I filmed my socially distant bike ride through the ghost town of downtown Boston

While there were certainly more people out than I expected to see … there weren't that many. Which somehow made it even weirder than the Boston Marathon Bombing Lockdown, when at least the shared sense of fear was more palpable. Read the rest

Boston Police Union throws a tantrum over Black Lives Matter at school week

Boston's got a bad reputation when it comes to race. And unfortunately, much of it's deserved. Of course, there are people who are trying to fight and make a positive difference despite the segregation that's left the predominantly black neighborhoods behind in schooling and socializing. Which is why the Boston Teacher's Union planned a week-long series of events in coordination with Black Lives Matter, to help educate students on inclusion and restorative justice. After all, February is Black History Month. So that all sounds good, right?

The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association disagreed, and sent a letter to BTU President Jessica Tang condoning the events. In the letter, BPPA President Michael Leary refers to Black Lives Matter an "anti-police organization" who has endangered the lives of Boston police officers. This is demonstrably untrue. But BPPA refuses to let the facts get in the way of their feelings. The letter continues on about the "irrational hatred" of BLM, accusing them of "inaccurately demonizing police as racists who kill innocent people" before passive-aggressively warning about the potential dangers of not cooperating with Boston Police, like some kind of mob protection racket.

BPPA is also upset about an education initiative to provide more funding for guidance counselors, instead of just shoving more police officers into schools to solve behavioral problems by threat of force. Read the rest

A stolen lobster truck crashed into another lobster truck, because Boston

A recent Boston Police report has revealed the probable plot to Ben Affleck's next crime movie:

A 29-year-old male from South Boston, had stolen a box truck loaded with at least $10,000 worth of lobsters from a local lobster company located in Charlestown. Employees of the company were in the process of loading the truck at the dock when the suspect jumped into the cabin of the truck and sped off. Several employees of the lobster company gave chase in a second box truck and caught up with the suspect on Medford Street near Main Street. The suspect refused to stop but instead deliberately crashed the stolen truck into the second box truck. The employees of the lobster company were able to detain the suspect until police arrived on scene.

To recap: someone left a truck running with $10,000 of lobster in it. And another guy just … got into the truck and drove away. So the employees hopped into another lobster truck and chased after him. The thief ultimately crashed into the truck that was chasing him, and the employees held him there until Boston's Finest showed up.

The company in question turned out to be Buy New England Lobsters. Boston Magazine spoke with Peter Lagorio, the company's sales and marketing manager, who said, “It’s probably the most Boston thing that’s ever happened.”

The fahkin Boston Fish Guys could not be reached fuh comment.

Foiled Lobster Truck Heist in Charlestown “Was a Very Boston Experience for Everyone Involved” [Spencer Buell / Boston Magazine]

Image via Wikimedia Commons Read the rest

Boston city council election decided by a single vote

The final spot on Boston's city council race for at-large councillors went to Julia Mejia, who edged out her opponent Alejandra St. Guillen by a single vote (22,491 to 22,492). Both were in the running to be the first Latina elected to council. Read the rest

This-City's-Makin'-A-Comeback Bingo Card

Like a lot of people, I belong to a number of neighborhood-centric Facebook groups. While the general Jamaica Plain group is broadly fine, there's also a private, invite-only group for complaining about the general day-to-day absurdity of living in newly desirable neighborhood of any increasingly-expensive city.

And that's where I discovered this glorious work of art (which, as far as I can tell after a Tin Eye search, originated from the fittingly-named Humans of Late Capitalism Facebook page):

According to these standards, my beloved home in JP is actually in pretty good shape. Though we are the home of the original Sam Adams Brewery, we only have one other brewpub (so far). We're also (so far) safe from the axe-throwing bar trend, and at least Boston Logan is a pretty good airport. In lieu of cows, we have an albino squirrel and those god damn Brookline turkeys. But otherwise…well, shit. I'm pretty sure I am "Guy with stories about band/artist who made it."

Image via Matt Brown/Flickr Read the rest

Boston cops clocked 9,000 hours of overtime at the "Straight Pride" parade — and none of it with body cams

The "Straight Pride" Parade that was held in Boston in the end of August was just another example of thinly-veiled alt-right trolling. Unfortunately, it also worked. A hateful parade of a hundred-or-so people managed to divert hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars into overtime police coverage and shutdown streets during the busiest weekend in the city (Labor Day + college move-ins = hell).

Thanks to WBUR, we now know that that cost included 9,000 hours of overtime work for local police officers—the equivalent of 4 years of full-time policing service. And none of it was officially caught on film, despite the police aggressions caught on social media and the 3 dozen counter-protestors who were arrested during the parade.

(Coincidentally, the Massachusetts State Police Union was also embroiled in an overtime scandal in the months leading up to this parade.)

There are plenty of pros and cons to debate around the use of body cameras for police officers. In this case, it means that the public only has access to choppy, not-necessarily-reliable videos that arguably paint a picture of excessive police aggression against protestors. Read the rest

To do in Boston Mar 23/24: The Free Software Foundation's Libreplanet conference

The Free Software Foundation has announced the keynotes for its 2019 Libreplanet conference: Debian pioneer Bdale Garbee; Micky Metts from the MayFirst People Link Leadership Committee, Solidarity Economy Network and Agaric; Shuttleworth fellow Tarek Loubani who develops open source hardware, 3D printed medical equipment used in Gazan hospitals; and FSF founder Richard Stallman. Read the rest

Whitey Bulger's family, lacking a sense of irony, file lawsuit over his 2018 murder

Trafficking guns and explosives to the Irish Republican Army, running a massive criminal enterprise for years in Boston, extorting drug dealers so that they could do business on his turf, acting as an FBI informant and oh, so many murders: James “Whitey” Bulger's life was both colorful and poisonous, to say the least.

