Sunday, February 28, 2010
Working on the March 1 edition of Roofscape. Above is the new cover image. A nice summery photograph to offset winter's gray nadir.
March 2 marks the 55th anniversary of one of the seminal events of the civil rights movement. On this day in 1955 an angry black teenager, Claudette Colvin, refused to surrender her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama and was dragged off to jail shouting, "It's my constitutional right!" This was nine months before Rosa Parks, age 42, secretary of the local NAACP chapter and trained at the Highlander Folk School, took the same stand.
To learn about this major, but not well-known, civil rights figure and get a fresh perspective on the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott, we'd like to recommend an excellent new book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Maine author Phillip Hoose.
Made the Shepherd's Pie, outlined four posts below. Well this isn't it. I was worrying about other stuff, serious stuff, and so not focusing. Made mistakes. Which I knew the minute I did them, if not before. Came out like a soup version of the dish. But it tasted OK. It still might be cool. Maybe it's shepherd's stew pie.
Image (at top) ... Sunbather in a Saltmarsh. Gloucester, Mass.
Patti Moreno, The Garden Girl, and Mel Bartholomew, author of Square Foot Gardening, team up monthly to offer timely garden tips. For March they talk about getting your garden going and compost.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Join us every Sunday to give praise with the Sunday Gospel Set on Radio Roofscape. Our featured video this week is by Mary Mary jammin' God in Me. And here's the complete current set list ...
Oh Happy Day - Whitney Houston & Gospel Choir
Yolanda Adams - Hold On
Disciples of Christ (D.O.C.) - Deeper
Mary Mary - God in Me
Shirley Caeser - He'll Do It Again
Black Jesus - Words of God
Albert Ayler - Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Hezekiah Walker - You're All I Need
Take 6 - Wade in the Water
Kirk Franklin & Toby Mac - J Train
Two days free with nothing to do but write and prepare the new issue of Roofscape. Snow falling gently. Then next week is a scramble. But we'll leave that 'til then. And cook. A shepherd's pie I think. A recipe I've been working on but haven't yet nailed. Maybe this time. Just put the stock pot on the fire to simmer. And program the Sunday Gospel Set, of course. Rocking it out this week with all urban contemporary - Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, DOC, etc. Mary Mary's God in Me is the featured video. Their joints continue to blow me away.
Raccoons have been raiding the compost bin for a while now and they're not neat eaters. Stuff strewn all over the yard.
Image ... Painter. Commonwealth Avenue, Boston.
Men at work, obviously. Work in progress. Don't try this at home just yet! Dinner's tomorrow, Sunday 2/28, at 18:00 hours GMT sharp, if you're hungry, in the neighborhood (Dot) and can bring a bottle of half-decent Chardonay - or whatever.
The Oxford American Dictionary makes short shrift of shepherd's pie as ... a dish of ground meat under a layer of mashed potato. Wikipedia, which seems to know everything these days, and some of it may even be true, redirects inquiries to the older usage of ...
Cottage pie refers to an English meat pie made with beef mince and with a crust made from mashed potato. A variation on this dish using Lamb mince is known as Shepherd's pie.Now I've heard of cow pies, and stepped in a few, but never cowboy pies. And cottage pie is obviously an English affectation with corrosive class overtones. So Shepherd's Pie it is. We're going to make a vegetarian version of the New England variation, with a few more ingredients to replace what used to be known in this kids' fave as hamburger.
The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. "cottage" meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers).
In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.
The term "shepherd's pie" did not appear until the 1870s, and since then it has been used synonymously with "cottage pie", regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. There is now a popular tendency for "shepherd's pie" to be used when the meat is mutton or lamb, with the suggested origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle, however this may be an example of folk etymology.
In the United States a similar dish is called cowboy pie. In New England the most common recipe for shepherd's pie consists of ground beef, canned creamed corn, and mashed potatoes
1 head cauliflower, divided into bite-sized florets
peas, frozen and defrosted
corn kernels, frozen and defrosted
scallions, thinnly sliced
thyme, dried and crumbled
extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated
yogurt, low fat
garlic, minced and mashed or pressed
Friday, February 26, 2010
Worked on Dr. King in Boston. Writing about the Dialectical Society, the informal group of fellow black graduate students interested in philosophy and religion, that ML founded and continued throughout his three years at B.U. Organized the reference books, thanks to a pad of PostIt notes that Charles gave me. Went through the King file, organized and read all new material. Cleaned up MLK notes in laptop notebook (Personal Organizer, a great if rather unlovely app), which I'm going to use for all research now. I feel on top of things now, finally in control of this project. An article which it looks like will turn into a book.
A day of in/out sun and on/off rain. Watering my plants. The office is so dry. Remembering they need to be misted and a fan run part of the day to circulate air around them. Need to find a spray bottle.
The police caught the two hood rats who murdered the convenience store clerk at Hermanos Unidos on Sunday and they were arraigned in Roxbury District Court yesterday. The punks, 16 and 17, live(d) only a few blocks away on Hartford Street. Just what I suspected. I knew they were from the nabe. The DA says he will prosecute them as adults. An anonymous tip, a call from one of their mothers voicing her suspicions and the unusual immediate use of a grand jury broke the case wide open with almost unprecedented speed. Everyone's breathing a big sigh of relief, especially the merchants on Dudley Street, at least according to one shopkeeper I spoke with.
