Monday, October 29, 2007

Body found in Eastie dumpster

The body of a man was found yesterday afternoon in a dumpster on Border Street in East Boston, according to The story says that the police are offering few details except that foul play is not suspected. That seems to imply that the deceased, whose name has not been released, made his way into the dumpster himself.


Nothing can ever top the Red Sox embarrassing the Yankees, breaking the curse and sweeping the Series in 2004, but this year's team had the nicest balance of hitting, pitching and defense of any Boston squad I can remember. They were fun to watch and -- except for a three-game stretch against Cleveland -- they obliterated their opponents in the post-season.

The Sox finished sweeping Colorado aside a short while ago, and the TV cameras showed a small crowd gathering not far from Fenway. Police in riot gear seemed to have things under control. In East Boston, I heard a few car horns beep after the last out and then there were a half-dozen teenage boys walking down Bennington Street screaming. Hopefully, they avoid doing anything really stupid.

One reason I'm happy that the Series only lasted four games is that I don't have to watch the Fox telecasts any more. In particular, Jeanne Zelasko was loud and obnoxious, forcing me to avoid the pre-game show. Some people don't like Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, but after the imbeciles in the booth for the ALDS on TBS, the Fox duo was a breath of fresh air. Seeing the same commercials for the past week is rather annoying, too.

One down side to the baseball season coming to a close is that the focus will now completely shift to the Patriots, who are tearing up the NFL. They are admittedly an impressive team and have been a powerhouse for several years, but I'm not a fan of Bill Belicheck. While he is certainly an excellent coach, he appears to lack personality, charm, warmth, friendliness, sense of humor, etc. He is no Terry Francona.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"You talkin' to me?"

The Globe reports today on the difficulties that East Boston residents sometimes encounter when trying to take a cab home from other parts of the city. As the anecdotes in the article point out, taxi drivers don't want to come here because they have to pay the $4.50 tunnel toll going back, even though they're not allowed to tack it on to the fare.

Eastie's city councilor, Sal LaMattina, has been on top of this issue for a while, and on Tuesday there was a hearing at City Hall on a proposal to codify in a "rider's bill of rights" some of the regulations governing cabs, including "printed receipts; clean passenger and trunk areas; air-conditioning, heat, and window control; and smoke-free, radio-free, cellphone-free rides," says the story.

Taxi drivers are required by law to take passengers where they want to go, but they sometimes tell those who are Eastie-bound to get out of the vehicle. On other occasions, drivers will attempt to add on all or half of the toll, which violates regulations. I don't take cabs that often, but the one time I did in recent months the driver was planning to charge me half the toll until I explained that he couldn't. He was nice about it, and said he didn't know any better, which may or may not have been true.

Sox on brink

It wasn't too long ago that the historic heartbreak of being a Red Sox fan continued in the modern era. Remember the Aaron Boone home run that KO'd the hometown team from reaching the World Series in 2003? And then the following year the hated Yanks went up 3-0 against the Sox in a repeat match-up of the ALCS, and it looked like our woes would continue.

Everything changed that October. Dave Roberts stole second and the Olde Towne Team began a successful and unforgettable comeback against the Bronx Bombers, following that up with a sweep of the Cardinals for Boston's first World Series win in 86 years.

Now, just three years later, the Sox are in position to sweep Colorado and win another title. Even if the Rockies come back to take Game 4, it seems assured that Boston is going to win it all. Almost no one can come back from 3-0.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Community info

Two e-mails came to me this afternoon asking that information be passed along:

***There was an armed robbery at about 9 p.m. last night "on Orleans Street near the Greenway." According to a Boston Police press release, a 5-foot-5 Spanish-speaking man with a thin mustache and heavy build approached a woman who was entering her home and showed her a gun, demanding money.

***The city's Licensing Board has officially denied the application to open a Burger King in Maverick Square.

Thanks to those active in the community for keeping the rest of us informed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

City policy needs to change

We'd all like to see cleaner streets, but the city's practice -- instituted this year -- of towing cars that aren't moved for street cleaning is ridiculous. The City Council will hold a public hearing on the policy at City Hall on Monday at 6 p.m.

