The Phoenix's top 40 Boston concerts

Via a link about James Brown's 1968 concert in Boston, I checked out The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history, according to the Boston Phoenix.

Now, you may not know this about Borderline, but I was wickedly into the local underground music scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For a time, I attended a show every week or two at The Channel, TT The Bears, Bunratties, The Rat, Green Street, The Paradise, and other local dives in and around Boston and Cambridge. Sometimes I saw shows out in the burbs, like the WBRS live productions up at Brandeis. Almost all the bands were local, or "alternative" acts from elsewhere -- the kind of shows that one would see listed in the Phoenix's music pages. So this top 40 list interested me greatly. I knew every single act on the Phoenix top 40 list, but was disappointed to see none of Borderline's faves were included, such as Bad Brains' performances at the Channel, Bob Mould at Axis, Soundgarden at Axis, Slapshot at the Rat, the Lemonheads or Bullet LaVolta at TTs, Rollins Band at TTs, and a few others.

The Top 40 list is good (with the exception of a few shows that were seemingly added for name-dropping/I-saw-them-first-nyah-nyah-nyah rights, like PJ Harvey in 1992) but is really focussed on the national and international acts, rather than the solid local rock scene. It's worth checking out the list, and if you saw any of the shows that are included, you can add your own review, which is cool.

Labels: ,


Another Newton niche blog about hating Brian Camenker

The Newton Tab blog pointed me to another Newton niche blog -- Hate Resistance, which seems to be focused on attacking Brian Camenker, the former Newton Taxpayers Association head who made quite a stir a few years back when he tried to videotape ToBGLADay activities at Newton North.

Even though Camenker has quieted down in the past few years -- or, as one post suggests, moved to Waltham -- the writer of "Hate Resistance" is not letting this stuff fade into memory. This author is pissed, and wants everyone to know about it.

Labels: , ,


An unusual niche blog from Newton

This is impressive for a Newton niche blog: Newton Streets and Sidewalks, which talks about life on the Garden City's paved surfaces. This guy really has a passion for this topic. Who knew?

For more Newton and Waltham blogs focused on niches or local community issues, be sure to check out the blogroll on the front page of Borderline (scroll down, it's on the right side of the page below the archive.) Also, email Borderline if you have a blog you'd like to add to the list.

Labels: ,

Boston Globe's news pages become free advertising for Verizon

How low can the local media go in bending over backwards for corporations? Pretty low, as evidenced by this morning's edition of the Boston Globe. The paper has printed an advertisement for Verizon in the Globe West section of the newspaper.

Now, advertisements are nothing new in the paper, but the problem with this ad is that it's disguised as a news story. Lauren K. Meade is listed as the author of "Verizon FiOS arrives" but it looks like it was written by someone working for Verizon's marketing department. Unfortunately, it's not possible for Borderline to determine whether this is actually a violation of the Globe's ethics policies, because these are apparently not posted on the website for the public to review.

In a way, the Globe's articletisement doesn't surprise me. Verizon has proved itself to be very adept at seeding the media with pro-Verizon coverage, and the Globe very pliant in printing it (See "Despite the Hynes/New Media Strategics fiasco, Verizon's master plan for Newton is working"). And while this case is extreme, Borderline would like to remind readers that the Globe has been manipulated by business interests before. Exampes include "Blackout, part II. Media misses the story at first, then gets it wrong" and "Sloppy reporting on Waltham development".

Labels: ,


Borderline's love/hate relationship with WGBH

Boston has an extensive local public TV system, WGBH (aka Channel 2, and Channel 44). Borderline watches it a lot with the kids and Mrs. Borderline, and has some observations that need to be shared.

One is the fundraising pitch. I know it needs to be done to keep all this great programming coming to us, blah blah blah, but can we cut down on the bogus claims about commercialism? On channel 44 right now, people are pleading for money. Text superimposed on the screen reads:

"WGBH is non-commercial public TV"

Yet at the same time on channel 2, they have something that looks like an infomercial, an hour-long program called "The RealAge Makeover." What gives?

Don't get me wrong. Borderline loves public TV, especially some of the kids programming (except for Boobah) and the documentaries and Frontline. And the cooking programs. But jeez, don't claim its non-commercial, when there's an infomercial by some doctor or financial guru or new age mystic running on 2 or 44 every other night.

Also, while I'm on the subject of bad public TV programming, can someone at WGBH please take all of the tapes of that crazy Teutonic violinist Andrew Rieu and launch them into the heart of the sun? Classical music is great and all, but this guy is Frankly (get it? get it?) irritating as heck. He's on all the time, especially on weekends when there are fund raisers. If WGBH is going to do classical music on TV, why not videotape some of the live studio sessions that they play every day on WGBH radio? Why rockstar Rieu? Is he paying WGBH to show his programs, in order to sell more CDs or DVDs? Why not show video of some equally talented yet more obscure artist who really needs the exposure and would give more variety to WGBH?

