r Letter From Eastie: September 2004
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Collaged view of Boston, from East Boston

Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Kah-li-fornia or Bust.

It seems that Governor Terminator is trying to steal our business. According to the Boston Herald:

California officials have come to the Bay State looking to lure away our business. But so far all they've done is put money in the coffers of the billboard industry.
As part of a national campaign, the Sunshine State's movie star governor put his face on billboards inviting businesses to move west.
``California wants your business,'' reads the East Boston sign with a picture of a T-shirt clad Arnold Schwarzenegger. ``Actually, he says `Kah-li-fornia.' ''
The Terminator has promised to personally help businesses coming to California. Last week, he even showed up in La Verne, Calif., to help a plastic sign printing company unpack the last of its boxes from Nevada.
``California is getting its act together,'' he said in welcoming the Lynch Sign Co.
But so far, no Bay State businesses have taken him up on the offer, California economic development officials say.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Two Americas.

According to this article in the Boston Globe, 22.8% percent of children in Boston live in homes with no parent working. These children are concentrated in Eastie, Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan. I think this information proves that Kerry/Edwards may be right with all their talk of the "two americas."

On a related note, this article from the Washington Times explains that the Bush administration has proposed a cut in Section-8 subsidies that would directly impact the Northeast. Subsidies in Boston could be cut as much as 27% per voucher. That sounds like a brilliant plan, considering I don't see rents in Boston going anywhere, but up soon. Not to mention that the average waiting period for a family to get Section-8 is already around 5 years in Boston. The insane rents in this area, also mean that less and less landlords are willing to take on a Section-8 tenant, because they know they can make more money on the open market. Bravo Mr. Bush, another fine example of "compassionate conservatism" in action.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Fighter pilot honored.

I've been around East Boston my whole life and I've never heard this story. In 1954, a fighter pilot named Lt. James Conway was taking off from Logan Airport on a mission to intercept an unknown plane off the coast of Maine. Shortly after take-off, he lost control of the jet. Rather than eject and save himself and letting his plane crash into the local neighborhood, Lt. Conway crashed his F-94 fighter jet in an open area on Bayswater Street. The city of East Boston is erecting a bronze plaque in his honor.

Friday, September 24, 2004

But will the escalator work?

The T says they are putting out bids for a new Maverick Station next week. I say hurray, except that it will probably mean bussing from Maverick to Aquarium for a couple of years unless they move the entire station like they did with Airport station. This article mentions that East Boston has also asked that the T fix the surrounding sidewalks and road. As a person who badly sprained her ankle last Friday stepping off the 116 bus into a hole in the sidewalk, I heartily concur.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Homeland Security at Work.

It occurs to me after reading this article that since Logan Airport happens to be in East Boston, any homeland security breach will end up arraigned at East Boston District Court. On the bright side, I'm sure it is slightly more interesting than what they were used to getting. Unlike Cat Stevens, this guy was at least carrying a weapon. By the way, Cat Stevens was deported through Logan this morning--he couldn't go to Washington D.C., but apparently he's not too dangerous to pass through Eastie.

I realize this isn't really related to Eastie, but according to this article in the Guardian, back in May during his last trip to the U.S. , Mr. Stevens met with officials of the White House's office of faith-based and community initiatives to discuss philanthropic work." But now "The U.S. department of homeland security said last night that fresh intelligence had been gathered since then." Call me crazy, but that sounds like a "flip-flop" to me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

More details on the machete story.

Here's another story from the Boston Globe about my previous post, which gives a little bit more information about the incident.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Machete Alert!

Machete vs. Cop. Cop wins. I have to give credit to the Boston Police. After one of their officers was slashed with a machete, they shot at and only wounded the suspect. I hate to say it, but we all know that in some other cities, the guy with the machete wouldn't have stood a chance--he probably would never have gotten the chance to reach for the weapon.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Yippee! Can't wait for my rent to go up.

Another article about how high the property values have gotten in Eastie and other parts of Boston. Pretty soon all the working class people will have to commute from Providence. I'll know it's all over when there is a Starbucks in Maverick Square.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I love Google.

