Sunday, January 31, 2010

Both ends of Dudley

I travel from the beginning to the end of Dudley Street twice every day in warm weather.  During the winter I take the T at double the time unless, on a day like last Monday, the weather is unseasonable.  Dudley Street stretches between Upham's Corner and Dudley Square, part of Dorchester and part of Roxbury, both parts of Boston proper.

You cannot think about modern Boston without thinking of Dot and Roxbury.  Do they call Roxbury Rox?  Does it have a congenial nickname?  All I know is that both neighborhoods share a common, fluid boundary and parts of one may be part of the other and vice versa and forever shall the inhabitants disagree but they will do it amicably.

The Both Ends of Dudley blog, a likeminded enterprise without our excessive doses of folderol and pugnaciousness, based in Roxbury rather than Dorchester reports on a Beehive expansion that got the kabosh.  Too bad for Centre Street.  We do have a Centre Street in Dorchester if the Tesla Group wants to regroup in Dorchester.  I don't the Centre Bar will want to relocate, but there's no need for that.  The large space formerly occupied by the Emerald Isle seems to be available.  It is just a short stroll from the Field's Corner T station.  Food for thought.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Deceiving appearances

Ever wonder what's inside the fraternal lodges scattered around Dorchester?  Not just the American Legion and the VFW.  I mean the windowless buildings fronts that house the Shriners, the Society of Vulcans,  the Woodmen, the oddly acronymed H.O.G.S.I.C., or that mobile home parked on New England Avenue that has a bronze placard engraved "Society 11, A.E.I.O.U." posted next to the boarded up screen door.

I was out on the Dot last night and I was invited to one of these fraternal lodges this afternoon.  I am sworn not to say which.  I intended to make an expedition to the wilds of Newton to chase down a rumor of Dorchester immigration for business reasons, but an adventure close to home is always better than one that involves a journey.  

Know your surroundings like the back of your hand.  Know your surroundings like you know your soul.   If you don't know your neighborhood, you can't know yourself.  A city is a collection of people grounded in one moment in time in a particular place.

So I met up with some members of a fraternal order that also has a ladies' auxiliary branch.  Both male and female members were present when I arrived, to ensure I was worth granting a tour.  Though I knew the clubhouse address, I was blindfolded and led to our destination as a matter of protocol.  I didn't mind, though the passing cars honking as I was led down the sidewalk was a tad startling.

I can't reveal what transpired after this.  Let me only say that the peeling paint and darkened windows on the outside of these private clubs is not indicative of the furnishings inside nor their civic pride or involvement.  Any community that hosts such a panoply of private organizations only does so because public organizations don't serve the job they are intended.  Because people don't jump on City Hall's bandwagon doesn't mean they are disengaged.  Quite the reverse.

The picture that opens this report is a hint of what I found a block or three from the center of Codman Square.

I'l leave it up to you to guess what the actual address was.  It was a very interesting afternoon, but without many surprises beyond the decor.   You can't live long in Dorchester without noticing the positive impact ad hoc societies have on the body politic and the body civic.  No expects the top tier, governor- or mayor-appointed  boards of development, commerce, tourism, industry, investment, job creation, beautification, arts advancement, race relations, or home garden produce promotion to do much work at Dorchester's street level.  Those who wait are lost.  

Dorchester waits for no one.  It moves forward, inexorably like a glacier.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another 24 hour business

I haven't checked this one out in person but I noticed the billboard while running an errand.  I checked out the web site and it all seems like legitimate advertising.  We can add another business to our tally of things to do after the bars close and respectable citizens are snug in their beds with dreams of cod and baked beans dancing in their heads.

Dorchester is still coming out on top of the list for variety.  After all, with bowling and billiards on the menu, that's a hard mix to top at 3:00 AM.  Name another neighborhood that's got that.  Are there any other 24-hour car washes?  Neponset Circle Car Wash (815 Gallivan Blvd) is open 'round the clock.  Just ask their mascot, Herbie.

The open part of the business seems to be the self service bays.  That's why I haven't checked it out in person at 3:00 AM.  I don't have any urge to hose down my motorcycle in the middle of the night in January.  I don't have any urge to take my motorcycle to Neponset Circle in the middle of the night for any reason, especially if the only action is car washing. I doubt it's much like a movie.

I doubt Neponset Circle really warrants a sound track at 3:00 AM.

If I had a car to wash though, I would do it in Neponset Circle.  It's a place where they know about S.I.N.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why I want Walmart

Dorchester lacks two things: a Walmart and a comic book store.  It lacks some other things too but I notice these two most often and for opposite reasons.