Labels: ,

Whittemore meeting on Wednesday night

Finally, community action! Somebody dropped a flyer in my mailbox on Monday about a Whittemore meeting, that's scheduled to take place on Wednesday night at 7 at the South Middle School on Moody Street (aka, the temporary Whittemore). The flyer says the construction schedule is on the agenda, but I don't see how they can have that nailed down if the bidding process has resulted in no usable bids.

Labels: ,


Where to see Good Xmas Light Displays in Newton and Waltham

For the past few nights, Borderline has been checking out some of the displays in and around our Borderline area. Here's a short list of houses and streets that are worth a drive-by, or walk-by, especially if you've got smallish kids.

Most ornate houses:

  • Lexington Street, Newton, near the "back entrance" to the Burr School athletic fields. There's a very elaborate light show at one house there, and just down the street (in the direction of Waltham) there is a group of lit-up houses and yards, too.

  • Near the intersection of Crafts and Watertown Street in Newton. This is just one block north of the fire station at that intersection. Someone did a pretty good job getting lights all over the frame of this house, plus some displays in the yard.

  • The Blue House, Cherry Street where it meets the Waltham line. This house likes blue lights. You can't miss it!

Neighborhoods and streets with high concentrations of lights:

  • Newtonville/The Lake, on the side streets off California and Nevada Streets

  • Parmenter Street, on both sides of the Newton/Waltham line. It seems like every other house has lights. Get there by going to High Street in Waltham, or Derby Street in Newton. Also, on adjoining Myrtle Street (Waltham) there is a cluster of big displays.

  • Waltham Common - There's something very comforting about the light show on the trees there. It's big, colorful, and strangely quiet ... not many people walk through at night.

Feel free to add your own favorite light shows in Newton or Waltham by commenting below. Leave the street name and city, and a brief description.

Labels: , ,


Newton developers demand special zoning giveaway from Waltham

In the News-Tribune this morning, a story about how a Newton-based developer is getting ready to put a 7-story monstrosity at the intersection of Charles and Moody Street. It's going to block out light, dominate the small businesses and residences nearby, and make for more traffic. But hey, it will give the top floor tenants river views! Now the developer is asking for special treatment from the city. The article says:
Northland has asked the City Council to create a new zoning district, called Business D, to allow for the project. The proposed zone change is set for a City Council public hearing Monday.

The change would allow bigger buildings than those outlined in the developer’s informal proposal. Northland said it will build six stories on Main Street, and seven stories on Charles, where the ground slopes down toward the river, but the new zone would allow 90-foot-high buildings seven stories tall, across the block.

An artist’s rendering of the project, presented to the council this week, shows a building that appears smaller than the actual structure would stand at 77-plus feet. The new building appears to be just slightly larger than a building across the street that, at three stories, would be half the new building’s height.
A developer playing games, by trying to downplay the size of the building? Is anyone surprised?

Northland's chairman and CEO is Lawrence R. Gottesdiener. City councillors, please send Larry G a resounding message: NO WAY!

You can read the rest of the article at Building plan irks residents


The Globe West has more information about the proposed project:
The plan calls for 350 luxury apartment units above 35,000 square feet of first-floor retail space on a 4 1/2-acre site at the corner of Main and Moody streets, opposite the common. ...

An underground parking garage. Plans call for 570 spaces.

Fast-food restaurants.
There's a public hearing at City Council tomorrow night (Monday, 8pm) to debate this project. Don't let it go forward!

Labels: , , , , ,


Whittemore school rebuilding situation goes from bad to worse

Borderline has warned that problems with the Whittemore reconstruction process might lead to delays, and was greeted by resounding silence. No comments, no reaction -- perhaps because readers thought I was exaggerating the issue.

But now it looks like the South Side kids in this part of Waltham are being set up for an extra year in an inferior temporary facility, and more pain when they finally get their new school. The News Tribune reports that there was only one bid for the Whittemore reconstruction, and it came in at $5 million over budget. It's been rejected by the city. Now David King, chairman of the School Building Committee, realizes that there's a "problem of what to do next."

I'll say. Moreover, King's proposed solution to the problem is in itself a problem: Cut corners! I quote from the text of the News-Tribune article:
King described this as a process where costs could be cut without damaging the design of the building.

"The thought was that we could try to get some savings through value engineering without cheapening the building itself," King said.

"We agreed to not make Whittemore inferior and the goal is to make it comparable to other new schools," McCarthy said.