Image ... House Tops. Edward Hopper.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
In Dot, Dorchester, and other uptown areas in general, when someone dies in the streets a shrine usually appears on the spot where they were, most often, shot.
Shrines consist of an odd mix of bric-a-brac: candles in tall glasses with pictures of the virgin and various saints stenciled on the sides, empty liquor bottles, teddy bears, greeting cards, bouquets of flowers, toys, statuettes of the virgin, pillows, balloons, beer bottles. Whatever might be of comfort to the fallen as he ascends, perhaps, to heaven.
The police sometimes leave behind a reminder as well, tracing the outline of the vic for evidential purposes.
The shrine above appeared in front of the big warehouse at the corner of Dudley and Humphreys Street last year. It lasted for months, growing ever larger, before it suddenly disappeared one day.
A fatal shooting this past Sunday in the course of a robbery at the corner convenience store, a hundred feet from my front door, inspired the shrine below. The candles continue flickering in the falling rain.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Bongo in Squaresville is a weekly webcast radio show devoted to the jazz music, of every style and genre, that's gone down here in Boston through the last 10 or so decades. Join us at Radio Roofscape every Wednesday night, the music starts at 9:00 and there's never a cover or drink minimum.
Check out Roofscape Journal too. Each week we'll be looking at a different aspect of the Boston jazz scene down through the years to today - digging the music, meeting the musicians, hanging out with the fans, making recording sessions and visiting the clubs. To start off, we're going to look at the scene in the 40's and 50's when Boston was one of the great jazz mecccas.
In the jazz history books, New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, and the Central Avenue zone of Los Angeles are traditionally cited as the key nurturing places of jazz. But Boston - as I can attest first-hand - also merits a place as a lively center of swinging homegrown soloists and bands as well as visiting members of the jazz pantheon who often stayed for extensive gigs. -- Nat Hentoff, 2001.Strung all together the names of the clubs sound like Ella having some fun scatting.
Savoy Café - Chicken Lane - Roseland State BallroomBack in the day, roughly midway through the past century, the South End was the heart of the black community and the area around the intersection Massachusetts and Columbus Avenues was the crossroads for jazz. More than a dozen clubs, large and small, flourished here in the postwar period presenting the spectrum of jazz music from the chart topping big bands to solitary piano professors.
The Hi-Hat Barbecue - Storyville - Connelly's - The Pioneer
Eddie Condon's - The Stable - Big M - Wigwam - Totem Pole
Ken Club - Copley Terrace - Merry Go Round Room
Wally's Café Jazz Club
Another spectrum reperesented in this jazz mecca of the Northeast was that of black and white. Boston at the time was essentially a segregated city, as was most of the country to differing degrees. In the liberal North, as in the Jim Crow South, African Americans were denied access to most hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, schools and housing, which were reserved for whites. The jazz clubs of the South End were one of the few places in the city where blacks and whites could meet and mingle, the first racially integrated venues in New England.
Today, thanks to the civil rights struggle of the 1960's, all that's changed. Some would say, however, that Boston's still a segregated city. Be that as it may, time moves on to a tireless drummer and the old customs, along with all those pioneering jazz clubs, have been swept away. Except one - Wally's Café Jazz Club at 427 Mass. Ave. In the next Bongo in Squaresville we'll drop in on a Sunday afternoon jam session at this famed Boston institution.
February 24, 2010 Bongo in Squaresville playlist ...
Sonny Stitt - All God's Chillun Got Rhythm
Dave McKenna - Lulu's Back in Town
Terri Lynn Carrington - Sherwood Forest
Serge Chaloff Sextet - What's New
Donal Fox & David Murray - Vamping with T.T.
Tony Williams Quintet - Juicy Fruit
Bo Winiker - In a Sentimental Mood
Phil Woods - Caravan
Ruby Braff - Ghost of a Chance
Herb Pomeroy - Dear Old Stockholm
Rebecca Parris - Darn That Dream
Johnny Hodges & Wild Bill Davis - The Nearness of You
The show was inspired by a comment from Nat Hentoff.
There ought to be a Boston jazz series - from Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney, to Roy Haynes, Herb Pomeroy, Ruby Braff, and the players continuing the heritage in the clubs right now.From The Shape of Jazz That Was - A native son's look back at jazz in Boston at midcentury. Boston Magazine, October 2001.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Got two emails from my friend Tony Curtis Hall. Last year his band went to China to take up residence at the House of Blues in Shanghai as the house band. They were booked from May to September playing six days a week. Evidently it was a success because they're still in China under contract until May. He's trying to figure out what to do next. Maybe I'll do an interview. He must have some great stories. Speaking of HOB, there's a front page article in today's Globe saying that the new House on Landsdowne Street (the largest franchise, capacity 2,400) sold more tickets last year, it's first after opening on February 19, 2009, than any other club in the world - a whopping 315,000 for 250 shows.
Just below is a video of the Greg Luttrell Band, with Tony on drums, at the HOB Shanghai with a selection of snippets from their stage show.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Programmed a late night (really late night, 2-3 AM) set of party music. Started with Miley and ended with Orchestra Morphine, two tremendously fun cuts, equally good.
