Friday, July 31, 2009

Satchmo Club Strut

Sruttin' today in NOLA.

Love - MLK | Thought . 3

Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys.

The aftermath of the 'fight with fire' method which you suggest is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community.

Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that.

Yes, love - which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one's enemies - is the solution to the race problem.

Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957. As always - now, again, today, forever.

April | Twitpic . 8

Sandy Williams.

No clue who she is, but girlfriend is obviously rockin' out. And plays GTR behind her back under the full moon. Gotta love that.

Twitpic is our current favorite picked from the public timeline of Twitpic, the new site hosting images for Twitter.

Yummy Yummy | Cheap Dates . 3

Now I know that Cheap Dates might suggest some sort of place to take a date to, you know, a destination of some sort. Not so far, the operative word here is cheap and will continue to be. If it's love you don't need no stinkin' fancy surroundings and tony decor. And if it's just plain lust, well ditto, maybe double ditto.

None the less, we're stepping up our game. We're going to a spot that actually has tables. Triunfo had counter space for six, Ideal for three, unless you want to sit on the cases of snowmelt stacked by the door. This place has two actual tables, one for each of its names ... Yummy Yummy. No, for real, that's the name.

Yummy bills itself as authentic Chinese take out. What that means I'm not quite sure, but the place is clean and bright and well-scrubbed.

For such a small spot the menu is vast, which is always sort of ominous. But we're not here to fine dine, we're here to dine fine on a dime. And anyway our choice isn't even on the menu. To the right of the counter you'll see a price list of Daily Specials. Go for the two items for $2.50 (no tax) and choose the fried rice and orange chicken from the steam table (they conveniently sit side by side). You will not be disappointed.

Although this place does have tables - don't. Take it to the street. Go sit in Dudley Station and wait for your bus home. Believe me, you will not be bored and probably even have a good old dose of drama with your dinner.

Yummy Yummy. 2360 Washington Street, Roxbury, MA 02119. We are inside Dudley Square. Phone: 617-983-8811. Cash only. Hours: M-T,11-11. F/S,11-12. Sun.1-11. Stars: * * *.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mission Hill Mural | Rox . 3

This image was made on the backside of Mission Hill in Roxbury. The mural may have some relation to the Charles Stuart murder case. Who knows? It's quite cryptic. Or right on the spot?

Boston accents | Street Scene . 2

Finally someone's gotten something right about the Boston accent. Namely that it's not. Actress Amy Adams, working in Lowell on The Fighter with Dot-boy Mark Wahlberg, fills us in ...

The thing I've learned in being in Boston is that no two people sound the same. Even people who grew up in the same town don't talk the same. Half the people sound like they're from New York, but they're not because I can hear a slight difference. Some people don't really have any accent except the r's.

Beans About Boston ... An item that pulls out from below a counter or desktop is called a what?

Answer ... It's called a drawer, pronounced draw-er. But no Bostonian ever born could possibly repeat this. It will always be a draw.

Ideal Sub Shop | Cheap Dates . 2

Our search for the ideal cheap date leads inevitably to the Ideal Sub Shop. This would have to be a lunch date, however, as they're only open until mid-afternoon - and never on Sundays. The Ideal is a long-standing uptown institution, black owned and run, with great food and prices, a true value for money proposition. The only thing that's less than ideal is the service. It's friendly enough and they get the orders right but it's so s-l-o-o-o-w. The line's always out the door and it crawls. You will wait - and wait - and wait some more - then wait again.

My pick here is the small Fish Sub for $3.50. Don't get the large, for $4.60, unless you're going to split it with your date, you won't be able to finish it, good as it is. The fillets, haddock I think and no doubt frozen, are correctly deep fried and oil-free. A toasted bun, some mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and onions - what more could one want? Well, except maybe less of a wait.

The menu includes about two dozen cold and a dozen hot subs. Breakfast, for $2.75 (coffee extra), is served until 11:00 am, but it's strictly out of the tasteless McDonald's playbook. Anyway, who goes on breakfast dates?

Ideal Sub Shop. 522 Dudley Street, Roxbury, MA 02119. Phone: 617-442-1560. Fax: 617-442-0053. Hours: M-F, 6-3:30. Sat., 6-3. Closed Sundays. Stars: * * * *.

Michelle Miszczuk | Twitpic . 7

Michelle Miszczuk.

Twitpic is our current favorite picked from the public timeline of Twitpic, the new site hosting images for Twitter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Forgotten | Dot . 8

Flag in the window of the Upham's Corner firehouse.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunset in Beirut | Cityscape . 1

By Danielle E.
Things I love ... argileh, books, Arabic script, LOST, baking, Spanish literature, beaches, photography, snow, dictionaries, basil, making jewelry, Manchego, nutella, white and black truffles (fungi), the color green, Boucheron, red wine, quenepas, chocolate.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Information | Oh snap! . 4

Glass bus shelter on Dudley Street in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Triunfo | Cheap Dates . 1

Boston's pretty pricey and cheap dates are hard to come by. But love, or lust, can't be contemplated, much less consumated, on an empty stomach. Those are not the growls we want to hear when getting it on. Plus, as Bernard Shaw said, "Our truest love is that for food." So we'll cut right to the chase in our Cheap Dates series and go out to dinner, starting with one of both the cheapest and best.

Triunfo is a tiny hole in the wall Mexican cantina on the downtown edge of SOWA in the South End. It seats maybe six at the counter in the front window. It does, however, appear to be expanding into an adjacent storefront. Meanwhile, plan on takeout - pleasant Ringold Park is a block away across Washington Street. And they do deliver.

The standout bargain here is the Steak Taco for $2.75, a crispy tortilla stuffed with grilled steak, cheese, salsa, hot peppers, lettuce and sour cream. There are nine other tacos ranging from the humble bean at $1.50 up to the high end salmon, shrimp or swordfish for $3.25.

The 75 item menu offers all the other Mexican staples - burritos, quesadillas, fajitas and enchiladas. Dinners run about $10 for a grilled steak up to $14 for grilled swordfish. The salads are all about $5.

