Saturday, June 30, 2007

Beach day

A Boston Globe editorial today touts the charms of East Boston's little sliver of sand and sea under the headline "Still a gem despite the jets." Constitution Beach does look much better these days than when I was a kid, with a new bathhouse, playground and pedestrian walkway. Halfway through the piece the writer does mention a couple of old-timers she bumped into Wednesday at the beach who grumble about a few things.

In the last paragraph the editorial mentions something that I noted when I wrote the Wikipedia entry for Constitution Beach: that locals have always called it Shea's Beach (or Shay's). I hadn't seen anybody make reference to that in anything I could previously find on the Internet, and nobody seems to know the source for that name.

Also, look for the farmers' market that will take place at the beach on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from July to October.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Special election could be a test

Things seem to be getting a little more interesting in the race for the 1st Suffolk House seat even before the specifics of the special election have been announced. A political blog called .08 Acres points out that Gloribell Mota, the Organizing Director for City Councilor Felix D. Arroyo, has formed a committee to run for the seat. Mota (in photo) is a board member for the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) and the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.

Mota joins Carlo Basile, Mary Berninger and Jeff Drago in the hunt for the seat that will be vacated any day now by Anthony Petruccelli, who won Tuesday's special election for the state senate seat vacated by Robert Travaglini. What makes this particularly interesting is that Mota, who was born in the US, is of Dominican and Salvadoran descent (according to the NOAH web site). This may shape up, then, as the first test of the political power for East Boston's Latino community.

Eastie, which was close to 100% white in 1980, is now at least half non-white, and a predominant part of that group is Latino. Up to now, however, office holders have still come from the receding Italian American population: Travaglini, Petruccelli and City Councilor Sal LaMattina. In this race, Basile and Drago come out of that same group, and both are politically well connected. Berninger has been active on local issues, working especially hard in the neighborhood's constant struggle against Massport.

Mota's run would stand, I think, to hurt Berninger and Drago, though I think that Drago still remains the favorite. He will have the mayor's backing, and he'll get significant attention from the young professionals who have recently moved into the neighborhood, most taking advantage of the relatively affordable condo prices, as well as the quick access to downtown. Basile, who worked on the campaigns of Mitt Romney and Kerry Healey, is apparently the most conservative of the bunch, and he will appeal to a number of Reagan Democrat types.

If Eastie's Latinos register and turn out in large numbers, Mota could be a significant player in the race, especially if the three other candidates stick it out and divide the remaining votes. On the other hand, I have a feeling that many longtime East Boston residents will be stirred into action by the prospect of a Latino representing them. Among many people I know, NOAH is seen as a group that houses immigrants at the expense of locals. Let's hope that this is a positive campaign all around.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

From Park & Fly to park and play

Though I don't believe that East Boston's Bremen Street Park has been officially opened yet, the gates are unlocked daily and people are taking advantage of the greenspace and playgrounds. I went by the park yesterday and took some photos. Note that what appears to be a wading pool is not yet open, though it would be nice to have during the current heat wave.

Other items of interest: the new MBTA Airport Station entrance is finally accessible to local residents in a sensible way; and the large bust of Donald McKay, who built world-renowned ships in Eastie in the 19th century, looms over part of the park like one of those stone heads on Easter Island.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Supremely Bushed

While the current Administration's outrageous policies and incompetent execution have caused Republicans to lose control of Congress and resulted in the president himself losing most of his influence, there is one place where George W. Bush carried out the conservative agenda splendidly and it is the institution that may deliver the most jarring long term impacts while offering the most difficult path to reversal: the Supreme Court.

Bush's appointment of Justice Samuel Alito and Chief John Roberts have resulted in a more conservative court, as witnessed by the slew of recent 5-4 opinions lumping those two with reactionaries Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and simply conservative Anthony Kennedy, who has emerged as the key vote in most cases. In the short term it is Alito, rather than Roberts, who has made all the difference, as he replaced the centrist Sandra Day O'Connor, who sometimes sided with the more progressive foursome of Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens. Alito's staunch right-wing views have bumped Kennedy into the middle spot, a middle more conservative than O'Connor.

