"indecision may or may not be my problem."
if you've got the craving for some carribean spirit as the winter creeps over cambridge, one of my favorite places to get a fix is izzy's on harvard street (near mit).
starting off the morning with freshly cooked rice and black beans topped with a couple of overeasy eggs and a side of fried plantains - all to the sound of the reggaeton morning show - helps forget the looming deadlines for a moment and put the brain back to normal speed.
while the food quality oscillates, the ambience never does. the restaurant is puerto rican, family style, with a lot of beach pictures, boxing posters, and other shiny paraphenilia crowdedly plastered to the walls. you gotta hurry though, as the owners are leaving for a month-long christmas vacation starting this weekend.
hard to believe (for me) - massachusetts voters voted 'no' on a law proposition that would allow local towns to give permits to supermarkets to sell wine.
since there are obviously few more dangerous issues in the world, this was also the most expensive ballot question campaign in state history breaking the record held since 1988, when the state voted on nuclear power plants.
supermarkets shelled out $7 million on trying to get the law passed, while liquor store and beer distributors paid $4.5 million to stop the law from being passed.
at the end of the day, this is a common story of legislation.
a stupid-ass law is in place, protecting some economic special interest of a small group. this lobby-propelled law has over the years thoroughly been twisted into some heap of moralistic bullshit related to 'protecting our children', just about the most hipocritical thing you can imagine from liquor stores. and now some other special interest group wants to get in. so both groups shell out millions to make up campaigns tarteting some deeply emotional decision centers in our brains, making the decision about 'consumer choice' or 'teenage drinking'. yeah, right.
trying to appease the traditionally alcohol-spooked american voter, the law in question was phrased so carefully, that i couldn't believe anyone in their right mind would reject it. it basically allowed towns to hand out a limited number of permits to grocery stores to sell wine, and only wine. towns could of course not grant permits if they didn't want to.
but at the end the scare campaign funded by the liquor companies ("foreign owned grocery stores", "190 additional drunk driving fatalities per year", "fail to stop underage buyers"), worked. astonishingly, even very liberal voters that i've talked to, were flailing on election day on how to vote on this question. when pressed to explain why exactly they oppose it, they couldn't muster any good explanations, which is not surprising, since the campaign was mainly emotional and not rational. they usually said something like: "i mean, i'm for consumer choice, but...hmm.. i don't know something.... hmmm.... don't know if it's a good idea, really."
much has been written about the difference between campaigns of hope vs. campaigns of fear. but it really comes down to the emotional response at the ballot box - when you're all alone there with the pen in your hand, and something inside you that you can't quite explain is making you uneasy about a question, it's always a little more comfortable to vote with your fear than with your hope.
this post is long overdue. it concerns the horrendous conception and execution of the 'charlie ticket' project for the boston subway system.
i mean, where to begin? how about with the simple fact that there was *nothing* broken with the previous fare system, or at least nothing that was fixed with the new one. if someone can point me to a single acquired benefit of the new system except profit for the developers (who i'm sure are friends of some mbta officials) and employment for their workers, please let me know.
to the uninitiated, the boston transport authority (mbta) has, in what seems to be another case of new-york penis envy, converted its token- and change-based system to a new system which includes stored-value magnetic paper cards. in parallel it has replaced the turnstile system with stupid-ass glass gates that already look like they're some 1980s joke on futuristic design (and notice the slight misalignment of the gates. this station is no exception, apparently it's part of the bad design).
but what's really wrong with the new system:
in short - everything in the new system is fucked up and useless. the people behind it should be investigated, and probably fired, and i'm sure the dig will uncover some huge conspiracy there at some point involving mitt romney's favorite prostitute's brother.
coz, while admittedly slow and unreliable (and closing early), the one nice thing about the t was its informal fare system, with the free buddy ride on the weekends and the it's-ok-if-you're-a-nickel-short attitude for exact change. now they killed that, too with what will probably go down in history as the worst fare system conversion in any mass transit system ever.
i probably forgot some additionaly annoyanced, so feel free to chime in.
my cousin, who has just moved to boston and had her first social gathering here, noted a very interesting fact about her new hometown: while boston with its large foreign student body is on the one hand very international, it is - on the other hand - pretty homogeneous, with the same social class streaming in from all around the world to study together.
so in the end, it's almost like it doesn't really matter if you're a fairly well-off worldly upper-middle class person from serbia, india, oregon, or israel. you're still in your social comfort zone.
globalization truly at work.
having used the fung wah bus just hours before its recent accident, i have to say that this last trip was the first time i was actually scared to ride on that bus.