Walmart would mop up the competition in Dorchester the way it has killed innumerable small downtowns across the country.  Whatever snob appeal not having a Walmart lends to Dot, and there aren't a lot of snobs to appeal to, the combination of low prices and exhaustive selection would satisfy a need that is  only partially met by local, vest pocket storefront merchants.  Make is a Super Walmart with the supermarket/department store combo including organic produce...Dorchester doesn't have enough empty land for the parking lot to serve this big box.  That's probably part of what keeps America's biggest retailer away.

Say what you will about supporting Chinese industry, selling ticky-tacky crap that falls apart ,and undercutting small business people; the latter are doing the former two things but without economies of scale.  I'm know I wouldn't mind cutting out my trip time and/or gas expense to buy a shirt and tie in one box for $10.

The lack of a Walmart is a mystery.  The lack of a comic book store is a relief.

The nearest real comic shop is at Coolidge Corner as the crow flies, the kind of shop that has old issues for a dollar in boxes and offers last month's comics at half price, the kind of shop that sells nothing but comics, the kind of shop where the conversations are about whether Batman could beat Spiderman.  Dorchester doesn't have that kind of shop because Dorchester doesn't have a critical mass of fanboys with disposable income and nothing better to do than hang around the comics store speculating what the touch of a woman may be like.

There are college students in Dorchester and there are arrested adolescents, there are plenty of dreamers and there are plenty of readers.  What there aren't is many people who live odd niche hobbies that are supposedly cool.  There aren't a lot of people with too much time to fritter away.  There is room for fun and games in Dorchester and there is room for frivolity, but most of it is of the home grown sort, the communal sort: porch front conversations, stickball in the street, street wide snow shoveling parties, barbecues.  I don't want to paint it to Norman Rockwell, but it is family friendly.  

Coolidge Corner has a comic shop.  Harvard Square has two.  Allston Village has one.  Kenmore Square has one.  Newbury Comics is a different kind of store.  No real fanboy goes there for comics except as last resort, though it is good for collectibles.  Dorchester isn't like those places.  It's demographic skews older and harder working.

If Walmart did decide to locate a store in Dorchester I would welcome it with the caveat that a comic store would open next door to mix the good with the bad, and I'm not hinting which I think is which.  I plead neutrality to gentrification in whatever form it takes.  That said, I can't imagine a photo like the one above being taken outside the McDonald's in Codman Square.  That's pure Walmart and pure comic book fan convention.  I can imagine it being taken in front of the Corita Gas Tank, however.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My secret Boston

[Editorial correction 01/27:  It appears the assessment below may have been a bit hasty.  I was waiting for February 1 to investigate further but apparently My Secret Boston is up and running more than I discovered when I looked it over the other day.  I'll spend the weekend poking around further and update then.  As for not knowing where Newton is, I can't apologize for that.  -WK]

If you haven't heard, a new website is being launched on February 1st.  It's called "My Secret Boston Dot Com."  It's some kind of insiders' guide, sort of what we do here but with a bigger budget, and actual staff who get paid actual salaries from paid advertisements.

I was interested to learn what the site's "secret" Boston Irish Bakery would be.   I've never heard of it, but that's not too surprising because it's not in Dorchester.  If you spend most of your time in Boston, I'll bet donuts against dollars that you haven't heard of it either.  This hidden Boston Irish bakery is hidden in the town of Newton.  It's some joint called the Keltic Krust.  Not a bad name; maybe Kandy's Kozy Keltic Kellar was already taken.

I'm coming up on three years living in Boston and I can't tell you where Newton is.  That qualifies as being both secret and hidden in my book.  If I had a secret Boston, I know I'd keep it a few towns removed.  You know, where all the insiders are.

No one has asked me to write an article for Their Secret Boston, but if I had to name a good Irish bakery, I would write about Greenhills Irish Bakery at 780 Adams Street.  It's in Adams Village, which is part of Boston, diagonally across the street from the Eire Pub, which is an Irish pub.  The Prime Minister of Ireland dropped by last year.  The bakery is next door to one Irish grocery and across the street from another.

I can't speak for the town of Newton.  I've never heard of it.  I doubt it's any more Irish than Adams Village, a place that's almost as Gaelic as Dublin.  No offense to the people who run the Keltic Krust.  I'm sure they make fine bread.  When I want my bread crust spelled with a 'c' however, the way Celt is spelled, I'll stay within city limits and visit the Greenhills Bakery.

No word yet on how far off the Orange Line I have to travel to find a hidden Boston Chinese Restaurant.  The site officially launches February 1.  I'll find out soon after that, I'm sure.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Field's Corner upskirt re-design

The Obama administration has just released funds for a shovel-ready redesign of the Field's Corner station on the MBTA Red Line.  Official details are reportedly scheduled to be released next week, but an anonymous source confirms that MBTA engineers, under direct orders from the Governor, have studied a Japanese prototype design and green lighted the project for immediate construction.

