Been offline for a while taking care of Mrs Ministry of Propaganda, who had a thyroidectomy, and the little propagandists.
The recent ice storm left almost every area store depleted of ice melt. There was still ice on some of our stairs, and we'd run out of ice melt. I tried the local hardware story (Lamson & Davis in Malden), then I tried the Malden Stop & Shop, who told me that not only didn't they have any, but they would not be getting any more for the rest of the seasonn. I tried calling three area Home Depot stores (Everett, Saugus & Somerville) and they were all out. Then I tried calling Target in Everett and Saugus; no dice there. Just before I hang up from the call to the Everett Target, the woman on the phone says "Wait! You're not going to believe this, but I know one more place you can try." Then she tells me.
Christmas Tree Shops? For ice melt?
Thanking her, I call the Christmas Tree Shops location in Somerville at the old Assembly Square mall. Sure enough, they have ice melt.
If you head on over to Larry Stark's Theater Mirror, you'll see a post of an email that's going around the Boston theater community like a virus, in which we find out that MIT has cracked down on unauthorized use of MIT classrooms at Building 36 (the Fairchild Building) at 50 Vassar Street. Go ahead, go to Theater Mirror and read it, then come back.
Back? Great. Here's some background.
50 Vassar Street is-- or was until Monday-- the open secret of the Boston low/no-budget theater community. On any given night of the week you'll find classrooms where some theater organization is holding an audition, a rehearsal, or a meeting. The place is huge, heated, and free. If you've ever done a show in this town the chances are high that you could walk in on a weeknight and see somebody else you've done a show with walking in the hall. The posts in the lobby are usually covered with notes telling people where to go-- "HAMLET AUDS. 134-56", "BFL REHEARSAL THIRD FLOOR", and so on. And this has been going on for...
Well, let me put it this way. I auditioned for an improv troupe at Vassar Street.
In February of 1992.
And in 1992, it was already the place to go to rehearse, so it's not unrealistic to say that for close to 20 years, a sizable portion of the Boston theater scene has been regularly using that building for rehearsal space. There was always a tacit understanding, of course, that we weren't entitled to it. That if a group of students showed up, you had to vacate the room because of course they were supposed to be there and you weren't. (This applied even if an MIT student or alum was in your show/troupe, because even if that was the case no theater group that I know of had ever bothered to formally request the use of the room.)
That understanding was violated recently when a non-MIT group-- or so I understand-- threatened an MIT group that had properly scheduled use of a given room and showed up to use it. And being threatened, they called the MIT police.
And so ends nearly 20 years of Boston theater history, rightly or wrongly (because let's face it, it's been 20 years of squatting) because one righteous ass decided that he/she was entitled to something they were borrowing.
Somebody at one of those "family values" organizations will have a stroke when they realize that the guy the NFL has hired to do the halftime show- the post Janet-Jackson-wardrobe-malfunction-more-family-friendly halftime show-- is the same guy who wrote "Darling Nikki" and "Sexy MF" and got Apollonia to purify herself in the waters that were not Lake Minnetonka.
God bless him for that second thing.
" An angry Menino said angrily yesterday that ‘‘if that’s true, that’s totally irresponsible.’’"
An angry man said angrily. Can the Globe not afford a thesaurus?
(*because AquaTeenHungerForceGate takes too long to type over and over again)
You know what makes the entire 'suspicious device' cycle from yesterday actually less annoying?
The entire "suspicious device" cycle from today. Because today, every two-bit pundit with internet access and an opinion is weighing in as if they had double-majored in Marketing and Chemistry with minor in Law Enforcement. (Pot? Kettle. Kettle? Pot.)
I stick by the following assertions:
1) The area police didn't overreact.
Next time you look at a photo of one of these things, stop looking at the goddamn LED board for a second and look at the wires and large tube wrapped with electrical tape at the bottom of it. If your job involves looking for bombs, and you see a thing mounted to I-93 that has many of the same components that are used to create a makeshift bomb, I think you have all the reason in the world to be suspicious of it. That these things were hanging in other cities, and here, without incident, for two weeks and change, is immaterial. And say... what if there's other suspicious events happening around the city and the country? Events like, say, the ones mentioned here in a timeline released by the Boston Police Department? It's easy to armchair quarterback this but it certainly looks like there was enough going on yesterday to justify their reaction.