the guy sitting next to me, a mechanical engineer, kept telling me (as well as the driver) that his right rear shock absorber was shot, and that we will be lucky if the wheel doesn't break off. he also claimed that the bus's wild swerves and near tip-overs we experienced throughout were related to that broken wheel.
so i dont' know if the crashed bus is the same bus that drove from new york to boston last night at 7:45, but if it is, it might not have been the driver's fault after all.
i've passed 'om', the tibetan-themed, l.a.-styled resto-lounge near harvard many times and mostly felt appalled by the hyper-chique eyesore that it presented, completely misfit to its environment, and by the disgustingly loud nouveaux riches rudely talking to waitresses on their streetside lounge sofas.
but last night i ended up there, and i have to admit that i was presented with a culinary experience that i haven't had in many years.
once in a while i encounter a meal that is prepared with incredible originiality, yet manages to steer away from gratuitous cleverness; food that is both complex in its progression of tastes (i love 'time-based food') and still hitting a certain note of simplicity, emphasizing the individual elements no less than their interaction. last night was such a time, when dinner was an intellectual, emotional, and physical experience all at once. if you want to spend some good money on serious food in the boston area, 'om' in harvard square is a pretty good place to find it.
still not a big fan of its self-congratulating and cross-breeding interior design, i was nonetheless happy to hear that the owner's father himself, apparently of a long line of tibetan painters, created all the paintings in the place himself.
so i guess i ended up with mixed feelings - but the food was the most brilliant i had in a long time.
at the very end, however, my (excellent) dessert contained some real gold, which i found pretty damn wrong, and it snapped me out of my cocktail-induced haze and put me back in some place of humility, not least due to this bit by david cross. he's right - eating gold is the ultimate 'fuck you' to poor people.
cute moment last night when i pulled up next to a police cruiser. you know how cops have laptops in their cars now, making insta-license-check so much more 21st century?
well the cop next to me had 3/4 of his grim 80s database looking police terminal app covered with a half-played game of solitaire. nice touch, officer.
next time you're mugged, blame microsoft.
i once used to have a notebook where i wrote down awkward moments in life that i could draw from were i ever to write a script, because there's nothing a script needs more than awkward moments.
this morning i had a classic: seeing my downstairs neighbor walking home in high-heel boots and a nice skirt, i greeted her on my way out.
she complained that she's tired because she's been walking 2 miles in these uncomforatble boots. noticing that it was sunday morning, i asked her if she coming home from a long date.
to which she replied: no i'm actually coming back from church.
i also learned today that you're not allowed to serve a person more than one beer at a time in massachusetts.
this fact surprised me this morning: drug deaths have trumped traffic deaths in massachusetts in 2003 by 574:521.
still, only a 0.008% chance, but surprising nonetheless. and if you like statistics: in 13 years narcotics deaths have risen 13-fold. which is a lot. like 1200% or so.
according to the article, a bag of heroin can be purchased for as little as $4. also smack is becoming
[...] increasingly suburban, middle-class, and young.
As suburban parents began to recognize that the users of heroin and OxyContin looked a lot like their own children -- and that, sometimes, they were their own children -- that changed the political dynamics of substance-abuse treatment, Healey acknowledged.
''In the past in America, when there have been drug-abuse problems, it has been the government vainly trying to draw attention to why this is a problem for society," Healey said. ''Parents are extremely concerned that this is now a middle-class, upper-class issue."
anyway, as always when i see horses, i can't help but wonder what the first human who decided to tame this animal for riding was thinking, and how he could have survived this stupid idea.
attended the mignight crit last night at mit. some bikes were intensely made up, and the riders were pretty hard core. the police broke it up just at the finish, adding a nice touch of blue strobes to celebrate the winners.
update: jesse sent me a link to these videos of crazy bikers around boston and new york. breathtaking, really.
since my mom claims that my blog entries have become 'detached from popular culture', 'incomprehensible', and 'obsessed with things nobody cares about', here are three simple things that took me out of my bad mood today:
1. dave's fresh pasta is an adorable italian-american pasta and sandwich store in somerville that has dozens of small sweet candies and a rosemary focaccia that really made my moody afternoon.
I think of Portland, OR, long credited as the most bike-friendly city in America, and it seems incredibly dull. Riding a wide, clean path through a park to work every morning? Where's the challenge? Where's the risk? There are few things more gratifying than screwing down a city street jammed with cars after a stressful day. Dodging cars, doors, potholes, pets, other cyclists. It's like skiing. It clears the mind.
