Tuesday, March 22, 2011

THIS IS BOSTON - according to NESN

NESN's new ad campaign

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Is Quebec Province Insane???? - OUI!!!!!


City in Uproar

MONTREAL - Montreal police have launched an official investigation into Tuesday night's violent hit on Habs forward Max Pacioretty.

In a release issued early Thursday, Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DCPP) confirmed it had advised the ministry of Public Security that it was recommending an investigation.

It didn't take long for officials to respond. Montreal police issued a brief statement a few hours later confiming they had been asked by the ministry to begin looking into the hit and its aftermath.

The investigation will begin immediately, said Montreal police Constable Olivier Lapointe. Police made no further comment.

Read more:

Anybody who knows hockey is saddened by the injury to Montreal player Max Pacioretty but it was simply the result of being in the hockey version of  the perfect storm. Zdeno Chara is not a dirty player like Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins who a year ago may have ended the career of Bruins player Marc Savard.

I was shocked myself that Chara escaped punishment but that just shows how badly the National Hockey league is run these days. Of course Gary Bettman had to anger Montreal fans even more with his statement on Thrusday in Washington before the US Congress.

However the reaction in Quebec once ago shows how out of touch with reality many citizens of that province are - especially the francophones. Many of their citizens believe that they are a Distinct Society (in French la société distincte). 

The injury to Max was horrific - but it wasn't the hit that did the damage - it was the exposed stanchion that did the damage. Last season one of your players Hal Gill made the EXACT same hit but the stanchion didn't enter into it - and the fans cheered.

As an American who has visited Quebec going back to my first trip with my parents in 1962, I have watched as Montreal proudly showed itself off to the world with Expo 67 which in turn brought major league baseball to Canada with the creation of the Montreal Expos. For Expo the city built a wonderful subway (Metro) and developed a vast underground city where in the harshness of winter you could travel all over downtown without once stepping outside. It was magical.

The city in those years was run by a powerful mayor, Jean Drapeau, who was very much like Richard J Daley in Chicago. In 1970 Frank Deford wrote a long article on the mayor.
Run It Up The Flagpole, Johnny

When Jean Drapeau, the mayor of Montreal, first unfurled some of his grandiose schemes the world snickered. But now with Expo, big-league baseball and the Olympics safely in hand His Honor is accepting salutes

Read more:

The 1976 Olympics was a financial disaster that makes our Big Dig look like a well managed project. The games were budgeted at a modest $120 million (CDN) but just the stadium alone wound up costing $1.6 BILLION. The taxpayers of Montreal and Quebec were on the hook and they were angry and they started to listen to a reporter turned politican named René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois.

The Parti Québécois had two major goals, one to make Quebec a sovereign nation and to eliminate the use of the English language as much as possible. In 1977 the new government passed the Charter of the French Language (La charte de la langue française). That law set in motion the wholesale flight of anglophones to Ontario and Toronto led by Sun Life Financial. Large companies simply did not want to be burdened with a legal requirement that everything must be done in French. The population of Metro Toronto exploded and Montreal became nothing more than a branch office town for Quebec.

New Englanders have suffered for over 40 years as Quebec never had the money to finish Autoroute 35 from the Vermont border to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu forcing drivers to use Quebec Route 133 which is something out of the 1920's. Only now are they starting to finish it.

How goofly did the Quebec government become over the use of English? I can remember back in 1999 that a famous anglophone bar The Winston Churchill was fined for having a sandwich board on the street that said WELCOME BOSTON RED SOX FANS - Somehow I think a sign that said Bienvenue Fanatiques Chaussettes Rouge de Boston would be lost on someone from Quincy. In 1998 Morley Safer and 60 Minutes visited Montreal to see if the language police actually existed.

Francophones until the 1960's were indeed considered second class citizens by the anglophone ruling class and I can remember seeing cold water flats as late as the 70's in the eastern end of the city while Westmount, Quebec had wealth that rivaled Greenwich, CT or Beverly Hills. Besides the language you also had a carryover from the UK in Catholic vs Protestant. The francohone nationalists even created an urban legend that salespeople at Montreal's largest department store Eaton's could not speak French but that simply wasn't true.

However a famous Canadian short story that was made into an animated feature pokes fun at the Eaton's relationship with French speaking customers.