An anonymous source from the Governor's office confirms. "We're behind this all the way.  It will create jobs, not only in traditional construction trades and for unionized track layers and electrical switchmen.  There's a big fiberglass fabrication budget that goes along with this design.  The benefits are enormous."

An anonymous source at the MBTA stated, "While Field's Corner is one of the system's newer stations, this represents a serious visual upgrade that will focus interest on the Red Line's lesser used branch and increase tourist ridership.  The 'gawk-factor' alone is expected to increase ridership between JFK/UMASS and Ashmont by 30%. "

An anonymous source at a local Dorchester redevelopment agency said, "This is the best news Field's Corner has had in years.  It's a cheeky project that emphasizes that Dorchester is not just about working for a living but also about having fun while you're doing it."

An anonymous operative from the Mayor's office wanted to be kept off the record until the Mayor released an official opinion.  She did scribble the following on a napkin: "If it is already decided, His Honor supports it and his involvement will be traced back to its roots accordingly."

So, what's the new design?  You saw it here first.  Special thanks to the MBTA engineer who leaked this brunette bombshell.  

A tip of the fedora to Dr. Hermes for providing the photographic evidence that such a thing can exist.  Some people would say something like this could only exist in Japan.  If the MBTA has its way, it will be in Field's Corner by the end of 2013.  That's assuming the federal stimulus package doesn't run out of funds.  Pure Dot magic.

The wind does the wiping

When I checked the weather this morning in the Globe, I knew my mission was assigned.  I dreamed about taking the motorcycle to work today and Boston's paper of record confirmed my fate.  The temperature was predicted to be above 50.  Sweet, unexpected January goodness despite the concurrent promise of rain and high winds.

It was at least fifty degrees this morning and no active rain when I left the house.  I wrestled my bike out of the mud that had formed overnight, but once on the street it was smooth sailing through an atmosphere that was gray but the opposite of blustery; the calm before the storm.

As luck would have it, I was tasked with a crosstown errand in the afternoon.  By then the rain had picked up.  The wind too.  The Globe estimates wind speeds are reaching 30 mph.  Perhaps.  My little Ninja 250 can outrun it.  The people I was supposed to meet offered to reschedule.  "We don't want you getting wet."

No way, I replied.  I've been itching to balance on two motorized wheels for more than a month.  The worse the weather, the better the ride as long as the mercury is above freezing.  I had to drive home anyway, why not make an adventure of it?

I arrived at my destination.  "You must be soaked!" the women exclaimed.  I agreed that my pants were wet, but from the elements rather than from fear.  My jacket keeps me dry enough.  "Doesn't the wind blow you around?" they asked.  Not really.  If I were on top of the Tobin Bridge, that would be another matter.  On the streets of Dorchester, high wind is my friend; it blows the rain off my helmet's face shield so I don't have to worry about wiping it clear with the back of my thumb.

If it were fifty degrees every January day, I wouldn't kvetch about Boston winters as much as I do.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Good girls say YES!! to Dorchester

Good girls know that when someone offers to take them to Dorchester, the right answer is YES!!  Bad girls can't stay contrary to their better natures in Dorchester.  Good and bad people only getter better.

For all the bad reputation Dot has around Boston as being home to barbarians, it is really home base for a very conservative citizenry.  Blue collar, salt of the earth burghers: this is the description that applies to most Dorchesterites.  Open minded, accepting, minding one's own business, avoiding trouble: these are Dorchester attributes.  Dorchesterites are more buttoned down than doubling down.

Very few people are experimenting with their sexuality in Dorchester so much as they are just enjoying it.  They aren't pushing boundaries so much as insulating themselves within two-way nourishing relationships.  The nuclear family is alive and well in Dorchester though its constituent parts may defy some people's demographical preconceptions.

People from Oklahoma may visit Dorchester and be shocked at what they see.  Dot is the ultimate sub-urbia conflated to metropolitan proportions.  People of all colors, creeds, and inclinations rub shoulders and press jowls.  Those most familiar with each other often rub and press other parts, but usually in selective pairs behind closed doors.  Don't go looking for what you don't want to see and all will be well.  That's a Dot lesson if there ever was one.     

Some parents worry when they learn their student children are settled in a Dorchester rooming house.  They needn't be.  Traditional values are valued in Dorchester.  Overall, it is as dull here for a hedonist as it is in New Alexandria, Penn.  A typical Dorchester day consists of children going to school, adults going to work, and those not doing either running errands and tending their gardens.  Nights transpire to a symphony of snoring.  Even a Puritans quickly get bored sniffing out sin in Dorchester tap rooms.

Good people say Yes!! to Dorchester's invitation for a good life.  It is a paradise for those who aspire to a middle class lifestyle made up of the tastes and values the bourgeoisie hold dear.  Those values are very near in Dorchester.  They are so close at hand you can smell them when you disembark from any Red Line train south of JFK/UMASS.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Where's Walmart?

