Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How can one person talk so much?

On the commuter train out of Framingham (I don't know which one because they're all so late you have no idea which one you're on anymore) a woman in a green blouse and black skirt got on in Wellesley. It was so crowded that her friend got a seat behind me and she stood over me and talked. And talked. And talked. Non-effing stop. One long rambling monologue in my ear as I tried to read. Every so often she'd say to her friend, well, I'll let you do your charts, but then she'd just take a breath and launch into some other inane, boring topic. Coffee at work, how she likes it, they have a machine that you can choose your flavors but it just doesn't taste right, so she likes to get it somewhere else, but today, because the train's late she just may have to drink it...on and on and on like this.

Some people are just not born with the self-censor gene. The only thing I could think of is God bless the people who have to live with her, who can't get away from her inane chatter.

BostonNow paper boxes are a bit much

Leg hold traps are now banned in Massachusetts. So I guess they've taken all the banned traps and turned them into paper boxes for the free BostonNow paper. The door opens down like an oven door, and is spring-loaded and so tight that it springs back...hard. To do it one-handed, like a commuter like myself has to do as he juggles briefcases and God knows what else with one hand, you need to stick your knee or foot on top of the opened door. This morning, it slipped, and caught my arm at the elbow as I was sticking my hand in for a paper.

I thought I'd have to gnaw my arm off to make my train, but of course it was the MBTA in Framingham, so the train was so late I had plenty of time to extricate my arm and nurse my wound.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Live Nation should sell tickets more fairly

The business of buying and selling concert tickets just keeps getting more annoying. I bought tix for Thursday night's Lucinda Williams’ concert a couple of weeks ago. I used the link from the Bank of America Pavilion to Live Nation to Ticketmaster, chose “best available” and got what I considered pretty good tickets in Section Three considering I didn’t buy them when they first went on sale. Today, just for grins, I looked for tickets following the same link, and for the same price was offered fifth row seats in the center section. And of course the tickets I first bought can’t be refunded. Hey, I got decent seats. I shouldn’t complain, right? But what’s wrong with this picture? Just goes against an American’s ingrained sense of fairness, that’s all. I guess "best available" isn't available for all of us.

Protect Downtown Crossing

Downtown Crossing is a Boston treasure. It’s probably the only really integrated part of Boston. It’s our Times Square, the perfect place for people watching. Urban living to the max. Instead of trying to relocate vendors to Government Center, where no one goes and where these vendors’ livelihood will just wither, during the construction project on the Filene’s building the Downtown Crossing Association should increase the number of licenses to keep people coming. Bring on more street musicians and more ethnic food.

Lindsay Lohan arrested

A coworker said it's going to be fashionable to go to jail...

I guess it's called "keeping up with the Hiltons."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Downtown Crossing Apostles

If you’ve spent any amount of time at Downtown Crossing this summer, you’ve seen the guys—I haven’t seen any women—with the easels, paintbrushes, and the charming, entertaining patter. They start off by inquiring if their audience members are as smart as a fifth grader—a funny, engaging little hook. Then they do a sleight of hand with some numbers, sketching out answers with glib brushstrokes. All a bit of Faneuil Hall busking, it seems. A co-worker clued me in, though, that they are really Christians out to save souls, so I’ve always given them a wide circuit. Today, though, I listened. I feel that you have to listen to the right as much as the left, the Christian equally as the atheist.

But while I was standing there taking in their pitch, and sorry, it’s same old song and dance about redemption, a man standing next to me asked me what I thought of the presentation. Not to be fooled, I asked him what he thought of it. He said he thought it was interesting. “Are you connected to it?" I asked him, figuring he was a plant in the audience and I was correct. He asked me a number of questions, and I was willing to engage him, including telling him I have no idea what would happen to me if I died today.

I think anyone who reduces this life or the Creator to a simple question of right or wrong, who believes the world was built in seven days is denying the Creator’s greatness. To reduce the universe to terms that a common person can understand is reducing creation’s beauty. There is nothing wrong with saying, “We don’t understand.” Sometimes ours is just to marvel.

