Why Boston should not host the Summer Olympics


Dear Reader,

Boston was selected to compete to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, which I think is a really horrible idea for the following 5 reasons:

  1. Friendliness. Not that Boston couldn’t be a good host city.  It could and most likely would be, if people were on their best behavior.  However, Bostonians are not generally known for their friendliness, but neither are they, or I should say, we, as I live here, neither are we hostile.  At best we are indifferent to tourists, and sometimes, maybe quite frequently, mildly annoyed at them but otherwise reasonably tolerant.  International tourists will not find the sort of southern hospitality they might have encountered elsewhere, say in Atlanta during the 96 Olympics – you know, “how ya’ll doin?”, ya’ll doin aight?”, nor will you find the curiosity factor, “where ya’ll from?”. To Bostonians, unless you live in the neighborhood where you were born, you are an outsider and will be given the cold treatment, which is a survival mechanism, so don’t take offense. The best you can hope for is to get honked at to get the hell out of the way, or to receive a “you all set?” from your waiter.
  2. Food.  Boston has some good food, but does not compare to other major cities in the U.S. like NYC or Chicago and doesn’t really have a very attractive local culinary staple, unless you count Clam Chowder, and in my book soup doesn’t count.  And lobster, well, that’s Maine’s claim, not Boston’s.  Try finding a good barbecue, a brisket, a cheesesteak, or even a decent pizza – and sandwiches in the city, forget about it.  Make your own.
  3. Parking.  There is none. Period. And traffic is bad enough as it is, the Big Dig notwithstanding. Bostonians are notoriously bad and rude drivers and the roads here are little more than cow paths.  There’s no grid pattern for navigation purposes which renders even GPS useless.
  4. Accommodations.  I think most tourists would have to stay outside of Boston – way outside, like Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut because there just aren’t enough beds.
  5. Venues.  They’d have to be built, because there’s not much here besides the Reggie Lewis Track Center at Roxbury Community College, the basketball gym at the Garden, the Football stadium in Foxboro, out in the sticks – over an hour from Boston and the soccer field at Pagil Playground. Boston would have to build something like 4 stadiums costing upwards of a billion dollars, not to mention the added expense of all the security needed. Ultimately this will mean higher taxes for Bostonians. Look, Boston is so congested with buildings and narrow alleys that they’d have to tear old stuff down to build the new.  If Boston were selected, they should just build out on the Boston Harbor Islands,which, by the way, has good views of the shipping lanes, Logan Airport and the occasional whale.

I’d just be happy to host another World Series and leave the Summer Olympics to the Romans.



Boston, MA

100 Foods To Die For (or not) Before You Die (1-20)


Absinthe packs a punch

I took The Food List Challenge and scored 61% having tried 61 of the 100 foods (or drinks) listed.  So I’m going through each one, 20 at a time.

Abalone.  I thought of TX at first.  Wait, that’s Abilene.  Never mind.  What is abalone anyway? I don’t think I’ve had it unless it was dressed as tuna in a can.

Absinthe.  I had one in the form of a flaming drink at Dali, a Spanish restaurant in Somerville. It tasted like licorice and made me hallucinate.

Alligator.  Never tried it and don’t think I will, willingly or knowingly.  There is nothing appealing about prehistoric meat, although I hear it tastes like chicken.

Baba Ghanoush.  My first encounter with it was at the Middle East Restaurant and Cafe, now Nightclub in Cambridge.  Loved it then, still do.

Bagel and Lox. My first encounter with it was at the S&S Restaurant and Deli in Inman Square in Cambridge.  Didn’t like it then, still don’t.  The lox that is.  Bagels I like and always have since I tried my first real one at Kupel’s in Brookline.

Baklava. My first experience with this sweet and delicate flaky pastry was at a Greek Pizzeria in Brighton.

