Monday, February 28, 2011

BREDA, NEOPLAN, SIEMENS and now HYUNDAI-ROTEM - MBTA knows how to pick em

How many more times will the MBTA get burnt when they purchase new buses, trolleys and commuter rail equipment?????

In April of 2008 the MBTA awarded a $170 million contract to Hundai-Rotem for 75 new bi-level coaches for the commuter rail. 

Hyundai Rotem, the world's third-largest urban train car maker, said Sunday it won a $170 million contract to build 75 bi-level subway cars for the Boston metro, the oldest and one of the largest transit systems in the United States.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) awarded the contract to Rotem USA, which is Hyunda-Kia Automotive Group's train maker, to replace the city's old commuter rail coaches to new ones by 2012.

The fourth-largest subway system in the U.S. serves a population of 2.6 million
OK they may an honest mistake saying they would be for the subway, but more importantly they said the cars would arrive in 2012.

The article also says..
The train maker said it will eye more lucrative deals in the U.S. once its Pennsylvania factory is completed by the end of 2008. Rotem started building a plant in Philadelphia last year in compliance with ``Buy America'' laws, which state that roughly 60 percent of car manufacturing and assembly must be done in the U.S.

The global train market is estimated at $35 billion. Rotem is the third-largest seller of urban metro passenger cars, after Canada's Bombardier and France's Alstom.

Well the Philadelphia plant is up and running...but this morning the Philadelphia Inquirer says they have MAJOR production problems at the plant which is currently building commuter rail trains for SEPTA which is the transit system serving Philadelphia.

Problems persist at South Philadelphia railcar plant

Hyundai-Rotem, the world's third-largest manufacturer of urban mass-transit vehicles, also has contracts to build railcars for the Boston and Los Angeles transit systems. The Boston cars are to be assembled at the Philadelphia plant.

 The railcars for Los Angeles are being assembled in Southern California

One thing seems certain, the 2012 date of delivery is just a suggestion as they are already one year behind schedule in Philadelphia.

Now SEPTA at least is lucky that the cars are being assembled in Philadelphia and they can watch production daily. How much is it going to cost the T to have people shipped to Philadelphia to babysit their cars being assembled? But more importantly is why is the MBTA giving a major contract with a company with no track record in the US?

One would think after the BREDA fiasco on the Green Line, a 3 year delay waiting for Siemens to build the new Blue Line cars, and the Neoplan trackless trolley fiasco they would learn.....BUT NO.

I suppose if there is any silver lining to this, Philadelphia will get the lemons and the Boston trains will be much better....whenever they arrive.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

BOSTON RADIO: 1920-2010 by Donna Halper is a must read

BOSTON RADIO: 1920-2010
Author: Donna L. Halper

ISBN: 9780738574103

# of Pages: 128
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
On Sale Date: 02/21/2011

I saw this book at the Harvard Coop last night and it is a trip back into time when radio was a much bigger part of our daily life than it is today.

When I was a teenager I would listen to stations like WMEX and WBZ as often as I could and for sports WHDH was the home of the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. DJ's such as Arnie Ginsberg, Bruce Bradley, Dick Summer and others became 'close' friends. In sports I would live and die listening to Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin (Red Sox) Fred Cusick and Bob Wilson (Bruins) and Johnny Most (Celtics).

I learned so much listening to talk shows from hosts such as Jerry Williams, Bob Kennedy, Steve Fredricks and Jim Westover. Talk radio then was not filled with the hate that we have today. A host may not agree with a caller but they would debate them rationally.

Book Description:
Boston's radio history begins with pioneering station 1XE/WGI, one of America's first radio stations, and includes the first station to receive a commercial license, WBZ; the first FM radio network, W1XOJ and W1XER; and one of the first news networks, the Yankee News Service. Nationally known bandleaders like Joe Rines and Jacques Renard were first heard on Boston radio, as was one of the first weathercasters, E. B. Rideout. The city has been home to a number of legendary announcers, such as Bob and Ray, Arnie Ginsburg, Dick Summer, Dale Dorman, and Charles Laquidara; talk show giants like Jerry Williams and David Brudnoy; and sports talkers like Eddie Andelman and Glenn Ordway. Many Boston radio personalities, such as Curt Gowdy, "Big Brother" Bob Emery, Don Kent, and Louise Morgan, found fame on television but first established themselves on Boston's airwaves. Since 1920, Boston radio has remained vibrant, proving that live and local stations are as important as ever.
The pictures I have added are from various internet sources but if they bring back memories then you MUST buy this book. A big thanks to Donna Halper who obviously loves radio and the history behind it.

