‘A modest economic boost for a handful of businesses’:
It’s deja vu all over again
for New York’s RNC -- and possibly more evidence confirming the The Wealth Transfer Theory of Prepaid Wine-and-Dine Events. ... But this should be stressed: Because there have been no calls for emergency PortaPotties on NY sidewalks, Hub Blog is not prepared to invoke the GenRad PortaPotty Theory for the RNC. My hunch is that, because they’re already recognizing the potential for reverse economic dynamics in NY, the likelihood of a bustling economic dynamic inversely increases. ... I.e. Things will be just fine -- and perhaps better.
‘Can only feel stupefied ...’:
I know I’m a day late, but I suspect I’m not the only American taking strange satisfaction over the U.S. men’s basketball loss to Puerto Rico.
Hub Blog attended a family reunion this past weekend. Talk during a Saturday night beerfest turned briefly to the Olympics, when one of the cousins asked whether so-and-so
U.S. swimmer had won that day. The collective response came in two parts: 1.) Who the hell is so-and-so? 2.) Who the hell cares? This from a very sports minded clan who spent most of the night talking about the Sox, Fenway Park, the Pats, etc. No one really cared about the Today Show Goes To Athens.
Hub Blog also heard very disturbing news this weekend, something I’ve lately heard more and more from Bostonians, to wit: Allowing young ones to become Yankees fans if they so wish. Quipped one beerfest participant: “It’s sort of like the English parents who carted off their kids to Canada or the countryside during the Blitz. Lots of sobbing and good-byes, the parents staying behind.’’ ... Heart breaking. But perhaps necessary.
‘Started, stopped, started, and stopped again’: Tom Oliphant
is in a funk about Iraq. Armchair Gen. Savin Hill is fuming. I’m in a fumed out funk. So we’re all in agreement. From Armchair Gen. Savin Hill:
“If it isn't clear to the last holdouts on the right -- there's no excuse after (this weekend) for pulling all forces out of Iraq. Simply put, the most recent ‘suspended’ offensive against a known enclave of insurgents is the nail in the coffin of any rationale for expending US lives in Iraq. If the Iraqi and US coalition civilian leaders are going to yank our forces back from finishing the job -- every damn time -- why be there? Nobody in the US wants to play typical Middle East politics (fight-talk-fight-talk without intending to do either with conviction) with the lives of US soldiers. The US military shouldn't be used as pawns in the squabbles of parochial, 3rd rate ignorant politicians. Hey - you know what was a brilliant move? Putting ALL VIETNAM hands in charge of all key posts in the US Embassy in Iraq: Negroponte, Jeffrey, Taylor, Neumann. Great, just great. This time hopefully the helipad on top of the embassy will be large enough.”
-- Hub Blog has started reading ‘Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.’ Great so far. Haven’t gotten to the ‘maneuver warfare’ part yet. Updates to come. ... Of course the chance to decisively use maneuver warfare in Iraq may have been squandered a year ago. The Marines may yet defeat Sadr, but this CSM article
indicates there’s now plenty more waiting in the wings to replace Sadr ... Perhaps the best we can hope for after all the dillydallying is to give breathing room for next year’s election.
‘Least visible issues on Martha's Vineyard’:
Is there such a thing as a ‘least visible’ issue on Martha’s Vineyard? The most covered town/tract of land in the Commonwealth gets more P1 treatment
, this one over health coverage for the ‘rural’ island’s maids, landscapers, waiters, dishwashers, handymen and others serving the most affluent of society who now get subsidies from the rest of us to make sure their summer playground functions properly. ... What next? Another ‘vanishing lifestyle’ story about Nantucket? The summer’s not over yet. Expect at least three more articles about the ‘pressing’ needs of the islands.
‘The world will soon rediscover the true magic’:
The word ‘rediscover’ suggests something was lost. The word ‘true’ suggests something was false beforehand. Pretty much sums up the modern Olympics
, which start today with a world-record collective yawn. ... Hub Blog’s not-so-original idea: Strip out half the sports and reemphasize track-and-field events that measure humans’ most basic physical endeavors: running, jumping, throwing, lifting etc. ... In the spirit of linking sports and sex (see post below), I admit to truly appreciating the artistic nature of watching in context Bikini Ball, otherwise known as Beach Volleyball, a commercialized TV offshoot of Volleyball. But is it really an Olympic sport?
‘Redolent of events in April’: Ugh.
But who am I to armchair general the U.S. Marines? They’re being armchair-generaled from Baghdad -- though the Shiite shrines were always the main psychological/propaganda obstacle heading into the offensive.
‘Major operations to destroy the militia have begun’:
The offensive has begun
in Najaf. Sadr’s ‘win-win’ shrine tactics
are worrisome. So is the morale of Marine grunts.