I have been using the Google "News Alerts" feature in order to help find juicy tidbits about East Boston. It's an awesome feature. You give Google a phrase and then it will email you any time it finds a news article posted on the internet with that phrase in it. That was how I found out that at some point in his life John Sayles lived in East Boston and worked as a meat packer--at least according to this story about him by Linton Weeks of the Washington Post. (The link is to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reprint of the article. The original was printed in the Post on September 12th, but you need to create an account to read the articles on the Post web site, so the Star-Telegram is easier.)

By the way, since we are discussing John Sayles, I highly recommend his 1987 movie Men With Guns. It's kind of like a fable ala The Wizard of Oz that takes place in an unnamed Central American country very similar to Guatemala. It sounds ridiculous when I say that, but trust me, it's a good flick. See it, even if only for Mandy Patinkin as the ultra-annoying Gringo (American) tourist looking for "Aztec ruins." (FYI--the Aztecs never lived in Guatemala.)

Italians take their tomatoes very seriously. . .

The Boston Herald police log continues to be a valuable source of information. As reported on September 10th:

It wasn't yet midnight in the garden of good and evil on Coleridge Street when a man walking his two dogs past some tomato plants suddenly found himself being sprayed with bullets by an irate onlooker with his green thumb on the trigger.

Gonzo gardener Lawrence Venezia, 50, fearing the dogs would lift their legs on his prized plants, was alleged to have been yelling, ``Get your (expletive) dogs away from my tomatoes!'' while peppering the air around the passer-by and his pups with a loaded handgun.

Venezia, who police said emerged from his house carrying a clear baggie containing a gun and a tomato (your basic survival necessities) and who admitted he'd downed ``a few glasses of wine,'' referred to the firearm as a ``pest control device.''
He must have been arming himself for locusts, then, because Venezia, whose FID card was expired, also allegedly had four shotguns and more ammunition than can be listed in this column.

There was one other witness who was more than happy to help the cops lock Venezia up - his tomato in life, Mrs. Venezia.

A lesson for the kids: just say no to stupidity.

A truck driver too high to notice that his 13 foot truck probably wasn't going to magically make it under a 12 foot bridge, smashed his truck almost in two under the bridge at Neptune and Bennington Street. Funny. The paper says he's from California, so I assume that means that the guy made it all the way from Cali without incident and then smashes the truck right before reaching his destination. At least he didn't damage the bridge. That probably would have meant 3 more years of the Big Dig. And hey, it was one less truck down-shifting outside my bedroom window.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Hurray another new park!!

The new Bremen Street park is set to open next Spring. This Boston Globe article describes what the finished product will look like.

They will try to make a little homage in the park to Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Wood Island park which was lost to airport expansion. If you want to read about another interesting project that Olmstead was involved in, read Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It tells the story of the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair. Olmstead designed the landscapes for the fair. Larson focuses on Daniel Burnham, the chief architect of the fair and H.H. Holmes a serial killer who hunted in Chicago during the fair. Both men in different ways were reflections of their time period. Both men used all of the wonders of their modern age, but for very different purposes.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Rumble in the City Council

East Boston's Councillor Paul Scapicchio is backing Sheriff Cabral for re-election, re-appointment (I'm not even sure what.) Apparently, this Cabral issue is a hot, controversial issue for the city council. I honestly don't know much about Cabral, but I wrote the Councillor an email a couple of weeks ago to let him know that people who have to take the bus every day truly appreciate bus shelters and I wanted to give thanks for the new ones that have gone up recently in Eastie. I received a very thoughtful reply about a half an hour after I sent him my email. I thought that was pretty impressive. Also, anyone who is going to do more than complaine about the dirty streets and actually get his butt out there and do some actual street cleaning deserves some props.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

What I want to know is where was Angel?

This is an old story from the Boston Herald, Police Blotter, August 14, 2004:
A Paris Street man was out strolling with his dog in Thursday night's gentle rain when a woman appeared from the gloom with the unorthodox pickup line, "I am Buffy the Vampire Slayer!" To prove her point, she threatened him with a 12-inch wooden stake. She missed her mark, prompting the would-be blood donor's faithful hound to give chase. The dog didn't get to sink its teeth in and police could not locate the witchy woman, which is probably one collar they and the brave pooch could do without.