Triunfo Mexican Food. 147 East Berkeley St., by the corner of Harrison Ave. Boston, MA 02118. T - Silverline, East Berkeley stop. Phone: 617-542-8499. Fax: 617-542-8497. All major credit cards accepted. Hours: Monday - Sunday, 10am - 11pm. Delivery is available, including late nights on Thursday through Saturday. Stars: * * * * *.

Hotel Lobby, Dehli | Twitpic . 6

Twitpic: exjetsguy.
Name: Richard Oliver.
Location: San Antonio, Texas.
Web: mySA.
Bio: Senior Writer, San Antonio Express-News.
Comment: Here is the view of the hotel lobby from our 17th-floor interior balcony. Breathtaking.
Photo location: Dehli, India.

Twitpic is our current favorite picked from the public timeline of Twitpic, the new site hosting images for Twitter.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Skip | Boston News-Letter . 1

Everybody and your mamma, as Skip reportedly put it, has an opinion about the Henry Louis Gates incident. From the get go, then the president, to his later regret, on down, everyone's been mouthing off in the heat of the moment. Let me wade in the water with my 2 cents.

Basic training. You - black or white - do not cuss out a cop. Skip, freshly back in the PRC from China where no doubt anything goes, forgot his basic training. I had a very similar thing happen to an employee of mine and the outcome was totally different. Why? He kept his cool. And in a possibly far more dangerous situation.

Josiah, an African-Bahamian, was doing a job for me in tony, all-white Beacon Hill. He was standing on a fire escape using a caulking gun to weatherproof a window. Similar to the Gates case, a white neighbor evidently looked out her window and called the cops saying that there was a black man with a gun breaking into the house across the street.

The cops came screaming in from both ends of Brimmer Street, jumped out with guns drawn and yelled, "Put the gun down motherfucker!" Jo put down the caulking gun, then respectfully talked to the cops, explained what he was up to, showed some ID, they all had a laugh and the incident was over. End of story. He used his basic training.

Now there's a lot that's screwed up around this country and plenty to get mad at, especially the exploding prison-industrial complex and black incarceration, but in general I would say it's not the Cambridge or Boston police. They usually aren't the most pleasant people, but look at what they have to deal with and the danger they face day in and day out on these city streets. So remember - or quickly learn - your basic training. Always talk calmly and politely to the police. They're just doing their jobs, usually the best that they know how and want to live another day to go home to their kids ... just like you.

Image ... Obama lost his cool too. Alex Brandon/Associated Press.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Antiques Row | Cityscape . 1

Another antique shop gone, one more down - Christopher Anthony's at the corner of Chestnut and River Streets. A fairly large one too, made up of two conjoined shop spaces. Gone and won't be back - passed down in the family, repopened under new owners or taken over by a former employee. When they go now they're gone. Antiques are dead.

Charles Street has, or had, always been Boston's Antiques Row. In the 90's over 40 antique shops lined the street at the foot of Beacon Hill and adjacent River Street. Now the fingers of one hand or fewer will do. Many of their names escape memory.

Russell Alberts (many were named for their owners) was always a favorite - an impeccable, courtly, affable gentleman specializing in high-end Asian antiques and art, dealing with major collectors and museums, who really know his stuff and always had great windows in his shop at the corner of Revere Street.

Marika was the doyenne of the street, became one of the few dynastic successions - and one of the few that just keep going, on the corner opposite Alberts, seemingly with the same stuff in the window that I saw decades ago.

Image ... Paul Revere (in drag), I assume.

... To be continued.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hawks on the Wing . 5 | Bird News

Coupling completed and the nest built, the female lays a clutch of 2 - 3 eggs (more unusually, 1, 4 or 5). As with most birds clutch size is related to the current feeding conditions - more eggs are laid when food is abundant and fewer in lean times. The eggs are about 2.5-inches long, white or bluish-white and spotted with brown or unmarked.

Brooding, or incubating, begins after the first egg is laid rather than when the clutch is complete. This strategy allows the eggs to hatch asynchronously in the order that they they were laid. Incubation habits differ among bird species, but in most hawks both males and females seem to share the brooding duties equally as they do nest building.

Almost all birds brood, generally by sitting on their eggs, whose shells are specially designed to bear the weight of the parent's body without breaking, often with some support from the raised side of the nest. When brooding a bird transfers its body heat to the eggs to develop the embryo. Birds are warm blooded animals, of course, with normal temperatures of 104° F (they have to run hotter than us because they're smaller). Some heat is lost in the transfer, so it turns out that the ideal avian incubation temperature is actually around the human norm of 98.6° F. But feathers make the bird, so how is this heat transfer accomplished with all that high R-factor insulation in the way?

Just before brooding most birds develop a brood patch, a temporarily featherless area of bare skin lined with swollen blood vessels on the abdomen which will come in contact with the eggs. Hawks, both male and female, have one large patch, other species may have several strategically placed patches. In hawks the patch develops naturally before brooding due to hormonal changes. Other species such as ducks and geese pluck out the feathers to make the patch and use them to line their nests. In addition to brooding, the eggs are turned frequently to assure even development of the embryo.

Incubation takes about a month and the eggs hatch out in 30 to 35 days, one after the other following their 'laying order'. Red-tails are born with no means to walk or fly, covered in down, with eyes wide open and must be constantly fed by their parents. Following the lore of falconry, for which Red-tails are often the current raptor of choice, the young before they fledge - fly and leave the nest - are called eyasses. They quickly resemble cute little ruthless, hook-billed killers, which will soon be their instinctual career path.

Bird species vary widely in their stage of development at birth. The spectrum spans from the precocial to the altricial. Precocial species are, well, precocious - competent from birth, to various degrees. Altricial young take time to develop competence.

Image ... Red-tail with a pigeon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Number Detective . 17 | Kid'scape

Hey kids! I'm the Number Detective and my numero uno job is to track down numbers all over the city and find out what they're up to.