WalMart's in Quincy.  America's largest retailer hasn't seen fit to locate any operations in Dorchester, Mass.

Dorchester does have a Target outlet in South Bay Center, located in that no-man's land that no one can say is part of Dorchester, part of Roxbury, or part of the South End (probably disowned by the last).

Dorchesterites looking for discount housewares, fashions and sundries can go to the newly re-established BD's Discount on Columbia Road.  There's a Family Dollar Store in Fields Corner.  There are small dollar stores and convenience stores and discount outlets peppered all over Dorchester, just as they are scattered around Roxbury, Hyde Park, Roslindale, Eastie, and the further parts of Charlestown.  All parts of Boston are Walmart-free.  It's snobbier that way.  This is good for the small business person, but some Dorchesterites and Mrs. Hydes may want to buy a case of toilet paper at prices near wholesale.  There is no Walmart or BJ's they can get to by the T.

Are Dorchesterites really Walmart's target clientele?  Maybe one, out-of-the-way Target store is all this part of Boston needs.  Looking at the People of Walmart website, I can't say I've ever seen anyone on Dot Ave that could be a target for these mean-spirited jibes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Menino Dusk

A fifth term of Menino.  How's it feel?  Pretty much like the fourth, if you ask me.  It isn't the twilight of the reign yet, but if term number five ends like it began, this is going to one long whimper with no bang.

I'm not suggesting Flaherty would have been better.  I'm not suggesting Yoon would have been better, though he would have been different.  As for the Floon combo, while peanut butter does taste good with chocolate, opposites don't always attract.  Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson made a more attractive duo...  It would have been more interesting than today though.

Are the times a'changing?  Not in my neighborhood.  How about yours?  Any Menino staffers care to post the party line in the comments?  I don't see signs of a new age dawning over Boston.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why servicemen love Dorchester

Supporting the troops is a Dorchester tradition that goes back to the French and Indian War.  Dotted with American Legion, AmVets, and VFW posts, Dorchester is an oasis for those who serve in the armed forces.  In a neighborhood full of people who fight for right, those who employ disciplined, strategic violence to further the national interest are respected and admired.

A soldier, a sailor and a marine were out for a little R&R in Dorchester, with special emphasis on the second R.  It was a Sunday, so they went to the First Parish Church on Meeting House Hill for the 11:00 service.  Afterwards they walked down Hancock Street, down Pleasant Street and one block down Savin Hill Avenue.  A quick right on Dot Ave brought them to Shanti, Taste of India, where they enjoyed the seven-day lunch buffet; all you can eat for $7.99.  Some restaurants only offer lunch specials on weekdays.  Not Shanti.  That's not the Dorchester way.  Lunch is lunch and a deal is a deal and never shall the two be torn asunder.  This is one reason why service people like to visit Dorchester on liberty.

With both spiritual and metabolic needs met, these three compatriots were ready round out the experience with a bit of fun in order to call the day complete.  A short down Savin Hill Avenue took them to the Red Line and the Red Line took them to Ashmont Station.  At Ashmont they transferred to the Mattapan High Speed.  Careening between Peabody Square and Mattapan Square was a thrill ride like no other.  The three companions mugged for the cameras as they asked fellow passengers to take snapshots of them enjoying their day away from the cares and stress of active duty.

The day ended at 224 Boston Street, in Dorchester's Polish Triangle.  They enjoyed a contemporary American menu and drinks were on the house in appreciation for volunteer service given to protect democracy and the American way of life.  As one patron weepily said as he bought the servicemen a round, "If it weren't for guys like you, I wouldn't be able to have this whiskey sour tonight.  I'd be drinking a vodka sour served by some Commie bastard in league with Putin."

Perhaps.  One thing is for sure.  Dorchester appreciates the men and women who serve in our armed forces.  Those men and women in uniform return that appreciation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

C'est le Point!

If the neighborhood of Dorchester were a tobacco, it would be this: flavorful enough to average a three and three quarter star review out of four possible.  40 pipe smokers consider Dorchester, the tobacco, a memorable smoke.  Their opinions are as wide ranging as those about Dorchester, the neighborhood, but when you cut through all the niche-hobby jargon and pretension, they arrive to similar conclusions about the tobacco as how non-smokers feel about Boston's biggest jurisdiction:  Memorable.  Robust.  Full-bodied.  Easy to take in daily doses.  

Why would someone name their proprietary blend of pipe tobacco Dorchester?  The more pertinent question is why don't more designers in every field co-opt and glom onto the Dot brand? "Ooo-la-la! C'est le Point!" as they say in Paris.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Your post election meal

Foul weather has done a number on the sale signs in the front window of Brothers II Supermarket on Dudley Street, Upham's Corner.  The store's interior is none the worse for wear, but only two posters are left hanging in one piece in the window.