The Quebec Separatism movement is something I have watched over the years and I try to see the issues as best I can being an American and anglophone. One of the first things the Parti Québécois did in 1978 was playing the phrase Je me souviens replaced La Belle Province on Quebec's licence plates. It translates to 'I Remember'. Many believe that the phrase is supposed to remind people of the Bataille des Plaines d'Abraham or Première bataille de Québec in 1759 where the British took control over New France and the end of francophone independence.

File:Quebec 1992 license plate.jpg

But what I find hysterical is when you remind these hardcore separatists of how history evolved they can't come up with a response and just shrug. Very simply ask them what do you think would have happened if the French had WON the Battle of Quebec. Is it not safe to assume that when Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803 sold Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, parts of Minnesota that were west of the Mississippi River, most of North Dakota, nearly all of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide, and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleans to the United States he also would have included Quebec is they still owned it. How do you think Quebec would have evolved under Washington, DC? Having England win the battle was the best thing that ever happened to you and most likely all of Canada. If the United States had gotten control of the St. Lawrence River it is likely that they would have wound up with Ontario as well.

Don't get me wrong, I love Quebec and Montreal but the arrogance that many ( but not all ) francophones have towards all things anglo has just gotten old. Quebec's refusal to have bilingual road signs is an insult to your neighboring provinces and states. They put up buffer zone signs in both languages - why can't you?

Sign for US drivers SHOULD be in ENGLISH

Even some places in FRANCE use STOP instead of arrêt!!

A few years ago when Molson had their famous I AM CANADIAN ad campaign there was a parody done by an Toronto radio station CFNY-FM.

Finally - while I have the greatest respect for Club de Hockey Canadien and their history I am disgusted by a small but sadly very loud group of fans at the Centre Bell who feel they must boo the National Anthem of the United States. How do you think the SIX US born players of the Canadiens feel when you idiots do that.

Back in 2004 Boston Bruins fans sent a message to those idiot fans.

You want respect??? SHOW SOME not only at the hockey rink but in everyday life.

Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! Requiem For A Divided Country
               Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We're Rich - and You're Not Club (Massachusetts Edition)

FORBES says these 5 people are the richest in Massachusetts.

Abigail Johnson

Zedeno Chara est détesté à Montréal

The Bruins may lose their star player for awhile - the uproar in Quebec is intense

I don't think it was a deliberate hit but....

Chara admitted that he knew he was close to the Bruins' bench, but he did not go into the check with the intention of hurting the Habs' left winger.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I don't think we will see Tom Brady on Dancing With The Stars.....

Worst dancer in Rio's history?

Maybe he has 'Beat Deafness'

The darkest night in the history of the Boston Bruins

Tonight the Boston Bruins travel up to snowbound Montreal to face their old rivals yet again. The two teams have played each other more times in both regular season play, and more playoff series, than any other two teams in NHL history. In the playoffs alone they have met 163 times - 46 more than second place Detroit vs Toronto.

We all remember what happened when they last met a month ago at the Garden.

2 months ago the Bruins blew a 2-0 lead late in the third period in Montreal....and in OT

The Boston Bruins have not won a Stanley Cup since 1972 but in 1979 they came oh so close.
When the Forum de Montreal closed in 1996, Red Fisher the longtime hockey writer wrote about the greatest game in the history of the building.
Was there ever a more exciting game than the one in 1979 when the Canadiens rallied for a tying goal in Game 7 of the Cup semifinal against the Bruins when Boston was caught with too many men on the ice?

The Canadiens, winners of three consecutive Stanley Cups, had won the first two games of the series, outscoring the Bruins 9-4. That was expected. Piece of cake. What nobody expected was that the Bruins would win the next two in Boston and split the next two. The teams faced off at the Forum in Game 7 for the right to face the New York Rangers in the Cup final.

Three hours and 26 minutes later, Mario Tremblay raced down right wing. On the left, Yvon Lambert sprinted for the net, arriving there in time to take Tremblay's pass ... and goal! The time: 9:33 into the first overtime.

What more could any group of athletes provide than what was delivered that night? How much deeper could this Boston team dig than the 3-1 lead they took into the third period, two from Wayne Cashman and another from Rick Middleton? How much work was needed from the Canadiens for the goals they got from Mark Napier and Guy Lapointe to tie the game?