More than 20,000 vehicles have been towed from Boston streets since the summer street-cleaning season began in mid-April, resulting in a windfall of more than $2 million for local towing companies.

I wrote about this back in July, noting that Dennis Royer, who runs the city's public works department, said in a Boston Globe story, "I don't want to tow a car. But we're still towing, because there always seems to be people who forget or don't know what's going on."

Should we really be penalizing people this much because they forget or don't know about street cleaning? Towing should be reserved for people who block hydrants, driveways, handicap ramps or who double park and leave the car. The hassle of retrieving one's car and paying $130 for the fine and the tow are exorbitant compared to the infraction. Raise the price of the ticket, but don't tow the car.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Election Tuesday

Though it is anticlimactic, the special election for East Boston's open state rep seat will take place on Tuesday. Carlo Basile, of course, won the Democratic primary on Sept. 25 and is running unopposed.

In the campaign finance statement that was filed with the state last week, the Basile campaign indicated that it raised $11,000 from Sept. 8 to Oct. 5. The campaign spent almost $23,000 in that period. Candidate Gloribell Mota took in $9,500 and spent more than $14,000. Mary Berninger raised $700 and spent less than $3,000. There is no report by Jeff Drago for the time period.

There's also a regularly-scheduled election on Nov. 6 to choose Boston's city councilors. Be sure to vote.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting around getting more confusing

I just received, courtesy of Joe Mason, an announcement from the MBTA:

Effective the weekend of October 20-22, all MBTA bus service at Maverick Station will relocate across Sumner Street. Bus schedules will remain the same only the location for customer drop-off and pick-up will change.

On Monday, Oct. 22 customers will be directed to a new Maverick Station entrance on Lewis Mall located directly across Sumner Street from the existing station. MBTA staff will be available to assist customers during the transition.

Also, there is a flashing sign on the way to the Chelsea Street Bridge that indicates that the bridge will be closed beginning Sunday, Oct. 21. Does anyone know when it will re-open?

This just in: Bremen Street from Day Square to Porter Street will be closed Saturday for paving.

This and that

A few tidbits concerning Eastie:

***A ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow morning at the corner of Maverick and Havre streets to honor Ezekiel Hodsdon, the first member of Boston's police force to be killed in the line of duty. A memorial will be dedicated to Hodsdon, who was shot and killed by a burglar named William McNaulty on October 18, 1857.

***Joanne Ciccarello, the assistant photo editor at The Christian Science Monitor, relates how a quick photo assignment turned into reminiscing about her childhood in East Boston.

***The Herald has a story today on Eddie Palladino, a self-described "East Boston kid" who is also the public-address announcer for the Boston Celtics.

***The Weekly Dig
-- a small hip Boston weekly -- had someone at the Umana last week for the public hearing on turnpike and tunnel toll increases. Only seven people spoke, according to the reporter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gone baby gone

In sports, momentum is a fickle mistress. Midway through Game 2 of the ALCS, the Red Sox looked like they could not be beaten. They took the lead back from Cleveland on a pair of home runs after waltzing past the Angels in the opening series and then smacking around the Indians in Game 1.

Cleveland did tie Game 2, but Boston look like they would take the contest with a ninth-inning rally. The would-be winning hit, a liner off the bat of Kevin Youkilis with pinch runner Jacoby Ellsbury ready to score from second, stayed up a bit too long. The ball -- and seemingly, the momentum that the Sox had been courting -- disappeared in Grady Sizemore's glove. Two innings later the Indians pounded the host team's bullpen, and that tailspin has continued through Games 3 and 4.

Thursday night is a must-win game, and we've got presumptive AL Cy Young winner Josh Beckett on the mound for us, which is a big plus. However, Lady Momentum is the ally we really need right now. Wooing her back is the key to winning the next game and the series.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Of the people, by the people, for the people

This week marks the third anniversary of the occupation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church by local parishioners in defiance of Sean O'Malley's order to shut it down. Mount Carmel served since 1905 as a focal point for the Italian-American community in East Boston, and was built with the money and hard work of immigrant families.