So, carnivores rejoice!  Brothers II has your protein covered no matter which senatorial candidate you vote for.  Red meat Republican?  Fresh shoulder London broil is $1.99 a pound?  What better way to cement your arteries and your solidarity with Scott Brown?  Prefer the other white meat and a public option?  Brothers II has you covered with FRESH MEATY PORK CHOPS at $1.69 a pound.  That's the kind of meal a Martha Coakley supporter would be proud to put in his pie hole.

Offer good while supplies last.  I asked one of the cashiers if the sale was electorally themed.  She answered, "Isn't it too early for Obama to run again?"

Video disclaimer

Thanks to the reader who forwarded this video.  To answer to her question, this has nothing to do with me.   I don't really understand what they are saying though I do recognize my first name being repeated from time to time.  Whalehead isn't the most common name, but there are a few others in the world.  I'm not sure what symbolism Mr. Evangilliest invests in the Whalehead monniker.

Based on the scenery, I assume this was shot in London, England.  I came to Boston from New London, Conn.  Other than that, there's no connection, really.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Put Dot in your pipe

If you wanted to mix a fine tobacco and give it a name that conjures contemplation and reflection, what would you call it?

If you wanted to brand a lifestyle that commends thinking deep thoughts while getting one's hands dirty not only in the realm of ideas but in the real world of rusty sewer pipes, what word sums that all up?  I've got a ready-made label for you, Buster.  Where I live, we call practical philosophers 'Dot Rats.'  If Voltaire were alive, he would agree.

Thinking deep thoughts, dreaming big dreams, wrestling joy from the barbs lobbed by ill-tempered slingers and archers, hearing God Himself call out in the rumble of the last train of the day headed back to the yard an hour and a  half after midnight, finding joy in the details that pile up to make a passing day...Buddy, that's the Dorchester way.  It may be esoteric to some but to Dorchesterites, that's how they get along.  You don't have to be religious to catch Dot spirit.  You just have to have an open eye, an open heart, and an open mind while you trudge down the slushy, gritty, January sidewalk that borders Dorchester Avenue and Washington Street and Geneva Avenue and Morton Street and Morrissey Boulevard and Gallivan Boulevard and Norfolk Street and Talbot Avenue and Columbia Road and Blue Hill Avenue and River Road.

You'll get your questions answered in Dorchester, Bub.  We're talking about Dorchester, Mass.  It's a part of Boston.  It's Boston's guts.  It's the part of the city where Boston keeps its nuts.  Two-fisted poets call Dorchester home, the kind of of fellows who can argue you out of a debate and knock some sense into your thick skull at the same time.  They will drink you under the table while sharing their lunch bucket packed at home with an extra slice of humble pie in case they meet somebody like you.

Pipe smokers say it isn't the nicotine that makes their tobacco worth smoking, it's the flavor.  Dorchesterites say something similar about their neighborhood.  It isn't the kicks that make Dorchester memorable, it's the nuances and top notes that make living here something to savor.  You can have your cake and dottle in Dorchester.  You can put it in your pipe and smoke it.  Sitting on a bench in Dorchester, the world is a wonder to contemplate, all the pieces in place, all the world a stage, all the gears meshed in perfect alignment, no thread out of place, a matrix...a darned Dot Matrix.

Rough and tumble, hale and hearty, Dorchester perseveres.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Mrs. Eufalia Lindsay told me the following story.  She and her son have been undergoing counseling for a reason I am not privileged to know because it isn't really relevant.  Mrs. Lindsay attended group therapy sessions at a large area hospital until she decided to quit last week.  Two other area mothers were also undergoing this therapy and Mrs. Lindsay reports they've discontinued treatment as well.

The psychiatrist sat in the middle and addressed each of the mothers and their children, "You all have obsessive desires and you have subliminally grafted your personality disorders onto your children." he said.

The psychiatrist first addressed Patient A and her daughter: "You have a fixation of food," he told the chubby lady from Lower Mills, "This is why you named your daughter Candy."  The girl looked up at her mother and asked, "Is that true?"  The mother said, "No."

The psychiatrist turned to Patient B and her daughter: "You are fixated with money.  You called your daughter Penny because you can't think of anything but money."  This family lives on Jones Hill and the mother walks every day from Jerome Street to the Upham's Corner rail station passing Sovereign Bank, Bank of America and Citizens Bank.  Penny looked down at her feet.  "You do say we can't afford things, Mommy," she said.  Her mother glowered at the psychiatrist and said to her daughter, "We can't afford a pony but we're not hurting."

Mrs. Lindsay had heard enough.  Before a snap, quack diagnosis could be applied to her, she took her son's hand.  "Come now, Dick.  It's time for us to head home," she said.

