Saturday, March 29, 2008

Welcome to Massachusetts HA!!!!!!!

I pity any visitor to the Commonwealth whose first impression is the Lee Service Plaza on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Located 8 miles from the New York border heading eastbound it is supposed to offer full services 24 hours a day. Not exactly.

Last night a group of us went out to Albany for the NCAA College Hockey playoffs. When we left Elliot Spitzer's former residence behind us there was a blinding
snowstorm and we saw the aftermath of an accident on I-90 crossing the Hudson that involved at least 10 cars on both sides of the bridge. In any event driving to the Massachusetts border was slow going as there was a snowplow or sander to be found.

Our plan was to stop at a truck stop for late night munchies at the state line but we found out that it had gone out of business a year ago. So we just shrugged knowing there was a rest stop 10 miles away in Massachusetts.

All that was open was a McDonald's with a 'limited' menu you could not change from. The choices consisted of a egg burrito, quarter pounder, double quarter pounder or 10 piece McChicken. Fine..whatever we were starved. The counterperson took our order plus those of about 10 other people. We paid and waited...............and waited...............and waited.

The counterperson wasn't aware that the cook had gone off duty and nobody was cooking food. First he tried to tell us to come back in an hour as there was no way to refund our money ( he said he didn't know how ) Finally he started cooking himself. It was the worst quarter pounder I have ever had and for someone who used to eat at the McD's on Causeway St that was condemned by the city of Boston that was quite a feat. it is time to feed the car at the Gulf Station. I don't trust self service credit card pumps so I went inside where 'Skip' a man in his 50's looked bored. I asked to prepay $20 using my card.

"Nope, nope we can't do that. You must use the pump."

Well since the next station was 30 miles away and we were low I grumbled OK. Go to the pump, swipe the card and then it says to select what brand I wanted. Pump would not allow that so back in to see Skip.

"Are you a moron?" Skip demanded. "Just push the button!!!" Finally after 5 minutes he says the pump is broken go use another pump. Now the second pump won't work because the credit card is denied and a quick call to the bank tells me it is because the other sale is still open. OK fine....use another card. Finally we have gas after almost 20 minutes.
I just checked my debit card online......I have $120 dollars in 6 separate sales on the card I finally could not use and the $20 I did finally buy is on the other card. So now I have to find Gulf Oil and call them on Monday to see what can be done.

BTW I must add that something unusual happened at the Michigan-Niagara hockey game. Of course Michigan had their band which only seems to know one song "Hail to the Victors" which they played often last night. Tiny Niagara also had a band but it became obvious to me something was strange as all they were playing was HARVARD fight songs.
I asked a Niagara fan after the game why they use Harvard. His reply was hysterical.

"Oh we don't have a band as we are too small a school. The NCAA hired the RPI band to play for us."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Headless Body in Topless Bar

We true Bostonians do not want to admit this but there is a reason the New York Post can be found at almost every newsstand in the city.

We love it.

I know that it's often poorly written, hypocritical, and flat-out racist, but the Post is complete fun in the morning. I can't live without it.

The NY Post has now published a book that contains what they consider their best headlines.

What else could they choose for a title but the most infamous headline of all

The paper is also having an online vote so readers can select their favorite.

My favorite Post headline didn't make the cut. When sports announcer Marv Albert was fired a decade ago after a sex scandal the post headline was


Our feisty tabloid the Herald has tried at times to be a Boston version of the Post but it just doesn't work here. Former NY Post editor Ken Chandler found that out the hard way when he approved the worst front page in Boston history after the death of Victoria Snelgrove outside Fenway Park in 2004.

Baseball Woodstock getting panned in media

Yesterday I questioned the wisdom of this baseball farce that will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles involving the Red Sox. I thought I was alone in wondering if this was a good idea but turns out I was only a day early.

Eric Wilbur unloaded today on
It's difficult to imagine that the Red Sox could find themselves in a land more foreign than the one they just vacated, but that will be the reality Saturday night when they (or perhaps a minor league lineup wearing Sox uniforms) take on the Dodgers in a Charles Steinberg circus production at the famed Los Angeles Coliseum, a place that hasn't been used for professional baseball in almost a half-century.

There's a reason.

LA Times sports columnist T.J. Simers was even more blunt
The McCourts say they will sell no more than 115,000 tickets in the Coliseum, which coincidentally is just how many they need to sell to set the world record for the largest baseball crowd, the Australian national team setting the mark in the 1956 Olympics.

I don't know how many times my next-door neighbor has told me, "If only the McCourts can break that Australian record."

Who cares how many people fill the Coliseum other than the people who have to line up to go to the bathroom?

On a bright note, maybe it'll be like every other Dodgers game, the Dodgers announcing a crowd of 115,000 and only 25,000 sitting in the stadium.

The Dodgers could have cut ticket sales off at 90,000, everyone having a grand time without falling all over each other, but just how many people can you cram into a dump?

To help pad the attendance, the Coliseum entrance has been moved back from the building. Fans sitting by the Olympic statues outside the Coliseum will now be considered inside for attendance purposes, and will be watching the game on big-screen TVs.

Sports Illustrated's Jon Wesiman also thinks this is nuts.
And with the transcendent lure of bad traffic, bad parking, bad seats and utter meaninglessness as far as the standings go (even though the regular season will have already started for the Dodgers' opponents, the Boston Red Sox, in Japan of all places), more human beings will venture inside the Coliseum peristyle than have ever been to any single baseball game.

"This is more of an event than it is a game," Dodgers broadcaster Charley Steiner said. "It sounds a little grandiose, but it is kind of like a baseball Woodstock. People are coming to be there not necessarily for the outcome of the game. It's a celebration."

Please let nobody get hurt in this fiasco.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Boston's worst beer

If you have ever spent time at the Beacon Hill Pub, The Tam, Sullivan's at North Station, Our House West in Allston or the immortal Mary Ann's at Cleveland Circle you may have come face to face with Boston's worst beer.


While most dive bars in the city have adopted Papst Blue Ribbon as the swill of choice the bars metioned above and a handful of others carry Brubaker.

It comes from the Lion Brewery in Wilkes Barre, PA and nobody buys it because it tastes good.

