What started as a report of a convenience store robbery near the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last night has sprawled into a chaotic manhunt for the perpetrators of the recent terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon. The deadly pursuit, involving a policeman's murder, a carjacking, a violent chase with thrown explosives, and the death of one suspect, has resulted in Governor Deval Patrick ordering an unprecedented lockdown of the entire Boston metropolitan area as an army of law enforcement searches house by house for the remaining gunman. The Associated Press has identified the duo as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, who remains at large. Both are immigrants from wartorn Chechnya in southwestern Russia. The Guardian liveblog is good for quick updates, and Reddit's updating crowdsourced timeline of events that has often outpaced mainstream media coverage of the situation. You can also get real-time reports straight from the (Java-based) local police scanner.
"At the finish line of the Boston Marathon, two explosions have left multiple people injured." via ParadisePost. CBS Boston has a live video feed up of the finish line.
Boston taxi cab drivers, often cheated, work in a world where risk and reward are a mismatch. [more inside]
"In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990 – as the city was preoccupied with Saint Patrick's Day celebrations – a pair of thieves disguised themselves as Boston police officers, gained entry to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and stole thirteen works of art."* "The stolen works have a total estimated worth of around $500 million, making the robbery the largest property theft ever"* and "considered the greatest art theft in history."* Today the FBI announced that they have identified the people who stole the masterworks. They also said they had determined where the artworks had traveled in the years after the robbery. The FBI said they did not know where they were now and were appealing to the public for their help in finding them. The Gardner Museum is offering a reward of $5 million for information leading to the recovery of these works.
From the most recent Boston Magazine. "The Boston sports media, once considered one of the country’s best and most influential press corps, is stumbling toward irrelevance. The national media not only seems to break more big Boston sports stories than the local press, but also often features more sophisticated analysis, especially when it comes to using advanced statistics. To put it bluntly, “The Lodge”—as Fred Toucher, cohost of the 98.5 The Sports Hub morning radio show, mockingly refers to the city’s clubby, self-important media establishment—is clogged with stale reporters, crotchety columnists, and shameless blowhards. " There's even a whole blog dedicated to hating Dan Shaughnessy, Dan Shaughnessy Watch, aka the CHB.
"'Personally, I think it’s slightly sad how easy it was to get,' Jessica says, referring to the building. She brightens. 'But everyone at Chipotle was really excited to get this spot because of the history, the chance to be a part of Boston’s history. This is the oldest retail location in Boston.'" (via)
"People haven’t been fascinated by this book because the translation is mellifluous or beautiful,” said Michael F. Suarez, a professor of English at the University of Virginia who directs the Rare Book School there. “People haven’t been attracted to this book because the presswork is beautiful. It’s not.” Instead, the Bay Psalm Book is treasured for being the first surviving piece of printing done in the British North American colonies. Only 11 copies, many incomplete, today survive. Remarkably two of those copies belong to the same owner, Boston's Old South Church. This month, the church made the controversial decision to sell one (the first such sale in 65 years), and it could bring as much as $20 million for the church's endowment.
The Tech, a newspaper at MIT, has published a report about MIT students' stress. (via) [more inside]
Yesterday was Day 80 of the NHL lockout, with the situation looking pretty grim after a failed intervention by US federal mediators. Then on Monday, WBZ-TV Boston's Steve Burton surprised everyone by leading off his segment with this bombshell. Tuesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Union Director Don Fehr took the unusual tactic of stepping back to allow owners and players to negotiate directly. With the annual Board of Governors meeting happening Wednesday and a press conference scheduled afterwards, NHL insiders across twitter are expressing cautious optimism that the puck will soon be dropped.
Killing Them Softly - Trailer(Youtube) - is based on a 1978 novel by George V. Higgins (Boston's Balzac), set in Boston. The movie was filmed in New Orleans and set in 2008. [more inside]
70 years ago today, 492 people perished in a fire at Boston's popular Cocoanut Grove nightclub. The Cocoanut Grove Coalition offers documents, images, videos, and artifacts of the fire and its aftermath. This fascinating 1995 WGBH clip interviews a variety of survivors, offering a window on the era as well as the fire. Other documents of note: The Boston Library's Flickr photo set and the Library's recently released witness statements and final report. Also noteworthy: Buck Jones and the Cocoanut Grove controversy. [more inside]
Lets Swim To Work! "Centuries of boat traffic, heavy industry, sewage runoff and toxic dumping have ingrained in us the idea that urban waterways are not places for people. Even as cities have rushed to the water’s edge over the past couple of decades, building elaborate waterfront parks and esplanades, few have taken the next logical step: encouraging residents to dive in." [more inside]
In the wake of the venerable Boston Phoenix changing to a glossy magazine format and rebranding itself as simply The Phoenix (as well as the ongoing turmoil at the Village Voice), Salon's Will Doig writes the obituary for the age of the alt-weeklies. The Phoenix responds.