But Armchair Gen. Savin Hill weighs in on the big picture of Marine tactics and strategy:
“For those not familiar with maneuver warfare -- don't be deceived by the simple name. The Marines have fully embraced this philosophy body and soul. The result? Bet nobody noticed last week that more than 2,000 Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit took over from the Army's 1st Infantry Div and 2nd Armored. The Marines are taking over no less than three Army bases -- including outside of Najaf. The Marines know how to fight fluid, dynamic warfare -- and that' s why they are relieving the Army in the hot zones. Telling anecdote: a TV news report yesterday had a Marine lieutenant talking about the attitude of locals in Najaf (waving and pointing out Sadr ambushes to Marines). What's the Army doing? Getting news reports published about their new high-tech rifles and ‘smart bullets’ ... The Army still thinks firepower is the game while the Marines know the battle is won in the heads of your friends -- and by out-thinking your enemies.”
‘Sports and sex has always sold’:
The Herald runs, oh, photos of red-hot sexy athletes and it’s ‘tarty.’ The New York Times tackles the issue
and it’s ‘intellectual.’ ... By the way, the Times has an ‘Interactive Feature: Olympic pinups’ accompanying the article. It’s pretty boring, but how much do you want to bet it will be one of the most popular features on its web site today? And how much you want to bet the Times knows it? ... The article is kind of funny. It’s as if it’s gingerly taking steps beyond political correctness to find the nudey ‘trend’ is actually popular among young female athletes -- and so it has to find a politically correct/feminist rationale for why it’s happening and OK. Nothing to do with PEOPLE LIKING SEX AND MONEY. Oh no. Can’t be that. Must have Big Intellectual Thoughts underlying the Big Trend. ...
-- Northeastern’s Center for the Study of Sports in Society
is getting into the act. The Women’s Sports Foundation intones:
“The Foundation believes that there is nothing wrong with portraying female athletes as feminine, physically attractive, or in ways that seek to represent an artistic study of their bodies. One might simply ask the question, is the photograph displaying the female athlete's muscles or her breasts? The answer, with regard to a photo of a naked athlete, is one that requires an examination of context.”
Ah, thank goodness. The old ‘artistic study’ and ‘context’ argument to the rescue. Now we can leer at the photos without intellectual guilt!
‘Portrait of Dubya as sucker puncher’:
I thought George was a cheerleader. Turns out he was a rugby player.
My opinion of him just shot up. ... Can’t believe they’re trying to make an issue out of this thin gruel.
... ‘The rest of the country should see it.’ ... Hell, they should see the biting that goes on in scrums. ... I also stole packs of gum when I was young. Yes, I admit it!!!
‘Leave the city, or you will die’:
Momentous events unfolding in Najaf and Baghdad.
After holding punches last spring, an American commander now says, "All indications are that we are committed this time." ... Here’s a somewhat prissy but still interesting WaPo story.
Read past the cemetery descriptions to the ‘green light’ part about taking on Moqtada Sadr’s militia. ...
FYI -- Armchair Gen. Savin Hill highly recommends the book ‘Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War’
for those who want to understand U.S. Marine tactics in Iraq. The Marines, according to Savin Hill, have fully embraced Boyd’s ‘maneuver warfare’ doctrine of getting into an enemy’s head and striking fast to take away any of their advantages. That’s why we’re in the Najaf cemetery, I suspect. They were using it, so we took it. ... Not so sure about the Army’s tactics in Iraq, though.
- 11 p.m. -- They're holding off again.
... Maybe they have good reasons. Frontal assaults are not to be encouraged under Boyd. Attacking shrines, made deliberately tempting, plays into enemy hands.
-- Never mind. The offensive began this morning, probably right at the time I was tapping out the first update. Serves me right for posting at 11 p.m. I gotta get a life.
Ouch. Double ouch. Part III: Tom Keane
rips the Beacon Hill Institute again.
Ouch. Double ouch. Part II:
The Beacon Hill Institute is all over the map (see accounts here
). It says that the DNC generated a total $156.7 million for the city. But it says that figure is offset by an approximate $142 million hit due to a loss of commuter and tourism business, Sail Boston, the U.S. gymnastics event etc. So the net gain was: $14.8 million. ... But isn’t that still $14.8 million ABOVE the offset numbers? Right? If someone gave you $142 million but then quickly offered you $156.7 million in exchange for that $142 million, wouldn’t you take the $14.8 million gain and scram? ... Setting aside whether any of its numbers are accurate, the BHI is trying to have it both ways: knock the economic benefits of conventions in general by using, well, standard convention numbers. And it still can’t make the numbers add up. ... For me, I’ll take the BHI report with a big teaspoon of Kosher salt while rereading Tom Keane columns
and awaiting Sam Tyler’s verdict. ... Coming soon to Hub Blog: The Transfer of Wealth Theory of Prepaid Wine-and-Dine Events, i.e. Back Bay caterers win, North End restaurateurs lose, etc.
‘As the Celtics world turns’:
Reader No. 1 on the Celts trade:
“-- Even on the downside, Payton is a plausible #2 to take the offensive load off of Pierce (Paul’s solo act last year was the main drawback of the Antoine trade.)