It is cheap and comes in 16 ounce bottles.

One word of warning. The 16 ounce bottles are refilled over and over again and you can rest assured that the bottle you are putting your lips on has tasted many, many lips for almost 20 years.

Years ago Henry Vara who owned many bars in Boston ( including the Father's chain ) sold Knickerbocker Beer in 16 ounce bottles and in the early 90's he decided to brew a cheap beer for in house use. The result was Brubaker.

It is what it and almost guaranteed to give you a hangover.

What was really odd was I was reading about the beer in the Improper Bostonian while watching the end of the Sox game this morning at Sullivan's. I had not had it in years since the Bow and Arrow Pub in Harvard Sq left some 10 years ago.

So I had one for old times sake.......couldn't even finish it.

Without question it is Boston's worst beer and they seem to be proud of that.

Thought baseball in Japan was weird? Next up Baseball Woodstock

The Red Sox now return to Spring Training mode until they resume the season on Tuesday in Oakland.

The Red Sox will play 3 games in Los Angeles over the weekend but Saturday night promises to be as strange if not stranger than Toyko. They will play the Dodgers at the stadium that Los Angeles played in when they moved from Brooklyn 50 years ago.

The largest crowd ever to see a baseball game is expected as over 115,000 tickets have been sold.
This game is the brainchild of Dr. Charles Steinberg, the Dodgers’ executive vice president for marketing and public relations who left the Red Sox to go Hollywood.

If left field looks a little short well it is as it will be 201 feet down the line ( 109 feet less than Fenway )

The game will be on NESN at 10:30 PM Saturday night.

NY Times offers a sneak peak
201 Feet to Left, 440 Feet to Right: Dodgers Play the Coliseum

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Guess the Sox won.............

I wound up trying to watch the Red Sox opener at a small bar in Cambridge known as the Cellar at 991 Mass Avenue. The owners who I have known for years even promised a book signing by a local author.

Wound up watching the DirecTV logo bouncing on the TV and hearing the game on radio.

Even the author was smart enough to avoid the place..........

Monday, March 24, 2008

UPDATED Monday afternoon - Breakfast with the RemDog

It appears now that a number of bars will be open on Tuesday morning for the Red Sox opener in Japan starting at 6 AM.

Bars that we now know to be open include

  • Game On at 82 Lansdowne St at 5:30 AM
  • Daisy Buchanan’s at 240 Newbury at 6 AM
  • Anchovies at 433 Columbus Avenue at 6 AM
  • Pour House at 907 Boylston St at 8:00 AM (staff revolted)
  • The Avenue at 1249 Commonwealth, Allston at 6 AM
  • Cask’n Flagon at 62 Brookline Avenue at 5:30 AM
  • Pug's Bar and Grille at 635 Cambridge St, Cambridge at 7:30 AM

Baseball Tavern at 1270 Boylston St will not open until 8 AM

More locations are sure to follow.

By state law the bars can not serve drinks until 8 AM so enjoy a hearty breakfast and 'coffee' until 8 AM

New Hampshire bars can serve alcohol at 6 AM and many will open.

Even in Manhattan some bars will open early and the NY Daily News had a story on it today.

earlier post

It won't seem like Opening Day....please let the bars open

Jordan's trying to give away free furniture again

Eliot Tatelman is at it again. Jordan's Furniture will bring back the free furniture promotion that they had last season but it gets a little harder this time. Now the Red Sox have to not only win the World Series...they have to SWEEP.

No problem...

Jordan's owner can afford Warren Buffet

Jerry Remy does Tokyo

Looks like Jerry Remy is in rare form

The Globe has a bar update
Some bars to open early for Fenway faithful
Some Red Sox supporters will be getting up before sunrise tomorrow to watch the Sox open their season more than a dozen time zones away. (Boston Globe, 11:53 a.m.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

forgotten Boston TV commercials

another look back at what we used to see on TV

Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day 1970

Tip O'Neill - Bob Uecker - Miller Lite - Boston 1988

Jay Leno for the Boston Globe - 1986

Celtics for Bradlees early 1970's

Jordan Marsh - 1986

Alf on the 1986 World Series

Dukakis for Governor 1986

Remember WCLB radio? didn't think so

Happy 60th birthday Bobby Orr

60 years ago today the greatest hockey player of them all was born in Parry Sound, Ontario.

One can argue that he is the most popular player in Boston sports history or at the very least at the same level as Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Larry Bird or Tom Brady.

#4 Bobby Orr

I suppose some people in the 80's remember him more for his commercials for a long forgotten bank

The night his number was retired in the Boston Garden there was not a dry eye in the house.
Bobby Orr Retirement Ceremony (Part 1of 5)
Bobby Orr Retirement Ceremony (Part 2of 5)
Bobby Orr Retirement Ceremony (Part 3of 5)
Bobby Orr Retirement Ceremony (Part 4of 5)
Bobby Orr Retirement Ceremony (Part 5of 5)

38 years ago he made Boston the happiest place on earth. Dan Kelly made the call on CBS.

and after the game he talked to the late Don Earle in the locker room

Bruins locker room after win the Cup 10. May 1970

Happy Birthday Bobby!!!!!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why can't we do this to the Charles River?

In Chicago they dye the Chicago River GREEN
for St Patrick's Day. Why can't we do the same to the river Charles?

Causing skepticism in some and delight in others, the river has been dyed green every St. Patrick's Day since the early 1960s by a pipefitters union. Walk by it in broad daylight any other time of the year and the river is a dark green, prompting the famous line from the movie, "The Fugitive," "You'd think they could dye it blue the rest of the year."

Boston's subway historian has died

Boston lost a treasure chest of institutional memory this weekend with the death of George M. Sanborn who knew more about the Boston transit system than anyone else alive.

I first met George almost 15 years ago at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine which is a fascinating place to visit. He was very friendly to my young son and then surprised him by letting him drive a streetcar which thrilled my son no end.

In passing I had mentioned that I was in a subway accident in the 70's that was truly bizarre as it involved THREE trains between Park St and Charles but when I went to the library I couldn't find any information on it. He invited me to stop by his office in Park Square at the Transportation Library and he might have something about it.