Now, it's Middleton shooting from almost behind the net. The puck strikes Ken Dryden's arm and falls behind him with fewer than four minutes remaining. Game and series over, right? Incredibly, seconds later, with only 2:34 remaining in regulation, the Bruins are caught with too many men on the ice! Last chance and, as you'd expect, the Canadiens had their best on the ice. Lafleur and Robinson were there. So were Serge Savard, Steve Shutt and Jacques Lemaire.

The goal which sent the game into overtime happened this way:

Lafleur carried the puck up the ice and passed it to Lemaire, deep in the Boston zone. Lemaire promptly passed it back to Lafleur at the top of the circle. What he needed to send the game into overtime was a perfect shot, and that's what he produced with only 74 seconds remaining to beat a spectacular Gilles Gilbert.

I can not begin to describe the despair in Boston after this debacle as coming just months after Bucky F. Dent it was just too much for most Bostonians.

All Bruins fans have heard the infamous phrase 'too many men on the ice' - but unless you are over the age of 40 you most likely have never seen the game.

Here is the complete telecast from CBC's Hockey Night In Canada with the late Danny Gallivan calling the action.

If you don't have the time to watch the entire telecast here is when the penalty happened and the disaster that followed.

The Bruins fired coach Don Cherry after the game - and it was the luckiest thing that ever happened to him as a couple of years later Hockey Night In Canada tried him out as a commentator.

To the horror of many in Canada ESPECIALLY in Quebec - he is still there.

Cherry's memories of that night.

Cherry still loves Boston ( and the Bruins ) - as this clip from 2004 will show when Bostonians reacted to the booing of the United States anthem in Montreal - (which still continues, especially when the Bruins visit)


The Boston Bruins: Celebrating 75 Years

Thursday, March 3, 2011

We know the Commuter Rail has problems - but when will the T buy new Orange and Red Line cars?

This morning with the temperature around 10 degrees with a wind chill below zero, the Orange Line didn't want to play. This is routine whenever it gets cold and for good reason - These trains were built between 1979-81.
To put that in perspective, these trains ran on the Washington Street Elevated.

1985 - courtesy petespix75 on Flickr

The current Orange Line trains were built by the same manufacturer who built the retired Blue Line trains that were built a year earlier. It is time to retire them and send a few cars to the trolley museum in Maine where they can mingle with other retired T cars.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority 0559Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority 01179Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority 0547

The T released a video showing the problems the older trains face

I really don't understand why new Orange Line cars were not ordered when the Blue Line new cars were but what's done is done...or in this case NOT done.

Things are a little better on the Red Line but there are problems there as well.

68 of the Red Line cars were built in 1969-70 when the Red Line was expanded to Quincy (and later Braintree) - 46 more were built between 1987-9 and 84 cars were built in 1993-4. The Red Line which is by far the busiest of the heavy rail lines also has the most mileage.

The Green Line has 80 Kinki-Sharyo cars that were built in 1987-8 (with 14 more bought a decade later) and 90 of the infamous Breda cars that first showed up in 1999 and the last one arriving in 2007.

Boston is not alone with problems with Breda as San Francisco, Cleveland and Los Angeles have had issues as well ( but not as severe as ours )

To be fair Breda says the design that the MBTA wanted was questionable to begin with.

Now why the MBTA decided to award the contract to Breda in the first place when Kinki-Sharyo gave the system a reliable vehicle is classic Massachusetts insanity.

Kinki just built the cars for the new rail line to the Seattle airport and everybody loves them

Here is my problem with going to the 'low-bidder' - you get what you pay for and usually there are more costs involved in the end. Nobody complains about the Kinki Green Line cars - all they do is work.

I have read Chicago is now testing new rail cars for the 'L manufactured by Bombardier Inc to replace cars that are the oldest in the US going back to 1968. Our Red line cars will soon have that dubious distinction.

The Blue Line is set for the next 20 years so at least we have that going for us.

The rest of the system is what it is - a system that was designed 100 years ago with each line having its own standards. Sadly it says a lot about us that one of the most reliable tunnels in the system was built 100 years ago between Harvard and Kendall and it still doesn't have the issues that the almost 30 year old tunnel from Harvard to Alewife has.