It's always good to find that there's another Buffy fan in the world.

Another blog.

I came across this blog accidentally. It has some great photos, including some of Eastie.


I witnessed this. . .

Here is a story from the East Boston Sun-Transcript about the "Brutal Gang Fight" I witnessed from my bedroom window. It didn't look like much of anything just kids yelling and running everywhere. But hearing the shouting, I did what any red-blooded East-Bostonian would do and ran to my window to gawk. Since the story mentions that the "Latin Kings" were involved, here is a history of the "gang." I'm not sure how reliable it is, but it's more info than the Transcript provides. There is also an HBO documentary, that I have yet to see called "Latin Kings: A Street Gang Story."

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Setting is Eastie

Eastie is the setting for a new book by Lorraine Adams. The book, called Harbor, tells the story of an Algerian immigrant who stows away on a tanker for 52 days, swimming to shore when he reaches Boston Harbor.

According to the Amazon.com review:
Aziz Arkoun arrives in Boston Harbor after 52 days as a stowaway in the hold of a tanker. He swims to shore through icy waters, arriving ill and disoriented. His experience is comparable to that of the Guatemalan immigrants in "El Norte": what he finds when he arrives is only slightly better than what he left, but at least he is not in immediate danger of being killed. Adams does a masterful job of rendering Aziz's confusion as he confronts a strange language in an almost unknowable world, tries to suss out what illegal goings-on his cousin is up to, sleeps in a chair a few hours a night, and works in a low-paying job for a brutish boss.

US News has also reviewed the book saying:
Adams's tale grew out of the author's reporting for the Washington Post on the attempted bombing of Los Angeles International Airport by an Algerian in 1999, and it is infused with telling details. Arkoun's overcrowded East Boston apartment is papered with posters of pop idol Madonna; one Algerian expat spends his days reading the Koran and watching Al Pacino movies. Yet the tightly woven ending offers no easy answers. Some of the guilty escape; some of the innocent are captured. Along the way, Adams adds welcome shading to the usual portrayal of the war on terror

As soon as I can read this book, I will post my own review. The author will be speaking about her book at the Brookline Booksmith on September 27th.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Good Neighbors

Since by posting this link East Boston.com seems to think that people need to know what political campaigns their neighbors donate to, I've decided to admit in the interest of full disclosure that I did in fact donate $25.00 to the Kerry campaign, although I do not seem to appear on this list--and I am damn proud of it.

I'm not sure what the purpose of the "fundrace" site is. I question any web site that does not have a statement of intent or purpose, or at least an "about" page. Why would you want to know where your neighbors donate money? As long as they are not breaking the law, they have a right to donate to whatever political party they choose. I understand that it's public record for donations of $200.00 or more, but to have a "neighbor" search just strikes me as kind of creepy.

Gone Fishin'

First the Chelsea Creek Action Group claimed that porpoise had been spotted frolicking around the Meridian Street Bridge. Now, according to the Boston Herald's Michael O'Connor, "striped bass are being caught in East Boston, near Belle Isle Marsh. "

What's next? Sharks?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Here are some links to some of East Boston's local cultural and civic organizations:

East Boston Artists Group

East Boston Social Centers (Made famous as the location of the volunteer work performed by the cast members of "The Real World: Boston." Although I'm sure it is a legacy that EBSC tries to forget.)

East Boston Main Streets

Zumix To quote from their web site "ZUMIX offers year-round programs in songwriting, live performance, instrumental instruction, and live technology. . .Zumix provides. . .cultural programming as an alternative way for young people to deal with frustration, anger and fear and as a method of building cultural understanding and acceptance in on of Boston's most diverse neighborhoods."

That's all for now. More to come soon. . .

Injected with what?

East Boston has become a truly cosmopolitan city. You can find anything, you could possibly want, including this very special spa treatment.
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