A few weeks later I did stop by and he gave me a huge folder of newspaper clippings and the MBTA report of what had happened. We chatted for awhile and he showed me old timetables that showed that old New Haven Railroad trains were faster in 1912 going to New York than today. He also showed me a old timetables that showed how Boston buses and streetcars used to run all night and at 3 in the morning you could take a single streetcar from Arlington all the way to Newton Corner. He also told me how Mayor Menino led the charge when he was a Hyde Park community activist to prevent the Orange Line from being expanded all the way to Rte 128 in Westwood along the abandoned I-95 corridor because Hyde Park didn't need rapid transit. George had his own theory why and he said that same thinking stopped the Red Line from going to Arlington and Lexington.

I am not a transit buff but I have been riding the T since the Kingston Trio made it famous back in 1959 and have to admit being curious on why the T always seems to do everything wrong when common sense dictates otherwise. George had a simple answer....politics.

A couple of years ago I stopped by to see him and learned that he had become ill. The woman at the library said how much they missed him as a person and also because he was the only one there that could find information quickly.

A blogger remembers working with George and learning so much about Boston.

R.I.P George. It is not often that a person can make his passion his profession as well.

Middlesex Superior Court has moved to Woburn

As Massachusetts prepares to close down the Sullivan Court House and Jail in Cambridge to totally rehab the building new locations had to be found for the courts and jail.

As of today the Superior Court has moved ( and since it no longer in Cambridge will be open for Evacuation Day )

The new mailing address for the Middlesex Superior Court is
200 TradeCenter
Woburn, MA 01801
The main telephone number is 781-939-2700.
The administrative fax number for the Clerk-Magistrate’s office is 781-939-0872, Probation Department is 781-939-0951.

The MBTA has added a stop to Bus Route 134 on Sylvan Road at the front building of the three-building TradeCenter complex.

Directions and Map pdf

Happy Evacuation Day - erin go braugh

and you thought it was St Patrick's Day

Monday is a holiday...sort of if you live in Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Winthrop, Cambridge or Somerville. Most state offices are open UNLESS they are in Suffolk County and then they are closed...maybe

For example the Registry of Motor Vehicles website says the Roslindale office is closed but doesn't say if Chinatown is open or closed. Best advice call ahead if you have official business today in any of those cities or towns.

Evacuation Day?

The holiday, celebrated each March 17 commemorates the day in 1776 when the British redcoats ended their occupation of Boston. By some happy coincidence, March 17 happens to be Saint Patrick's Day. How fortuitous that Suffolk County, a region which has a large percentage of citizens of Irish descent, was able to find an event which just happened to coincide with the day of celebration of Irish culture.

Now you know

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hey Channel 4 - you are in ALLSTON not Brighton!

Watching the news on Channel 4 Saturday morning the weather person just mentioned in passing that it was snowing at their BRIGHTON studio.

News flash Channel 4....1170 Soldiers Field Road is in ALLSTON ( I think )

Boston neighborhoods have always been a little fuzzy on the borders. Take the example of Faulkner Hospital which depending on who you talk to could be in Jamaica Plain, Roslindale or West Roxbury. The hospital has chosen not to offend anyone and gives their address as Boston MA 02130 which the post office says is Jamaica Plain.

For decades I have had spirited debates with life long residents of Allston at where exactly the border with Brighton is and if you talk to 100 people you will get 100 different answers. Everybody agrees that Allston begins on Commonwealth Ave at the BU Bridge going west but then it gets murky. Harvard Avenue is Allston as is Union Square but as you head west on either Cambridge St or North Beacon it really gets fuzzy. Some think the border is Everett St which runs from North Beacon St to Soldiers Field Road

View Larger Map

Then others claim that along the river any part of Boston that is directly across from Cambridge is part of Allston. However the KMart on Western Avenue just west of Everett St is listed as Brighton.

Most agree that the post office and not the city made the boundary when years ago they set up mail zones numbered 34 and 35.

Getting back to what set me off on this is Channel 4 saying their Brighton studio. Channel 68 is right next door to them and they consider themselves Allston and the Harvard athletic complex is also considered Allston though if Harvard thought they could get away with it, they would move the river and make it all Cambridge.

Now it is also murky on the eastern end between Packard's Corner and the BU Bridge as those addresses along Commonwealth are in the zip code 02215 and they calls themselves Boston. However most historical accounts of Braves Field ( now Nickerson ) always referred to it as the ballpark located in Allston.

Then the most famous use of the 02134 zip code was the song happily sung for years on ZOOM but WGBH would never admit they were in Allston and it was always Boston 02134. ( and with their move to Brighton they have kept the 02134 mailing address even though they are now in 02135. )

The debate continues......

Friday, March 14, 2008

It won't seem like Opening Day....please let the bars open early

The Red Sox open the season in just 11 Tokyo on March 25th at 6 AM Boston time.

One of Boston's rite of spring is for friends to gather at their local watering hole and cheer the team on in the first game of the season. However that is going to be a problem this year as bars in Massachusetts can not open before 8 AM.

So who can come to the rescue here. Is it a city issue or does it have to be addressed by the Great and General Court ( yes that is the official name the state legislature ). Seriously this is a tradition that must continue. The idea of breakfast at the Pour House appeals to me in a sadistic way.

Somehow the entire idea of watching the Red Sox at 6 AM borders on the bizarre. Instead of watching Bianca de la Garza or Gene Lavanchy doing the morning news we will be waking up with the RemDog.

Speaking of the Red Sox the team said goodbye to Doug Mirabelli who spent 6 1/2 years as Tim Wakefield's personal catcher. Art Martone of the Providence Journal said Doug was one very lucky ballplayer to fall into his role in Boston and bloggers like Base Girl also said goodbye.

2 years ago Doug was no longer a Red Sox and the catcher who took his place found he could not catch Wakefield. So Theo made a very bad deal with San Diego to bring him back. Martone looks back
Oh, it was a great story. They completed the trade in mid-morning on the East Coast. They flew him cross-country from San Francisco, where the Padres were playing, on a private plane. They arranged for a police escort, rushing him from Logan Airport to Fenway Park in less than 15 minutes as he changed into his game uniform in the back seat. (“First time I’ve ever been naked in a police car,” he later quipped.) He got to the park just in time to trot onto the field for the top of the first inning, to cheers worthy of a Williams or a Yastrzemski. And into the lineup he went, against the Yankees on national TV, no less.