His long career as a professional criminal came to an end in 2011. After over a decade on the FBI's Most Wanted Fugitives list, Bulger was located and charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, narcotics distribution and money-laundering. He was convicted and thrown in the clink in 2012. This past October, Bugler, 89 years old and confined to a wheelchair, was stabbed and beaten to death by his fellow inmates at the United States Penitentiary, Hazelton, in West Virginia.

While it might be difficult for a lot of folks to have sympathy for a man responsible for so much pain, Bulger's family wants to know what happened inside of the penitentiary: why was Bulger sent to the cell block he was killed in? Why wasn't the murder, involving multiple inmates, stopped? They've filed a lawsuit to find out.

From The Boston Globe:

“It’s important for the family and the public to know why the prisons decided to wheel an 89-year-old man with a history of heart attacks into one of the most dangerous prisons in the country,” Hank Brennan, Bulger’s attorney of seven years, told the Journal.

The Globe reported in late November that Bulger had wished for a “peaceful death” in a series of letters written over the past several years to a former convict.

Read the rest

Boston: One person dead, others injured after dozens of gas explosions and fires

At least 1 person is dead and 80 homes and businesses burned across three Boston suburbs - Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover this afternoon after a high-pressure gas main explosion rocked the area shortly after 3:00 PM EST. Read the rest

Boston Symphony Orchestra flautist files lawsuit over unequal pay

Boston Symphony Orchestra principal flutist Elizabeth Rowe is suing her employers for $200,000 in damages. The reason: her closest counterpart in the orchestra, a man, is making a shitload more money for doing almost the same damn job as she does. Rowe’s lawsuit was filed one day after the state of Massachusetts brought its equal pay law into effect. Before slamming the Boston Symphony Orchestra with her suit, Rowe attempted, on a number of occasions, to sort the issue of the pay gap out amiably and out of court. Since the Orchestra wouldn’t own up and do the right thing, I suspect they will now be skinned alive under the state’s wicked harsh new pay equality laws.

From NPR:

Rowe was hired for the Boston Symphony's top flutist job in 2004 — a high-profile and extremely competitive position at one of the world's foremost orchestras. According to her suit, she has been profiled as a soloist with the orchestra 27 times in the years since she was hired — more than any other BSO principal musician — and that the orchestra has repeatedly highlighted her in its marketing, publicity and social media materials.

Rowe says that she is currently the top-paid female principal player in the BSO, while the BSO's principal oboist, John Ferrillo, is the symphony's top-paid male principal musician. According to the BSO's 2016 IRS Form 990, Ferrillo was paid $286,621, the largest salary paid to any BSO principal musician. (Violinist Malcolm Lowe — the orchestra's concertmaster, who serves as something of a liaison between the symphony's musicians and its conductor — earned $415,402 in 2016.)

Read the rest

Anti-DRM artists march on the World Wide Web Consortium today

Today, activists will gather in Cambridge, Mass to march to the offices of W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee to urge him to keep DRM out of the standards for the open web. Read the rest

Boston school district switches to a more accurate world map, blows kids' minds

The Mercator projection maps we're all familiar with dates to a 16th-centry Flemish cartographer who wanted to emphasize colonial trade routes; as a result, it vastly distorts the relative sizes and positions of the world's continents, swelling Europe and North America to absurd proportions and shrinking South America and Africa. Read the rest

It's raining diseased birds in Boston

47 grackles fell from the heavens on the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston this weekend, with at least 32 dead. Two cats who ate the remains also ran out of lives.

City officials have sent the dead grackles, which are a type of songbird that travels in flocks, to Tufts University to help determine the cause of death. It is currently unclear whether the birds perished due to a virus, some sort of environmental pollution or intentional poisoning. Test results are expected next week.

“We don’t know what is going on,” John Meaney of the city of Boston’s Inspectional Services told NECN. “So we are investigating all avenues.”

Local resident Willien Pugh told the Boston Herald that his cat Sally B was found dying on the back porch as deceased birds fell from the sky.

“We took the cat from outside and we thought it was a girl so we named it Sally – then when we took it to the vet, we found out it was a boy, so we started calling her Sally B,” Pugh said. “Real good cat.”

47 Grackles is my new mid-2000s-style productivity blog-cum-punk band. [Photo: MDF] Read the rest

Out today, "Necessity," the final volume of Jo Walton's Thessaly books, sequel to "The Just City" & "Philosopher Kings"

The Just City is a gripping fantasy novel based on a thought-experiment: what if the goddess Athena transplanted all the people across time who'd ever dreamed of living in Plato's Republic to a Mediterranean island and set them loose to build that world? Read the rest

$40,000/year private school sues school for low-income kids for $2M over "Commonwealth"

The Commonwealth School is a $40,000/year private school that occupies a couple of mansions in the Back Bay of Boston, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth Academy is a pay-what-you-can school for underprivileged kids, located 90 miles away (also in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts). Read the rest

Police sergeant: 16 year old girl probably saw penises before I showed her mine, NBD

Boston Police Sergeant Edwin Guzman's lawyer says that it's not really a big deal that he sent a photo of his penis to the sixteen-year-old daughter of a friend, because "You can’t tell me someone her age has never seen a picture of a penis on the Internet." Read the rest

Gun enthusiasts show up at Pokémon finals, police catch 'em all

Kevin Norton and James Stumbo were arrested this weekend near the Pokémon World Championship after showing up with a 12-gauge shotgun and an AR-15 they boasted about on social media. Read the rest

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