Furthermore, look at the net positive here: several area law enforcement agencies had to work in cooperation yesterday. I'm guessing we had Boston, Cambridge and Somerville Police Departments involved, plus the MBTA Transit Police, plus the Massachusetts State Police, plus the FBI. Had this been an actual emergency... well, to them it was. And what happened? A lot of people were inconvenienced but the city did not become a police state. And God forbid something like this turns out to be real, they've got this experience to learn from.
2) The area police reaction was not "fascist" or one of a hundred other synonyms for fascist that I saw tossed around the interwebs.
Bomb squad gets called for not-immediately-identifiable device. Bomb squad removes & detonates that device and shuts down transit & highways as a precaution. These actions? Not fucking fascist.
MBTA wants to random pick me out of a all the passengers on a train to search my backpack when I'm minding my own goddamn business? Now we're riding into fascist territory. (Note: If the MBTA were truly Fascist maybe the damn trains would run on time.)
3) Area politicians overreacted. Big time.
Once you know that it's a half-assed publicity stunt for a cartoon show, you're only making yourself look like an ass when you keep tossing around words like 'bomb' and 'terrorist' and threatening to commandeer the USS Constitution for the sole purpose of keelhauling the people responsible. This goes for every elected official in any way touched by yesterday's events: there are times to just keep your damn mouth shut.
This clearly falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of "Holy shit...!"
So Universal Hub (Hi, guys & gals!) picked up my "Who Screwed Boston?" post, and I see they've linked to an AP story on Yahoo! News that there's been an arrest in connection with today's events & the placement of the by-now-infamous Cartoon Network LED boards. Universal Hub even gets the guy's name right and links to his site. Peter Berdovsky has a section on his website where he chronicled the placement of these things. And if you look at that page, the first thing you might notice is this: There's not a single shot of Sullivan Square on it. The second thing you might notice is this: when lit up at night, it's clear that these things are about as threatening as any other advertisement that lights up at night, which is to say, not deadly. It's only in daylight when you can't make out the design all that well that they might look suspicious, and maybe moreso if you saw the back of the thing with wires sticking out rather than the LEDs on the front.
In context in most of the images on his site, those signs look like they belong. They're flush, no wires sticking out, they're lighted, they do the job they're intended to do. No wonder they've been up for two weeks without anybody noticing. Still, I stand by the idea that the job of law enforcement is to err on the side of caution, because something like this puts them squarely in between a rock and a hard place. Maybe after the first two they should have caught on, but it's easy to say that now that we all know what the hell they are.
Now to the Holy Shit Dept.
I don't know Peter Berdovsky. To the best of my knowledge, I've never met him. Clearly, in today's events he's just a guy who took what I hope was a well-paying gig, and shit spiraled out of control. Somebody at Interference or Turner Broadcasting better be picking up his entire legal tab because they got him into this mess. (Yeah, I know, he was getting paid, probably as a freelancer/subcontractor, whatever. I don't care. It's their promotion, not his.) I'm already thinking I'm going to toss a few bucks to the inevitable defense fund.
Suprisingly enough, it looks like I'm all of a degree of separation away from Peter Berdovsky. He's part of a video collective called Glitch... along with a guy named Toshi. Who I know. (Nice guy.) Because Toshi-- as he mentions in his Glitch bio-- co-founded the video performance collective Noise Laboratories with a guy named Steve. Steve also is among the folks who run Circle, which Berdovsky's site says he has performed at.
And Steve? Oh, Steve is not just a nice guy, he's a fucking fantastic guy. And when I say fucking fantastic, I mean that I've known Steve for over 20 years. My wife has known him for the same. They were co-editors of their high school yearbook. He was a groomsman in our wedding. We consider ourselves blessed that he is our friend and that he's in our lives. Steve has been there for some of my highest highs and my lowest lows in life. If you ever wanted a guy in your corner, Steve would be the guy. He's just that fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that when my wife and I were expecting our first child, we asked Steve to be our daughter's godfather.
So there you are. After all the blogging today, it turns out I'm not far removed from the guy just arrested for placing these devices.
Boston is a small, small town.