My first find wasn't an easy number and even sort of hard to see ... 17. It was above the side entrance of a church off Hanover Street in Boston's North End.

Here are three possible ways of seeing seventeen ...
17 = 3+3+3+3+3+2 ...  +  +  +  +  + .
17 = 4+4+4+4+1 ...  +  +  +  + .
17 = 5+5+5+2 ...  +  +  + .

Fun facts
Seventeen is the seventh prime number. A prime is a number which can only be divided by one and itself. The first seven prime numbers are 2, 3, 5 7, 11, 13 and 17 (1 is not prime since it only has one divisor, itself). It's also the result of adding the first four primes together, 2 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 17. For some mysterious reason, 17 is also considered to be the least random number, that is the most likely to be picked as a number chosen at random. We chose it by chance as our first number.

Vampires in Boston | Oh snap! . 3

There is, or maybe was, an odd funky store, actually more like a rambling, dusty two storey warehouse, in the North End that sold classic movie posters. This was how the wall outside the store looked one day. Oh Snap! is our scrapbook of casual, amusing snapshots.

July 21

Days of rain reported for rest of week, at least according to NOAA. My Accuweather widget begs to differ with the federal prognosis, which always tends to be gloomier and more downbeat - and hence more accurate than Accu. The government tells you to be prepared and expect the worst, the private sector says just smile, plan that picnic and hope for the best. It's good for business.

And it's drizzling right now. Most of what I have to do this week is outdoors and involves electricity. Water and juice mix with shocking results. Plus I hate getting wet. I'm a sailor. Staying dry and un-drowned is our preoccupation. Worst of all is biking in wet weather. You can't use an umbrella (well maybe you can) and all the water's flying up from the street, so you get probably ten times as wet as a pedestrian. Plus your braking is reduced. Why doesn't Smart Car make a pedi-version. To me they look like they must be pedal-powered anyway or maybe propelled Fred Flintstone style. I might be able to fit in a small toolkit if there was no passenger. By the way, did you know that those cute windup toys are made by Daimler-Benz? Smart. Freddie says that they have special vertical parking lots in Berlin just for them.

Left the house, chilly, turned back for my wool sweater. Biked downtown. When I hit the South End it started to shower and then after Blackstone Park just plain rain all the way to Beacon Hill. Arrived wet, but wool-wet and if you're wet in wool you're still warm, fairly dry, and breathing, not soaked in sweat. I'll take it over any miracle fabric any day.

Did my thing. Maria turned up! The hot Brazilian beauty. We chatted. Missed her racing out to catch a lull in the storm. Got caught on the last leg of the way back too. Walked under a streaming umbrella for awhile pushing the bike, fording streams between stretches of sidewalk. Shot the shit with Charles for a second. Stripped, dried and tried to decide what to do next, if anything.

According to E.B. White he used to regularly arrive at the New Yorker early in the morning and diligently begin writing by typing, The. Then often around noon he'd continue by adding, hell with it, and go out to lunch. An inspiration.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Economy . 1 | Walden X

Walden X is an experiment in living, a modern resetting of Henry David Thoreau's classic tale of Life in the Woods. Why? As any sensible person, and maybe the man himself, might ask.

First - we love it. Although we find it and Thoreau stranger with each passing year. No doubt due to the loss of some of our natural elasticity, as he identifies the source of similar problems. So, love.

Second - it's difficult to read in print but it's almost impossible online. To that end we've broken up, but not edited, the text into logical, easily readable units. HD does have an undeniable tendancy, even to his fans, to run on.

Third - images. This will be an illustrated Walden with modern and period photographs and graphics. Thoreau was magical at setting scenes with words. He lived just at the beginning of photography and no doubt had he lived longer or been born later would have been one of its masters, an Ansel Adams, Edward Weston or Elliot Porter.

Fourth - Notes. Thoreau delights in his arcane Harvard erudition and obscurity, sometimes name dropping and checking faster than his Crimson companion a century later in the Wasteland. Plus the passage of time has just plain clouded part of his passing references. We plan to offer nice notes in small pop up windows to clarity and amplify these passages.

Image ... Thoreau Cove.

WALDEN - Economy

When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only.

I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.

I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life, which some would call impertinent, though they do not appear to me at all impertinent, but, considering the circumstances, very natural and pertinent.

Some have asked what I got to eat; if I did not feel lonesome; if I was not afraid; and the like. Others have been curious to learn what portion of my income I devoted to charitable purposes; and some, who have large families, how many poor children I maintained.

I will therefore ask those of my readers who feel no particular interest in me to pardon me if I undertake to answer some of these questions in this book. In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.

Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land; for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me.

Perhaps these pages are more particularly addressed to poor students. As for the rest of my readers, they will accept such portions as apply to them. I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits.

To be continued ...

July 20

Got out Rooscape News #10. Only 5 days late. Moving up, getting ahead. Horrible typo. Just to test you. Spot it or lose the spelling bee.

Birds stripping the sour cherry tree bare - Baltimore orioles, blue jays, grackles, house finches, house sparrows, starlings. Seldom seen such a varied flock feeding all at once.

Finished Budget Bathroom Makeover project for our client.

Started Image and Walden X sections of Garden Journal, seen above and below here.

Fireside Chat | Radio Roofscape . 1

One of the sweetest surprises since Roofscape's launch on June 1 has been Radio Roofscape. We never imagined what an important part of the magazine it would become, or how quickly. RR adds listeners daily from around the world - Indonesia, Bangkok, Germany, Nashville. London - gets props whenever we program (and at other times too), brings readers to the magazine and adds followers on Twitter.

Radio Roofscape has but one mission - to help you get your party on and shake that thang. Whatever it takes - R&B, jazz, rock, house, hip-hop, soul, reggae, blues, gospel, classical and more are all in the mix. Unlike almost all radio stations we freely mix together many different forms of music and even step out beyond music. We've definitely got the broad flapping American ear, as Thoreau put it.