I try to be the very best person I can be. I think the truth is that everyone is trying the very best they can, some doing better than others. The truth is, I’m only human, something I’ve tried to explain to certain special people over the course of my life with greater or lesser success. I have flaws—lots of flaws—along with some good points. Every day I try to do something good for myself, for someone else, and for the world at large. It’s not easy. Sometimes I can do all three; sometimes not. Blogging, if you can believe it, is my way of giving back to the world. To share my experience of this reality we call life to others so maybe someone might not feel so alone. But the upshot is my redemption and spirituality is none of his or anyone else’s business, that it’s between me and my Maker, whoever or whatever that might be. To think otherwise is terribly presumptuous of these people.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Look 'em in the eye when you say that

Wanna freak people out here in Angrytown? Look them right in the eye. It's fun. Right there on the sidewalk in front of God and everyone, look someone right in the eye when you're passing them by. They honest to God don't know what to do.

I'm from the friendly Midwest, with a little bit of the South thrown in for spice, where everyone says howdy, (and stabs you in the back at the same time.) After living here almost 30 years, I'm still not used to cashiers and the like not engaging in conversation, just random talk. Bostonians are as tight as a bull's butt in fly season.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Copley Square or BPL...you decide

They're at it again. The brass at the Boston Public Library are lobbying to get the name of the T stop there changed from Copley to Boston Public Library or Copley/BPL or some such malarkey. This is promotional hooey at its worst, in the same family with the idiotic, unmemorable corporate names sports stadiums are given around the country.

Citing other stops like Symphony, MFA, and Aquarium, Bernard Margolies, the library systems' president, was quoted in the press as saying that you can see all the important institutions in a listing for T stops. The Aquarium's an important institution? Well, I guess it is if you're a penguin.

Listen, those stops are named that way because tourists go there. Sorry, (and I love the BPL) but tourists don't go to the library. Given the BPL's argument, it would make just as much sense to name the stop, Trinity Church. Or isn't that a prominent enough institution, you arrogant bunch of intellectuals?

And think about the cost of updating maps and signs and schedules and everything connected to a name change. That would be money better spent on improving the T's service. Library officials have told the MBTA they would be happy with a name change, and for the MBTA to change the maps and info later. Oh, there's a really good suggestion from the keepers of facts and truth in our society. So the name of the stop is BPL, but on the map it says Copley? Great, just what we need around here: more lost tourists.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Katie Couric shows a double standard in our society

Katie Couric is frustrated with her job. (With her paycheck, I’ll take the frustration.) The final straw for her comes when an editor uses a perfectly acceptable English word when writing about TB—sputum. So what does she do? She gets angry, yells at the editor, and hits him repeatedly (on the arm.) And then it’s over. No hue and cry over physical abuse. No liberals screaming for her head over the injustice of a big-name using her power over an underling. Katie is so lucky she’s a woman. If she were a man and did what she did she’d be vilified. Abuse is abuse. Or is it?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Morrissey's rescheduled Boston concert

Morrissey came back Saturday with a vengeance. His cancelled June 26th concert at the Bank of America Pavilion when he sang seven songs then walked off stage was a major disappointment. Saturday night, in a fit of déjà vu, he took off his sweaty shirt, threw it into the audience, walked stage left and returned as his band finished up the song. “He went, he returns,” Morrissey quipped, and the fans roared.

Speaking of the band. Morrissey has that awesome voice, but he is touring with a truly amazing bunch of musicians. I’m not a long-time fan of Morrissey, having only been introduced to The Smiths and to him, so I wasn’t one of what seemed like a lot of people who wished he has sang more tunes from The Smiths. I was happy to just listen and learn. But you can help but wonder what goes on with his band, backing a frontman who is the show, who obviously has a huge ego (the set consisted of three blowups of the same image of Morrissey.) The band was hot from the get-go, but there were a couple of times where it seemed the band just looked at each other and said, let’s give this joker a run for his money, and just kicked into high gear.