Mrs. Lindsay and her family live on the street that runs parallel to Shawmut Station and, like the other mothers, she does have an obsession.  It is an obsession with her surroundings.  It is an obsession with Dorchester.  The Lindsay family gets it mail delivered to their address on Nixon Street.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Grand Discount Opening!!

The BD's from 280 Broadway in Chelsea has come to Dorchester, bigger and better.  The address is 90 Washington Street, though the main entrance is on the Columbia Road side of the building next to Burger King.  Look for the pennants strung between the light posts.  It's BD's Discount Grand Opening!!!

It is a department that has everything your heart desires (except love) at discount prices.  The cavernous center section is filled with racks and racks of women's clothes.  Some other things for sale, going counter-clockwise from the main entrance:

Perfume, DVDs, hair accessories, kinetic pictures (the kind you plug in and the waterfall looks like it's moving), party supplies and party favors, crib mattresses, toys...A WHOLE WALL FULL OF TOY GUNS!!!  Mardi Gras beads, a wall of ladies' undergarments, furniture, dog dishes, bunk beds, dining sets, settees, luggage, lamps, art prints and original paintings.....

Pots, skillets, coffee makers, cast aluminum casseroles, aluminum turkey roasting pans, rolling pins, plastic dishes, plastic cups, five kinds of plungers, brooms, mops, sponges, toilet paper, laundry detergent, bleach, candles, every kitchen tool you can think of for a dollar.....

Lay away plan...up to three months.....

Curtains, curtains, more curtains... toilet seats, sheets, towels, hardware, 26 KINDS OF ADHESIVE TAPE, light fixtures, television antennas, phone cords, speaker wires, men's clothes, low rise men's briefs in a variety of patterns and colors: Cupid Boy brand for adolescents and Hunter brand for adults, men's dress socks $1.49 a pair, wrist watches, batteries....

...and MORE!!!

I gave myself a writer's cramp taking down notes.

No peas or liver in Ashmont

Apparently, back in the day, the Ashmont Grill was well known for it's pea soup.  One former Dorchesterite is mildly disappointed that the Grill is under new management:

"One of my earliest dining memories was going to Ashmont Grille in Dorchester, MA. When I was little, it was more of a hole-in-the-wall; a dark little pub that my parents grew up going to. I haven’t been in at least 15 years, and from the looks of it, it has since changed owners and seems to have become slightly more upscale. I’ve heard it’s still fantastic, just in a different way. My absolute favorite thing on their then-menu was their Pea Soup with Ham. In looking at their online menu, I don’t see this anywhere, sadly..."

Like the Blarney Stone and the Harp and Bard, up Dot Ave from Peabody Square, the Ashmont Grill has changed with the times while retaining the original name as a tie to the past.  There is nothing wrong with marrying newfangled swagger with an old name.  Some things should remain the same.  The names of landmarks belong on that list.  

Ashmont Grill deserves its reputation and its frequent mentions in the local and national press.  It's always a pleasure to go there even if there isn't any pea soup on the menu.  While the grill may have once been famous for its pea soup with ham, not too many people are ordering that anymore.  It's gone the way of liver, alas, which also isn't currently on the menu.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mac's Guest House

I was in the Millenium Hotel yesterday across from Faneuil Hall.  It's very nice inside.  Thinking about it, I can name ten nice hotels downtown without much strain.  How many in Dorchester?

There's a Doubletree by UMASS.  There's a Ramada Inn at 800 Morrissey Blvd and there's a Comfort in at 900.  There's those two hotels behind the Best Buy at South Bay Center.  That's all can think of and, while these are probably clean, I don't think of them as being particularly nice.

There is a place called Mac's Guest House at 194 Callender Street by Franklin Field.  It's on the corner of Callender and Irma.  That's the Google view above.  I don't know anyone who's ever stayed there, but I'm going to recommend it the next time people come to visit me.

Mac's Guest House may not have sound as swank as the Omni Parker House, the Ritz Carlton, the Liberty Hotel or the Millenium.  It's still a good, solid, homey name.  You know you can trust a guy named Mac.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Goodbye Spidey

The editor of 'g' can deny any comic strip experimentation at the Boston Globe, but yesterday was proof that change is afoot in the funny pages.

Yes, it has taken me until 6:00 this morning to finish reading yesterday's Globe.  Yes, I did put it down between now and the time I bought it yesterday morning.

Page 19 of g features a new strip called Dustin by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker.  I've never heard of it.  It's in the #2 slot on page 19, right under Zippy.  I stared for a long time, trying to place what occupied this space last week.  I took a census of the page but still couldn't identify the missing comic strip.  After a trip to the recycling box, I had my answer.

Goodbye, Spidey.

It's no loss from a literary standpoint.  This does, however, subtract the one "drama" strip from the Globe's comics pages.  What's left are thirty "funnies."  Very few of these are actually funny even though yesterday's F Minus was pretty good.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Imagine there's no Dorchester...