I don't know where the money is going to come from to purchase these cars and I have a feeling MassDOT doesn't either but it has to be done. The Green Line is going to need new cars for the extension to Medford as well. I certainly don't blame the current management of the T for these issues as the problems we are having today were caused by bad decisions decades ago.

However I am tired of riding a system that has trains that don't run as well as the retired ones at the museum in Maine.

Finally - new Lechmere Station is a GO

MassDOT today announced that a land exchange agreement has been approved to facilitate extending the Green Line north of Lechmere Station to Somerville and Medford.

Commonwealth Conversations: Transportation: MBTA: New Lechmere Station Spurs Development

Buried in the press release are some interesting items.

Trackage rights off the Worcester Main Line to allow potential future passenger service from Worcester to Ayer. This will provide a connection between the Worcester and Fitchburg Commuter Rail Lines, and a potential future connection to North Station.

Trackage rights to provide future passenger service to New Hampshire. This would allow for the extension of MBTA Commuter Rail service from Lowell to Concord, NH through Nashua and Manchester. That project would ultimately be sponsored and funded by the State of New Hampshire, similar to current Commuter Rail service to Rhode Island.

Worcester to Boston via Ayer? OK that might take 4 hours :)

Seriously while I doubt we will see a commuter line from Ayer to Worcester anytime soon, getting New Hampshire service restored will be a well needed service.

At least we may now see some progress on building the Green Line to Somerville and Medford.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

UPDATE - Hyundai-Rotem problems in Philadelphia and what it could mean for Boston

This is a follow up on what I wrote yesterday.


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

FOX29 in Philadelphia has done a follow up on the problems at the Hyundai-Rotem plant in Philadelphia where commuter rail cars for SEPTA in Philadelphia are being assembled. The MBTA cars will be built as this same plant so it is imperative for the MBTA to do something now before it is too late.

Here is a look at the Philadelphia cars

Philadelphia riders have been promised these trains but...
In a recent online apology to riders, SEPTA's general manager Joe Casey admitted the manufacturing process has not gone as planned, but Casey promises the transit authority will not accept any new railcars that do not meet their standards.

We all the problems MBCR is having they don't need this. It is important to note that MBCR only operates what the MBTA provides them so this is squarely in the lap of MBTA GM Rich Davey and the MassDOT Board of Directors.

Back in October the T showed a mockup version of the Hyundai-Rotem cars at North Station

One major difference between SEPTA regional rail and the MBTA commuter rail is that SEPTA now operates the system themselves instead of having a railroad company run it. SEPTA is also 'all-electric' instead of diesel powered. 

Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company has been operating the MBTA system since July of 2003 when they took over the contract from Amtrak that walked away from it. One major advantage that Amtrak offered that MBCR can not is that Amtrak would if needed add their own locomotives to run on the commuter rail when breakdowns occurred. The biggest problem MBCR has is simply the equipment provided to them is at the end of their expected lifetime and the T has not provided new rolling stock. 

One suggestion I have for the MBTA to look at for the short term is to perhaps investigate leasing electric powered rolling stock from perhaps the LIRR, Metro-North, SEPTA or METRA (Chicago) to operate on the electric tracks in operation between South Station and Warwick, Rhode Island. If nothing else that would free up the trains currently operating on the Providence line to be used elsewhere in the system. 

Hopefully Hyundai-Rotem can solve the problems at the Philadelphia plant. The Korean company has certainly developed a fine reputation with their automobiles. I do wonder why the company chose Philadelphia for the rail plant when they have built their auto plants in the south where labor costs are lower. Paying only $12 an hour in Philadelphia almost guarantees you will not get the best skilled workers. 

All we can do is hope for the best.

Al's Cafe opens in Harvard Square

Alan Costello who has become well known downtown with his locations at 112 State St and 179 Essex St has officially opened his long planned Harvard Square location.

It is located in the Holyoke Center Arcade at 1350 Massachusetts Ave - entrance is to the left of Au Bon Pain. His menu offers Hot Gourmet Subs, Cold Gourmet Subs, Soups ,Salads and Kabobs. He will also offer his famed Bag Lunch and Soup Lunch.

Hours Monday-Saturday 10 AM to 9 PM - Sunday 11 AM - 8 PM Phone 617-441-9100

Website is under construction but will be

I wish him well as Harvard Sq can always use a good, inexpensive meal option.