To accommodate these many styles, we mix in discrete sets of music. A set can be a single track or maybe up to 20 tunes, the average probably being 6 to 8 cuts. Each set features a particular style of music and/or has the focus of a special theme.

For example - one set near the top of our current playlist is Girls Night Out. Miley leads off with G.N.O., the inspiration for the set, and the party continues with Joni Mitchel, Neil Young, Christina Aquilera, The Cheetah Girls, Pet Shop Boys, Prince, Donna Summer, until Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls takes us out.

The next set includes some modern classical cats - Phillip Glass, John Cage, Roger Zahab and Anoushka Shankar. Where else are you going to get that? Now I know this may sound like the recipe for a train wreck but, as Mark Twain quipped (quite aptly) of Richard Wagner's music - It's not as bad as it sounds.

Now, of course, you can't always be up, so sometimes we take things down tempo and chill out or even go spoken word. Another set further on features Kenneth Patchen, Robert Frost, Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs - reading 103rd Street Boys from Junkie. Definitely not Radio Disney. But it is fun.

Some of the tracks also have videos which stream right on the page. The video window, however, stays at the top of the page, so you may have to scroll back up from the current position in the playlist. The videos are fun because you can really learn the Hoedown Throwdown or bust some moves, get your church on and Stomp all at the same time with Kirk Franklin.

Some sets are inspired by our listeners and/or guest DJ's. We met country singer Mandy Barnett via Twitter and I immediately programmed her gorgeous tune The Whispering Wind. Later Dan Duran - a serious jazz cat, although I think he just graduated middle school - was hanging out and we built a country set together off her song (songs are programmed backwards), then we swung into a jazz thing with Louis Armstrong doing St. James Infirmary as the pivot.

So that gives you an idea of what we're doing Up on the Roof with our funky little ten watt worldwide transmitter. We can't sign off, however, without thanking our wonderful hosts who hekp make this all happen - I don't know how you did it, but you guys are brilliant.

We love you all madly. As Duke used to say closing his shows.

Image ... Wind Chimes. The South End, Boston.

Garden Bridge | Image . 1

I was going through a box of photos looking for a print to give Frederike for her birthday. This was on top of the pile and after flipping through the stack I came back to it. And she liked it!

Her print is somewhat different, however, a one-off. Boxes of Epson printing paper come packed with a stiff, white, smooth protective cardboard sheet. I call it a backing sheet and began printing on them. It makes a very diffuse, watery, painterly image that works well for some photographs. As you can see, this image is already headed in that direction and printing on a backing board took it even further, which was just right.

Fred's is unique because I've stopped printing altogether in recent years. The Web is my only medium now. I've left paper behind and a small grove of trees is still standing somewhere as a result.

The scene is the view into a garden in Boston's Fenway Victory Gardens. A low, slightly arched foot bridge spans a small stream, the banks lush with greenery. I've tried to find the spot again from time to time but it's gone, or perhaps eluding me. There are almost 500 gardens in the Fens, however, so it might just be hard to find. But I think it's probably gone. People come and go and things change fairly fast, nothing stays the same. Except in photographs.

The image was probably made in 1999 or 2000. The camera is an Olympus D-620L, the same one which still works well and continues to inspire me. We've covered many miles and made myriad pictures together and we're still on the first roll of 'film'.

This is a sort of image I always seem to be on the lookout for. Something really simple. But satisfying somehow. Maybe minimal is the word. I enjoy seeing how little you need, how basic and stripped down things can get and still have a wholely satisfying image that you can look at again and again with pleasure. That the viewer can interpret and project meaning onto as they will and make their own. I call this the modern method. Kind of like the lyrics of REM or some of the Stones songs. You make your own meaning.

Image is a new addition to our journal. I find people's photographs fascinating and enjoy getting people to talk about them. Which usually requires, yes, at least a thousand words. ... Steve.

Happy birthday, Fred!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Light | Thought . 2

Everything is understood by the light in which it's seen.

Swoozay | Twitpic . 5

Name: Susalka.
Location: at the corner of sunny days.
Bio: i love little things passionately.

Twitpic is our current favorite pic picked from the public timeline of Twitpic, the new site hosting images for Twitter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Uptown food fight . 1 | Cookout

Now I have to admit upfront that, in general, I find restaurants to be adversarial situations. It's us against them and the wait staff subtly, or not, signal that. It must be sentence two of the job description. Sentence one, well we won't go there. What goes on in the kitchen is usually mercifully shielded from the civilian's view, or partially so, for our own protection from the war zone. Chef Ramsey shows us and the truth ain't pretty. I think the show is called Kitchen Nightmares, or something similar.

Uptown, at least in the Bean, things are even worse, as they often are in so many ways. First of all, what exactly is uptown? OK. Uptown is the opposite of downtown. Just as you suspected. Wall Street is dowtown, way downtown. Lincoln Center is mid-town, but still downtown. And Harlem is uptown. Uptown, in short, is generally more colorful, further from the seats of power and poorer. Roxbury (Rox) and Dorchester (Dot) are uptown. Locke-Ober is definitely downtown.

So far so good. But, the problem is this - uptown restaurants (comparing uptown apples to downtown apples) want to charge the same price, or more, as their dowtnown brethren for the same menu items and deliver half the quality and/or service. And that's a problem.

... To be continued.

Strange Fruit | On the Cover . 4

Strange Fruit. This is a detail from a mural that was once on a wall in Ringold Park off Washington Street in Boston's South End. It's based on Billy Holiday's great song, Strange Fruit, describing the scene after a lynching in the South.

African Americans | Beans About Boston . 4

Old Beans

Julia Child, The French Chef, was rumored to be involved in what unsavory culinary-related activity which she always hotly denied?

A - She was a CIA spy, being The French Chef was just her cover. B - Half or more of her souffles fell flat off-camera. C - She cooked with food that she'd dropped on the studio floor. D - She cooked the books as well as writing a few cookbooks.

Correct answer ... C - She cooked with food that she'd dropped on the studio floor.