This morning's MBTA commuting tale

This morning I got on what’s becoming the chronically late 8:47 commuter rail out of Framingham for Boston. Feeling lucky because I got an aisle seat. As the train leaves the station the man behind me starts talking in a loud, penetrating voice, in a cadence that is as jerky as the train. He starts by asking someone if he wears a hearing aid, then says he does, too. Ah, I think, conjuring up some sympathy, that’s why his voice is so loud. He goes on to say he was in Vietnam and a shell exploded nearby. More sympathy. But as we head towards West Natick, he launches into religion, and Jesus. Between West Natick and Natick he relates a story of a holdup in a New Hampshire store, where the robber gunned down three people. Enough, I think, I’m not going to listen to this all the way into Boston. When the train pulled into Natick I got up to find a better seat. The man was sitting alone, intently leaning into the vacant space next to him.

Sad, so sad. I hope there was someone meeting him at the end of the line.

Run away

I said to Sue this morning, "Can't we just run away, like cowards? Just go screaming away, crying like a couple of nancies?"

Did not want to get up, go into work, and deal with people who debate whether it's better to say, "Plus, you get $500 Cash Back," (note the capitalization) or "And, you get $500 Cash Back."

Let me clue you in: It doesn't make a bit of difference.

People who let the seconds tick away, trying to justify their existence and their choices...

Skin deep

Standing on the T platform one evening in Park Street carrying my guitar in its case, going over a song in my head. Three or four loudmouth, young white men come down the stairs, their hooting, hollering, and cursing announcing to the world that a high amount of testosterone and more than likely alcohol is coursing through their veins. They get near me and one goes, “Killer boots, dude.”

I stand out here in sophisticated Boston because I look “country.” I’m over twice their age and wearing my usual jeans, cowboy boots, and denim jacket. They’re loud and rude and ignorant. I don’t want to get into a fight or an argument.

The train comes along, thankfully, and me, a middle-aged white guy who looks like he just stepped off the bus from East Texas, gets on an Ashmont train filled with blacks, Hispanics and other people of color, and suddenly feels safe again.

Me, this a.m.

From a Horse in the Country...

This weather I could almost stand
If the sun would shine a little brighter
Or even if the sun would shine at all
But lately it just seems to me
That this life has lost its mystery
And these cold fall mornings seem to bite
Just a little bit harder

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Horse in the Country

Michael Timmins has such a beautiful gift...

The money would be pretty good
If a quart of milk were still a dollar
Or even if a quart of milk were still a quart
And the hours, well, I don't mind
How they creep on by like an old love of mine
It's the years that simply disappear that are doing me in

Guess I married too young,
Yeah, nineteen was just too young,
But sometimes you meet someone
And your guts just burn
It's not that I don't love him anymore
It's just that when I hear him
Coming through that front door
My heart doesn't race like it did once before

But I've got a horse out in the country
I get to see him every second Sunday
He comes when I call him,
Yeah, he knows his name
One day I'll saddle up
And the two of us will ride away

This weather I could almost stand
If the sun would shine a little brighter
Or even if the sun would shine at all
But lately it just seems to me
That this life has lost its mystery
And these cold fall mornings seem to bite
Just a little bit harder

And all my friends have settled down
Become their mothers and their fathers
Without a sound
Except for Cathy,
She bought a one-way subway ticket
And left us all behind

But I've got a horse out in the country
I get to see him every second Sunday
He comes when I call him,
Yeah, he knows his name
One day I'll saddle up
And the two of us will ride away

This town wouldn't be so bad
If a girl could trust her instincts
Or even if a girl could trust a boy

--Cowboy Junkies

You can't hold onto time

There's a little general store in Centerville that caters to the tourists. All things cute and Cape Coddish.

Yesterday, Sue and I stopped in there on our walk home from the beach. Sue wanted some chocolate. I walked in, made my way to the back of the store, and turned right around and went back outside. Too many kids and milling tourists.

On the porch there are two benches, cliches that you see not just on the Cape but other touristy American escapes, one marked Republicans and the other marked Democrats. This is a gentle poke at our Americanism. We're different, but we can still get along. Funny, the Democratic bench is on the right.