Wrote Bongo in Squaresville . 2, the first BIS with a story about the Boston jazz scene. The show, devoted to jazz in Boston, will air on Radio Roofscape Wednesdays at 9:00 PM EST.
Working on the cover, the 2/15 one. Picking up where we left off after the scary computer shutdown due to a power company surge (N-Star service here is third worldly). Finally recovered, to great relief, but we lost several day while down when the new edition was supposed to be in production 'til we figured things out. With neither divine intervention nor tech sports. Although we'd left all options open.
Replied to emails from Tony, the drummer and Pete, my brother. Keeping my social standing solvent. Invited PB and family for a visit.
Went out for lunch, a seafood sub at the Upham's House of Pizza. That's usually safe being, well I don't know what, but some nutrionally neutral unobnoxious substance. Photographed the growing sidewalk shrine in front of Hermnos Unidos - cards, pillows, flickering candles, teddy bears, dolls, crucifixes. The usual Dot (Drugchester) murder memorial, but barely begun judging by the others I've photograpged. Where did this curious custom come from? And how quickly can it return from whence it came?
Image ... Lief Erikson monument. The Fens, Boston.
One of the fashion greats died on February 11, an apparent suicide. Here's the description of the eye-popping documentary from the Masters of Style series currently offered by Hulu.
Barely 30, Alexander McQueen already has nearly a decade of headlines marking his relentless climb to the top of the fashion world. His work has upped the ante for what is possible in fashion while sparking a good deal of controversy along the way.
Bongo in Squaresville is a weekly show devoted to jazz music, of every style, that's gone down here in Boston through the decades. Join us on Radio Roofscape every Wednesday night. Here's the playlist for the February 17 show.
Duke Ellington with Paul Gonsalves - Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue. Newport, 1956.
Dave McKenna - Rodgers and Hart Medley.
Ruby Braff - You're a Lucky Guy.
George Wein and his Newport All Stars - Lady Be Good. Newport, 1974.
Johnny Hodges - A Few Minutes with Johnny Hodges.
Earl Hines and Jackie Byard - Piano Duet.
Roy Haynes - A Life in Time: The Roy Haynes Story.
Sonny Stiit - Everything Happens to Me.
The show was inspired by a comment from Nat Hentoff.
There ought to be a Boston jazz series - from Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney, to Roy Haynes, Herb Pomeroy, Ruby Braff, and the players continuing the heritage in the clubs right now.From The Shape of Jazz That Was - A native son's look back at jazz in Boston at midcentury. Boston Magazine, October 2001.
Peter and Frederike are off to Berlin. I'm on my own for a few weeks. It will seem like a vacation for me too. If one could call Berlin in winter, or at any time, a vacation.
We're launching a new Radio Roofscape show, Bongo in Squaresville, devoted to the jazz music and musicians in Boston down through the jazz decades. It will air every Wednseday evening.
Worked for ongoing client on the Hill today. Biked down and back.
The media, all the Boston stations, are camped out adjacent to and around the corners from Hermanos Unidos on Dudley. They must be expecting a break in the murder/robbery case. And this just in, a triple shooting in Dot, gang-related. Drugchester is smoking.
Image ... Erikson monument and Fenway flyover with cleomes, Boston.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
A murder this Sunday morning in the bodega, or convenience store, Hermanos Unidos, at the foot of our street on Dudley in Dot as church services were being held a few doors down at the Good Shepherd. Gerardo Serrano, the 71 year old clerk, shot dead. The crackheads (at a safe guess) fled with a few dollars, some say sixty. The Globe gives an account. I go there from time to time. Weekdays the school kids gather there shivering on the sidewalk to wait for their buses.
Image ... Sunlight and clouds over the city.
Check out this great article by Nat Hentoff The Shape of Jazz That Was - A native son's look back at jazz in Boston at midcentury.
Another witness to Boston as a cradle of jazz was Malcolm X. He and I later became friends in New York, but I wasn't aware then that in the 1940s, as Malcolm Little, he lived with his sister Ella in Roxbury, where I was also growing up. Malcolm got a job as a shoeshine boy at the Roseland State Ballroom on Massachusetts Avenue, across from the Christian Science Center's Mother Church. The stretch of Mass. Ave. between Huntington and Columbus was, by the late '40s, Boston's answer to 52nd Street in Manhattan with not only the Roseland, but the Savoy Café, the Hi-Hat, Wally's, and a handful of smaller clubs.
Did a job for an architect in the South End. A film crew is coming Monday to shoot his B&B for a new TV series out of LA, being imported from England, to run on the Travel Channel. It's a reality B&B crawl or something. Groomed the gardens, to meticulous British standards. Hope, for his sake, this isn't something that Chef Gordon Ramsey cooked up. Hell's B&B, B&B Nightmares?
Bought my own copy of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Reading in both Balm in Gilead and Let the Trumpet Sound, using Google books, one of the most annoying platforms ever invented.
Writing about King's Dialectical Society during his student days in Boston.
The one library that I possess, about 3 feet long and containing almost all the books that I own (having lost and lent no doubt hundreds over the years), is related to black history. And I have an equally deep volume of files.