“-- Ainge let Doc Rivers make the right call on Marcus Banks (see the Hub Blog archives
for a prescient call on Marcus.) Admittedly, Chauncey Billups offers a cautionary tale to those who would trade a young talent of imprecise fit for a surly point guard on the downturn... but 2004 Marcus Banks is no 1998 Chauncey Billups.
“-- Ainge knows how to accumulate poker chips. He couldn’t have done this deal with Mike James instead of Chucky Atkins as the future Laker Point Guard. Incidentally, since Danny has developed a specialty in trading for contracts of players who won’t actually play here -- Chris Mills, Lindsay Hunter, Rick Fox -- is it too late to swap Ricky Davis for Terrell Brandon?
Beyond the obvious problem with Payton’s age and apparent playoff decline, I’d argue two bigger problems:
“-- As in prior Danny Ainge trades, especially the Ricky Davis Night Before Christmas special that cost us Eric Williams and eventually, Coach O’Brien, team and personal chemistry appears to be a mere afterthought in dealmaking. Payton took below-market money to play with Shaq, not Mark Blount and will surely try to engineer a financial reward for his hardship. And only Global Warming will bring Fox to the New England shoreline (too bad; The Improper Bostonian would have loved him, and he was an intelligent hardworking player.)
“-- What is the future of the Boston Celtics? Atkins, Banks and Mihm are spare parts. But they were acquired to fit a particularly style of play. Is that style changing? If so, to what? There’s cap space clearing out for a year from now, but where are we going from here? Or put another way: how and when is Danny going to cash those accumulating chips?”
Hub Blog’s response
-- Reader No. 1 noted in an aside that I didn’t explain my misgivings about the trade. Here’s my main misgiving: Read prior paragraph.
The geese are flying in unison, Part II:
Remember the run-up to the DNC when NY was cool, calm and collected
while frumpy old Boston was fretting? The media geese took off
on that oh-so-cute story angle, including a local media goose doing the best bash-the-hometown
imitation of them all. ... Guess what? It turns out NY is NOT
so cool, calm and collected. Guess what? The geese are now scrambling to get into new formation.
... Maybe things like terrorism
and traffic gridlock honestly bother people -- and it has nothing to do with curses, better restaurants, catchier ads, Yankee baseball versus Yankee breeding etc. ... I do hope the RNC/NY folks learn from the DNC/Boston event: Take all precautions necessary, but don’t scare the hell out of people so much that it ends up hurting more than it helps.
The James Michael Curley of African Americans: Marion Barry
just won’t go away. But when you think of it, the old rogue’s political career is a sign of slow, agonizing progress, sort of like another old rogue’s political career.
The latest big Celts trade/blow up: Not impressed.
Again. ... I am impressed, though, with Doc Rivers making a call on Marcus
and using his charm on Gary Payton.
‘Too eager to throw him under the bus’:
OK, last post on Nomar. From Steve:
“Maybe what Larry Lucchino said was true and Nomar was malingering for some unclear reason but the Red Sox were also way too eager to throw him under the bus after the trade. In the long run that's a mistake. As much as I hate the Yankees you don't see this out of them. They've had their share of gripers but they didn't get in a public pissing match with Clemens and Pettite after they left and they ignore the Jeff Nelson's and David Wells'. ..."
As I've said, Nomar didn't acquit himself well, but this ownership team, I don’t know ...
‘He threw the ball softly because ...’:
It’s a little late, but an Illinois friend sends in Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown's
scouting report on Kerry’s first pitch at Fenway the other week. The excuses amaze ... Poor Will Pumyea, the Massachusetts National Guardsman. ... ‘No telling what might have happened to Pumyea if he'd thrown the ball hard.’
Speaking of baseball, Chicago and the Sun-Times, the Cubs are doing just fine in the Nomar era.
... Todd Walker
is defending Nomar against the negativity in Boston. Negativity? Boston? ... Todd does have some interesting things to say about ownership’s tactics. I know, I know. The growing consensus is that Nomar was to blame. But this ownership team, I’m telling you ... Two words: Terry Francona.
The Achilles Conspiracy, Part II:
Reader No. 1 thinks I’m misreading the signals coming from Yawkey Way. I’m not so sure, but:
“I do agree with you on the Kraft-analogy. Gammons has been trying to get across a clear message to Lucchino & Henry with his ‘it’s a mistake to let the Yankees dictate your strategy’ line for weeks now. I heard a reporter note on WEEI yesterday that this is the 3rd time the Sox have changed strategy in the last year. That could be a sign of desperation, but it also could be a sign of fast learning.
“With all due respect, I think you have missed the boat on the Red Sox spin story in today’s post. What you describe as 3 different explanations for Nomar’s departure are three separate and mutually reinforcing reasons for the trade, and all three reasons are cited in Lucchino’s official press release
at the Reds Sox site released the night of the trade. ...
“Theo articulates how these reasons played out in his remarkable interview Monday on WEEI, available in audio at the station web site.
He also resists more than one opportunity to trash, not crush the guy on the way out of town.