The question raised here is this: Is a church the people who worship there or is it the hierarchy issuing orders from elsewhere?

Today, in honor of those occupying the church in which I was baptized, I wrote a Wikipedia entry on Mount Carmel.

Mudville joy on hold

The 10-3 blowout victory in Game 1 of the ALCS was nice, but it means little now to the Red Sox in the face of last night's 13-6 drubbing at the hands of the Cleveland Indians. By self-destructing in the 11th inning of Game 2, Boston gave away the home-field advantage. Now it's a best-of-five series with the next three games in Cleveland.

This is reminiscent of the 1985 NBA Finals, when the Celtics embarrassed the Lakers, 148-114, in Game 1 at the Garden. There was, of course, talk of how Boston would breeze through that series -- maybe even sweep it. Los Angeles came back and won Game 2, which happened to be the only NBA playoff game I've ever been to, and the Lakers went on to take the title in six games.

The Sox still appear to have the better team -- perhaps the best in baseball. They certainly have the hottest one-two offensive punch in David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The game, however, is pitching, and we will see whether Daisuke Matsuzaka -- Boston's Game 3 starter -- is worth the $100 million that it took to get him.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What are we doing?

Is there anybody, besides George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who still believes that invading Iraq was a good idea?

Recently a former top general was publicly critical of America's strategy in Iraq, while a Globe columnist writes about the moral deficiencies of this nation's current position in the world.

Retired Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, the former US commander in Iraq, said that the Bush Administration's war plan was "catastrophically flawed" and "unrealistically optimistic" and added that the so-called surge is a "desperate" move.

Writer James Carroll detailed how America has frequently risen up to face the moral challenges at hand, but that today "we are paralyzed by a war that no one wants."

Meanwhile, in a recent issue of The New Yorker, famed investigative journalist Seymour Hersch consults his deep sources in the military and intelligence communities to uncover the latest plans that Bush and Cheney have instructed their underlings to assemble: bombing raids on Iran.

Will we continue to allow these colossally arrogant and stupendously foolish people to commit American blood and treasure to their outrageous schemes?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hero or villain?

Around two in the morning on October 12, 1492 -- 515 years ago today -- Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor on the Pinta, sighted land in the distance. The three ships that left Spain about 70 days earlier arrived in what is now the Bahamas, and the name of the voyage's leader -- Cristoforo Colombo in Italian -- became engraved in history.

Italian-Americans have long held Christopher Columbus to be a hero, and Americans celebrate Columbus Day -- though now on a Monday to preserve the three-day weekend -- but should we celebrate it at all? The arrival of the famous navigator in the "New World" led to the subjugation of the indigenous peoples, to the spread of deadly diseases, and to the violent conquest of many advanced cultures.

Glenn Spagnuolo, the director of a group called Progressive Italians Transforming the Columbus Day Holiday, has said, "The Italians ... didn't want it to be used as a tool to bring tourism to [Genoa, Italy -- Columbus's birthplace], so they shut down the town. So, in Italy, he's viewed as the scoundrel that he is. And then, being raised as a Catholic and looking at Christian ethics, there's nothing that Columbus did when he came here that supported any kind of Christian moral background. I mean, he stole. He murdered. He was greedy; he raped people. I mean, it was ridiculous. So, to see them now say that this is a celebration of Italian pride or of Christian ethics, it's a false assertion, and it's really used to support, like I said, colonialism, the exploitation of this country from its indigenous population, and to continue the view of white privilege that exists here in the United States."

Columbus himself wrote of the Taino people, who were in the Bahamas when he arrived: "It appears to me that the people are ingenious and would be good servants, and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion." He also noted: "I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Northern fights

For hundreds of years explorers have been trying to find the Northwest Passage -- a sea route through the Arctic that could connect Europe and Asia. Such a course would save time and money for ships that would otherwise need to travel around Africa's Cape of Good Hope or South America's Cape Horn (or, since 1914, through the Panama Canal).

Eventually it was determined that the Arctic route was impassable due to the polar ice cap, but that doesn't seem to be the case any more. Global climate change has melted the pack ice, opening up an east-west waterway. However, Canada has long claimed that such a course violates that nation's sovereignty because it cuts through internal Canadian waters. The US and many European countries disagree.