But in the long term it is the ages of Roberts, 52, and Alito, 57, that are scary numbers for liberals to consider. Those two will in theory occupy their seats for 20 years or so. Meanwhile, Stevens is 87. Ginsberg is 74, Breyer is 68 and Souter is 67. We liberals worry quite a bit that if Stevens should need to vacate his seat in the next year and a half, Bush would solidify the conservative lock on the high court for a generation. As Jeffrey Toobin writes in the June 25th New Yorker, the composition of the Supreme Court is one of the most important reasons why the Democrats need to win the White House in next year's election.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Rep field shaping up

Seems that Ed Deveau has dropped out of the race for the soon-to-be vacant First Suffolk seat in the state House of Representatives. It's probably a smart move on Ed's part. There didn't seem to be much of a gap for him to squeeze through. Jeff Drago, a longtime City Hall employee, and Carlo Basile, a local political operative, seem to be the two frontrunners, while word is that local activist Mary Berninger will be running as well.

Basile bumperstickers have become noticeable in Eastie, but it seems that Drago is, at this early juncture, in the best position. He has the support of the mayor, as well as District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina and Anthony Petruccelli, the outgoing rep who will win the general election for Bob Travaglini's senate seat on Tuesday (as he is unopposed). Word is that he will be sworn in on July 11, and at that point the specifics of the special election for his rep seat will be announced. Early indications are for an October election.

I ran into Jeff today and spoke with him for a while. He seems excited about the campaign. He mentioned his web site, which is just now up and running.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Eastie eats

Today's Globe mentions the clams casino oreganata at Carmen's Kitchen in the Orient Heights section of East Boston and goes on to talk about the fresh ingredients that the restaurant uses in all of its dishes.

I haven't been to Carmen's (though I have heard good things about it), but I've been to Zefferano, which is also "up the Heights" (as we say in Eastie) for a function, and the food was excellent. This snippet review in the Boston Phoenix says that you can't discover great little Italian restaurants that no one knows about in the North End any more, but you can in East Boston.

Then there's Dough, near Maverick Square. which I also haven't visited, but I did sample a bit of their stuff at Saturday's Chelsea Creek fete. I was quite disappointed in the slice of pizza that I had, but let's chalk that up to it being sold streetside for a buck. The little chicken and cheese wraps (yeah, I got two) were good, and the Phoenix raves about Dough's sandwiches. I will certainly test that claim soon.

Finally, my friends at Meridian 155 -- a few blocks from the Maverick T stop -- added panini and soup not too long ago, in addition to the bagels, muffins, beverage options and friendly atmosphere of the place. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Trampling on the Constitution

There have been many incompetent and even criminal actions taken by the Bush Administration, and among the most blatantly outrageous are the extent to which the president has issued "signing statements," those instructions published when signing a bill that tell federal agencies how to put new laws into practice.

George W. Bush has issued more than 1,100 signing statements, more than all previous presidents combined, and he has used them in an attempt to undo some of what the Constitution gives Congress the power to do. Frequently, he has instructed the federal government to dismiss certain sections of laws that he has signed. As chief executive, the president's sworn duty is to execute the laws. Congress writes them and the courts interpret them. To ignore the Constitution is the action of a tyrant, and a tyrant must be brought down.

The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage won a Pulitzer Prize this year for his stories on signing statements. Today he reports that the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress, has done a study that shows government agencies are failing to follow through on some laws and that they are doing so in accordance with the signing statements. I'd submit that we are now facing the biggest "Constitutional crisis" since Watergate.

If we were not in the midst of a foreign occupation, I'd advocate that we immediately start composing articles of impeachment. As it is, we are in the quagmire of Iraq because of other criminal actions by this president and this administration -- actions that are also impeachable offenses. The often-complacent citizenry, however, might balk at such a drawn out and public battle in a time of war, and this might lead to a backlash against Democrats that ends with the election of another Republican president.

What to do?

Monday, June 18, 2007

The race is on

On Saturday I saw the first bumper stickers supporting a candidate in the special election for the First Suffolk district in the state House of Representatives. The stickers were on a pickup truck and they were supporting Carlo Basile. Earlier in the day I actually ran into Carlo, who I've known since he was a kid, and wished him luck.

