A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘boston

[PHOTO] What I saw on my trip, day by day

I ended up taking well over thirteen hundred photos in the course of my trip to Venice, not including the ones I have yet to copy over from my Fujifilm camera. I need to figure out how to organize and share these; until then, pointing you my readers over to the Facebook albums containing the photos I have uploaded seems like a good place to start.

  • The Union-Pearson Express is a fine way to depart downtown Toronto for Toronto Pearson, the line swiftly cutting a great arc across west-end Toronto.
  • My travels on the 5th of March took me from Toronto Pearson to Milan, with a very quick stopover at Newark.
  • I strongly recommend entering Venice by train, crossing over the Venetian Lagoon to Venezia Santa Lucia station on the fringes of the archipelago.
  • My first full evening in Venice, on the 6th, was magical, staying from a base in Dorsoduro along the Rio Del Magazen.
  • The 7th of March was a full day, exploring the neighbourhood and swinging by the Guidecca on a vaporetto and seeing St. Mark’s and the colourful island of Burano and swinging down to base through the sestiere of Cannaregio.
  • Highlights of the 8th included a trip down the Grand Canal to the Rialto and then to St. Mark’s in the morning fog, the Museo Correr, the bright glass-making island of Murano, and a wonderful ramble across Santa Croce and San Polo.
  • The 9th saw an in-depth exploration of Venice proper, rambling through to San Rocco and then further south to the Ca’ Rezzonico and then the Peggy Guggenheim, before winding my way back via St. Mark’s and the Rialto.
  • Leaving Venice on the 10th was sad, if necessary. The last sights of the city were lovely, and the train trip west through Lombardy-Veneto countryside to Milan was fun. I made Milan, but a traffic disruption by weather at Frankfurt let me overnight there.
  • My trip on the 11th from Frankfurt to Toronto was competently and quickly handled. Highlights for me included Frankfurt airport, the selection of in-flight movies including Anthropocene and Deadpool 2, and my arrival safe at home in Toronto.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Detroit, Québec City, Boston, Queens, Colonia del Sacramento

  • CityLab shares newly unearthed photos of the destroyed Detroit neighbourhood of Black Bottom.
  • The National Post reports that apparently the latest iteration of the Winter Carnival in Québec City has not met with popular approval.
  • CityLab explored for Valentine’s Day the notable history of Boston as a centre for the manufacture of candy.
  • CityLab notes how the nascent condo boom in Queens’ Long Island City, set to capitalize on the Amazon HQ2 there, has been undermined abruptly by Amazon’s withdrawal.
  • Ozy looks at the historic Uruguay town of Colonia del Sacramento.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Hamilton, Boston, Valencia, Moscow, Hyderabad

  • Ridership on the Hamilton Street Railway is growing but still below projected numbers. Global News reports.
  • Residents of the Lincolnshire city of Boston, one of the most pro-Brexit in the United Kingdom, fear Brexit might not happen. Global News reports.
  • CityLab notes how the Spanish city of Valencia is doing its best to keep local bee populations thriving.
  • Deutsche Welle takes a look at how residents of one village once on the fringes of Moscow have found their environment transformed by massive urbanization.
  • Guardian Cities takes a look at the central position played by “Tollywood”, the Telugu-speaking film industry’s hub, in the fate of a globalizing Hyderabad.

[URBAN NOTE] Five cities links: Hamilton, Boston, New York City, Pristina, Addis Ababa

  • Curbed takes a look at the innovative ways in which the city government of Hamilton has helped boost the city’s strengths.
  • Commonwealth Magazine shares a revived plan from the 1980s to protect Boston from sea level rise by building a great crescent-shaped dike in Boston Harbor.
  • CityLab takes a look at New York City’s seemingly-inexplicable decision to back down on a years-long closure of the L Train subway line for repair work.
  • Guardian Cities notes the controversy in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, about the construction of a Turkish-funded mosque there. Is this but an element of a new Turkish sphere of influence in the western Balkans?
  • This fascinating CNN report takes a look at the sheer scale of Chinese influence in Addis Ababa, the booming capital of Ethiopia, on its own terms and as an example of Chinese influence in Africa at large. (The locals, incidentally, find its models quite relevant and wanted.)