The Improper Bostonian: "In a town rightfully famous for its trailblazing female chefs, where Julia Child helped introduce American families to fresh vegetables and unprocessed foods, and Lydia Shire fine-tuned the buttery possibilities of French cooking, women have hardly disappeared from the dining scene. They can be found in other kitchens. But where and why are subject to debate, depending on whom you ask."
"According to a photo published to the 'Wipe Out Homophobia" Facebook group, Chick-Fil-A has announced a voluntary recall of Jim Henson's Creature Shop Puppet Kids Meal toys, and is blaming it on safety issues. There's no information on when the notice was allegedly put up, but the 'recall' is backdated to one day before the Jim Henson Company cut ties with Chick-Fil-A for its donations to anti-gay groups."* All this comes on the heels of Chick-Fil-A's COO, Dan Cathy, owning up to the company's contributions to anti-gay causes in a recent interview: "Well, guilty as charged." [more inside]
Shit Boston Cops Say: "For at least six years, the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association (BPPA) has published a boldly bigoted official union newsletter, the Pax Centurion. Full of screeds against minorities, women, progressives, gays, Muslims, and even crime victims, its pages have long drawn ire from activists and union members alike. Last week, though, the mostly obscure paper finally broke into the spotlight: Mayor Tom Menino called the Pax 'garbage,' Boston Police Superintendent Ed Davis condemned the rag on Twitter, and several big-brand advertisers yanked their sponsorships." [more inside]
The Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the handful of orchestras for which musicians the world over will drop everything to scramble for a job, and the audition ranks among the world’s toughest job interviews. Mike Tetreault has spent an entire year preparing obsessively for this moment. He's put in 20-hour workdays, practiced endlessly and shut down his personal life. Now the percussionist has 10 minutes to impress a selection committee and stand out among a lineup of other world-class musicians. A single mistake and it's over. A flawless performance and he could join one of the world's most renowned and financially well-endowed orchestras at a salary of more than $100,000 a year. The Audition. [more inside]
The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has released MBTA See Say [iTunes link], a free iPhone/Android app that allows riders to "send the MBTA Transit Police pictures, text messages, and locations of unattended packages or suspicious activity" [link to MBTA apps page]. The camera's flash is disabled when a photograph is taken within the app. According to ELERTS, who built the app for the MBTA, "the opportunity to crowdsource information from riders who witness suspicious or criminal activities has not been realized by transit systems." The MBTA, which is the fifth largest transit system in the United States, is the first system to adopt this technology.
WFNX is D-E-D, dead. The last remaining Boston indie major market radio station, WFNX, has been sold to Clear Channel Communications. 17 full- and part-time staffers, including almost all the current radio personalities, have been laid off. The station will continue to operate for a few months with a skeleton crew until the FCC approval and changeover. [more inside]
Many visitors to Boston assume that the Back Bay neighborhood is one of the city's oldest. It's actually one of the newest, reclaimed from Charles River marshland at the end of the 19th Century. Before the completion of this project, Beacon Street to Brookline was the top of a tidal dam. Today's Boston Proper is actually mostly fill: in 1630, Boston was 783 acres of land. By 1901, it was 1,904 acres. Filling in Back Bay was an enormous project, but some valuable lessons were learned decades earlier while filling in the South End.
A grasshopper weathervane has sat atop Boston's Faneuil Hall since 1742. The grasshopper through its glass doorknob eyes (scroll down), witnessed the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and the siege of Boston. On January 4th, 1974, the grasshopper was stolen but returned and repaired.
He considered himself an artist, but his work, while popular and incendiary, showed little talent or originality. Later in life he took up working with precious metals, and that would be the craft he’s remembered for, but earlier in his career he printed his own engravings, or his version of the work of others. Earlier this year at Brown University’s John Hay Library, something very rare was discovered. One of Paul Revere’s prints depicting the Baptism of Christ was found tucked in an old textbook. While not a particularly valuable work or great art, this rare print does tell us a bit about the man as an artist, and about his faith. [more inside]
Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. So wrote John Updike in his moving tribute to Red Sox legend Ted Williams -- an appropriately pedigreed account for this oldest and most fabled of ballfields that saw its first major league game played one century ago today. As a team in flux hopes to recapture the magic with an old-school face-off against the New York
Highlanders Yankees, it's hard to imagine the soul of the Sox faced the specter of demolition not too long ago. Now legally preserved, in a sport crowded with corporate-branded superdome behemoths, Fenway abides, bursting with history, idiosyncrasy, record crowds, and occasional song. [more inside]
Punk Rock Fashion Show at the popular Spit nightclub. Boston, 1982. PLYT; mildly NSFW due to subliminal nipple
238 years ago this evening… in response to the Townshend Act, and the East India Company… a few colonists had a Tea (link) Party (link).