I also know some other candidates who seem be running for the seat, which will be left open when the current occupant, Anthony Petruccelli, wins the upcoming special election for Robert Travaglini's vacated senate seat. Ed Deveau was a student of mine at Savio and has been a member of Petruccelli's staff for a number of years. Jeff Drago is also a Savio grad and works at Boston City Hall.

The local newspaper also reports that Mary Berninger may run for the seat. I met Mary, a local activist and mother of a Savio student, a few times. She would appear to be the least politically connected of the candidates. One would assume that Mayor Menino will back Drago and that Deveau will get some support from Petruccelli. Basile did campaign work for former Gov. Mitt Romney and on the failed gubernatorial bid of former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, which may hurt in this ultra-Democratic neighborhood.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


There was a little festival yesterday on both sides of the Andrew McArdle Bridge, which spans the Chelsea Creek and connects East Boston to Chelsea. (It is most often refered to by locals as the Meridian Street Bridge.) It was called the Chelsea River Revel, and I took a few photos while I was there and posted three of them here. I also sampled some food (of course).

Too many chiefs?

An interesting examination, and indictment, of the role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff can be found in the Ideas section of today's Boston Globe, or online at

Andrew J. Bacevich, a Boston University professor whose son died in Iraq earlier this year, writes that too often -- as in the case of the current JCS chair, Gen. Peter Pace -- the top military advisors serve as "yes men" to the president, and that this has been the case since the inception of the JCS 60 years ago.

Bacevich writes that when a charismatic JCS chair is in place, such as Colin Powell was, that he starts to develop too much power and becomes an obstacle for a president, and as a result colorless officers who fear speaking out are selected. The JCS should be abolished, Bacevich concludes.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Way off track

There's been a great deal of talk lately about big-shot developer Richard Fields and his plans to revitalize Suffolk Downs, which his company, Coastal Development, recently purchased. "I was told that Suffolk Downs is a family," Fields recently told The Boston Globe. "We've met just about everybody there, and it is a family. Our goal is to make [Suffolk] family-friendly and to make it customer-friendly."

A story in today's Patriot Ledger, the daily in Quincy, is about a doctor and nurse who visit the East Boston oval regularly to dispense free health care to the jockeys, trainers, groomers and stable hands. So much for Fields' "family." Here is an unseemly and hidden truth about "the sport of kings": It takes the sacrifice of poorly-compensated immigrant labor to run a racetrack, where the horses receive much better care than the people. The article notes:
"Because tracks like Suffolk Downs are seasonal, the 300 to 400 workers there are classified as migrants, and thus are exempt from state wage, hour and benefit laws. The men who show up at Bowe’s clinic put in seven-day work weeks to earn around $300 to $500, with no vacation days or health insurance and the near-certainty that, if they don’t get sick, they’ll eventually get hurt by a horse."
Meanwhile, Fields just announced the return of Suffolk's biggest race, the Massachusetts Handicap, which will be run on Sept. 22 and will have a purse of $500,000. Here is another example of how American society depends on behind-the-scenes immigrant labor. Further, it's also an example of how the system -- in this case, laws governing healthcare -- actively protect the haves while punishing the have-nots.

Friday, June 15, 2007

More local development

A pair of new eateries are coming to East Boston soon. First, a Burger King is being built in Maverick Square, and I'm told it will be a two story structure. The location seems like a can't miss opportunity for the franchise owner, who apparently runs a BK over in Copley Square. I personally avoid fast food, and I think it's a mistake to pass up some of the excellent genuine ethnic food options in the area for a Whopper.

Not far from Maverick, at 303 Sumner Street, is a neat looking storefront that will be the Melting Pot Cafe. The location is still being worked on, but there is a nice counter and some tables sitting inside. The place looks very cool, with wood floors and brick walls. The outside is wooden with tall windows. I look forward to checking the Melting Pot out when it opens.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scenic Eastie

This week's Calendar section in today's Boston Globe mentions East Boston's Constitution Beach as "a small but beautifully maintained stretch of sand that yields to blue, windswept open water." The writer does go on to mention "the incoming 747s on one side and the rumbling Blue Line on the other," calling it a "surreal a beach scene."