Image ... Vase. South End, Boston.
Join us every Sunday for some praise with the Sunday Gospel Set on Radio Roofscape. This week ... Some spirituals are just what we need right now to guide us on our way to freedom. Time for some church. Come along, black and white. Our featured video is the San Franciso Gay Men's Chorus singing Oh Happy Day, and here's the set list ...
Ramsey Lewis - Wade in the Water
San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus - Oh Happy Day
Toots and the Maytals - We Shall Overcome
Marion Williams - Michael Row the Boat Ashore
Sam Cooke - This Little Light of Mine
Blue Train - Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
Jorma Kaukonen & David Bromberg - Follow the Drinking Gourd
Ray Charles - Lift Every Voice and Sing
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Writing Dr. King in Boston. Although maybe it should be called Dr. King and Boston. Maybe not, but I just included a lot about the South End where he lived at the time while attending B.U.
Just got an email that Radio Roofscape has added its 600th listener. That's over 2 per day since we hit 500 on New Year's Eve. And fewer than 5 blips per new listener, which has been our average. Both trends notching up. We love you all madly.
A dozen transplants on the table in the window.
5 - Mexican Wild tomatoes, 4" tall.All looking healthy, hardy and happy. Touched by the last sun as it slips around the house, late now, at 1:00, as the days lengthen towards spring and planting time.
2 - Hot peppers, 3".
1 - Eggplant, 2".
4 - Basil, 2".
Image ... Upham's Corner Firehouse. Dorchester, Mass.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Daphne Costa Lopes. Sao Paulo, Brazil. Bio: One day woman all become monster. Comment: Estranha, mas eu gostei (Stranger, but I liked). Translation courtesy of WorldLingo. Source: Twitpic.
Siteseeing is an ongoing walk around the W3. One of our favorite destinations to sitesee, and be seen, is Twitpic, the online image hosting companion to Twitter.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Snow. Then sleet, rain, sleet and snow. A wintery mix. Biked downtown. Most of the roads clear, an inch or two here and there to plow through. Project on the Hill. Planned to bike back but client forbade. Took Silver Line. Enjoyed the snowy scenery and drifting thoughts, almost like poetry or the edge of a dream. And warm. All the connections swift.
A north wind, the falling night and tall snow-brushed hemlock, the distant surf sound of car tires spinning over slushy streets. Hum of the heater keeping us warm with the far-off, distant (but ever diminishing} farts of dinosaurs. A dozen hardy seedlings on the seed starting / transplant table. Springs eternal, I hopes.
The only thing that you don't know seems to be what you don't know.
Image ... Glass blocks. Dorchester, Mass.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Join us every Sunday for some praise with the Sunday Gospel Set on Radio Roofscape. Here's this weeks set list, and our featured video is Lious Armstrong singing and playing Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen.
Queen Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers - Cone and Go With Me to my Fathers House / Let the Good Times Roll
The Gospel Harmonettes featuring Dorothy Love Coates - Is Your All in the Altar?
Aretha Franklin - singing gospel as a teenager
Old Fashioned Revival Hour Quartet - Every Time I feel the Spirit
Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount - His Eye is on the Sparrow
Carrie Underwood - How Great Thou Art
Louis Armstong - Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
Amy Grant - El Shaddai
Sound of Blackness - I Believe
Friday, February 12, 2010
Joe Thompson. Warrington, UK. I'm 16, student, I'm gonna live in France, I'm neither tory or labour right now, I live in river island for clothes, I love coffee, Android ftw.
Siteseeing features whatever we find fascinating while wandering around the Web.
Betty's going down, but we're with her. One of the funniest and most fascinating shows ever to air on TV has been canceled by ABC.
Working on the new cover. Interesting image. Snowhill Street on Copp's Hill in the North End looking down from inside the Burying Ground. The entire picture is composed of triangles, near, far, large and small.
Updated the Cookout department page. Article summaries now include the date they first ran, with the latest at the top. Had to go back through all the covers to take care of this overlooked housekeeping chore. Uploaded all the covers, which required renaming. Important drudge work and it's always humbling to stumble across mistakes. Which always happens.
To the night kitchen for a snack. The corn chips taste off. Am I tasting the tortilla lime? May as well munch wallboard. Thinking about off flavors. Like the canned tomatoes we get. Off. Peter agreed, and pointed out that they're used in everything, to bad effect. Bottled lemon or lime juice - always off, why even bother? Bouillon cubes/powders - off/off. The red miso we've been getting - sour. Tahini - always off in either or both flavor and consistency. Green beans or tomatoes out of season or not from the garden - always/usually off/off/off Broadway.
Talking about off tastes. Tried this trick during our weekly trial cooking on Sunday. Someone had bought a tomato - in February - one of those hard pale orange winter pumpkins that slouch around sub shops all year long. Sliced it into small chunks, tossed with sugar and let it ripen all afternon in the oven with just the heat from the gas pilot light. Emerged edible. Next time this rescue work is required - brown sugar and Thai basil.
Working on the 2/15 cover. Wrote the new NEWS. Then, working backwards as often, sketched out the overall cover, about a dozen items. Short and sweet seems about right. Updating the related (linked) department pages and articles on the fly. Still sketching. Always sketching.