For example, King said mechanical rooftop units could be built with aluminum instead of steel. "We’re not sure if that’s appropriate, and some people probably feel it isn’t, but there could be substantial savings," he said.
Excuse me? The pols "agreed to not make Whittemore inferior" yet you're talking about cutting millions of dollars worth of corners? We got a little logic problem here, buddy. Or you're just blowing smoke.

The Whittemore community has a lot of other things to deal with besides the rebuilding issue, including lagging MCAS scores. The way things are shaping up, the school rebuilding project is going to be a lose-lose situation for the kids. The failure of the bidding process means the planned Sept. 2008 reopening of Whittemore is almost certainly going to be pushed into the future. How far remains to be seen. And, while the kids may be coming back to a new school, it will be inferior to what kids elsewhere in Waltham have received under the city-wide elementary school rebuilding plan.

One other thing that Borderline would like to say about this News Tribune article: The reporter really let residents down by not interviewing a single Whittemore parent. It's all about the spin put out by city officials. I expect this from the Globe (see Sloppy Reporting on Waltham Development), and am really disappointed to see this trend creeping into the News-Tribune. Don't forget your readers, Trib! For every minute you spend talking with or quoting the pols, you should spend at least one minute talking with the people impacted by their schemes.

Other Borderline rants about the Whittemore school:

What's up with Whittemore?

Whittemore budget problems, and a warning for Newton

Another reason to be worried about Whittemore

Labels: , , ,


A tale of two stories, or why Borderline loves the Herald

Clumsy editing errors aside, the Herald really runs circles around the Globe when it comes to crime-related news. Check these two headlines and introductory paragraphs, detailing the arrest of killer/mob dude Carmen DiNunzio:

From the Boston Globe:
Alleged underboss of New England Mafia is arrested

By Shelley Murphy and Raja Mishra, Globe Staff

Reputed Mafia underboss Carmen "The Big Cheese" DiNunzio was arrested on extortion and illegal gambling charges as he emerged from a North End social club yesterday, potentially ending the reign of an underworld leader credited with uniting the fractured Boston mob into a low-key, profit-focused machine.

From the Boston Herald:

Cops nab alleged Mafia boss: ‘Big Cheese’ busted after 5-year probe

By O’Ryan Johnson and Laurel J. Sweet

Carrying a wad of 100s and 50s as fat as a ball of mozzarella, Carmen Salvatore DiNunzio was busted by state police yesterday in the North End near the spot where the alleged Boston Mafia kingpin runs a cheese shop, authorities said.
The Globe reads like an obituary, the Herald like a thriller. Which story do you want to keep reading?

Borderline has said it before, and will say it again: This city needs the Herald. They are so superior to the Globe in a few key "beats," like crime, the neighborhoods, and official corruption. There are a few decent reporters at the Globe, but the Ivy Leaguers who run the Globe just don't how to consistently cover these areas that well.

Labels: , ,


Newton High/NNHS Alumni Directory

The fat Newton High School/Newton North High School Alumni Directory arrived in the mail this week. It's comprehensive, and in many ways better than class-based activities like reunion updates and class websites in that you can see what's happening to people from other classes ... if they responded.

So, when I got the book, I immediately did what every other recipient did: Looked up old flames and crushes. Then, friends whom I haven't heard from in years, like some guys I knew on the soccer team. Then acquaintances. Then bullies and class clowns. Then anyone else whose name I remembered.

The entries could include name, married name, current address and phone number, email, occupation, spouse's first name, and kids' names. Some alumni left out pieces of information. A lot of people responded -- I'd say a third to half of the people in my class had a diamond next to the entry, indicating that they had responded to the survey last winter. Other people were listed as well, but it looked like old information -- occupations included student and home addresses were still in Newton. Still others didn't have any listing at all, I think because they asked not to be included, or their status was "unknown."

The back of the book was interesting. They had complete class lists for some years as far back as 1925. But other years had only a few dozen entries, like 1926. Then there were the giant classes from the 1960s and 1970s, with more than a thousand names in each class -- these were the baby boomers, and part of the reason why Newton High was split into Newton South and Newton North.

Another interesting section: Alumni by town of residence. They broke it up by country, state, and city. About 400 alumni who responded listed Waltham as their city of residence. And that's just the people who responded. The number is probably over 500, and this comes to no surprise to Borderline -- about half the people on my street in Waltham grew up in Newton, mostly in northern areas such as The Lake, West Newton, and Auburndale. We knew Waltham growing up -- and hung out on Moody Street and Wal-lex as kids -- and when we couldn't afford housing in in our hometown (or didn't want to put up with the taxes in Newton) we settled to Waltham. By comparison, less than 200 alums listed Watertown as their place of residence.

Labels: , ,