As a child I was frequently on that stretch of sand on summer afternoons with my mother and sister. Once I walked out a bit too far, lost my footing and almost drowned. Back then we knew the location as Shays Beach (or Shay's or even Shades ... I'm not sure). It was a popular spot, but unkempt, with lots of trash in the sand.

The Wikipedia entry on Constitution Beach is one of several about Eastie that I originally wrote. The others include Orient Heights, Savio Preparatory High School, the East Boston Gas Surge of 1983, and the East Boston entry itself, which has received considerable editing and additional material from other Wikipedia contributors.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Horrific cruelty

A disgusting case of animal cruelty took place in East Boston this morning. Someone set a cat on fire and tried to toss it through the window of an Eagle Hill three-decker. The cat died, but apparently no one was in the targeted apartment. Police are investigating the incident, which reports say happened about 7:15 a.m. outside 207 Princeton Street.

I scream, you scream...

Friends of mine in East Boston have complained about the repetitious, insanity-producing tune that is played by a local ice cream truck (and they've also noted that the truck comes around later than it should for the young clientele). Well, local officials have apparently heard their plea.

The Boston City Council is looking at a ban on music from the trucks, according to a report on the Channel 7 news web site. The story specifically mentions Eastie, so it is likely the same truck. Though I've not heard the offending vehicle, I have suffered others in the past, so I know they can be quite annoying. The city council is proposing that the trucks use bells instead. Sounds like an agreeable solution to me.

On target

Sure, I'd like to see an organized, efficient operation and friendly staff whenever I walk into a business, but the one place where such an experience is most important, for me, is a hospital. While I am checking in or sitting in the waiting area, it's important to me that everything looks like it's running smoothly and that everyone knows what they're doing. If they can't find my appointment or if they lose a 24-hour urine sample (yup, this happened to me once), then I seriously start to worry about whether the facility can be trusted to evaluate and remedy my health situation.

There is a story today on a "mystery shopper" program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Employees of that hospital pose as patients over the phone or in waiting rooms to monitor the way the public is treated. Since the program began two years ago, the story says, service has improved, and other hospitals are using similar programs as well. I feel much better already.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Off Target

In an early Woody Allen film called Bananas, his character's attempt to discreetly purchase a porn magazine is foiled when the cashier holds up the item and yells to a co-worker, "How much is a copy of Orgasm?"

Yesterday I was at the Target in Revere, just over the East Boston line, and I witnessed a similar scene. Two male employees, both youngish, were with an older female customer and one yelled to yet another young male employee, who was about 50 feet away, "Where are the hair removal products?!" The third employee hollers back, "You mean, like, wax?!" The poor woman must have been mortified.

If you have any contact with retail stores these days, and if you are older than 30, you've witnessed a decline in the appearance and sensibilities of the cashiers, baggers, stockers, etc. who work at such places. Now I am not saying that I would want to do any of their jobs, and I am not saying that I expect to see a 1950s-style demeanor from them. However, I do think it is clear that employers settle for lower standards among their unskilled workers.

Of course, my approach would be to pay them better and then demand more from them. With wages equal to or less than the salary paid for equivalent jobs 35 years ago (once adjusted for inflation), employers get what they pay for, and we -- the customers -- are stuck dealing with employees that have a less-than-professional attitude.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Understanding tragedy

Tom Kaine, the governor of Virginia, is correct when he says that the panel he appointed to investigate the April 16 shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech should be made up of objective experts rather than anyone driven by emotion. Some of the family members of the 32 victims object, however, and have demanded a seat on the committee. The gubernatorial review board should listen to testimony from parents, should keep their process open and should make their findings available to parents and everyone else, but if the panel's goal is to study the tragedy from security, educational, psychological and legal points of view, then only those with specialized knowledge in those fields should sit on the panel.

The families may have more of an argument when they say that Virginia Tech hasn't consulted them with regards to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, which has raised several million dollars to date. The parents charge that the university is using their children's names and pictures as a fundraising tool. The school seems to have a respectful memorial page listing the names of the victims with a link to another page that has biographies of the victims. There's also a page listing charities created or suggested by the families.