Hyde Park, Franklin Park and Grove Hall all contain beachfront property.  The distance to Quincy is unbridgeable, the Red Line to Braintree runs, like the Blue Line, under water.  There's no Southie because South Boston used to be part of Dorchester.

Boston is really, really crowded.  There is nowhere for 100,000 extra people to live except spread around the other neighborhoods.  That's a lot of spreading, one sixth the population.  The West End is now as crowded as Scollay Square.

The city's supply of natural gas is all stored in Chelsea and Everett.  There is a gas tank in Chelsea that is painted in a mural signed 'Corita' with Ho Chi Minh's profile hidden in its brushstrokes.  The best Vietnamese food is found in Chinatown, of all places.  The Green Line has Boston's most attractive trolleys in service because there isn't a Mattpan High Speed.  

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's a big Dot

We went to a bakery in Concord sometime this past autumn and, while we were waiting in line for two coffees and a sandwiches, someone already seated at a table said, "It smells like Dorchester in here."

It did smell like Dorchester in that bakery located in the town where the shot heard 'round the world was fired.  It smelled like fresh baked bread and nutritious ingredients.  It smelled like freshly ground, roasted coffee beans.  It smelled like a lot of upright, clean-scrubbed people waiting patiently in line.  It smelled wholesome and civilized.  It did smell like Dorchester, Mass.

I was down in Peabody Square this morning.  There wasn't a bakery nearby, nor many other types of businesses open.  The Tedeschi was doing a brisk business in newspapers, lottery tickets and smokeless tobacco and the fire station was manned, but the psychic wasn't yet awake, the packy hadn't yet unlocked its doors, and the trendy restaurants wouldn't fire up their ovens for another five hours at least.

Flat Black Coffee was open and people walked Dot Ave down to the T station with fragrant coffee cups in hand.  It wasn't the coffee that made the air fragrant with Dot spirit.  It was the people.  It was the homes stacked back to front up Ashmont Hill.  It was the apartments, one on top of another, one after another, and another and another as far as two legs could walk, that gave Peabody Square that Dot vibe.  Dorchester: wide and vast and deep.

It smelled like Dorchester today, in Dorchester.  No chill wind or ill wind can tamp that spirit.  It may not be the busiest hive of activity in the metro Boston nest of neighborhoods, but it's the biggest and it's the sweetest.  Dorchester smells people working together, Honey.  No harsh words were heard around Ashmont Station.  People commiserated about the windchill rather than trying to pick fights.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Dot chest

South Boston is called Southie.  East Boston is called Eastie.  Dorchester is just called Dot.  It's better than being called Dottie.

Roxbury and West Roxbury both end with the requisite '-ee' sound favored in local parlance for Boston's neighborhoods, but even West Roxbury is often shortened to just Westie when people talk about it, which isn't often where I live.  Roslindale is Rozzie in gossipy, street argot.

Hyde Park is just Hyde Park.  There's never really much need to refer to it.   It could be called Hydie.  Some people refer to that neighborhood's most prominent resident as Mayor Hyde, but he's more jackal [sic] than anything else.

Charlestown is Charlestown.  A place out of the way but so thoroughly Boston that it is often overlooked, taken for granted, the way Bunker Hill looks out over the North End, and the bridge that connects the two is inspired by the Bunker Hill Monument.  By the way, the North End is never called Northie.

Dorchester is referred to as Dot.  If you call it 'the' Dot, people will know you weren't born here.  They'll point and say, "Ha ha, he said the!"  It's like being caught with your fly down.  All you can do is shrug and say, "Yeah, I love the Dot."

When the Combat Zone was more than just two strip clubs appended to Chinatown, some wags thought Dorchester would be better referred to as Chestie.  A lot of professional dancers lived in the neighborhood.  Like Dottie, the alternative Chestie moniker never caught on.  It's just as well.  Professional dancers still make their home in Dorchester but nowadays they work for the Boston Ballet rather than for the Glass Slipper.  Calling these prima donnas chesty would be inaccurate, to say the least.    

Friday, January 08, 2010

Boston's best pho

Overheard outside Wagamama in the Prudential Center...  An ebullient, slender, middle-aged woman with short-cropped, blond hair was rubbing her midriff while carrying a Vineyard Vines shopping bag.  Her companion was a sullen, doughy twenty-something.  Their looks were similar enough that a mother-daughter assumption is justified.

Mother:  "That was the most delicious noodle soup.  I don't know where you can get such good soup anywhere else."  She patted her small paunch while she said this.

The daughter rolled her eyes, looking downward in the direction of Olympia Sports:  "There are a dozen places in Dorchester.  Hell, half a dozen are in Field's Corner."

Mother:  "I've never been to Dorchester."

Daughter:  "You don't even know the Red Line goes past South Station."

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Globe short sheets the funnies!