Barbecue Ribs.  The best I had came from joints in Arkansas and Texas.  The worst, billed as the best, came from a rib place in Memphis. Honorable mentions to restaurants in Somerville and Allston. A place in Brookline called the Village Smokehouse served me some of the best and some of the most mediocre ribs I’ve ever tasted.

Bellini.  I’ve had prosecco, but never with a peach, although I have eaten a peach and admire the album Eat a Peach.

Bird’s Nest Soup.  Can’t say I have or would, but might, even should, if I could.

Biscuits and Gravy. My grandpa who I called Gagan lived in a little town in Northwest Arkansas and made the best biscuits and white sausage gravy you can imagine.  And I can only imagine and try to remember the taste because I have never been able to replicate it.

Black Pudding.  I’ve had Jello chocolate pudding, does that count?

Black Truffle.  Like the pudding above, I’ve had a chocolate truffle.  And then I had some truffle-parm fries with truffle ketchup, at this place called Grass Fed in JP.  At $600 a pound, the best I can hope for would be some shavings for my beef stew crockpot recipe.

Borscht.  I like the name.  I had a bowl at the Troyka restaurant in Harvard Square, served hot, if memory serves that I was expecting cold. I think my aunt, who was with me, said that I must have mistaken borscht for gazpacho.  I might have just made that up, but I don’t remember.

Bread Pudding.  The best I ever had was at Skipjack’s in Boston.  I was with my sister and her kids.  The fish served was serviceable, but the dessert, warm chocolate bread pudding, was to die for.

Calamari. I had some fried calamari for the first time in a little joint near my apartment on the Allston/Brighton line when I first moved to Boston.  Unlike the warm chocolate bread pudding, it was not to die for.  I am not a fan of fried rubber slices.

Carp.  When I first saw this on the list, I thought it said crap.  I actually have caught and eaten a crappie fish before (it is the actual name of the fish, not an adjective here), but I’ve neither caught nor tried carp.  I once saw a friend try to shoot a buffalo carp with a bow and arrow.

Cavier.  When I found out what I was eating, I lost my appetite for it.

Cheese Fondu.  Yes I have but I don’t like Gruyere cheese.  Velveeta melts better, but the question is, is it real cheeze?

Chicken and Waffles.  No thank you.  I like chicken ok, but not waffles.  Chicken and pancakes? Possibly.

Chicken Tikka Masala.  I had my first bite at Indian Quality restaurant at their original location in Kenmore Square, near Fenway and on the second floor next door to Planet Records.  This began my longtime love for Indian food.

Stay tuned, or not, for the next installment of 20 which will include, cognac, crabs and crickets.

Vinyl Record Exhibit at the ICA, Boston

I’m almost embarrassed to say that in all the years I’ve lived in Boston, I’ve never once been to the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), until now that is.  When I heard about the Contemporary Art and Vinyl Exhibition, I had to go, and so my daughter and I headed out there late in the afternoon on a Sunday.  And it truly was a sun day – close to 100 degrees.  We arrived by 4:00, only to find out the museum closes at 5:00.  I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough time to see the exhibit, but as it turned out, we had plenty.

The record exhibit featured album sculptures, black and white photographs of folks from the 50’s grooving to records, sound exhibits and short films of people doing really strange things with turntables and records.  One of the most interesting exhibits was a listening installation of samples from Jack Goldstein’s Suite of Sound Effects, which included a tornado, a lost ocean liner, two wrestling cats and three felled trees.  The nine multi-colored original vinyl records were displayed alongside the listening station.

The museum is a boxy modern building which juts out into the Boston Harbor.  It reminds me very much of the Clinton Presidential Museum and Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. Upon entering, there is a large glass elevator with views of the harbor.   The exhibits are mostly on the 4th floor, with several lounging areas overlooking the harbor.  Upon approach, one sloped room equipped with computers and pillows gives the effect of walking into the harbor.

One of the most peculiar aspects of the ICA is the similarity of its logo to that of the IGA supermarket chain.