“Now you certainly can argue whether or not we got value in this deal. It’s plainly obvious the team put itself behind the 8-ball with Nomar not being able to pull off the Manny-A-Rod deal last winter. But did Nomar put the team in an even more terrible negotiating position at the trade deadline with his injury claims, precluding for example the possibility that he was worth Matt Clement in a swap? ...
“Lucchino, Henry et al may be due for a knock by the media rules of this town, but step back for a second and consider something else. Why is it OK for Nomar and Arn Tellem to exercise their own interests by holding out on a $60 million offer, but not OK for Red Sox management to exercise its own interests by pursuing A-Rod? If Nomar had obviously not taken this so personally, he’d still be in local uniform for at least 2 more months.”
The Achilles Conspiracy:
We’re now at explanation No. 3 from Sox management on the Nomar trade: 1.) It was about defense 2.) It was about the Achilles injury 3.) It was about Nomar all but asking for a trade.
Or at least Nomar saying no more.
... It’s becoming abundantly clear Nomar was dragging his ass in a sort of one-man work slowdown. But he’s gone. The trade is done. What are we left with? Three Wizards spinning away and losing credibility by the minute. They’re covering their butts for their own misteps in this saga. ... Theo’s call for everyone to shut up
is laughable. This allegedly media savvy ownership thrives on media attention, making media hipness almost mandatory for working and playing here. ...
... Well, there’s hope. Hub Blog is hoping we’re witnessing a Bob Kraft-like rough early years of ownership. Recall the brouhaha with Bill Parcell, the accusations and counter-accusations, followed by the dull Pete Carroll years, followed by the Brilliant New Bill Era. ... Hey, I’m a Sox fan. I’m entitled to Walter Mitty dreams of triumphant Sox and the hero Hub Blog on Duck Trucks.
-- You're simply not going to find a better account of the Nomar saga than this morning's Howard Bryant column
(sub. req. -- get a print copy if necessary). A balanced, sad tale of mistakes on both sides.
'Trust fund babies with time on their hands': JJ Daley
is back and has some great behind-the-scene tidbits and observations about last week's security and those fearsome capitalists-to-be anarchists. ...
Reader No. 1: “Polls can be wrong. But this is not good news
for Kerry and the trend seems confirmed by the Iowa Electronic Markets
Presidential Vote Share Market. The Iowa Market Chart suggests that Kerry’s best chance is Michael Moore rushing out a Fahrenheit 9/11 sequel. Maybe the public was watching the convention after all?”
Hub Blog's reaction
-- We're about to witness one of the weirdest campaigns in history. Nothing will be normal with John Kerry involved.
‘Boston and the Siege of Small Business Owners’:
Ran into Norman Mailer tonight on Beacon Hill. Immediately thought of a title for last week's Boston DNC. ... If that's the only complaint about last week, things indeed went just fine. Especially with all the disturbing news out of New York today.
-- A couple people asked if I really did bump into Norm. Yep, I did. Insightful 5-second conversation and introduction.
'At least it didn't break for a commercial':
Reader No. 1 on Boston, Nomar and the Sox:
"A good example of how Bostonian is even the most 'professional' of the local newscasts, Channel 5. Midday Sunday stories, in order:
" 1. Nomar No More (6 minutes)
" 2. The weather
" 3. Shaw's Supermarket threatens to strike
" 4. Hate literature distributed in Newton
" 5. Al Qaeda Threatens Terror Attacks in New York -- 10 minutes in. Oh well, at least it didn't break for a commercial. Aren't those the guys John Edwards mentioned in his speech on Wednesday?
"So in Bostonian tradition, quick thoughts on Nomar:
"1. It's an obvious shame that a guy who showed heart and talent for years ended badly. Check out the Dirt Dogs "Achilles Heel"
coverage. Despite the bizarre story of the heel, look at how much fans still loved him.
" 2. Much of what Shaughnessy
writes today is true, although unsurprisingly he neglects to mention his role in the Nomar Tragedy as chief tormentor of Red Sox players.
" 3. It was evident watching Theo's press conference that he really didn't want to do this. He is too professional and lawyerly to explain the real reasons so unfortunately he has supplied Talk Radio's Bloodthirsty Shutins with a dubious rationale for dealing a potential future Hall of Famer: we needed more defense... oh well, Theo will survive.
" 4. If the Red Sox management deserves a knock, it's for not having executed the A-Rod deal - which wasn't the beginning of Nomar's unhappiness here, but was the fatal blow from which the relationship couldn't be salvaged. Larry Lucchino and John Henry will be kicking themselves through the rest of their ownership tenure for getting into a poker game they couldn't win.
" 5. Looking down the road, this suggests 2 paths for the Red Sox. The obvious one which Talk Radio will bandy about for the rest of the year is that the team has created payroll space to retain Pedro and Varitek, and replace Space Cadet Lowe with a more reliable 3rd starter. The less obvious one is that Doug Mientiwicz and Orlando Cabrera are the face of the future Red Sox. Peter Gammons has been banging the drum in his regular media appearances that letting your strategy be dictated by what the Yankees do is a mistake (see point #4 above). ... A little Moneyball, anyone?"