Potted up seedlings from seed starting containers. Eggplant - 1. Hot peppers - 2. Basil - 4. Lined up in the window next to the Mexican Wild tomatoes potted on 2/9.
Gil Scott-Heron's back with I'm New Here. Programmed this set of his stellar previous stuff late last night on Radio Roofscape to celebrate.
Winter in America (1974)
Pieces of a Man
Whitey on the Moon
Save the Children
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (early version)
Image ... Rosary. Studio, Boston.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Just programmed on Radio Roofscape ... Music for meditation, featuring: Anoushka Shankar with minimalists John Cage, Terry Riley, John Adams and Steve Reich.
John Cage - In a LandscapeThis was a fun set to program. I love the John Adam's piece Shaker Loops. Tha video is of a German dance company rehearsing the piece.
Anoushka Shankar - Beloved
Terry Riley - A Rainbow in Curved Air
Anoushka Shankar - Naked
John Adams - Shaker Loops
Anoushka Shankar - Slither
Steve Reich - Electric Counterpoint (Slow)
Anoushka Shankar - Raga Shuddha Sarang
The storm somehow blew off Boston leaving behind no more than a dusting of snow and warmer temperatures, but it's still blustery.
photos of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11/01 are just astounding.
They were taken by Greg Semendinger, a New York City detective, flying in the only helicopter allowed in the NYC airspace near the towers that had a photographer on board.
They went up to search for survivirs on the rooftop and, of course, found none.
We didn’t find one single person. It was surreal,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “There was no sound. No sound whatsoever but the noise of the radio and the helicopter. I just kept taking pictures.
Dr. King in Boston. Writing about the South End and Boston of the 1950's. Used an Allan Rohan Crite painting, Tire Jumping, a street scene of kids playing in the South End, to illustrate the period.
Also have an article on Mr. Crite himself in the works, just begun.
His townhouse at 410 Columbus Avenue, opposite Charlie's, is under renovation. Stopped and checked the building permits in the window. It was pulled by Jackie Cox-Crite, his widow. I wonder if she's going to reopen the Institute?
Image ... Vase in the window of On the Park restaurant. The South End, Boston.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Notes for a recipe that we're testing on Sunday.
2.1 ounces Wakame
2 ounces Dulse
.6 ounce Nori
potatoes, diced and left whole
garlic, minced and mashed
red bell pepper, chopped and roasted
corn kernels, defrosted
OLD BAY Seasoning
Vietnamese vegetarian fish sauce
Puree all but the diced potatoes and tempeh.
Mix of seaweeds - steamed/boiled, roasted and fried?
OLD BAY Seasoning ...
Celery salt (celery seed and salt), mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon, paprika.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Snow predicted. Orion was burning bright through the bare treetops in the early evening but now all the stars are swallowed in snow clouds.
Starting to snow now, in late morning, big fat flakes sifting out of the sky riding on a brisk northeast wind. This is merely the warmup, even before the overture, to what we in New England call a nor'easter, which tends to be our worst weather.
Researching about and writing on the South End and Boston in the early 1950's for Dr. King in Boston, the time when ML lived here.
Image ... Finish. Dudley Square, Roxbury.
Over the weekend we received the following email, written by a neighbor, Bob Haas, and forwarded, about Kemal Gordon.
Yesterday I attended a funeral of a young man from my neighborhood, who died at age 29. I never knew him, but I knew his mother.
This wasn't a gangland funeral. It had nothing to do with shooting. No, this was the funeral of a young man who had been successful in life, so far as his body could take him. Kemal was a gifted kid, one whose creativity opened doors for him, to college, and afterward to a budding career as a filmmaker. He'd graduated from Emerson College with a bachelor's degree in film, and he'd gone on to graduate studies at BU. He was also acclaimed by his eulogizers as an accomplished visual artist, with paintings and drawings that rivaled his films. I never knew any of that, save for some comments I heard recently from his mother at a meeting, when she said she had a son who was a filmmaker.
I knew Kemal's mother, but I didn't know her that well. The family lived on Nonquit Street, in a house they bought from my onetime employer, Dorchester Bay EDC. I can see their house from my back deck. Some years ago I played a very small part in bringing about the renovation and then the sale of that house to them. I took the picture of the family on the front steps of their new house, when Kemal was a small boy.
I didn't know the agony that Kemal's family must have been experiencing as the health of their son with such a promising career began to crumble away. First off, when he was still in college, he was diagnosed with lupus, a type of lupus that attacks the kidneys. I didn't know that, in her effort to save Kemal, his mother had donated him a kidney. I didn't know any of that because I'd been keeping my distance from the family, because of a controversy I'd had with someone else on their street. I'd been keeping my distance from everyone down there.
The trouble is, Kemal's mother Magnolia saved my life. Back in the early hours of June 8, 1988, while I was fast asleep, Magnolia could see that my house was burning down and she called the fire department. Later, when the firemen came to my bedroom to conduct me out to the street, where I then stood with neighbors until dawn, watching the conflagration, I didn't know that it was Magnolia who had saved me. I didn't know that until weeks, maybe months, later.