3. amon tobin's nightlife, listened to at said dave's while reading said dig. i like music that's cinematic, and nightfire is like a short film. just add eye-closing.
damn. did i get intellectual again?!
rumour has it that in their freshmen year, more than two thirds of harvard students estimate that they're in the bottom half of their class, while by the time they graduate, more than two thirds estimate that they're in the top half of their class. now that's what i call an education.
the pats won the superbowl last night, and since i was watching the game in brookline, and was cycling back to somerville i thought why not pass by the boston squares that are most susceptible to riots, in true boston sports celebration fashion.
there were no rioters, however, just a few college kids huddling around emitting the occasional 'woohoo' while constantly eyeing the masses of police that stood between them and pothole-ridden beacon street.
i doubt that i ever saw so many police live in the same spot. there were dozens (maybe even more than a hundred) black-clad baton-toting riot police and in one alley there seemed to be a pretty substantial backup detail. police cars adorned the street corners and at least 5 police choppers hovered at low altitude. crossing mass. ave we passed a motorcade of boston police harleys, but by far my favorite vehicle was a shiny bus labeled 'massachusetts dept of corrections'. empty and ready for boston's less studious collegiates.
as far as i know, not much rioting (or celebration really) happened last night.
i guess they're right in not wanting to risk another college student's death, so they nipped the post-game excitement in the bud. it's interesting though - as a friend of mine pointed out - that the answer to exaggerated police force is...hmm...more police force.
this morning the snow was piled up to my chest when i walked out. last night i stood out the blizzard with some good company, chai, mulled wine, and an overdose of chocolate cake and other pastries.
i also learned about the blizzard of '78. now that the sox won the championship, i guess it's the most salient agony in new england's collective memory.
update: thanks to alea and her trusty powershot, here are the pictures of this morning, from where i was standing. my favorite one:
from all the snow being blown up by the wind, you can't even see the sun.
nr. 1 turnoff in men or women: people who take themselves seriously.
on that note, cynthia did finally drag me to 'i ❤ huckabees' and she was right: i loved it. chances are that you will, too - but it's best not to know anything about the movie before you go (as it is with most movies).
it also made me inexplicably horny.
another tip - the strawberry something ice cream at j.p. licks, which was not only perfect for the weather, but i was also allowed to take into the movie by the nice and regulation-ignoring staff at the somerville theater.
at first it's embarassing, but once you let your ego drop a little, there's a lot of pride in being that random weird guy that makes people's christmas shopping walk or subway ride a little less ordinary.
i had perfect reception carrying through a cellphone conversation all the way from kendall/mit to south station. did they hook up the t tunnels to cellular transceivers?
also i found out about a cute thing on the t: on sundays you can bring a friend to ride with you on your subway pass.
yes, i did apparently move to the jungle. this is what i saw last night on my way home
yes, it is.
where else can i go out to meet someone at a bar on a friday night at 1am, just to be told that they're closing. and i love how they turn the lights up superbright to drive everyone out, and you have a bunch of people standing outside, not tired, still chatting with nowhere else to go.
oh, and public transportation is already closed, of course...now you can get a cab for $10/mile.
this is what stood in my way on the sidewalk of my street today:
am i living in the jungle now?
btw for those of you who - like me - have never seen a raccoon before, it's about the size of a medium dog (smaller than a lab, but fatter), and it looks at you in this strange way, standing calmly on the sidewalk, noticing that you're a foreigner and enjoying the fact that you have no clue if this is a dangerously biting animal or a cute cuddly pet.
it then moves slowly aside, never taking its gaze off your eyes.
we both moved very cautiously.
some kids did a shot-by-shot remake of raider of the lost arc.
now that might seem like a smart idea when you're 11 years old. but 6 years later, when the film is finally shot, seeing all of your puberty in 90 minutes might not be the greatest of thrills.
a cult in the making, there's a one-off screening at the coolidge on monday.
will i go? no.
because instead of cheering for indiana jones who looks 11 in one shot and 17 in the next, i have to be in chicago dipping carrots in low-fat sauce with some nasa geeks.
god doesn't like me this week.
or maybe he's just angry at me for my new theory, which can be summed up as 'if god wanted me to be religious, he would have made me religious.'
lots of free and discounted stuff this weekend in boston. via ryan:
Colleagues: This weekend, Mayor Menino and the business, art and cultural communities say thank you to Boston area residents and DNC volunteers by offering discounts and freebies at attractions thoughout the city-- giving local residents an opportunity to enjoy many of the wonderful things that have been showcased this week to visitors from around the world.
Check the web site for details.
to that i say: museum, shmuseum -- free dessert at legal sea foods...
sure, it's been two weeks since i was in boston, so at first i was sure it was just a coincidence.
but then i figured that it might be that the dnc security idiocy has led to the removal of the newpaper boxes from kendall square?
they should remove buildings, since they could conceal explosives, too!
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content here by guy hoffman .. as seen times since march 2004