Many who watched The French Chef swear that this happened. Julia claimed to her death that this was a mere mass hallucination.

A spy? True, but she never demied working for the OSS (also the Spy Kids employer) during WW II as an undercover operative in Ceylon and China.

No one got this question right! 67% chose the spy, 33% the souffle.

To bone up on Julia, check out the new movie Julie and Julia - Based on Two True Stories - opening on August 7, starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and written/directed by Nora Ephron.

Thinkin_ONPAPER | Twitpic . 4

Thinkin_ONPAPER ... Scrambled mind. Random thoughts. Out of the box. Dreaming on paper | COBWEBS CLUB *insider* LOL ||I LOVE Trey Songz.. I luv my TSMB/TTU peeps||

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Feather Fax . 1 | Bird News

1. The eye's have it
Bird's eyes change and vary in some species by the season, sex and/or age. Red-tailed Hawks, as juves (juvenile, immature birds) have irises (the colored ring around the pupil) that are yellow, but as they mature deepen down to a reddish-brown.

2. Brooding over it
Bird eggs require heat, a constant even warmth, to incubate, for the embryo to develop into an animal capable of hatching from the egg. Almost all birds, warm-blooded animals, use body heat to incubate the eggs in their nest. But part of the point of feathers is conserve a bird's body heat. So how do they transfer it to their eggs?

... In the works.

Image ... Swanboats at rest in the Boston Public Garden.

Quality | Roofscape T . 3

This our kitschy new T. Charles convinced me that kitsch puts up numbers, so I'm cool with that. We've got a few great writers to pay after all. And this is not painting on cheap, exploitative no-name velvet, after all, but ink jetting onto expensive, fair trade American Apparel cotton. Our first shirt, Alleyway, is shipping next Tuesday.

July 14

Designed Roofscape T.2, Quality, shown just above. Charles convinced me that kitsch puts up numbers. And certainly a little humor helps (or can't hoit), so I went for both.

Worked on design of Laptop Landing Stations. Found a supplier of chestnut, with a current stock of former pew-backs. Expensive, but the LLS's don't take much wood and the look will be stunning. A sample of wormy chestnut is shown in the LLS|Lotus post, three below, but it doesn't do justice.

Still researching hawks, and birds more generally. Fascinating. Reading The Birder's Handbook by Paul Ehrlich. Combination field guide (if you have a sturdy sherpa) and general book on birds.

Went for a walk around local Dot. Found a magnificent outcropping of Puddingstone at the top of Virginia Street. It seems to have a slip fault running down the middle of it. All surfaces very weathered with round embedded stones projecting, so it must be old and natural, not cut and quarried. I guess, but I'm no geologist.

Clear, warm, partly cloudy, only slight humidity, wind from SW. Quiet, hushed. Bird song. Fred's birthday - maybe. She's already had about 50 this year, so I'd want to see some proof. She's throwing a party at Carson Beach tonight for the house, friends and relations. Lindsay's baking a spice cake. Later, Sandy cookin' up some something.

Saints | Roofscape T . 2

Here's the next Roofscape t-shirt, titled Saints. The photograph was made in Boston's North End.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13

Made the second Roofscape t-shirt, Saints (see just above). Researching hawks to continue Hawks on the Wing article. Reading The Birder's Handbook.

Biked down and spent the day in the garden. Weeded. Pruned and trained tomatoes. Ate some ripe ones. Weeded. Groomed. Weeded. And weeded. Composters piled sky high, bursting at the seams. Weeded again.

Major raspberries. Greens going great - collards, kale, mustard, chard. Picked a big trash bag full, maybe 5 plus lbs. Grapes, prolific tiny coin clusters of green. Banks of orange tiger lilies and deep green mint. Bushes of pale yellow hot peppers. Zucchini, all the butts, blossom ends, gnawed off by squirrels or rats trying a tasting menu and passing on the entree.

Forgot my phone. No laptop, no internet. No neighbors, although heading home I spotted and stoped in to chat with Phyllis.

Weather ... H-78°. L-48°. 1:00-77°. Soil-65°. Wind-SW,5-10. Sky-100/50%. RH-low. Precip-none.

Birds ...
Blackbird, Red-winged | √ Cardinal, Northern | √ Catbird, Gray
Chickadee, Black-capped | Cormorant, Double-crested
√ Crow, American | √ Dove, Mourning | √ Dove, Rock
√ Duck, Mallard | Egret, Snowy | Falcon, Peregrine
Finch, House | Goldfinch, American | √ Grackle, Common
Grosbeak, Rose-breasted | Gull. Herring | Hawk, Red-tailed
√ Heron, Great Blue | Heron, Little Blue
Hummingbird, Ruby-throated | √ Goose, Canada | Martin, Purple
Merganser, Hooded | √ Mockingbird, Northern
Oriole, Baltimore | √ Robin, American | √ Sparrow, House
Sparrow, Song | Sparrow, White-throated | √ Starling, European
Swan, Mute | Titmouse, Tufted | Thrush, Swainson's
Thrush, Wood | Warbler, Black-throated Blue
Woodpecker, Downy | Woodpecker, Red-headed
Yellowthroat, Common

Late in the morning I was reading under the grape arbor, absorbed in the bird book mentioned above, when suddenly somebody was standing a few feet from me calling into the neighbor's garden, "Buddy." He seemed equally startled to see me when I emerged. A crack head, spaced out. For sure? He dropped his lighter, which I returned while escorting him out. Locked the gate, you can be sure.

Bike back home. A favorite half-way stopping point returning from downtown, close by Melnea Cass and Tremont. Stop and write. A wash of linden pollen on the rising wind, pungent and persistant as a subtle perfume. A better feeling than the garden. Free. Why? In anonymous places, seeing unknown faces, we are freer? No weeds to pull.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Laptop Landing Station | Lotus

When the Shop @ Roofscape launches on August 1, the first item we'll be offering is the t-shirt shown in the post below. Over the summer we'll roll out a line of a dozen or so fashion tees. The next item we'll offer is Laptop Landing Station Lotus, a sketch of which is just above.