‘We just traded away Mr. Boston’:
I was wondering what big local story would surface and bump DNC coverage to the side. Can’t get any bigger: Nomar gone.
... Completely agree: It’s a big gamble.
It’s also a major test for Terry ‘Pete Carroll’ Francona. ... Like all the talk about defense and the subtle downplaying of hitting stats. John Ellis
alluded to this problem a few weeks ago, linking to a great post-Yanks series article on the Sox’ woeful defense
and overreliance on hitting. But the problem is: I question the sincerity of Theo’s we-need-defense rhetoric. This trade was about two things: A.) Nomar’s contract B.) Nomar’s attitude post-botched A-Rod deal that management initiated and blew. ... Am I the only one concerned the Sox management team has lately gotten a little too clever by half? ... Loved team players’ reaction and quotes
The Moakley Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down:
The incredibly banal Moakley Bridge
is already sinking, falling, crumbling, whatever, after only 9 years. ... It was one of the earliest concrete-wonder projects associated with the Big Dig/waterfront/Silver Line to be completed. ... Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
‘Europe’s Last Summer’:
Just finished Boston University professor David Fromkin’s new book, ‘Europe’s Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?’
... Fromkin asks the simple question: Why did the war start in 1914, and not 1912 or 1917? etc. The recent historic consensus about WWI is that a chain-reaction of unstoppable events, linked to an ill-conceived web of alliances, caused the war. Fromkin, using new historical data largely uncovered by German historians, begs to differ. Complex alliances didn’t lead to outbreak of war after the Napoleonic wars or during the Cold War. The difference in WWI, Fromkin notes, is that one side wanted war: Germany and Austria-Hungry. ... Fromkin doesn’t argue that Willhelm Germany was Nazi Germany, that the Kaiser was Hitler, that the causes of WWI were as stark as the causes for WWII. But he does argue, and convincingly so, that Germany’s elite always thought in terms of war and sought the showdown in 1914. ... General von Moltke, head of the Prussian general staff, comes across as a truly creepy character. ... Verdict: A fast-read, crisply written book. Two thumbs up. ... FYI: Fromkin is also the author of the much praised ‘A Peace to End All Peace.’
One last leisurely weekend DNC stroll ....: Marty Nolan
meandered around town, thinking and asking the right questions about future conventions, past conventions, security, Boston, the Globe, the Herald. Nice pace. Great column. ...
From Reader No. 1: “All griping aside, your 5-point summary of DNC week (see post below) is excellent. My only quibble is what columnists and pols are making of the ‘Visitors liked the city.’ We aren't going to know for a couple of years or so whether they liked it enough to make a difference in tourism (and at that, I'd rather see numbers from the non-partisan numbers-driven folks like Sam Tyler than the official tourism industry). Let's not start counting those dollars until they are in the bank...”
Ah, the old ‘Visitors liked the City’ issue. It’s an interesting issue, beyond the economic considerations: How much should one care about guests liking a party? The best parties are usually the ones in which both the guests and the host have a good time. ... I enjoyed last week. So did the visitors. So great. ....
But read this column/story
-- and never forget it. It’s now Exhibit A in the growing body of evidence that it’s really a small minority within the media and entertainment sectors who are obsessed with how Boston is perceived. One can’t even get a ‘genteel’ compliment without having an image-conscious nervous breakdown about an older sister’s shoes. Talk about worrying what others think. ...
... Ah, the local media. Mike Barnicle
let it rip the other day concerning the pre-DNC We’re All Going to Die coverage. He’s right. The media had a grand old time hyping the mayhem hype, then rehyping the hyped mayhem hype, and then acted shocked that the exact opposite problem logically occurred. There’s a bumbling F Troop
analogy here somewhere. ... There’s also a media backlash out there. Ask around. It’s there all right. ...
But ah ha! Don’t let Mayor Menino off the hook. Nor the absurd security. Bottom line: Security, the mayor, the media all overreacted pre-DNC. Result: Ghost town. ... A pleasant ghost town, I might add, though I’m not a shop owner. ... What a week.
‘Go balloons. Go balloons. ... We need more balloons!’:
So I wasn’t dreaming as I wearily brushed my teeth last night, faintly hearing someone in the living room blaring about balloons. Someone else heard it too.
Ah, the speech. So how did you like John Kerry? No need to overanalyze: He was John Kerry. That was him. That’s been him all these past 20 years, with not a single stirring speech or phrase standing out in my mind. Those familiar with him didn’t have high expectations going into last night. He didn’t exceed expectations last night. It’s been the same dull baloney all these years -- and he keeps winning despite this for reasons mere mortals can’t explain. ...