Jerry Williams WMEX - WBZ - WRKO

Larry Glick WMEX - WBZ - WHDH

WBZ lineup 1967
WBZ staff - mid 1960s
Bob and Ray WHDH 1950

Jess Cain WHDH

Norm Nathan WHDH - WBZ
Norm Nathan CD Cover Image
The Sports Huddle - WUNR -WBZ - WEEI - WHDH
Jim McCarthy, Eddie Andleman, Mark Witkin

Johnny Most - The VOICE of the Celtics

Glenn Ordway WITS, WRKO, WEEI

WBZ Music Survey 1965

WMEX Music Survey 1966

WRKO Music Survey January 1968

Ken Mayer WBOS-WUNR WO9-8989

WBCN 1968-2009

Monday, February 21, 2011

Regina's versus Santarpio's - BOTH open new locations - discuss (while enjoying a slice)

Regina's has taken over the old Sports Depot in Allston

Santarpio's now has opened a location on Rte. 1 in Peabody.

Frank Santarpio makes Durgin Park sound warm and fuzzy when he says in the video produced by WSBK's Phantom Gourmet.

"If you're not happy when come in here, don't come. Just come, have a good time and leave. . . . If you don't like it, go someplace else. Don't bother us here. The customer is NEVER right."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

OH JOY - Fenway Park will be around for another 40-50 years...


Red Sox ownership met with the press today in Ft. Myers and Larry Lucchino said that Fenway Park is going to outlive many of us.

The Red Sox have finished 10 years of improvements to Fenway Park, spending $285 million to renovate, improve and in some areas rebuild the old ballpark.

Team president Larry Lucchino said the major projects are done. Engineers have told the ownership group that the structure has 40-50 years of life remaining.

In other words, if you're waiting for a new ballpark you're going to be waiting for a long time. "There is nothing in the plans," Lucchino said.
I must admit I have mixed emotions about this. On one hand the place that I went to games with my late Dad and brother will survive. My son who is 19 may live to see the end of Fenway but I doubt I will make it to 2051. I will be spared seeing Fenway torn down and I know how it hurt to see Boston Garden fall in 1998.

In 1991 I remember gasping when I drove by Comiskey Park in Chicago as it was being torn down.

So Fenway survives....BUT

Saying all the major projects are done means the team has no plans to improve the 'cheap seats', especially the upper grandstand and right field areas.

The grandstand seats are a challenge to sit in....they may have been fine in 1934 when they were installed but not now. I would love to see John Henry, Tom Werner or Larry Lucchino watch ONE game from these seats. JUST ONE

The view from the RF seats are perhaps the worst of any seats in any MLB park....

Much of the $285 million was spent building seats on the roof and those seats are among the most expensive in the park.

To be fair, Fenway Park is not a dump like Wrigley Field in Chicago is. That ballpark is in horrible shape, but at least a few years ago they replaced all the seats so it is not uncomfortable to sit in them.

Long Live Fenway...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why are Boston cabs so expensive?

WBUR continues to look into why cabs are so expensive in the city.

There are so many reasons that go back decades. Much of the problem goes back to when cab companies became glorified rent-a-car companies and it is the driver and not the cab company that takes the hit when it is a slow day.

Then you have the credit card issue.

40 years ago the major cab companies in Boston were Yellow, Checker, Town, ITOA and Boston.

ITOA and Boston are still around but now other companies or radio-dispatch services have developed. Then you have the ongoing confusion between Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville cabs all looking for street fares. Customers don't care where the cab is from, they just want a cab.

I doubt things will ever change.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Boston has most expensive cabs in North America

"The delivery of taxi service to the public is not best served by a medallion system.”
–Mark Cohen, chief taxi regulator for the city of Boston

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When you hear music completely out of context

Every once in awhile I will hear music that I know by heart, but because it is not in the setting my brain is used to hearing it I go bonkers trying to figure out what it is.

A couple of summers ago I was standing next to the Smithsonian Carousel in Washington and the calliope was playing a song I knew by heart....but I couldn't place it. It drove me batty.

This was the song

It is a Harvard University fight song that anyone growing up in Cambridge knows all too well.