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Montréal, Iqaluit, Boston and Halifax, Orange County, Rome

  • Some tour guides in Montréal think they should receive more training about their city’s indigenous history. CBC reports.
  • After an arson that destroyed their warehouse, the Northmart grocery store in Iqaluit has reopened. CBC reports.
  • Nova Scotia is preparing to send a Christmas tree to Boston, a seasonal tradition that started as a thank-you to New England for help to Halifax after the Halifax Explosion. Global News reports.
  • Orange County, the Los Angeles Times has noted, has ended its history as a Republican stronghold. Demographic change has resulted in irreversible political change.
  • Guardian Cities reports on the catastrophic state of public transit in Rome. Perhaps privatization might be a solution for this system.

[NEWS] Five notes on marijuana

  • Has anyone heard anything new about the future of retail cannabis products in Ontario under Ford? CBC reports.
  • The professionalization of cannabis agriculture, such as is being currently undertaken at the University of Guelph, is a great idea. The Toronto Star reports.
  • Why not, as NOW Toronto describes, a virtual marijuana dispensary? More is here.
  • The Manitoba town of Gimli hopes to maintain a local ban on the sale of marijuana within its borders. MacLean’s reports.
  • The Boston neighbourhood of Dorchester is apparently caught up in deep controversy over the mechanics and future of legalized marijuana sales. VICE reports.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: New York City, Niagara Falls, Seattle, Boston, Toronto vs Montréal

  • VICE notes that Airbnb is also having a negative impact on certain neighbourhoods in New York City.
  • It may be necessary to put up barricades at Niagara Falls, but it’s still sad. CBC reports</u..
  • Is Seattle the latest city at risk of being priced out of range of most locals? This Seattle Times opinion piece makes the case.
  • This Toronto Life ad suggesting things to do in a four-day stay in Boston makes that city look wonderful. One day …
  • Why not write an opera about the hockey rivalry between Toronto and Montréal? CBC reports.

[URBAN NOTE] “Why Hollywood is obsessed with Boston”

The Globe and Mail‘s Eric Andrew-Gee explains Hollywood’s fascination with Boston as a setting in terms of an interest in the idea of an American city bound by tradition.

Boston Magazine has suggested that generous tax credits lure studios to Massachusetts. But Boston movies are not just set in Boston; they’re about Boston, and what it does to you: the wages of loyalty, the tug of roots, the comforts and claustrophobia of home. The movies do not always romanticize this world. But even the harshest depictions of the city evince a grudging fondness for its grit and closeness.

Those qualities are twin manifestations of the nostalgia that’s hard not to see as central to the city’s cinematic appeal. It’s a nostalgia that can be wholesome and sinister in equal measure, pining for a time of closer civic bonds and richer local culture even as it fondly remembers a whiter, manlier, and more violent past.

It’s no coincidence that movie Boston is almost perfectly synonymous with Irish Catholic Boston; there’s something almost European and Old World about the communitarian ethos at the heart of its worldview. The opening shot of Gone Baby Gone, starring Casey Affleck as a working-class private detective trying to solve a kidnapping, speaks to this with disarming candour. As the camera pans over an American flag painted on the side of a water tower, Affleck’s voice propounds a most un-American credo: “I always believed it was things you don’t choose that makes you who you are,” he says. “Your city, your neighbourhood, your family.”

Sure enough, the characters of the Boston film boom are defined above all by their sense of place. Their parochialism is almost medieval: the Seans and Patricks of these stories never move away from home, speak with thick regional twangs, are forever draped in city sports regalia, and enact folk traditions seen as quaint by the rest of the country, like playing hockey and going to mass. For a North American culture homogenized by cable TV, shopping malls, chain stores, and increasingly by the sleek, antiseptic design of websites like Facebook, a splash of local colour is refreshing.