In the 107 games he played for the Red Sox after that dramatic moment, Mirabelli batted .196 with 11 home runs, 41 RBI and 95 strikeouts. In that same time frame, Bard — sent to San Diego as part of the deal — has hit .305 in 211 games for the Padres, with a .380 on-base percentage and a .453 slugging percentage. Reliever Cla Meredith, the other player who went West in the trade, has a 2.55 ERA in 125 appearances.

Not much of a trade. But what excitement.

Doug wound up with 2 World Series rings which most ballplayers can only dream about it.

Now back to the issue at the bars early on March 25th

Thursday, March 13, 2008

BU raises tuition, room and board to almost 50K

Boston University has announced what it will cost to go there in 2008-09.


Books, supplies and expected student expenditures will likely push the annual cost of attendance and living at BU over $50,000. The BU Board of Trustees set tuition at $36,540 for the 2008-09 academic year, up $1,610 from $34,930 this academic year. Up from $10,950, the "basic" room and board rate is set at $11,418 for next year, Brown said in the letter to parents and students. For the 2007-08 academic year, the Office of Financial Assistance estimated books, supplies and "incidentals" at $2,532 for a resident student, according to its website.

More details from the Daily Free Press

There was a good memory of the 1986 World Series

Now that the Red Sox have won the World Series a couple of times the nightmare of 1986 doesn't seem that bad.

But there was one moment from that series that was magical. It happened at Fenway Park before Game 5.

The National Anthem was sung by Smokey Robinson in a very special way and you must listen to the entire thing.

One other moment happened before a Bruins playoff game in 2004. 2 nights before the fans in Montreal booed our anthem because they Canadians were not happy with George Bush. All across Canada people wondered how the Boston fans would react.

The Bruins fans did themselves proud

Don Cherry gushed about it on CBC

More on my beloved Bruins

Another bandwidth hog debuts - and it has goodies

The NY Times has a story today about how video internet sites could really clog up the internet.

Video Road Hogs Stir Fear of Internet Traffic Jam

Last year, by one estimate, the video site YouTube, owned by Google, consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet did in 2000.

Now another site has opened the floodgates to all. has just opened the doors to everyone and it has full episodes of new and old TV shows ( some have not been seen in years )

This is no fly by night outfit as they are backed NBC Universal and News Corp. In addition, Hulu has closed a $100 million investment from private equity firm Providence Equity Partners.

I think we can expect to see the net slow down just a bit more ( especially Comcast customers )

I maybe lost on this site for days

Just look at what they have available
Browse TV Shows Alphabetically

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not rain nor snow nor sleet nor dark of night will keep students from free food.

Not rain nor snow nor sleet nor dark of night will keep students from free food.

A new option for taco and burrito lovers opened in Harvard Sq with a bang on Wednesday. CHIPOTIE MEXICAN GRILLE gave away burritos all day and the line at one time was 3 blocks long.

Burritos are pretty good....I may go back tomorrow and buy one.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

‘not clear on the concept’ department

Last week I started having problems with a new cell phone as it was having problems keeping a charge. The Sprint store at Copley told me to leave the phone and come back in an hour. When i returned they said the phone was defective and they gave me an extra battery and said they would CALL ME when the new phone came in.

Today I get a postcard saying my phone was in. No call...a postcard. So when I went in to pick it up I meekly ask "You were suppose to call me but didn't"

His reply ...... "I'm sorry. We didn't know the number."

Now for any other business I could just shrug this off but this is MY phone company. How could they simply not go to the computer and call up my name and get the phone number instead of sending a post card???!!!!?????

and then wonder why they are churning customers at a record rate.

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Buses to NYC

In the Tuesday Globe comes word of yet another low cost bus option to New York.

BOLTBUS will be jointly owned by Greyhound and Peter Pan promises fares no higher then $25 each way and some as low as a dollar. Instead of using the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan it will use a curbside stop adjacent to Madison Square Garden/Penn Station at 7th and 33rd St. It also promises free Wi-Fi and power outlets at every seat.

Greyhound and Peter Pan have for the past couple of years have had a low cost ticket to NY via internet only with tickets costing $20 one-way and $38 RT. This would seem to be an offshoot of this.

Of course the main reason for these prices is the option of the infamous Chinatown buses ( which Mayor Menino forced to use South Station ) The 2 major ones are Fung Wah and Lucky Star who both charge $15 each way and use lower Manhattan as their destination but adjacent to major subway lines. There is also the upscale LimoLiner which charges $89 from the Back Bay to Midtown and promises Wi-Fi service.

I travel to Manhattan often and I have to admit I have warmed to the bus and not just because of price. A look at the options.

Amtrak Acela costs $102-117 to NY from South Station as a walk up fare and is scheduled for 3 hours 30 minutes. However Amtrak's less fancy regional service costs only $59 walk up and takes just 30 minutes longer. The reality is between New Haven and New Rochelle the Acela can not travel any faster on the Metro-North tracks than the regular train and it is frustrating to be watching traffic on I-95 ( and the occasional Fung Wah bus ) going faster than the train.

Greyhound-Peter Pan averages 4 to 4 1/2 hours. Traffic on the Connecticut Turnpike is a crapshoot as you could breeze all the way into the Bronx or be bumper to bumper for miles and it is impossible to predict. Plus Greyhound-PP during the day goes into New Jersey and returns to Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel.

The Chinatown buses sometimes get creative in missing traffic jams and expect to be suddenly speeding down side streets in the Bronx and Queens if I-95 or the BQE back up. I was once on a Fung Wah that made the trip in 2 hours and 55 minutes and this was leaving Boston at 5 PM ( and a 15 minute stop at a McDonald's in Connecticut ) That was a little scary.

Flying? Why bother. The Delta Shuttle charges $339.50 for a walk-up ticket and by the time tou go to Logan, deal with security, finally get on the plane, land at LGA and then head for Manhattan how much time is being saved!!

You could drive....but what do you do with the car once you get to New York?