Magnolia saved my life, and I'm the person she didn't know that well. But she couldn't save the life of the son she loved deeply, the son whose achievements gave joy to the family, the son who regularly walked all the way home from Ruggles Station so he could observe things, so he could give expression to all the nuance of our neighborhood, both good and bad. She couldn't save the son who crafted stories that wound up winning awards on the screens of film festivals. She couldn't save the son who captured, in his film, the tragic paradox of budding business acumen coming alive in the drug dealers out on the corner, their skills sufficient, save for their reputations, to give them entry to corporate boardrooms. No, she couldn't save him. The kidney she gave him failed when a virus attacked it, and after that it was back to the regimen of dialysis treatments, until they, finally, wouldn't work any more.
I never saw Kemal's film, "Business Is War." I wish I had and hope I do. And I've never seen his paintings or drawings. I just know that he was the kind of guy that I wish I'd known, and I wish the whole neighborhood had known him, to know what extraordinary talent and artistic depth there was in our midst. I learned, at Kemal's funeral, that he'd achieved an extraordinary balance between passion and discipline, something that every one of us wishes we had. I learned that he was the kind of guy who would work through the pain and disappointment, right down to the end, when he received the delivery of the final DVD of his film, the day before he died.
I've written this because I want you to know what kind of neighborhood I have. And if you live here, I want you to know what kind of neighborhood we have. It's not, I suspect, the picture you've been carrying around about us. This shows, I hope, the possibility all around us, if we would only embrace it, if we would only embrace the people who have already known what we are, or were, to slow to pick up. I've written this because I hope that I or we can inspire a new generation, with the beauty and the potential that sits right in front of us.
Magnolia saved my life. And I'm hoping that, coming from that act, I can save yours, and that you and I as we can save many more lives, to become the true fulfillment of creation.
Once again, to all of you, thanks for all the support you've been to my life.
Image ... Kemal Gordon.
The photograph is of a girl who had a lemonade stand with her friend one summer afternoon along the Minuteman Bikeway just outside the center of Lexington, Mass. The Minuteman is one of the best bike trips you can do around Boston, or anywhere for that matter. Camera: Olympus D-620L (now 10 years old and still on its first 'roll of film'). Editor: Adobe PhotoDeluxe (an old, bundled PhotoShop Jr.).
For some reason, the Blogger editing interface changed when I added Amazon - and for the better. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Or maybe it was just there all along and who knew.
Potted up the Mexican Wild tomatoes. Stout, compact plants, not at all leggy. They have a large first (real) leaf with just traces of the second.
Image ... Lemonade Girl. The Minuteman Bikeway. Lexington, Mass.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Made fondue yesterday for the first time. I don't think I've even had it since I was a kid. Frederike, whose family in Germany makes it, tested and said it was perfect. Charles, who was the only one to dinner, loved it. Served it with crispy oven fries and a spinach salad. The cooking wine was Sutter Home chardonay, nearly a whole bottle, $7.00. Which I killed, and it was quite good. The recipe is several posts below.
This is hilarious. Just added Amazon, who've always advertised in the magazine, to Garden Journal. Blogger, out platform and a Google product, now has everything integrated. But Amazon only seems to offer new fondue cheese and I was looking for used. Anyway, order whatever from Amazon, new or used, via Garden Journal and maybe Roofscape will actually make some money.
Peter and I worked downtown on two continuing jobs, in Beacon Hill and the South End. Much warmer today, a notch above absolute zero, but breezy. Pleasant riding, relatively. Of course it warmed up. To snow on us. Storm predicted for Wednesday, 4-8".
The photograph at the top of this journal post is the entryway to an abandoned nightclub, uphill from and overlooking Nassau on New Providence Island in the Bahamas. Everyone sees it as the entrance to a crypt or something similarly sinister, despite the raging colors. Actually, there is a connection. The terrace outside the seaward (opposite) side of the club overlooks what may be one of the oldest cemetaries in the Carribean. I visited. Graves had been plundered and the pirated bones were strewn around on the ground in the overgrown grasses. It was plenty spooky even in broad daylight. Nassau itself felt ghostly and insubstantial, ephemeral, floating, the way that islands do.
DEAR LISTENERS ... We're thinking about doing a weekly Radio Roofscape listener all-request show with dedications and shout-outs. Is anyone down? Day and time? Title? 'Nights Over Egypt'?
Brooklyn Funk Essentials - My Jamaican Girl
Radioclit - Tutule Dance - Original Mix
Teena Marie - Behind the Groove
Curtis Mayfield - Be Thankful
The Jones Girls - Nights Over Egypt
Young MC - Bust a Move
Jennifer Paige - Crush
Bobby Brown - Every Little Step
Shakti - Let Me Dance
Image ... Nightclub, Bahamas. Camera: Leica R3 SLR, 50 mm lens. Film: Kodachrome 64. Print: Cibachrome gloss. Scanner: Epson Photo. Size: 10" x 7". Mount: 14" x 11" black rag matte. Frame: Oiled birch.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Props to Charles T. for asking us to explain to explain props. Here goes.
Props is an abbreviation of propers which is short for proper respect. Although distilled down from four syllables to one the key concept remains that of respect. Props can also simply means recogntion or credit. Props can be either requested or given. They are the proper currency of respect. They can also come in two sizes - props, or the super-sized big props.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
We're going to try an experiment and publish our writer's notebooks for their works in progress. If they want to, that is. I'll lead off with the notes for Dr. King in Boston. Please feel free to comment and offer corrections, criticism or useful information. -- Steve.