Perfect Storm lobster tags wash up 3000 miles and 20 years later. Here's the US version of the story. Ocean currents hero Curt Ebbesmeyer (previously), "studier of flotsam," believes the tags were likely stuck in mud, then meandered around the Atlantic until arriving last year in Waterville, County Kerry, Ireland. There is a monument to the lives of fisherman lost in Gloucester and includes over 10,000 names dating back to 1716, including those from the Andrea Gail.
What does a day's worth of activity look like for Boston's transportation system? Via bostonography, which has been featured previously.
The Real Housewives of South Boston (NSF... well, anybody, really.)
The Boston Globe's Bob Hohler gets to the bottom of the Red Sox's epic collapse: Inside are tales of alienated potential MVP candidates, pitchers playing video games and eating take out chicken and biscuits instead of being in the dugout, and older players chasing statistical glory.
After beating the Texas Rangers on Sept. 3, the Boston Red Sox were 84-54. Although half a game behind the Yankees in the American League East, the Red Sox had a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the wild card and roughly a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. Fast forward one excruciating month to a dead heat with Tampa coming into tonight's bitter imbroglio. Boston struggles ahead of laughingstock Baltimore by a single run until a rain delay clears the field, leaving them in the surreal position of rooting for the hated Yankees playing down in Florida. They can only watch from the sidelines as the rival Rays, tied with Boston in the pennant race but down 7-0 against New York, roar back to life with six runs in the eighth inning and a tie run on the final pitch at the bottom of the ninth. And then, after blowing two different strikes that would have salvaged the game, Boston loses to Baltimore, completing what is arguably the worst late-breaking collapse in the history of major league baseball.
Which place looks safer? Which place looks more unique? Which place looks more upper-class? MIT is crowdsourcing a "perception network" to analyze people's subconscious judgments about urban spaces. Preliminary results for Boston, New York City, Vienna, Salzburg, and Linz (Austria). [more inside]
Donald Thomas "Tom" Scholz (born 10 March 1947) is an American rock musician, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, inventor, and mechanical engineer, best known as the founder of the hard rock band Boston. He is also the inventor of the Rockman guitar amplifier. [more inside]
"A short film chronicling the legendary Johnny Canuck, his years of triumph and turmoil, and how they mirror the history of the Vancouver Canucks franchise and their Stanley Cup run in 2010-2011." [SLYT] [more inside]
Long before the Web, The Boston Globe had a “homepage” of sorts – its old storefront downtown. Taking advantage of its location in a heavily trafficked block of Newspaper Row, the young daily brought the news to Bostonians in a whole new way: handwritten signs.
There is an inspiring mural on the back of the Micro Center building in Cambridge, MA. It commemorates the freeway revolt against the proposed I-695 Inner Belt. There are usually cars parked in front of it, but some have managed to get good photos.
Bostonography is the study of Greater Boston, Massachusetts through maps and graphics. This site is run by a pair of cartography geeks; Andy Woodruff of Axis Maps, and Tim Wallace. [more inside]
The Boston Marathon has made it harder to qualify, by lowering times by 5:00 minutes across the board, and also by eliminating the 59 second grace period. [more inside]
Snowdecahedron. When life hands you a blizzard, make a Platonic solid. "Temporary public art" from Dan Sternof Beyer.
Billy Ruane was a fixture in the whirl/world of Cambridge and Boston music in the early eighties. Billy Ruane lived widely and wildly in the Cambridge/Boston from the 1980's till now. Most who encountered him came away with stories to tell. Interesting ones. Music was his absolute passion. He had more records than anyone. One Christmas he proudly declared that he had bought the same Slim Whitman Anthology for everyone on his list. (My roommate was sitting beside him on the train from NY to Boston and so captive to such information.)
The Daily Beast attempts to identify America's Smartest Cities. Rather more seriously, Nature ponders the Best Cities for Science worldwide, as part of its special on Science and the City. (The podcast segment on cities is a nice overview.)
Typographic Maps. "These unique maps accurately depict the streets and highways, parks, neighborhoods, coastlines, and physical features of the city using nothing but type."
The Best of Bill Brett's Wedding Photos. Known as Boston's Photographer, Bill Brett shares some of his favorite wedding photos from the years. Including a civil war wedding, a romantic kiss, Old Ironsides, a street sweeper, the Oscar Meyer Wienermoble, and a third grade class.