The easiest solution is simply avoid New York..but we are Bostonians and we are incapable of doing that.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Went to a hockey game today

Went with a couple of friends to the Bruins game today and they beat Washington in the closing minutes 2-1 before a sold out crowd. A good time was had by all.

Like most Bostonians I have been indifferent to the Bruins the past 10 years or so which coincides to their moving to the TD Fleece Center BankNorth Garden. It my opinion it is a terrible building to watch hockey in. It has all the charm of a Wal-Mart and just doesn't have the character the musty old Garden had.

This may seem hard to believe but from 1969-75 the Bruins were as big in Boston as the Red Sox are today. They were known as the Big Bad Bruins and were led by a hockey god by the name of Bobby Orr.

The zenith occurred on Mother's Day of 1970 which was a hot sweltering day in the 80's.

Dan Kelly called the action on CBS

The city went absolutely bonkers. The next day there was a big parade from Park Square through the Combat Zone along Washington St and finally a huge rally at City Hall Plaza. They would win the Stanley Cup again 2 years later and we all thought many more would be won.

We are still waiting.

The team was sold in 1975 to a hot dog-popcorn concessionaire from Buffalo by the name of Jeremy Jacobs. Forbes this week listed him as the 785th richest person in the world with a worth of $ 1.5 billion. Bruins fans have been convinced for decades that he would rather make a profit than win. That maybe unfair as the Bruins have been to the finals in 77,78, 88 and 90 under his watch and just missed in 1979 as well losing a 7th game to Club de hockey Canadien.

The Canadiens were trailing the Bruins 4-3 in the dying minutes of Game 7 of the 1979 Stanley Cup semifinals. But after a costly Boston penalty and an overtime goal by Yvon Lambert, there was a celebration at the Forum

Coming just a few months after the Bucky Dent fiasco at Fenway Boston was one depressed city.

Club de hockey Canadien were just as hated in Boston as the Yankees are today. The Bruins simply could not beat them when it counted. They went 44 years without beating Montreal in a playoff series.

Boston-Montreal games in Montreal on a Saturday night were crazy. Thousands of Bostonians would make the trip as you could always get standing room at the Forum de Montreal. Montreal would usually win but the Boston fans would still party into the night.

Biggest brawl in a bar I ever saw happened in Montreal after a game. It wasn't between Montreal and Boston fans but fans from Charlestown and Southie going at it at a
long gone two level German beer hall with a rotating stage called the Old Munich. It was surreal as the chairs and tables were flying while the band kept playing Oom Pa Pa Oom Pa Pa

I hope the Bruins make the playoffs something they haven't done in 4 years and win a series or two. It is highly unlikely they can win the Cup but there are no great teams in the NHL this year. Wouldn't it be ironic if the Bruins instead of the Celtics and Patriots get the parade down Boylston.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Candlepin Bowling on Channel 5 (1958-1996)

One way to know if someone grew up in Boston is ask them if they remember Don Gillis and the candlepin bowling show on Channel 5.
Candlepin Bowling debuted on Channel 5 (then WHDH-TV) on Oct. 4, 1958 and continued to be aired on WCVB-TV Channel 5 in March 1972. Candlepin Bowling's last broadcast was in January 1996. The show was so popular that when WCVB-TV took over from WHDH-TV after the government revoked the license in 1972 that WCVB bought the unaired tapes from WHDH and continued to run the show exactly the way it had been. The show only has 2 hosts, Don Gillis and Jim Britt. Britt who started with the show in 1958 was a tragic figure in Boston broadcasting as he was a very popular baseball announcer with the Red Sox and Braves. In 1951 the Red Sox decided they would air road games on radio and Britt was asked to choose between the 2 teams and he chose the Braves who left town 2 years later. The Red Sox job was then given to a Yankees announcer by the name of Curt Gowdy.
This was literally a show that New Englanders timed their Saturdays around. For years the Boston Globe used to publish a box of the most watched sports shows of the week and 9 times out of 10 candlepins would win the week. The show was cancelled not because of lack of viewers but WCVB decided the viewers were 'too old'. In my household it was background noise but a force of habit.
Candlepins in the last decade as been dying a slow death as many of the remaining alleys have closed including my favorite which was literally under Fenway Park. When I was growing up every neighborhood had a bowling alley and even Harvard Square had one in a basement on Boylston (now JFK) St. My wife cried a few years ago when her teenage hangout in Waltham the Wal-Lex closed for good. A long time bowling alley in Davis Square may soon close and the community there is concerned.
One show stands out over those 38 years. I remember watching it live in utter shock. A bowler had won every match for weeks and finally it was certain he would lose. What happened was simply amazing.

Here is a list of some of the milestones during the 38 year broadcast run:

Most consecutive victories (men): Tom Olszta (22)
Most appearances: Tom Olszta (90)
Most consecutive victories (women): Stacia Czernicki (18)
High Single (men): Ed Czernicki, March 31, 1979 (179)
High Single (women): Janet Poch, Sept. 21, 1991 (165)
High Triple (men): Paul Berger, May 2, 1992 (500)
High Triple (women): Janet Poch, Sept. 27, 1993 (422)

Do you still listen to radio?

Much has been written in the past couple of weeks about cutbacks in the radio industry both locally and nationwide. There have been major cuts announced in Boston at WBCN, WODS and WRKO for example.

The latest Boston area ratings were released by Arbitron on March 4th but they mean little in the real world. Arbitron doesn't allow any media -- general or trade -- to publish other than the overall numbers, for all listeners age 12 and older, from 6 a.m. to midnight every day. They're not taken seriously by time buyers, who go after listeners by age and sex, and by specific times.

What they give us translates as the percentage of those listening to radio in the area who are listening to a particular radio station for at least five minutes during a 15-minute period.

Still, the ratings give the top stations bragging rights. In Boston the Top 5 stations are WJMN-FM, WBZ-AM, WEEI-AM, WXKS-FM (KISS-108) and WODS-FM.

click here for the latest Boston numbers
please note that the college and public radio stations are not included with the exception of Harvard's WHRB which is a commercial station.

The Boston market still uses the old method of collecting data from selected listeners called the Arbitron Radio Listening Diary where selected consumers jot down their listening habits.

This will change in January 2009 when Arbitron will start using the Portable People Meter which Time Magazine called one of the inventions of the year for 2007.