The committee itself appears frustrated because some of the medical and mental health information that they are trying to get about the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, is protected by privacy laws that are in effect despite his crime and suicide. That seems to me to be a matter that needs to be addressed via judicial appeal or the state legislature and not by venting at the medical professionals who have been called to testify and are upholding the law.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Jurors wanted

The Boston Globe reports that courts in Suffolk County are heading toward a crisis because they are running out of prospective jurors. In Massachusetts, courts must wait three years before summoning citizens who have served, and three-quarters of those called never show up. I propose shortening that time to two years and following up on those who refuse to participate.

Unlike most people I've met, I enjoy jury duty. I've been on two cases and was dismissed from serving on a third because I knew the victim and defendant in that case. Being on a jury is an interesting and educational experience, and it was heartening to see how seriously my fellow jurors took their duty.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Best news ever

A recent study shows that beer is good for you, actually reducing cholesterol. I personally cannot think of a better use of scientific research. I will be conducting my own follow-up study shortly. Anyone care to join me?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

What's the point?

Today's Boston Herald has a piece by crime reporter Michele McPhee in which she rips into a convicted murderer and the guy's sister because he has a MySpace page -- one that the sister apparently created to find a pen pal for her brother.

Francis X. Lang, 32, was sentenced last year to life in prison for the murder of
Suffolk County deputy sheriff Ricky Dever outside a Charlestown bar. I know nothing about the case, and I have no reason to doubt McPhee's version of the facts, which I assume are the prosecution's description of what happened. It just seems, however, that she is scoring easy points by shooting at fish in a barrel.

No one is going to sympathize with Lang, but if the point is really to have someone for him to exchange letters with, then what is the problem? And how can anyone blame another person for caring about a close family member, no matter what inexcusable things they've done?

A new menu option

Though the store/deli at the intersection of Bennington and Marion streets in East Boston is still called Victor's, it no longer pumps out cold cut and chicken parm sandwiches. Instead it is owned by a couple from Peru, who were in the restaurant business in their native country before coming to Boston a few years ago. has a blurb about Victor's, mentioning a specific Peruvian dish called "papa rellena." An internet search turned up the photo above. I'll have to try the dish -- and the new Victor's -- some time soon.

End of the line

The demise of Savio Prep High School edges nearer, as students attended their last classes yesterday, and final exams follow today through Friday. Boston Globe reporter April Simpson has been covering the endgame and her story is in today's paper, along with a number of photos.

The Spartans softball team won their third consecutive state tournament game yesterday, advancing to the EMass North Division III semifinals Friday in Lowell, which means that the team will be the last outward vestige of Savio. The girls on the squad could possibly prolong the life of the school if they keep winning into next week.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wise women from the East(ie)

Many Italian women believe that they know how to determine the gender of an unborn child, so when the Boston Herald wanted to know whether Bridget Moynahan, Patriot QB Tom Brady's ex-girlfriend, is going to have a boy or girl, the tabloid went to East Boston's Don Orione Rest Home.

The consensus that emerged is that the couple will be having a boy, though the women pointed out that to be sure one has to "take a needle or a ring and put it on a string and hold it over the mother’s open palm. If it goes back and forth, it’s a boy. If it goes round and round, it’s a girl.” I have seen women in Eastie actually do this.

In Woody Allen's hilarious film Broadway Danny Rose, Mia Farrow's character repeatedly goes to see an old Italian woman named Angelina, who is able to see the future, and in another scene a mother whose son has been wronged invokes "the
malocchio" or Evil Eye. Growing up I repeatedly heard stories about the Evil Eye, and I knew many people who wore a small piece of jewelry called "the horn" for protection from that curse. And once, I even witnessed the ritual that was supposed to undo the Evil Eye.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Green Mountain Nation?

It seems that several groups in Vermont are pushing for that state to secede from the Union because the United States, they say, is an empire on the brink of collapse.

"...the U.S. has become ... essentially ungovernable -- it's too big, it's too corrupt and it no longer serves the needs of its citizens," said one supporter in a story at

Web sites for groups such as The Second Vermont Republic, Free Vermont and the Middlebury Institute offer manifestos and arguments on why the Green Mountain State should go it alone. (The proposed flag is pictured above.)