A couple of days ago I had another brain cramp watching TV. This commercial came on and the music was an old, old friend....but for the life of me I could not place it.

It finally hit me....

Does this ever happen to you?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Long before Fort Myers...the Red Sox were in Sarasota but left Florida for all the wrong reasons

Here is a video from NESN that shows 'Red Sox Spring Training' from 56 years ago in 1955

The Red Sox in those years trained in Sarasota, Florida and then as is the case now many fans went to Florida to escape winter and see the Sox.

However the Red Sox left Sarasota after 1958 and moved training camp to Scottsdale, Arizona. The move made no sense at all as it was much further away from Boston. Only later did the real reason come out.

Scottsdale still embraced racial segregation then as blacks were not allowed inside the city limits after sundown. This delighted Red Sox GM Joe Cronin and especially Sox Manager Mike "Pinky" Higgins who made it known he had no use for Negroes.

This angered Ted Williams who almost quit the team because of the move because he meant he could not fish. Much later he did confide that the segregation issues on the Red Sox bothered him more.

The Red Sox remained in Arizona until 1965 and then moved back to Florida to infamous Winter Haven which also had racial problems. Red Sox pitcher Earl Wilson was a victim that first year back in Florida.
Former Red Sox pitcher Robert Earl Wilson, who endured racism to become the first black American Leaguer to throw a no-hitter, died of a heart attack Saturday in Detroit. He was 70.

... The subtext of the Red Sox scouting report on Mr. Wilson when he was signed was an indication of the bias in the organization at the time and what Mr. Wilson had to overcome to make it to the major leagues. It read in part, ''well-mannered colored boy, not too black, pleasant to talk to, well-educated, very good appearance.''

''It never bothered me what people said in the stands in Boston,'' Mr. Wilson told the Globe in 1980. ''What I heard in the South was so much worse ..."

Despite racial epithets and biased management, Mr. Wilson emerged to become one of the best Sox players on teams that struggled to reach mediocrity. The Red Sox brought up Mr. Wilson to the major leagues on July 29, 1959, just one week after the Sox called up their first African-American ballplayer, outfielder Elijah (Pumpsie) Green. The Red Sox were the last of the original 16 Major League franchises to have an African-American on its roster.

... In 1966, Mr. Wilson was traded to the Detroit Tigers ... Many thought at the time the trade was retribution for outspoken remarks by Mr. Wilson during spring training. That year, the Red Sox had moved their spring training camp from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Winter Haven, Fla. Mr. Wilson was refused entrance to two nightclubs because of his race. He did not let the matter die. He told his plight to sportswriters covering the team, exposing racism and the Red Sox's reaction to it.

The trade to the Tigers was a blessing for Mr. Wilson. During his years with the Red Sox, they never had a winning record. Mr. Wilson found a home in Detroit, which had a larger population of middle-class blacks.

Wilson was traded for 'a bag of balls' in June of 1966 and it would come back to haunt the Red Sox the following season. Wilson won 22 games for the Tigers and had he remained with the Red Sox, the 1967 team may well have beaten St. Louis in the World Series.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Red Sox owner John W. Henry tries to win over Liverpudlians

Fascinating interview

<a href=";brand=foxsports&amp;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:fd1240b3-4646-4676-ac8a-4e299e1dce9e&amp;showPlaylist=true&amp;from=IV2_en-us_foxsports_videosearch&amp;fg=RAMP" target="_new" title="SSP: Interview with John W. Henry">Video: SSP: Interview with John W. Henry</a>

One Livepool fan responds

Portrait of our principal owner

Overall John Henry comes across as a very clever man. His body language is always presenting a reserved, relaxed and thoughtful character that seems to understand the psychology of the Liverpool fanbase. A psychology which incorporates decades of achievement and expectation with the distasteful experiences wrought by our previous owners. Our new owners can only say the right thing if they know what we expect from them and considering this interview it is clear that FSG are at least listening to the fans. Only time will tell whether they become the saviours that they position themselves to be but I, for one, will be giving them the benefit of the doubt. So when John Henry says “you just gave me Goosebumps” as a reply to a question about Liverpool winning the Premier League I will believe him and take it as a sign that there is more than a desire for profit in this man’s heart.

For those on Facebook you can follow JWH

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

As the snow continues to fall and fall...just remember


If you have to ask what Truck Day must be new to Boston

February 8th at Fenway Park