Arbitron explains the new system on their website.

In New York the first released numbers using the new system sent shockwaves through the industry.

I have never met anyone who has even admitted to being part of the Arbitron diary system. I have never trusted ratings to be accurate and that goes back to when I was a child. In the early 60's my mother had a part time job where she would call people or phone numbers selected by the company that she worked for. One Saturday afternoon as my my dad and I were watching a Red Sox game on the old channel 5 she was making her calls. Not a single person she called was watching the Red Sox and most were watching wrestling on channel 4. My mom felt sorry for the Red Sox and she switched the data.

A month later wrestling was cancelled by channel 4.

In my own case I guess I am considered a mainstream listener as 3 of the stations I listen to are in the Top 5 (WEEI, WBZ and WODS) Of course given that I am over 55 advertisers could not care less about me as I am in the wrong demographic. I don't get it as I certainly haven't stopped buying things as I have gotten older.

However I must admit I listen to XM satellite radio about half the time. The music selection is better and there are no commercials to speak of. They do offer basic traffic and weather for Boston.

So what about your listening habits? Do they reflect what the ratings indicate?

Please let me know.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

WRKO should be ashamed

WRKO which prides itself as being Boston's 'talk' station fired long time (25 years) host Moe Lauzier a couple of weeks ago. He was actually informed of this while he was on the air by his producer as the program director Jason Wolfe apparently didn't have the guts to do it face to face.

This is how Lauzier signed off on his last show.

The Herald on Thursday looked at how this was handled.

Entercom also fired 57 year old WEEI producer Rene Marchando who had been with the station since it became all sports in 1991.

Moe then receieved 2 emails from the boss at WRKO/WEEI, Julie Kahn about how the situation was handled.
Dear Moe,
I am sorry it took me a bit of time to respond to you. I was out of town on the week of the incident, so I had some 'research' to in order to be brought up to speed.
In keeping with the times, we have been asked to cut back on expenses. Nothing surprising there. Sadly, your tenure and talent had you earning a higher hourly wage then all other part time on -air talent. We simply could not afford to pay your rate vis a vis the revenue that the show and day generates.
The regrettable part is that there was some misunderstanding between Jason and Thomas regarding their having a conversation with you. Thomas thought it was his responsibility and it was not. It was clearly Jason's and it is a sad conclusion that such a great, loyal employee was at the center of a mistake.
I truly feel awful about it and all parties have real embarassment for the way this naturally tough situation was handled. You deserve better. I am being thoughtful as to how to answer your listeners. I have had quite a few e-mail me. Is there anything else I can do to help you in any way?
Cordially, Julie

then to add insult to injury she sent another e-mail
Here is the note that Jason asked me to forward you.
>>> Jason Wolfe 3/4/2008 12:59:11 PM
>>>Dear Moe,
I wanted to write to you directly to again, express my apologies to you with respect to how your personal situation was handled. I understand that you've written a letter to Julie and I can appreciate that given that she is the Market Manager and oversees everything here.
I didn't want our phone call to be the last contact we had. I realize, certainly, that at the time we spoke, you didn't have much to say to me and didn't want to meet with me. If I were you, I probably wouldn't have wanted to do that either.
My intention when it comes to these kinds of situations, are always to deal directly with the talent. I did not do that in this case and however I feel about what Tom did, in the end, is irrelevant because I am responsible for the operation of the programming department and any changes we may make in it.
My decision to make this change was simply about our current business climate. Times are tough and in addition to trying to generate ratings for the station, I am responsible for helping to drive revenue as well. We do have several companies that are willing to spend extremely significant dollars to take over certain hours on the station, and that, nothing more, was the reason I chose to go in this direction.
It was not personal. We didn't work that closely together, but from a far, I had a great deal of respect for your work and for what you've accomplished over the years and I am truly sorry for having treated you this way. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I wish you nothing but the best in all your future endeavors.
Sincerely, Jason Wolfe
VP AM Programming

Moe on his blog is buying none of this.

So Entercom (WRKO) is in effect telling what remaining listeners they have to listen to infomercials instead of local talk and the issues of the day on weekends.

The radio business across the country is not doing well. Music stations have lost listeners by the millions to IPods and satellite radio. Local stations everywhere have responded by cutting news staffs at stations like WRKO and WLS in Chicago even though it was local programing that made them an alternative to the satellite.

Entercom also vastly overpaid on a new 10 year deal to carry the Red Sox that started last year. It is rumored to be in the vicinity of 14-16 million a year and it was obvious last year that the station was having trouble selling ads at the prices they wanted. It was also compounded because Entercom split the games between WRKO and WEEI depending on the day of the week.

Moves like this will not bring listeners back.

For more background on WRKO check out

Here is some more background of radio cuts across the country

NorthEast Radio Watch: This Week's Bloodbath: Citadel

Slaughter at WLS cuts news from 'news/talk'

Boston TV time machine via YOU TUBE

Amazing what you can find on You Tube.

Here are some clips from Boston TV of years ago. It does beg the question on why
  • anybody would have taped these things
  • and kept them for all these years

WGBH Boston Channel 2 - William Pierce Sign-On, 1986
Back in the days when TV stations were not on 24/7 they would have a special sign-on/off tape made. This is a classic from WGBH. Many people would watch it to hear a haunting harpsichord musical selection.

Flashback: Interview with Major Mudd
WCVB Reporter Bill Harrington with a tribute to legendary Boston television personality "Major Mudd"...

Willie Whistle Clown From WSBK Boston

"New England, the Pat'riots and We" as seen on WVJV

This is bad on so many levels.When the Patriots were in their first Super Bowl in 1986, Morgan White, Jr decided the Patriots needed a music video like the Chicago Bears. First aired on channel 66 when they played music videos.

WCVB-TV 5 Sportscenter 5 "I Like Mike" Promo

Mike Lynch thought all these tapes were erased...nope

WNEV-TV first revamped newscast 1982

One of the biggest disasters in Boston TV history. WNEV-TV came on the air after replacing disgraced WNAC-TV and they were going to change the way we watched TV news in Boston. They assembled the dream team of Tom Ellis ( who had been on Chs 4 and 5 ) and Robin Young who was the popular host of Evening Magazine on ch 4. It was a disaster the station never recovered from.