, who really wants to like Kerry, wasn’t thrilled. Andrew Sullivan
, who’s been very open-minded toward Dems this week, was underwhelmed but not surprised: "I think this convention has been a huge success, tempered by a bad candidate." .... From Reader No. 1: “Kerry’s speech summed up the whole convention. Theatrically, it was a fine show: a good deal of passion delivered with precision. But if you listened to the words, it was like watching a drunk weaving back and forth across the highway.” ... Strangely, Mickey Kaus
liked the speech. Mickey? ....
... Speaking of Mickey, his accounts of the FleetCenter lockout are quite funny. ... Poor Alan Colmes.
He doesn’t even get respect ‘in this most liberal city.’ ... Normally anti-fox hunters were Fox hunting
in Boston this week. ... The Whole World was NOT
Watching. ... ‘That’s not a rip.’
General DNC impressions:
-- The economic bust was an incredible disappointment but ...
-- Thank God nothing terrible happened during the week: terrorism, riots, Massachusetts lawmakers voting themselves 200 percent pay hikes.
-- Boston should hold its head high. The event worked quite well within the strict new post-9/11 confines. Visitors liked the city. They understood the security constraints.
-- No more events that require this type of security. Hub Blog hopes the civic boosters have finally got the ‘world-class city’ obsession out of their system. We done well. We’re world-class -- whatever that is. Now shut up.
-- Obama was the huge winner of Boston DNC 2004.
‘Watch for a Two Americas line of sofas ...’:
DNC tidbits from a merrily trolling Reader No. 1:
“Will Mitchell Gold Furniture
be decorating the Lincoln Bedroom in the Kerry-Edwards campaign? Watch for a Two Americas line of sofas and ottomans at a better furniture showroom near you. ...
today calls to mind Joe Liberman’s interview last night on Hannity & Colmes (transcript not up yet but hopefully soon) in which Joe expressed bewildered concern that only 5% of the Democratic delegates thought War with Iraq was justified, WMD or no WMD. Joe is with that 5% (me too).”
Those ghost-town blues, Part II:
Just a hunch: The streets will be slightly more crowded today and the mood much better. Base the prediction on bar activity (of course) last night on Beacon Hill, where the sidewalks and restaurant/pub businesses were noticeably more active. ... Definitely try to get into town today, by public transit, to see the city. Not trying to be a civic booster. Hub Blog has an agenda: To force people to see how the city could look more often. The lack of traffic, as I said yesterday, is PLEASANT. The beautification projects worked: The city has never looked so nice. Because of the dramatic decrease in traffic, I’ve stumbled upon gardens and plants and alleyway nooks I’ve never noticed before. ... Has the DNC been an economic bust? Surely. Just read stories like this
-- or come in and see for yourself. It's the lack of people that's the tragedy. But ... The mayor’s plan for weekend discounts is highly annoying on two levels: 1.) He's asking small businesses to foot the bill -- again. 2.) He’s inviting back the cars. How about keeping the parking bans for the weekend and letting pedestrians feel what it’s like to own the city? Oh well. ...
... A few more negative-positive DNC observations and lessons now that Hub Blog is in a sappy green transportation mood: The delegates have clearly enjoyed
the city -- and rightly have put blame for any complaints on the security. ... Tourists love Boston’s trolleys. Will transit officials finally admit/recognize that there’s a Choo Choo gene in people that favor subways/trains/trolleys over buses? They’re literally a tourist draw. ... Sure wish the city, when drawing up plans for the Big Dig, had included logical and efficient bike paths for two-wheel commuters. Or a monorail linking North and South stations areas. ... Could we dispatch a team of planners to Montreal to study its commuter bike-path grid? They just don’t plunk bike paths down anywhere, as NYC did in the ‘70s. They gave it thought, keeping the bikeways off of major thoroughfares and putting them in logical places where people go in mass. ... Let’s figure out the DNC budget for street flowers and plantings etc. -- and make the funding permanent. ... Pick up the pace of permitting outdoor restaurants. ... Pick up the pace of permitting private transportation solutions for the city. The private sector really took up the slack for public transit shutdowns this week. ... Is it time for Boston to explore/study London’s daring market-orientated special toll system to enter downtown?
Oh God. Hub Blog feels like an earthy lefty. ...
Jesse’s very old act:
Glad yet another Boston critic gets humbled.
... But what I found fascinating about Jesse Jackson’s original comments
is how academia-focused he remains. “Boston must work even more diligently at being the academic center it is, at being the shining light on the hill.” ... Not a clue about other institutions in the city. Not a clue. ... He even apparently thinks universities are the future source of financial jobs, based on his ludicrous comments about Harvard’s endowment. Does he realize that Fidelity and State Street each have $1 trillion under management? That Putnam’s assets, though dwindling, are 10 times larger than Harvard’s? Not that Fidelity, State Street or Putnam want Jesse to know about it.
Those ghost-town blues:
I'm DNCed out. I'll probably have plenty to say about the big convention bust later. Been very busy. Until then, Reader No. 1 writes in:
"Will John Edwards cite the gap during DNC Week between the North End pizza shops
and sold-out Radius in his speech tonight as an example of the Two Americas?"