Patriots Day hints at the best of this Boston. It shows a city where the gentle strictures of tradition give a pattern to daily life, narrowing the infinite field of choice thrown up by 21st-century consumer culture. In an early scene, before the bombing, a Boston native tells his out-of-towner wife that there are three things you can do on Patriots Day: run in the marathon, watch the marathon, or take in a “Red Sawks” game (as he insists she pronounce it). She is charmed, and so are we: here is life made simple by adherence to the tried and true.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2017 at 11:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO lists ten signs someone grew up in pre-amalgamation Toronto.
  • Centauri Dreams and D-Brief both react to Planet Nine.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the new Russian manned capsule will be called Federation.
  • Joe. My. God. notes an Italian parliamentarian hijacked a civil union bill by adding a new bill that would imprison gay couples who used surrogate mothers.
  • Language Log suggests again that the complexity of the Chinese writing system hinders the acceptance of Chinese as a global language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes precedents suggesting black Americans could not get away with the Malheur occupation.
  • The Map Room Blog shares an evocative map of Boston as a collection of insular–literally insular–neighbourhoods.
  • Towleroad notes gay porn star Colby Kelly is now a Vivienne Westwood model.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Chechnya’s Kadyrov is sounding increasingly unhinged and warns Belarus is now coming under attack in Russia.
  • The Financial Times‘s The World notes the implications of Moldovan instability for the European Union.

[LINK] “How Boston powered the gay rights movement”

I’d read of Boston’s role as an intellectual hub in Edmund White‘s early 1980s States of Desire, but Leon Neyfakh‘s Boston Globe article is the first article I’ve come across which explicitly references that past. Fascinating reading, this.

When most Americans think about the story of gay rights, they look back to New York’s 1969 Stonewall Riots, when gay men in Greenwich Village rose up in response to a police raid and sparked a decade of determined activism. They remember San Francisco’s Harvey Milk, the charismatic leader from the Castro who was elected to the city’s Board of Supervisors in 1977 before being tragically assassinated. Perhaps they remember the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights of 1979, when around 100,000 people from around the country gathered in the capitol to demand an end to discrimination.

Conspicuously absent in that story is Boston, a city more likely to be associated with its Puritanical past than with gay activism. But while it routinely gets overshadowed by New York and San Francisco, where the gay scenes were bigger, louder, and livelier, a closer look at the movement’s early history and tactics reveals that Boston in the 1970s was deeply important in the arrival of gay rights as a mainstream national issue, and home to a sophisticated, nationally relevant, pioneering gay community. The cause of gay liberation was taken up during those years with energy and seriousness by Boston-area college students, intellectuals, journalists, politicians, psychiatrists, and lawyers. Ultimately, the city would be the source for a significant portion of the national movement’s burgeoning intellectual firepower.

[. . . ]

The city served as a farm team for gay-rights forces across the United States—thanks in part to Gay Community News, an influential weekly newspaper with national reach that was considered the movement’s “paper of record” throughout the ’70s, and whose alumni at one point occupied so many leadership roles around the country that they were called the “GCN mafia.” Boston also helped drive the movement’s political and legal development: Not only was it home to the country’s first openly gay state representative, Elaine Noble, it was also one of the first places in the country where antidiscrimination laws were brought up for debate by politicians, and the birthplace of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, known as GLAD, whose legal advocacy led to Massachusetts’ groundbreaking gay-marriage decision.

Part of what made the city distinctive in the ’70s was that the gay community, though active, just wasn’t that big, and thus was unusually harmonious. Gay men worked side by side with lesbians—uncommon at the time—and radical gay liberationists found common cause with moderates who believed in working for political reform. But the fact that this compact scene was devoted to advances on the political, intellectual, legal, and journalistic fronts—rather than becoming known for protests or a vibrant gay social scene—meant that Boston’s role in gay life never captured the imagination as did New York and San Francisco. To look back at what was forged in Boston is to realize that sometimes the forces that drive real social change are, on the surface, less dramatic than the transformative moments and individual leaders that come to symbolize it.

“New York was sexier. San Francisco was really sexy. But Boston was smarter,” said Michael Bronski, a professor at Harvard University who spent the 1970s writing for local gay publications and is the author of “A Queer History of the ­United States.” “Boston really generated ideas.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 4, 2013 at 4:00 am