The clip below was a promotional campaign that Channel 4 used in the late 1970's.

If you were around then you more than likely still know the words to it.

More later....I will keep searching so you don't have to.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

We have become worse than the Yankees

Tom Yawkey must be singing this from his grave
with apologies to Melanie
Look what they've done to my park, Ma
Look what they've done to my park
Well it's the only thing I could do half right
And it's turning out all wrong, Ma
Look what they've done to my park

I have been going to Fenway Park for over 50 years. My first game was on August 8, 1956 and the Red Sox defeated Baltimore 7-2 and Ted Williams hit a home run. What I remember the most about that night was the vivid colors inside the park as all I knew about baseball before that was from black & white television. However at the age of 6 a lifelong love affair began.

By 1966 my interest in the team had fallen off. Fenway was a ghost town where on a good night 10,000 people would be there to see bad baseball. Nobody cared about the team anymore and there were warnings in the paper that Tom Yawkey might move somewhere else. Then came 1967...

The team has been for the most part very good the past 40 years and came very close to winning it all several times but until 2004 it never happened. Now they are defending champions again and also the favorite to win in 2008. I wish I could enjoy it but I despise what the Red Sox have become. We are now worse than that team 206 miles away on I-95.

One thing about the Yankees that you have to respect. They have NEVER taken their fans for granted. Sure they charge top dollar but they don't come even close to being as shameful as the Red Sox have become.

The Yankees have no problems selling tickets and with this being the final year of the stadium most game will be sold out. Yet they still offer many promotions and giveaways to their loyal fans.

How can you resist a Final Season Snoopy Yankees Doll Night that they will give away on September 17th against Chicago. Meanwhile let's see what the Red Sox will do for their loyal fans.

Outside of giving out magnetic schedules on Opening Day...NOTHING
This is not a case of being cheap since I am sure the Red Sox would have no trouble attracting corporate sponsors to underwrite the giveaways. It is obvious that they do not want to cheapen the Red Sox brand by giving anything away. Even the Disney people are not that shameful.

Today just going to a game requires the planning similar to a vacation at Disney World and it almost costs as much. Gone are the days a group of friends would meet after work and somebody would say "Hey the Indians are in town let's go" and you would hop the subway over to Kenmore and buy tickets at the window. Now to get tickets we have to set aside an entire Saturday in January to stare at this for hours

Now I will concede that this ownership has done wonders in improving Fenway from the sorry state it was in the last few years of John Harrington's watch. Widening the concourses above and under the grandstand have made the park easier to deal with. The new seats on the roof and on top of the Monster are wonderful but the team still hasn't addressed the biggest problem at Fenway which is the narrow wooden seats in the upper grandstand that date back to 1934. The seats in right field face the Citgo sign instead of home plate and after a game you need a chiropractor for your neck and knees. So what have they decided to do for 2008?

You know there was a reason why Fenway didn't have an upper deck when it was first built in 1912 and then rebuilt in 1934. The park is built on filled in swampland that used to be part of the Back Bay. It was believed at the time that the foundation could not carry the weight of an upper deck. I trust there is no safety issue here but that roof is getting awfully crowded which negates part of the reason it was so attractive to sit there in the first place to be away from the crush of humanity downstairs.

Finally I have to address what the fanbase has become. This Red Sox Nation garbage has to stop as we are becoming the the most hated fanbase in perhaps all of sports. We are not just hated in New York but everywhere especially in Chicago not by Cubs fans who are in their own little world but by the hardscrabble fans of the forgotten Chicago team the White Sox. They didn't mind when the world went bonkers over us winning in 2004 but they were furious when the national media ignored them when the won in 2005. We got the cover of Time Magazine and they couldn't even get a full cover in Sports Illustrated having to share it with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Seems like most of the nation was rooting for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl because they are fed up with Boston teams and fans.

But besides hating us they are also laughing at us. Last week Red Sox Nation hit a new bottom when Jerry Remy was sworn in as 'President' of Red Sox Nation by United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer at the Court in Washington. It would be one thing if it happened in Boston with Mayor 'Mumbles' or Governor Patrick. The Supreme Court????
I can not believe we have to put up with another season of Sox-Appeal. If it was just on after a game I could happily choose to ignore it but we are going to be forced to listen to Orsillo and Remy babble about each date in real time as they tape the show. Can you imagine Curt Gowdy, Ken Coleman or Ned Martin doing this? Mercy!!
I am also not looking forward to another season of Jerry Remy shilling the 'The Remy Report' every chance he gets. It really has gotten old.

Still I know that at 6 AM on March 25th I will be watching when the season opens in Tokyo.

even if I hate what they have become.
GO SOX!!!!

The Boston Herald is slowly dying...and now they have lost me for good

Ironically this comic ran in the Herald on February 18th
(Heart of the City ©2008 Mark Tatulli )

I have been a reader of the Herald since it was the Boston Record. ) OK I'm old
I have seen it go from

  • Boston Record (mornings but actually printed the evening before) (tabloid)

  • Boston American (afternoon but really morning)(tabloid)

  • Boston Record-American (all day 5-6 editions)(tabloid)

When they bought the Herald Traveler in 1972 it became

  • Boston Herald-Traveler and Record American (broadsheet)

  • Boston Herald-American (broadsheet and then tabloid)

Finally when Rupert Murdoch bought them

  • Boston Herald

Now the Herald has never been confused with the New York Times but it has always been a feisty paper that had a pretty good grip on the pulse of the city. Also over the years it had a pretty good intellectual section AKA the comics. However in recent years strips that have been running for decades slowly began to vanish.

First to go was Peanuts that is still distributed today as 'Classic Peanuts' after the death of Charles Schultz. Then a few months B.C vanished followed by Blondie. Dagwood, Blondie and Daisy the dog still make me chuckle after all these years and I missed them so I called to complain.

The editor who makes these decisions is Linda Kincaid (senior editor for features ) and she told me I was the ONLY person who called to complain about Blondie. I knew that wasn't true because several others had called as well and complained on the official Blondie website. On top of this Ms. Kincaid defended the paper's continued running of The Phantom. However since I buy the NY Daily News every day I can still get my Blondie fix.