On the dividing line between black and white worlds.
Charlies - balck and white, jazz stars, Pullman meetins, union upsatirs - 2 unions
Wally's 427 Mass.
Jazz mecca - over 13 clubs
black and white met and mingled
American Federation of Musicians Local 535 top black musicians union - 209 Mass.
center of black middle class life and culture, after leaving Beacon Hill
largest Pullman porters
Allan Rohan Crite painting
# Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a march to protest school desegregation from Carter Playground in the South End to the Boston Common in 1965. He lived at --- Mass. Ave. while he earned his doctorate at Boston University.
# CharliesBetween the 1900-1950s the South End was a vibrant ethnically diverse community. By 1950, 39 ethnic groups lived in this densely populated neighborhood. Syrian, Lebanese, Armenian, and Chinese families lived in the South End. Each grouped opening its own stores, stocking their native groceries and cultural items.
# In the 1900s, Pullman Porters and other railworkers who were largely African American eventually made their homes in the neighborhood near Back Bay Station, the terminal station for the Northeast line. They joined African American families moving into the neighborhood from the neighborhood of Beacon Hill which had become crowded.
If you need to say so 60'sm the word fondue will certainly do. The earthenware or enameled metal fondue pot (caquelon) set over a gently flickering blue Sterno flame (rechaud) was often the focal point of sixties dinner parties.
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2-1/2 cups Chardonay or other dry white wine
2 large shallots, minced
or 1-1/2 tablespoons onion, minced and 1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed
5 cups extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 cup aged Gouda cheese, coarsely grated
1 cup English Cotswold cheese, coarsely grated
1 cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
1 Large pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground
1 Large pinch of pepper, freshly ground
Whisk the cornstarch into the lemon juice in a small bowl until it dissolves. Set aside.
Add chardonay and shallots or onion and garlic to a medium-sized heavy metal or fondue pot. Bring to a slow boil and simmer over a medium flame for a few minutes. Remove from heat.
Gradually stir in the cheeses, then the cornstarch-lemon mixture.
Return the pot to a medium flame. Stir until the cheeses are melted, the texture is smooth and the fondue thickens and begins to bubble, after 10 minutes or so.
Season with nutmeg and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately with the fondue pot set over a lit can of Sterno or a votive candle. If using a regular pot, set it inside a larger pot of water that's been brought to a boil.
Alternate cheese mixture:
4 cups aged Gouda cheese, grated
3 cups extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Join us every Sunday for some praise with the Sunday Gospel Set on Radio Roofscape. Here's this weeks set list, and our featured video is Heaven by BeBe & CeCe Wynans.
Kirk Franklin - Revolution (Sister Sister)
Mighty Clouds of Joy & Friends - I Believe I'll Run On
Ray Charles & Sarah Jordan Powell - Angels Keeping Watch, 1979
Whitney Houston & Gospel Choir - Oh Happy Day
Five Blind Boys of Alabama - Way Down in the Hole
Albert Ayler - Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Sandra Crouch & Friends - Holy Spirit
BeBe & CeCe Winans - Heaven
Church time. The spirit is moving. Come with us.
Programmed the Sunday Gospel Set. Definitely swinging and praising. Albert Ayler, The Blind Boys, BeBe & CeCe all together. And it works. I learn new music all the time, but especially when working with gospel.
Light snow. Have to go downtown darn it. Get my bike and see how I can rescue this pesky project. I should just be staying in bed and writing. God knows I've got enough stuff piled up to work on. Like Mark Twain I write in bed, propped up like an astronaut ready for launch, flanked by files, books, cameras, laptop on cocked legs. This weekend will also be for potting up and photographing the process for the Starting article.
Image ... The roof deck outside our old office on Beacon Hill.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Wilhelmina discovers she has a drag queen impersonator; Betty's blog wins an award; Marc runs his own photo shoot with a famous actress and director.
To enter full screen Mode. | After an ad is over and a show segment starts, mouse over the video window and click the icon that appears at the top right of the window (a rectangle with four arrows pointing outward). To exit full screen, press esc on your keyboard.
Janice Cawyer wrote this on Hulu last week.
Another good show canceled. I just read this morning that ABC was canceling Ugly Betty due to ratings. Of all the junk shows that are on TV, its a shame when a show is so sweet and that carries such a wonderful message of optimism is canceled. I love all the characters, even Wilhelmina. I understand that networks must make money, but I wish they would rethink their decision. I will miss this show.
We will too. One of the wittiest and most touching shows ever on TV with characters you could really care about. Great ensemble - scripts, cast, the whole package. Too bad.
Doing some desktop cleaning, organizing and planning to manage this crazy workload. Multiple projects in the air at once. Which is exciting ... but.
Peter and I are doing this difficult job on Beacon Hill. Part of the difficulty is going in and out of doors all day long, at least I am, Pete's been doing interior painting. The bike ride there and back again is tough too, 26° when we left with wind. Just riding, through the dense cold air, adds its own wind chill. Cold waning moon, Wolf Moon, shining through the window, slinking to the west beyond the sashes.