I sat in the Democratic bench for no other reason other than it was there. Also on the porch are two little wooden cutouts of children. Caucasian, smiling, cheery, dressed in their summer shorts. A family of four, Mom, Dad, and young boy and girl, came out and Mother stood them side by side, the boy next to the little boy cutout and the girl against the girl, and began snapping pictures. "I've taken your pictures next to them when you were shorter than they were," she said. Everyone was in good cheer, the children at first uncooperative, playing the classic American child's role (Tom Sawyer, Scout) of smart, independent, spunky, but quickly came into line with one stern but loving remark from Mom.

I stood up and removed myself from the picture, watching. And it made me feel so sad. Watching them marking time like that, trying to hold on to something that was dear and precious to them, probably knowing or understanding, assuming or even worse, supposing, that it's impossible to hold on to time. To stop it.

When you're old, what do you have but your memories? I don't know, but I hope I have something more than that.

Back to the frat house

Maybe it's appropriate that this is the 300th post since I've started this blog. Started writing here because I wanted to share, tell the truth, and get to the truth.

So...it's Thursday, the day after the Fourth of July. One crazy, madhouse time driving down to the Cape after work (after plans sort of got screwed up, thanks to my frazzled brain, for spending the Fourth with friends in Gloucester) meeting Sue and some of her friends and then chasing them around the Cape as they hopped from bar to bar, one step ahead of us, then spending yesterday just taking deep breaths and enjoying the (short) time with Sue.

So, and now it's back in the frat house.

Why is this frat house mentality, with its juvenile, testosterone-sodden humor and behavior, tolerated here? It's like the grade-school playground all over again, with the cool guys posturing who, sorry, are really kind of pathetic starting with the clothes they wear trying to stem time's erosion, and a little surrounding bevy of cute girls stroking their egos with their approving giggles? Dollars to donuts the girls are thinking, please, just get me the hell out of here, this idiot smile on my face is really starting to hurt.

Truth be told, most people here don't like it, they'll tell you that in private, they just put up with it because they have to put up with it to keep paying the bills or get ahead in their careers or they're just too damn tired, or they're afraid to stand up and say something.

And what's worse is when old farts in senior management encourage it because it, I'm guessing here, makes them think they're still young, but frankly their behavior is even more pathetic than the younger people because they look like a bunch of sad, bloated old white men way passed their prime (think Ted Kennedy here.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I started blogging because I felt the process for writing for a newspaper wasn't sufficient anymore for what I wanted to say. I felt with a blog I could just speak exactly what was on my mind, quick and unedited.

Now I find myself in an interesting place, editing myself, holding back a bit knowing who is or who might be reading this.

There are things about where I work that I'm dying to put out there.

The personal stuff is digging even deeper...and for those of you (or who's left out there who actually reads this blog) who have commented about it being too personal and you all couldn't bare your soul like I do sometimes...well, it could get even messier.

But to what end? Sometimes the truth just has to be told. It has to be laid out there. We crave the truth, but don't want to pay the price for it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Somewhere Trouble Don't Go

Sometimes you'd swear a song was written about your life...








--Julie Miller

Summer Monday morning

Woke up this morning at 4:00 and left the Cape at 4:30 to get to work on time. At some point in the middle of the night I woke up not knowing where I was. Normally I can hear Bob gently snoring next to my bed. Then I felt Sue next to me and it was all right.

Driving off Cape over the Sagamore Bridge with the morning light coming up on my right over the distant bay is a mournful way to start a day. Leaving. Abandoning the things that count. Leaving the water and the sun and Sue behind to go work in an office. The Cape tugging at my soul. It's July, and the summer clock is ticking.

The farther north and the later the morning gets the meaner the drivers get. There are some people you don't want to get near to when they're in their cars, much less sit next to them in an office, stand in a line with them at the CVS.

Walking into an empty apartment and starting the morning routine from a standing start. The shirt I wore to work last week still hanging over the chair at the table. A few dishes left in the sink.
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