Then a few weeks ago the Herald pulled another strip which again has been running for decades.

The Wizard of Id. from Creators Syndicate

This was the last straw for me. Why should I remain loyal to a newspaper when the paper shows no loyalty to me a reader who has been buying the paper daily since the 1960's. Once again I left a voicemail to Ms. Kincaid and an email address she leaves on her voicemail. Never heard a peep.

Look everybody in town knows that the Herald is bleeding red ink badly and cutting corners everywhere. The Ira car dealerships just ended print advertising which is a body blow to the paper but there has to be a compelling reason for me to keep spending 50 cents a day for the paper. Metro and BostonNOW are what they are but you get what you pay for with them. But now I am buying both the NY Post and the NY Daily News for my subway ride and a combined cost of $1.75. However I feel I get value for my purchase which the Herald no longer provides.

If I am inclined to see what Howie Carr, Steve Buckley, Gerry Callahan or others are babbling about I can read them online just as I do now for some of my comics. (BTW the NY Post still runs Wizard of Id)

I never wanted to see Boston become a one newspaper town but the reality is we already are.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Manny can do no wrong

Remember last year in the playoffs when many fans were upset at the way Manny reacted when he hit a game winning home run in the playoffs by just standing at the plate with his hands up in the air?

Looks like Red Sox management loved it as he is the poster boy for the new pocket schedule.

BTW the schedule does not even indicate that the Red Sox are World Champions.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Boston a 'World Class City'? HA!!!!!

I wince when Mayor Mumbles calls Boston a 'world class city'. We really are not. For starters try to get something to eat after midnight in this town. IHOP's in Harvard Sq and elsewhere don't cut it.

Yes Boston is unique because of our institutes of higher learning. Harvard, MIT bring us the best of the best to learn here and BC,BU, Tufts and the other fine schools help the city stay recession proof. We are also arguably the best city in the world to get sick in. But we are not in the same league as cities like London, Paris, New York or even Chicago. For starters in those cities you can get public transportation at 2 in the morning.

There are a handful of great cities in the US and Canada. New York and Los Angeles for better or worse stand alone in what they offer. Chicago despite dealing with awful weather in the winter follows right behind. So where does Boston fit in?

I would put us at the same level as Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, Toronto, Montreal and Atlanta.

Seattle and San Francisco feel very comfortable to a Bostonian. They are both beautiful cities physically with the mixture of hills and water. Certainly their weather is less severe than here and that has helped them attract companies and workers in this internet age. Boston is simply a harder sell now to attract companies.

We used to have a world class newspaper but the NY Times has all but destroyed the Boston Globe. The Herald is like a cat but I fear it is on life number 8.

We are proud of our sports teams and even with the Patriots debacle in the Super Bowl it has been a good year. However our city is now hated by sportsfans nationwide, not because of the teams but the fanbase. Sadly we have become more obnoxious than New York fans. Millions of fans rooted for the Giants in the Super Bowl just because they were playing a team from Boston.

Still we offer more than most cities. We are a gateway to the Cape, Maine, New Hampshire and the rest of New England. New York is 4 hours away or less by plane, train or the immortal Fung Wah. Montreal is only 5 hours away as well.

The city is also cosmopolitan as it is a magnet for visitors from Europe. They come here to shop and avoid the hassles of Manhattan ( and who can blame them ) Boston may seem expensive to us but it is very cheap for them.

We pay through the nose for the right to live here but it is home.

But World Class? No.....

The reality is the city is not a small New York but a big Providence.....not that there is anything wrong with that.!!!

The man who 'discovered' the Dave Clark Five

Over the weekend we learned of the death of Mike Smith, the lead singer of the Dave Clark Five who passed away just 12 days before the group was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The DC5 was popular in the UK but still unknown in the US in 1964. The Beatles first showed up on US TV in December of 1963 on the Jack Parr show on NBC by film from London but with the country still reeling from the death of President Kennedy it didn't make an impression. (except that Ed Sullivan saw it and decided to book them live 2 months later )

Watching The Beatles explode in America was a Boston disc jockey at WBZ by the name of Bruce Bradley.

Bradley recalled to The Harvard Crimson in 1966 that WBZ's music commitee that he was on had thrown a Beatles record into the trash 5 months before they exploded.

Bradley recalls with a slightly pained laugh that the music committee "threw 'She Loves You' in the waste basket" in June, 1963 -- missing the chance to get on the Beatles' bandwagon five months before they revolutionized rock 'n' roll in America.

He would not make the same mistake again. Bradley came across a couple of singles by the Dave Clark Five and started playing them heavily on his popular show at night. Bradley was not only popular in Boston but also across most of the eastern United States as WBZ reached into 38 states and most of Eastern Canada. WBZ was unique in those days where the DJ's had major imput into what was played which was was almost unheard of after the Payola scandals a few years before. With WBZ aboard the other major stations in North America such as WABC, WLS, WKBW, CKLW and others started playing the DC5 as well.

WBZ was a special radio station back in the 60's. While it played Top 40 it treated their young audience with respect. After dinner they had a talk show hosted by Bob Kennedy that made you think and learn. Kennedy would go on to Chicago and become extreme popular before cancer claimed him in the mid 1970's. Overnight you had Dick Summer who introduced millions to music they could not hear anywhere else.

Nobody seems to know what happened to Bruce Bradley. he later became a talk show host in St Louis but was last hear about 10 years ago.

BZ would soon fade as a Top 40 station as WRKO came along in 1967 with a tighter format and the kids all flocked to it. However WBZ had a signal that they could play polka music for 24 hours and still be highly rated. Today they are news by day and talk at night and can still be heard in most places east of the Mississippi River.

To millions who have never been to Boston the station represents us. They have never failed the city in that calling.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Welcome aboard

I have resisted the temptation of blogging until now because I really didn't have the time and wasn't sure what exactly I would blog about.

But now it is clear. As a lifelong Bostonian who has lived in other cities I feel I can offer a humorous look at the place we call home and also offer institutional memory which is sadly lacking in the media today.

I will also link to stories of interest that I come across in mainstream media and other blogs.

Can I offer anything to the blogsphere? I will let you the readers out there decide that.