Reader No. 1 also highly recommends Steve Bailey's column
-- I have a hunch the mayor and media could go to war over the economic debacle. I also have a hunch the public will blame both for the pre-DNC hype warnings -- and the failure to recognize the probability and potential impact of a Ghost Town USA instead of Gridville USA.
-- If you have time, get into the city tonight or Thursday. Really. It’s historic. It’s surreal. It has to be seen to believed. ... I’ve already called up some friends and relatives urging them to head on in, by public transit, to see the delegates, protesters, limos, security, and to be part of history with a very small 'h' etc. But the obviously more facinating thing is the empty streets, open parking spaces on Charles and Newbury streets, near empty restaurants, closed stores. ... Maybe in the end we can learn some negative-positive lessons from all this. Sort of like the earthquake that devastated San Francisco's elevated freeway near its waterfront, a tragedy that led to great post-disaster decisions to just clear out the debris and permanently open up the city's waterfront. The huge drop in foot traffic in Boston this week was horrendous, but the sharp decline in road traffic was hugely PLEASANT. Can't we find a way to permanetly reduce traffic but still get the people into the city? Come into town Thursday to see for yourself what Boston could resemble. ... More on this later.
'Almost complete strategic ambiguity': David Brooks
parks one on John Kerry, praising him for the impressive professional discipline and vapidness of his campaign. ... The Democrats were definitely on message last night. Ted's up this evening. He'll blow it for Dems if he goes into his arm-waving Conspiracies Hatched in Texas mode.
‘A pleasure to confirm Hub Blog’s PortaPotty Predictions’:
Reader No. 1:
“It’s a pleasure to confirm Hub Blog’s PortaPotty Predictions have panned out! Commuting the highways has been a breeze -- actually, it’s a pleasure unless you are a restauranteur
who serves ordinary democrats 365 days a year rather than Fat Cat Men and Women of the People one week out of the century. Maybe the Mayah will take Terry McAuliffe to one of these struggling coffee shops for a photo op.
“And judging by the empty highways, I suspect the convention predictions of a boon for tourism have panned out -- in New Hampshire, Connecticut,
and on the Cape!”
Hub Blog's response in the form of doing a John Kerry imitation just prior to a speech
-- “Thank you. Thank you!” (Point, point, smile, smile, point.) “Oh, please. Stop applauding. Thank you.” (Point, point, smile, smile, point). ... The envelope please: And the Medford reggae band wins the GenRad PortaPotty Award!!! ... Explanation of the groundbreaking PortaPotty theory here,
in case you're interested. ... Dan Kennedy
is rightly taking bows for predicting -- well before Hub Blog -- a possible ghost-town atmosphere due to pre-DNC traffic hysteria. But Dan's call was based on a hunch, not science, like the PortaPotty theory.
‘For all its grievous and self-destructive faults’: David Ignatius
pens a nice piece on France. Captures most of my fond and frustrated sentiments as well. ...
Boston DNC 2004 vs. LA Olympics 1984? Part II:
The roads this morning were holiday-like empty. Almost as many taxis as cars. ... The scare-tactic warnings appeared to have worked, just like in LA twenty years ago. ... The big test is this afternoon. ... P.S. Can you beat this weather? Autumn in July.
Starting off the week in a great mood:
, great series
, great mood
‘Almost made it through ... without a Baked Bean reference’:
First reports streaming in of DNC media coverage. Reader No. 1:
“The National Media are trying, at least on TV, to avoid the Boston clichés. (Probably because so many producers and reporters are not far from their college days here?) The Sunday Today show almost made it through the first hour without a Baked Bean reference (ultimately, they succumbed with a recipe segment -- but it was from the New York Studio and they did bring our area foodie-aestheto-technician Chris Kimball of Cook's Magazine). The Today Show this morning also tried to investigate the world of alternative political journalism, i.e. Comedy Central and Blogs. Unfortunately, they picked Ana Marie Cox of Wonkette whose site lapsed into vapid self-referential gossip after a promising start. Campbell Brown didn't ask any interesting questions and nobody supplied any interesting answers. Oh well -- at least NBC didn't ask whether Blogs were part of the vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Hub Blog’s notes
-- The London Times foreign editor
has some flattering things to say about our lovably dysfunctional city, but the Brahmin-Irish and Louise Woodward references are more than a tad out of it. ... The Times has a good campaign round-up section
in general. ... Joe Sciacca
has some observations about Liberal Massachusetts. ...
-- Boston Common
is doing a great job tracking all the local bloggers' DNC wisecracks.
HUB BLOG'S 2004 DNC MEDIA GUIDE !!
Actually, I’ve decided to do a slightly abbreviated Hub Blog 2004 DNC Media Guide. Too much work otherwise. But let me anyway welcome all the members of the visiting world press to Boston. Warning: We’re watching you. We’re specifically watching for excellent clichés/stereotypes/ludicrous accounts in general about ‘Beantown’ while you’re here. For your work and pleasure convenience, you might want to read the following:
Not a bad account of bars
in Boston, though I’d add the following watering holes to the list: The Sevens on Charles Street; Harvard Garden and the Hill Tavern, both on Cambridge Street near the FleetCenter; and Foley’s in the South End area. They all happen to be near where I live and work -- and I like ‘em. Also, pubs close early in Boston, sort of like the old London-WWI liquor laws. So do what the locals do: Drink early, drink fast.