Just two months ago a Russian submarine at the North Pole dropped a capsule with that nation's flag inside, symbolically claiming the ocean floor as part of its territory. Canada, the US and other bordering nations objected. All parties are interested in getting access to whatever resources, including oil, might lie below the Arctic, and each wants to stake a claim as our warming planet makes those resources easier to access and exploit.

Stay tuned, as these conflicts -- currently in the war of words stage -- will likely move to the international judicial circuit, and possibly push nations to military conflict, in the coming decades.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hearing on tolls tonight

A public hearing is scheduled tonight for East Boston residents to comment on proposed toll increases at the harbor tunnels and on the Mass Pike. The forum will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the Umana Harborside School.

To see the official announcement on the hearing at the Turnpike Authority's web site, click here. To see a short Globe story on the subject, click here. Meetings will also be held in the next couple of weeks in Newton, Framingham and Worcester.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Eastie's field of dreams

Joanna Alfano lives in Melrose, but grew up in East Boston in the 1950s, where she knew a boy named Anthony Conigliaro. In a sweet, sad column published today in the newspapers of the GateHouse Media, Alfano looks back at a moment in time when she was "one of the giggly little girls" who watched Little League games at Noyes Park. A young Tony C. -- who went on to Red Sox fame and then, just as quickly, tragedy -- even hit a homer for her and her friends one night.

I don't know who J.H.L. Noyes is -- maybe a war hero or some other deserving person -- so I am hesitant to suggest changing the name of the park, but can we name the diamond there Conigliaro Field? (Unless we already have and I am unaware ... maybe someone can educate me on this.)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Local art on display

A new exhibit entitled "Off the Wall" just opened at the Atlantic Works gallery on Border Street. "In this exhibition, the artists playfully respond to contemporary constructs and conventions at the social, political, and economic levels," says the gallery's web site.

To find our more about Atlantic Works, which displays the work of the East Boston Artist Group, visit

Friday, October 5, 2007

Maverick food

The Cactus Grill in Maverick Square is apparently open. Has anyone had the chance to check it out? Any feedback on it would be appreciated.

Speaking of Maverick eateries, can anyone report on the recent hearing to discuss the proposed Burger King in the square?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In the news reports this evening that the toxicology report on two Boston firefighters who were killed in an August restaurant fire revealed some surprises: one of the men had enough alcohol in his bloodstream to be legally intoxicated, while the other had traces of cocaine in his system.

While there is no reason to think that the condition the firefighters were in was responsible for their deaths, it is still a shocking finding and one that will need to be investigated and addressed. A state Superior Court judge has "barred Channel 7 from reporting on findings," according to the Boston Globe's web site. Such an exercise of prior restraint is virtually unheard of in the US, and Channel 7 is appealing today to the Supreme Judicial Court.

In another story with loose ends, a 17-year-old was arraigned yesterday for his involvement in the death of a Revere police officer over the weekend. It's still unclear what the cop and fellow officers were doing behind the city's high school and how a shootout broke out between them and the defendant and some of his friends.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Coming to America

Though some like to portray the issue of immigration as a clear-cut matter of pushing out the undesirables and sealing up the border, it is a much more complex situation than that. Two stories I read today at highlight this.

First, the Vermont ski industry is trying to get Congress to change the law so that the 2,000 to 3,000 foreign workers that the sector employs can return to the US to work this winter. Without legislative action several seasonal industries would be affected. More than 120,000 people enter the country each year under the H-2B program alone, which provides foreign labor for summer or winter work.

Second, David Arias lives in East Boston and attends Latin Academy, but the 16-year-old said goodbye to his classmates last week because his parents are being deported to Colombia after 17 years in the US, where David and his younger brother were born. David is, of course, an American citizen. He attends an exam school, has already passed the MCAS and was on the path to college. His parents paid taxes and worked hard enough to buy their apartment, but they've been given the heave-ho.

Maybe some see simple solutions in all of this, but I don't. Like nearly every other unwieldy and far-reaching issue, there are many parts to it and just as many consequences.