The Lotus is the first model in our series of Laptop Landing Stations, which is part of our Downlow Design line. The lowdown on Downlow is this, it's furniture and furnishings designed especially for people who like to live on the floor. It includes chairs which have their seats directly on the floor, tables and desks of the right height for on the floor living, chests of drawers, sideboards and cupboards scaled to match, lamps, tatammi mats ... and of course the Laptop Landing line.

Laptop Landing Stations all basically do one simple thing perfectly with variations in features between the models. They raise your laptop computer to a comfortable height on a small table to allow working while seated on the floor - perhaps in the Lotus yoga position, hence the name of the first model.

The Lotus is 4-inches high and features space for a 15" laptop computer with a mouse or trackbal and a drawer underneath to store peripherals, supplies and pencils. It's made of salvaged wormy chestnut wood with a light tung oil finish.

Other models include an elevated ledge for a pair of speakers, a matching cork post-it board, a keyboard light and a buffered electrical multi-strip. There is also a model designed to be used over your lap, say in bed with your legs extended under it, which is slightly higher and without a drawer. A matching backboard is also available which simply props up against any wall at a comfortable angle and has an adjustable neck cushion. There will also be models for use with our (slightly elevated) floor chairs which easily roll back and forth on casters.

The Lotus is a handmade piece of fine furniture fashioned from gorgeous wormy chestnut wood which you will take pleasure in for years. It will probably be priced at $150.00. Email us if you'd like to reserve your own Lotus. Every piece is custom crafted and shipping will begin in late August.

July 12

Finally found a new drawing program, easydraw, that works with OS X Tiger. And it was just $20 for a 9 month license, with $75 additional due within 2 months to buy the no-limit version. Did my first drawings right away, one of which you can see above, a sketch of Laptop Lotus. I liked the program immediately, powerful but very familiar and yes, easy, but with a deep feature set. Google Sketchup absolutely defeated me on all fronts, way too complicated. With this I was off and running in minutes.

Cooked Pasta Puttanesca for dinner, served with grated parmesan and faux pine nuts - toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Made using Thai and sweet basils, from the house garden, freshly dried tarragon and a pinch of dried marjoram. The Thai basil kicks and the tarragon, from the Roofscape garden garden, has very lemony rather than anise overtones.

Charles has a guest for the weekend, Richard Yanowitz, a writer. We discussed Roofscape in depth at breakfast. He and Charles have biked downtown to see the Tall Ships.

Working on the Hawks article again, doing further research on their parenting techniques.

Programmed an 8 song set based on the word or idea of slave. Started yesterday with the Temps (Temptations) song Slave.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 11

Here's the first Roofscape T-shirt, titled Alleyway. That's street enough, I guess. We're working with a great printer, QRST's, in scenic Somerville, Mass. Numbered first editions should be available by the end of next week, printed on a light sky-blue, ribbed American Apparel t-shirt. The price will probably be $21 + S&H.

Programmed Radio Roofscape yesterday morning with Dan Duran, a serious jazz cat. We had fun. I've seldom seen anyone who listens more intently to music. Did a country set together inspired by our new Twitter follower, Mandy Barnett.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hawks on the Wing . 2 | Bird News

Hawks themselves are vigilant defenders of their own nests. In recent years, a couple has nested high up on steel beams supporting the canopy over the infield seats at Fenway Park. Sometimes they'd do flyovers of the field during games, perhaps for a birds-eye view of the action, and get worked into the play-by-play. "He's turning right. Maybe he's a Republican. He's heading left. Could be a Democrat. Now he's flying straight off. Probably an Independent."

The Red Sox began removing the hawk's nest each year before opening day in April. But the park is open for tours and events year around. Last spring, one of the hawks swooped down on a girl in a school tour and raked his razor-sharp talons across her scalp. She was taken to the hospital, the nest destroyed and the hawks driven off.

Hawks are cool customers, quietly confident in their superior weaponry and fighting skills. I've often been surprised by a Red-tail perched on a fence post or a tree limb only a few feet away. Their talons curl well around a standard 4-inch-wide fencepost. They will often pose quite patiently for pictures, heads swiveling back and forth, the better to keep an eye on you or maybe to present the photographer with a choice of imposing profiles.

Red-tailed hawks have a very unearthly, chilling cry - uttered only when on the wing - that must freeze many animals in their tracks. It always gets my attention and I stand quite still to listen to the strange sound.

Peterson's (Field Guide to the Birds) describes it like this ... "An asthmatic squeal, keee-r-r (slurring downward)." Well, he's the bird boss, but maybe it's better to recall the sound of a hawk or an eagle screeching in a movie soundtrack, maybe mixed in with other spooky sounds of the wild. That was a Red-tail. And he's still crying out for his residuals.

The hawk at the left just above is one of the Red-tailed residents of Boston's Fenway Victory Gardens. Whether this is a male or female, I can't tell. The sexes look alike, although females are 25% larger and heavier. Both are very large birds with broad, wide wingspans of 43" - 57", 19" - 25" stem to stern and weighing between 1.5 - 4.4 lbs.

The red in the wide rounded tail of the Red-tailed hawk is all on the upperside of Buteo jamaicensis. The rufous, rusty red feathers are usually seen in flashes when the hawk is swooping low to the ground, either coming in for or coming from a kill, or banking in flight. Underneath the tail is banded with brown stripes. Juveniles have dark gray tails that may lack banding. The breast is snowy white with a broad band of brown streaks across the belly. The topsides and head are brown and the beak is conspicuously curved. If they have you in their sights, their gaze is powerful and penetrating.

The Red-tail make their homes and hunt in a wide range of habitats and at many altitudes. They are found in the urban wilds, on farmlands, mountains and deserts, grassland and prarie groves, plains, salt marshes, tropical rain forests and in coniferous, deciduous and mixed woodlands. Basically, everywhere but deep forests, since they need open spaces to spot their prey.