Maybe the editor at 'g' was conducting an experiment today.  Maybe this has been going on for a while and I haven't noticed because I haven't been reading Boston's paper of record on consecutive days recently.

I look forward to reading the comics section in the morning.  The Globe doesn't feature state of the art comics, but I suppose they are trying for 'relevant' strips.  Its a better selection than the Herald, in my opinion.

I bought the paper yesterday and the comics were printed in black and white.  This always makes me happy because 1) I am a purist and 2) the colors aren't always printed within the lines.  Anyone who has looked at the photos in the Globe's paper edition knows what I mean.  So, while the comics weren't that great, I read them in traditional black and white without eye strain.  They didn't make me chuckle and nothing stood out to make me marvel at the draftsmanship.

I bought the paper today and saw that the illustration for Red and Rover was the same as what I remembered from yesterday.  "He can't be milking this gag for a week," I thought, "It's not that good even by this strip's standards."  Then I looked at Zits.  Same gag.  In fact, all the strips were familiar.  The only difference between yesterday's comics and today's is that today was printed in color!  At least the colors were within the lines.

So, if this is an experiment...Mr. Boffo is not any more hilarious in color.  For Better or For Worse, is not cuter in color.  Spiderman is not more exciting in color.  Dilbert is not more insightful in color.  Doonesbury is no more droll in color than it is in black and white.  They are all just as good, or lack thereof, in either format.

With that settled, I'm looking forward to some fresh material on the comics pages tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Worms in the snow

It wasn't too cold but there was still snow on the ground yesterday as I was walking homeways down Tuttle Street.  Passing one house I noticed what appeared to be an unopened bag of sour gummi worms poking out of a snow pile.  It was the worms' neon colors that caught my eye.

I picked up the bag to verify that it was unopened.  I wasn't going to take them, I was just curious why they were there.  As I did so, a voice said, "Hey! Put that down!"  It was a child's voice, very commanding, but I was alone on the street.  Leprechaun?

"Put it down!" the voice repeated and I noticed it came from a window facing me that was cracked open.  The curtains were drawn.  "I was just looking," I told the window, "Why are these worms in the snow?"  The voice said, "I'm chilling them.  They're better that way."

I asked, "Don't you have a refrigerator?" and as I did the front door opened.  A woman glared at me while holding a broom with the business end held high, in swat position.  "Put the candy down and back away, Mister," she said.  I held up my hands and did as I was told.

"You just head on your way.  There's nothing for you here."  As I walked down the street I turned my head.  The lady of the house was standing in the snow where I had been and she was holding up the bag of candy.  "It's okay, Franklin," she said while facing the window, "He didn't hurt anything and I think these are just about right now."

Sheesh!  This was one of my kookiest encounters, even by the usual Dot standards.  Life goes on.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Old New England Egg Nog

Prepared and bottle by M.S. Walker, Inc. of Somerville, I picked up a 1.75 liter bottle of Old New England Egg Nog the other day.  It was discounted from $12.99 to $10.99.

The label on the neck says this beverage is "freshly made."  It's a seasonal drink, so that may be true.  Or, conversely, it may have been fresh when it was made.  At 30 proof, it's not going to spoil anytime soon.  In fact, I bought a bottle last year and it lasted eleven months.  Needless to say, it's not that popular around this household, but I'm a sucker for anything that says 'New England' and I like things that come from Somerville.

Unlike other foods, liquor apparently doesn't have to list its ingredients, because I can't find what the alcohol is mixed with except in the vaguest terms.  There is a note on the neck that contains artificial colors and FD&C Yellow #5.  Aside from that, if I may quote the back of the bottle: "This delicious beverage is made with a fine brandy, smooth blended whiskey and rum with our natural egg nog base.  The dairy ingredients used in this egg nog were prepared by New England's finest dairy."

What is New England's finest dairy and why are they so shy about being mentioned on the Old New England Egg Nog bottle?  Is it Hood? There aren't any clues at the New England Dairy Promotion Board.  I couldn't find any mention of egg nog.  It's as if the board doesn't want to be associated with M.S. Walker.

What makes up an eggnog base, exactly?  Milk, cream and eggs?  Is there sugar?  Nutmeg? Some people use cinnamon.  This paragraph also appears on the back label: "Our laboratory staff developed this traditional NEW ENGLAND EGG NOG after extenisve research and experimentation and we unconditionally recommend it as America's finest."  Maybe it's best not to ask too many questions and just trust the experts.

If you are wondering where the 30 proof comes from..."made with kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, rum, brandy, and 3 year old blended whiskey."  Just the way New Englanders traditionally like their nog.  Also all dairy ingredients have been homogenized.  It's a proprietary secret though, what those ingredients are.   The company has been around since 1933, so they must know what they're doing.

Shake well - Serve chilled.  Don't make your bottle last a year.


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