I would start by including some photographs from my long weekend in Paris.  The picture show takes approximately 3 minutes and will change automatically.  I hope you enjoy.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Paris May 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bonjour from Paris

Despite a cold and rainy forecast, the weather so far has been mostly agreeable. I just hope by typing this I don't jinx the rest of our trip and condemn us to rain and cold.  The hotel, Prince de Galles, has lived up to its hype. It is beautiful and the service thus far has been excellent.  Shortly after arriving at the hotel (9:30am) local time, we were shown our room.  Since I didn't sleep at all on the flight, Sergio and I promptly took a nap and did not leave until 2:00pm.  We were both a bit tired all day but it did not prevent us from a quick promenade down the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triumphe nor spending a few hours ascending the Eiffel Tower (pictures will follow upon my return).

In the evening we went to one of my favorite sections of Paris, ile Ste. Louis, which is a tiny island in the Seine River next to ile de la Cite.  This smaller island always seems a lot less crowded and charming.  Dinner at a tiny, but delicious Italian restaurant named Sorza was excellent.  Perhaps this is one of my favorite things about Paris.  No matter where I go and what I try - the food does not disapoint.  I'm sure there are bad restaurants and places I'd rather not eat, but either due to luck or a good eye nothing I've eaten has left me wanting. I'm off now to try some ice cream at Berthillon Ice Cream on ile Ste. Louis.