July 9

As you've probably noticed Roofscape Garden Journal actually has very little to do with gardening. I mean, considering its title. Oh well. We kind of think of Roofscape as one big garden, or garden party. And you're invited anyway.

A busy day in Roofscape Studio. Completely redid the Soundscape department page and added Rooftop Party Video, an archive of all the party videos featured on the Soundscape page. Added Dave Brubeck's 40 Days, live with Paul Desmond in this gorgeous tune. Programmed an eight song soul set for Radio Roofscape, Lou Rawls - Love is a Hurtin' Thing - to Marky Mark - Good Vibrations, with a detour for the La's - There She Goes. Laid out Erin's article. Added a new Twitpic pic, Kristin Warvik.

Finally back to finishing articles in the works, beginning with Hawks on the Wing, two installments of which appear just above and below this post.

We have two new followers on Twitter, one from Thailand and the other from Indonesia - welcome Icha! We now have 177 followers on Twitter, 104 listeners to Roofscape Radio and 236 subscribers to Roofscape News.

Designed the first Roofscape T-shirts. See the samples in posts below. What do you think?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hawks on the Wing . 1 | Bird News

High over the city a pair of hawks is circling, riding a thermal rising from the sun-baked buildings and streets. Their cries are primal and unearthly, their flight effortless and elegant. These Red-tails are the king and queen of all that they survey. This is their private territory for hunting, breeding and raising a dynastic brood. They will vigorously defend their domain against usurpers.

A third hawk appears to disturb this aerial mating dance. The male dives to drive off the intruder, accelerating to 120 mph, then feints to avoid a possibly fatal mid-air collision.

The interloper is no romantic rival, however, but one of their young adult children asking to return home following yet another failure to launch. He endures a little more of dad's tough love until he realizes that the answer is NO, then flaps off to once again try to find his own territory.

Hawks are wonderful to watch. They seem to soar effortlessly over the city, both playthings and masters of the wind. They perch in trees, on the pediments and fire escapes of apartment and office buildings, streetlights and telephone poles, or hover on strong winds ... waiting ... patiently watching like a hawk for prey.

A rat scurries through the grass in a garden. The hawk jumps up off his perch, silently swoops down in an accelerating power glide, stuns it's quarry with the force of its 1.5 to 3 pounds traveling at up to 120 mph, digs its long sharp talons into the body of its victim and flies off for a leisurely lunch in a nearby treetop.

Hawlks, however, have terrible table manners. They perch somewhere high up with their meal, the better to keep an eye out for the next course, tear the prey apart with their powerful hooked beaks and spit the bloody bits that they don't like onto the ground - or whoever's walking down below at the time.

This disgusting habit is what got the Red-tailed couple Pale Male and Lola evicted from their nesting site over the entrance to a tony Upper East Side cooperative building in Manhattan. This landed them as causes celebres in the pages of the New York Times and instantly made them world famous celebrities. All because someone - obviously not a nature lover - took exception to picking bleeding rat guts off his handmade suits. Other celebrities and bird lovers, including Mary Tyler Moore, banded together in several passionate protests and eventually the hawks were allowed to return and rebuild their nest.

Hawks lead harried lives and are often harassed by other birds, but seldom by humans. In fact, we should welcome them. Besides being inspiring presences, these hungry raptors really keep the rat population down within their hunting territories.

Hawks are frequently seen being followed and sniped at by several to a flock of dozens of birds. Mobbing, as this behavior is called, is done by blue jays, crows, grackles, mockingbirds and starlings to drive hawks off the territories they share. It's most often seen in the spring when the birds are nesting and hawks will swoop in to steal a tender nestling or the eggs.

Image ... Red-tailed Hawks in mating flight. Malden, Mass., Boston skyline in the background. By Gouldingken.

Alleyway | Roofscape T . 1

A second version of the Alleyway t-shirt. Comments?

Kristin Warvik | Twitpic . 3

Kristin Warvik. Click on her name to see the Twitpic page.
Twitpic is a free service that allows you to share photos via Twitter.
This is a series of our picks from the public timeline.

Alleyway | Roofscape T . 1 v.1

Here's a possible design for Roofscape's first t-shirt.
We invite comments. What do you think?

40 Days | Rooftop Party Video . 2

Dave Brubeck at his best. An absolutely gorgeous and atmospheric tune that's lighter than air with some furious swinging to boot. The Dave Brubeck Quartet in Berlin, 1966. Dave Brubeck, piano. Paul Desmond, alto sax. Eugene Wright, bass. Joe Morello, drums.

Ent Moot | Dot . 7

Dot residents tend to have some very funky ideas about landscaping. A favorite motif is our lord in an upended claw-foot bathtub, presumably for ablutions. This one is a pagan, or perhaps hobbit, take on reality.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Shadows | Rox . 2

Barn of the Shirley-Eustis House. Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Dot | Street Scene . 1

Dot (The Dot) ... A large neighborhood of Boston adjacent to Roxbury and South Boston. Bostonians consider the letter R to be largely a useless affectation. Therefore, Dorchester is properly pronounced Dotchestah, which abbreviate to Dot, saving two valuable syllables. Sometimes The is used before Dot, but that's getting fancy, and if there's one thing we're not in Dot it's fancy.

The Urban Dictionary offers the following typical usage example ... I had a run in with the po-pos over in dot. Capitalization is obviously optional as well.

Tall Ships!

The Tall Ships are berthed in Boston from July 8 to 13. Here's a map of their locations with descriptions of the vessels.

Image ... the Belem, France.

The Rage in Placid Lake | Rooftop Movie Night . 2

Placid Lake (Ben Lee) has always been different. His crayon eating scientific genius of a best friend, Gemma (Rose Byrne), also has a few issues with "blending in." As an odd fish in a sea of mediocrity, Placid's brilliant ideas are bound to get him into more trouble than success. When he finds himself flying off the school roof and breaking every bone in his body on graduation night, Placid decides to make a bid for the elusive normal life. To his parents' horror, he gets a normal job. Soon he's embracing conformity on the fast track to corporate success and making every effort to get Gemma into bed. Can Placid finally retire his rage in the pursuit of normalcy, or will his plan backfire? Comedy, 2003.