I understand their position, but I believe that I have a better idea. A few years ago I myself wrote "A Resolution for Secession," where I advocated the separation of New England from the US (except, of course, the Yankee-loving southwestern part of Connecticut). I think this idea has legs.

Gluttony celebrated

"The Tsunami" has been displaced by "Jaws."

Joey Chestnut, a 23-year-old from California, downed 59 1/2 hot dogs (with buns) in 12 minutes yesterday at the Southwest Regional Hot Dog Eating Championship in Arizona, setting a new world record.

Chestnut, whose nickname is "Jaws," crushed the previous mark of 53 3/4, held by Japan's Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi, who holds a host of eating records and has won the annual 4th of July world hot dog eating championship, held at the Coney Island Nathan's, six years in a row. Chestnut holds several world records himself, including devouring 182 chicken wings at the 2007 Wing Bowl in Philadelphia.

Such contests may be entertaining, and the physiology of these guys is interesting, but I've got to believe that it won't be long before someone dies while in the midst of eating a massive amount of some food.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

It was 40 years ago today...

On June 2, 1967, popular music -- and popular culture -- were forever changed with the US release (one day after the UK release) of the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

These days critical consensus has shifted from the widely-held belief that Sgt. Pepper was the Beatles' greatest work (and, hence, the greatest of all rock albums) to the feeling that Revolver, released just 10 months earlier, occupies that spot. In truth, Revolver does possess a stronger collection of songs and so I agree with the evolution of thought on the matter.

There is, however, no doubting the fact that Sgt. Pepper still remains a cultural milestone on so many levels. The sound of the music, the logistics of the songs, the topics and lyrics, the concept, the packaging -- all tied together and then blown apart by the groundbreaking conclusion of "A Day in the Life." Pop music would never be the same.

I'll drink to that

A former college president is leading a movement to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18, and I agree with his position. John M. McCardell, the former head of Vermont's Middlebury College, started a non-profit group called Choose Responsibility, which espouses the view that when we force drinking by otherwise legal adults underground the circumstances become more dangerous.

Most other nations allow 18 to 20-year-olds to drink legally, while in a significant number of countries the legal age is 16. There are even a handful of places that require no minimum age to imbibe. A glance at a few locations in Europe puts this in perspective: France and Germany have a minimum of 16 for beer and wine, with all alcohol OK at 18; the UK has similar laws, but children at home with parents can drink starting at age 5 (yes, five); in Italy the drinking age is 14. In many of these places children grow up having a bit of wine or beer at the dinner table, which serves to demystify the stuff, and that is a good thing.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages has been part of almost every human culture for about 12,000 years. There are, of course, people of all ages who have problems with alcohol, and certainly I am not advocating that we abandon legal age limits, but I think that a number of other countries handle public policy in this area a little better, and we would be wise to examine their approach.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The slush place is open!

Santarpio's is one of the two most unique things about East Boston, but the venerable pizza joint is open virtually every day of the year. The slush that is sold out of a doorway on Bennington Street is the other, and its presence is fleeting. Today the door was open, and I purchased a cup of the sweet goodness. My report? Same as it ever was.

The actual name of the place is apparently "It's Slush Time Again," but if you grew up in Eastie you probably refer to it as "East Boston Slush," which may or may not have been its name back 20 to 30 years ago when we lined up several people deep waiting for the next batch to be ready. Sometimes now we just call it "the slush place."

The doorway I write of is located next to the Golden Fin at 55 Bennington Street, and it serves up a fine, cold, lemony, sugary snack -- the likes of which I've only tasted at one other place: from a vendor on the main set of steps in the Italian town of Positano, on the Mediterranean coast. In southern Italy it is a popular treat called "granita."

Back here in Eastie one can only get a cupful of the sweet stuff from the slush place, which is open irregular hours during June, July and August. Don't be fooled into buying from Richie's Slush or Slush King. Their concoctions fall way short. Do yourself a favor and get the real thing.

Waterfront slowdown

Today's Globe reports that the $275 million retail and residential project on the East Boston waterfront has stalled for the time being, though Massport (which owns the land) and the developer offer different reasons for the delay. The project is called Portside at Pier One and promises 368 condos and 177 apartments, as well as shops and parks. Some sketches of the project can be found here.