Ibragim was a womanizer. He was kind to children. He had a sweet tooth, and a temper. Who killed three men in Waltham, Massachusetts, on September 11 2011? And could solving that case have prevented the Boston Bombings? The answers may never be clear, because the chief surviving suspect, Ibragim Todashev, was shot by the FBI while allegedly on the brink of confessing. Journalist Susan Zalkind's investigation turned up many more questions about the Bureau's handling of the case than it answered. It's also been featured on This American Life. Warning: the first link contains photos of Todashev's dead body.
Inspirational Sam Berns, who suffered from the premature ageing disease progeria, has passed away at the age of 17.
A new Report on the State of Health + Urbanism (pdf) from MIT looks at the relationship between urban planning and public health, with some surprising findings. The cities covered are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. [more inside]
Roger Angell is the greatest of all baseball writers. Today, the game has recognized the fact. This July, along with Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa, Roger will be celebrated in Cooperstown, New York, the site of the Hall of Fame. He will receive the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, which has previously gone to the likes of Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Ring Lardner, and Damon Runyon. [more inside]
Friday November 22, 1963, at the Boston Symphony Orchestra: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a press report over the wireless. We hope that it is unconfirmed, but we have to doubt it. That the president of the United States has been the victim of an assassination. We will play the funeral march from Beethoven’s Third Symphony."
"In linguistic circles, there is a bit of excitement over the election of Marty Walsh as Boston’s next mayor. Not only does he have a strong Boston accent — perhaps the strongest in the city’s mayoral history — but his speech is a perfect example of the modern dialect, where the broad “a” sound is gone. He’s from Dohchestah. Not Dawchestah. And when it comes time to say pronounce his new job title, he shows the variability of the dialect, which is what actors who drop every R get wrong. Sometimes he’s a may-uh. Sometimes he’s a mare. And a lot of times, he skips both the Y and the R and he’s just a maeh..."
Numerous "Stranger's Guides" written for 19th Century tourists can be found on the Internet Archive. A sample: New York (1828). Boston (1857). Washington DC (1884). Montreal (1872). London (1828). Paris (1822). United States and Canada (1838).
Canadian Meredith Fitzmaurice did not expect to win last weekend's Run for Heroes Marathon, mostly because she was aiming for a 1:28 half. [more inside]
A Day of Grace: A time lapse video of one day at Studio 7 with the Boston Ballet.
"It’s not often that one finds buried treasure, but that’s exactly what happened in Wayland High School’s History Building as we prepared to move to a new campus. Amidst the dusty collection of maps featuring the defunct USSR, decades-old textbooks describing how Negroes are seeking equality, and film strips pieced together with brittle scotch tape, was a gray plastic Samsonite briefcase, circa 1975."
The Adam Ezra Group (previously on MetaFilter) has released an instructional video for the benefit of those seeking a greater understanding of the distinctive accent particular to the greater Boston area, as well as a deeper appreciation of the many colorful idiomatic expressions indigenous to the region, all set to a possibly recognizable Charlie Daniels tune - The Devil Came Up To Boston (very much NSFW or Yankees fans)
For the first time since the 1950s, Boston's Charles River opened for public swimming. [more inside]
The NYTimes tracks the recovery of Jeff Bauman, one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing
"Two weeks ago, it took a team to lift [Mery] Daniel from bed; now she can walk 100 yards on her own. But she is also fatigued and frustrated, six weeks after a blast at the Boston Marathon tore through her legs...Now she has a new worry: Making up for lost time fund-raising." [more inside]
Yesterday, thousands of runners participated in One Run Boston, an one mile event organized for those who were injured in the Boston bombings, and those who were stopped on the course without a chance to finish. [more inside]
The Boston Marathon bombings may be fading from the front pages, but the numerous conspiracy theories that sprang up in the wake of the incident continue to rage on, spurred by professional conspiracists such as Alex Jones. Book reviewer and skeptic Anita Dalton (previously), at her new website devoted to skeptical examinations of conspiracy theories and paranormal claims, has kicked off a meticulous and in-depth series of posts comprehensively debunking the Boston Marathon conspiracy theories. (Related: Why rational people buy into conspiracy theories.)
The Boston easy listening station WJIB has developed a cult following among senior citizens, children, and young artsy types. Before local radio legend Bob Bittner revived the call letters and format of the beloved beautiful music station, the 740 frequency had an unusual and eccentric history. [more inside]
Meet the 17-year-old kid who won a Boston hackathon by creating a killer hack for Twitter, blocking out TV show spoilers. Also, she's a girl, and the only solo entrant.
Bostonians Tyler Balliet and Morgan First love wine. Drinking it, talking about it, introducing other people to it. But wine, unfortunately, is often perceived to have an attitude, a culture of snottiness and pretension that puts people off before they even get close to a wine glass. Why swirl it? What's with that obnoxious sucking sound? What the hell is the deal with spitting it out? What about the confusing vocabulary and snooty descriptors? When did wine become "sassy" or "understated", instead of "delicious"? [more inside]
Up until last week, "One Direction Infection," a Tumblr blog created and maintained by an eighth grader we'll call Claire, looked like any other 14-year-old's Tumblr. But over the weekend Claire's subject matter took a sharp turn. In place of candid shots of Harry Styles and Zayn Malik, there are now photos of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; instead of inspirational image macros, there are annotated crime scene photos. Gawker's Max Read on where social media fandoms meet conspiracy theories.
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.