To enter full screen mode, mouse over the video window and click the Full Screen icon to the far right in the bar that appears above the window. Click Esc to exit full screen.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tar beach

By Michael Pollak. New York Time. Sunday, July 11, 2004.

Q. When did ''tar beach'' become part of the New York language? And is there a particular rooftop that owns the distinction of being the first so named?

A. ''Tar beach,'' as all roof rats know, is the urban alternative to the Hamptons on a hot summer day; it's as near as the flight of stairs outside the apartment door. The 1930's seem likely as a birth date, because it was around then that the suntan became fashionable for the masses. According to ''The City in Slang'' by Irving Lewis Allen, getting a tan on tar beach was often the preparation for a trip to Coney Island. ''By the 1940's,'' he wrote, ''city rooftops, those ersatz beaches, were given the fictitious place name tar beach, alluding to the black tarred and graveled rooftops.''

The earliest recorded appearance of the phrase in this newspaper was on Aug. 30, 1941, in an article about a man who was growing 12 ears of corn, tomato plants, green peas and radishes along with colorful blooms on his tenement rooftop at 137 East 33rd Street. The grower, William H. Geis, a rayon salesman, had decorated the place with bamboo screens, deck chairs and cocoa matting. ''An Eden Is Found on East Side Roof,'' the headline read.

But probably the quintessential Tar Beach is in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum. This one is a story quilt created by the artist Faith Ringgold, who later wrote a book based on the images called ''Tar Beach.'' The story is about a little girl in the Harlem of the 1930's who floats over the roof of her tenement, where her parents eat, laugh and tell stories why she and her little brother lie on a mattress, dreaming that the whole city is theirs.

Image ... Jessica Watson, left, changing songs on her iPod's speaker while suntanning with her friend, Claire Kuhn, on 10th Street in the East Village. By James Estrin. New York Times. August 4, 2007.

July 6

A day in the garden. A lush, overgrown, unkempt jungle. It's been neglected during all these weeks of rain. Gave it a thorough weeding. Many 5 gallon buckets of weeds. The three composters piled high and groaning with green for them to digest. Started mowing and weeding Chy-chy's garden - with scissors, the mower won't work when the grass gets long and flops over.

The greens are all thriving - kale, mustard, collards, chard. Picked a big trash bag full, maybe 5 lbs. Ate the first ripe Mexican Wild tomatoes. Peppers and zucchini have set. Herbs doing well. Too well, the cilantro's already past and the basil has bolted. The tarragon is thriving, the first time I've had success with it. Made a salad with a tarragon-dijon-lemon juice-garlic vinagrette on Sunday. Exquisite.

Clear, cloudless, 70's a slight cooling breeze. Offline all day. Making notes, reading. In the office under the desnely shaded grape arbor, pendulent with pale translucent clusters of buckshot-sized fruit.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Umbrella | Oh Snap! . 2

Garden umbrella.

Building Green . 1

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Paris . 1

View from a Mansard Window, Paris. By Charles Thiesen, 2009.

Welcome! . 1

We'd like you to meet Erin Lagasse, one of our new contributors. Erin will be writing a series of articles about the Boston Harbor Islands.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Twitpic . 2

Hanging with my homies. Lara Tay, Indiana.

Beans About Boston . 3

Old beans

Question ... Mount Whoredom was, or possibly still is, located where in Boston?
Possible answers ... A - Beacon Hill. B - The Combat Zone. C - Merrymount. D - Lansdowne Street.

Correct Answer ... Mount Whoredom, as it's labeled on Colonial maps, was a small summit of the Tri-Mount up above what is now Louisburg Square on Beacon Hill. It was Boston's original red light district, an open air version, and the ladies of the night were mounted by the Continental Army, Redcoats camped on the Common and generations of the Puritan city's fathers and sons. The Mount was leveled and a covent built on the spot. The dirt was dumped in the Charles River and the Charles Street Meetinghouse built on the new land.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

On the Cover . 3

Bongo in Squaresville. Boston, Massachusetts, 2000. By Stephen Bastide. Roofscape Magazine cover image, July 1 - 15, 2009.

Thought . 2

Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.

Thomas Jeffferson, from his garden journal of 1811.

Blogger Tip . 1

To add a picture to a posting click on the Add Image icon (second from the right in the bar above the edit field). Select the image on your computer and it's added to the post, archived at Picasa.

After uploading, Blogger automatically resizes any image over 400 pixels wide to fit that width. If you just copy an image link, however, it won't - it will just crop any wider image on the right to fit. Always use the button! This also saves you from having to resize pictures.

July 2

Charles and Joanne returned from Paris yesterday afternoon, landing in the middle of an all-afternoon thunderstorm. Biked back during a lull in the tail end of it, doused. Storms kept circling the city with continuous rolls of thunder and lashing rain. I was working indoors finishing our client's Budget Bathroom Makeover.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Merlin | Rooftop Movie Night . 1

Merlin is a British television drama series that began in 2008. It is loosely based on the Arthurian legends of the mythical wizard Merlin and his relationship with Prince Arthur, but differs significantly from traditional versions of the myth. Produced by independent production company Shine Limited for BBC One, aired in the U.S. by NBC. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

June 30

Working through all the Roofscape departments to make sure that each has at least one article, that every one has content. Added a new article Up on the Roof to Funk Shui, about building a simple roof deck. Started two new sections in Garden Journal - Oh Snap!, a scrapbook of snapshots and Twitpic, a best of Twitpic photographs. They may become regular features in one of the departments. The journal has turned into sort of a testing bed, among other things. All three are just below.

Worked on our client's Budget Bathroom Makeover. Painted the bath with a brushed finish on both the walls and trim. They looked fantastic, a great earthtone color.

Watched first two episodes of Merlin on Hulu. Great sets. Camelot never looked better. Anachronisms and all. Smokes Harry Pothead.