Worked with Peter on Beacon Hill project. The original day from hell. What can I say? Our roofer totally messed everything up. We're now in worse shape than we were before. In other words, we're actually going backwards. And we already celebrated Groundhog Day. Didn't leave town until after dark, bussed back. Climbed in bed. Wrote this. Fuming, venting. My brain feels paralyzed for any actual creative activity. Maybe I'll watch Ugly Betty again.
Image ... Curtains. The Bailey's, Cedar Lane Way, Boston.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Andy Warhol now has a line of skateboards. Art is what you can get away with. Indeed. The Andy Warhol Diaries is one of the funniest books ever written - snarky, catty, dishy, bitchy. About everyone the ultimate scenester partied with, and that was everyone who was anyone. Don't blow your money on a new skateboard deck, go get the book.
I had to dip into the diaries at random to refresh my memory. I wasn't wrong. There's Bianca Jagger taking off her panties at a Diana Vreeland dinner party for Andy to sniff. He then arranges them in his handkerchief pocket and keeps them.
You couldn't make this stuff up. Well maybe you could. The Diaries are Andy's best work by far. How hard would that be? 807 pages edited down from 20,000 dictated over the phone every morning to his secretary Pat Hackett between 1976 to 1987. They were originally started to satisfy IRS tax auditors, who hit him annually. They must have ended up peeing their pants.
Image ... Courtesy of Skate Shop of Athens. and Alien Workshop.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Working on an article about Allan Rohan Crite (1910-2007), the famous black artist who lived in and painted the South End. The first installment starts just below. The images are wonderful to work with.
Walked around the Upham's Corner area photographing in the snow -- the Episcopal church, the burying ground, graffiti, shop interiors.
There's a new biography of Louis Armstrong, Pops, by Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal drama critic and moreover a musician (bass) and composer (opera). The two reviews I've read, the New York Times and Bay State Banner (Boston's black paper of record) were both positive but pathetically written. Come on - this is a big deal.
Anyway, I suppose my favorite biography will always be his own, Satchmo - My Life in New Orleans. I consider it one of the essential American documents. It ranks right up there with Thoreau's Walden, Ben Franklin and Frederick Douglass's autobiographies, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In by Esther Forbes and Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch. In short the greats. I lent my copy and lost it of course, but it's back in print.
We're welcoming a new writer to Roofscape, Shradha Merchant, from Mumbai, India. Shradha will be writing about the emerging superpower's culture, citizens, cuisine and city life. Welcome aboard Shradha!
Two things. Never think about what others think about you. People who have problems with you simply have problems (and are possibly to be pitied). I forget the second thing. Anyway, it probably wasn't that important.
Here are some of the photographer's secret weapons. These will keep you in the field and shooting all day long no matter what the weather.
1 - Fold up four pages of the New York Times and put them in the bottom of your shoes or boots. This will insulate, absord moisture and provide cushioning from the hard streets.
2 - Line your hat with paper towels or napkins to insulate and absorb sweat. Replace as needed at fast food joints. Added tip - avoid eating fast foods.
3 - Wear fingerless wool gloves. They keep you warm but free to manipulate the camera controls.
4 - Stow an extra set of camera batteries in your shirt pocket under your coat to keep them warm and working.
Snow stopped but sun never really busted out. Surge of busses on regular routes, passing the time, collecting pensions. Blank gray sky, dogs barking in protest nearby.
Image ... Wake. By Wes Adams.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Allan Rohan Crite's townhouse at 410 Columbus Avenue in Boston has been boarded up and appeared abandoned ever since I can remember. But a few weeks ago scaffolding, a demolition chute, dumpster and building permits suddenly appeared. The artists's former digs, studio and gallery are being renovated to the standards of the million dollar South End. Now, before the paint dries, might be a good time to take a fresh look at this painter who so lovingly portrayed the black community.
I've only done one piece of work in my whole life and I am still at it.
I wanted to paint people of color as normal humans.
I tell the story of man through the black figure.
Image ... Marble Players. Allan Rohan Crite, 1938.
Programmed a jazz, hip-hop, funk set. The intersection of these three, along with rap and spoken word, fascinates me. Why isn't this the current popular music? But it may be the future of music.
Gang Starr - Jazz Thing
Parliament - Color Me Funky
Jazz - Mystikal
Digable Planets - Cool Like That
Miles Davis - On the Corner
Maceo Parker - Pass the Peas
Salvador Santana - Keyboard City
Pete and I worked on Beacon Hill.
Image ... Fenway Park infield, Boston.
Monday, February 1, 2010
This photograph is composed of many triangles - arrows, spears and convergences. It was taken from inside the Copps Hill Burying Ground, in the North End, looking down onto Snowhill Street running in the foreground.
A friend of mine, Al Petrucelli, said he used roller skate down Snowhill and stop his imminent demise by grabbing onto and swinging around the sign post at the apex of the triangular front yard of the peaked little witch's house.
Peter and I spent the day doing a project on Beacon Hill. Cold bike rides there and back again. It's cool that we get our fitness training in the course of getting paid rather than paying a gym to ride a bike in front of a TV screen. With people who, at a guess, are in front of screens all day.
Image ... Snowhill Street, Boston, from the Copps Hill Burying Ground.