Good story in CommonWealth magazine
(free reg. req.), with Hub Blog comments
from last week, about Massachusetts politics and culture. Be careful with the Liberal Massachusetts label. It’s true, but not quite what it seems.
The local media:
Dan Kennedy sums it up somewhat well over here
, with an obligatory Oh-My-God-It’s-A-Mouse references to the ‘tarty’ Herald. A suggestion if you really want kinky and tarty sex during the DNC: Read the Boston Phoenix.
The Boston personality:
Flinty, cynical, standoffish. Very Northeastern. The Land That Time and Tourism Manners Forgot. The recent hysteria over the DNC traffic hell? There were a lot of people here who absolutely reveled in the misery. ... We're also very proud of the bullpen brawl during the ALC series last fall. ... Also remember: The ornery New England militia refused to march south with George Washington to fight the British during the American Revolution. Too much trouble. See ya, George. Be sure to write. Call us if you want to attack Quebec, Etc.
The boozy, useless Dean Martin of Boston. But we like him. So go easy on the guy.
Hub politicians of yesteryear:
Don’t mention John Quincy Adams without mentioning James Michael Curley, John F. Kennedy without mentioning Louise Day Hicks, etc.
Books about Boston:
You’ll be busy. Yeah, right. Hub Blog has been to conventions before. Wrote most of my stories in advance. So you should have time to hit the bars and maybe do a little side reading. Suggestions (and they should be on local book stands): ‘Black Mass’ and ‘All Souls.’ Two recent, great books about the underside of ‘this most liberal city.’
Brahmins vs. Irish storyline:
Old. Very old. Haven’t seen a true Brahmin in, well, I’m not sure how long. The Boston Irish are also well into the early stages of decline: Italian mayor, Mormon governor, Italian Senate president, changing demographics etc., etc.
The Puritan-angle storyline:
Also old. Very old. Avoid it. Then again, as a friend once put it about Boston: "Put two uptight, sexually repressed ethnic groups together, the English and the Irish, add in the fact they liked to drink and hated each other, and you have one weird city." ... Thank goodness for the later influx of African-American, Portuguese, Italian, Jewish and, lately, Brazilian, Asian and Haitian immigrants. It’s as if they’ve been the appalled spectators of Boston politics for too long time and only recently decided that enough is enough when it comes to brawling Irish and Brits.
The Curse of the Bambino:
Please, please, please, I’ll buy you a drink if you can avoid its use in stories. ... FYI: Never heard of the curse while growing up. ... FYI II: If you want a better explanation for the Sox’ bad luck over the years, think: Yawkey, racism, crazy widow, one screwed up will, decades of bad management that only lifted in the past few years.
Sculling on the Charles:
Great postcard shot of Boston area. But it doesn't tell the whole story. There’s also Revere Beach and Crane’s Beach etc.
Slowly dying, like most regional accents around the country. ... Best place to hear Boston accents in abundance: FleetCenter during Bruins games. But the season’s over and the FleetCenter is, well, closed to the masses for the DNC. The State House and City Hall are good places to find the accent in large quantities. But they’ll be closed to the public too. ... Be lazy: Stop someone who looks like a local, ask for phony directions, listen to their accent as they give you phony directions, expect to be treated rudely afterward, ‘in this most liberal city.’
The ‘Boston Inferiority Complex’:
Largely peddled by those in the upper-middleclass media/entertainment world, and usually written and spoken in a way to imply that OTHER little people have the complex when in fact it’s their own silly obsession. ... The vast majority of native Bostonians don't have an inferiority complex because they don’t have a clue about anything outside eastern Massachusetts or the Cape. This is their own small universe. ... Like, where the fuck is Pittsfield? Is it in Massachusetts?
Our sometimes unruly colony to the south. Pretty well-kept vacation secret compared with the Cape, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. If you have time for a quickie post-convention vacation, give the 90-minute-drive to Newport a shot ... Maine? Fine. Quaint. But, outside Bar Harbor, it’s overrated. ... Vermont is in the process of being kicked out of New England. ... New Hampshire? ... Daring post-convention vacation suggestion: Montreal. Quick, scenic, five-hour drive to mais-oui land, though it might as well be Jakarta to most Bostonians.
Harvard Square vs. Route 1 Saugus:
Both classics. Harvard Yard and John Harvard statue vs. Golden Banana and plastic cows.
The lack of local strip clubs:
Very odd. Or maybe not so odd. One theory for the lack of strip clubs in Boston is: At the outset of the Civil War, Mass. Gen. Joe Hooker proudly marched his Bay State boys into Washington, D.C and then couldn’t get them out of the Red Light district for days. He also turned his army headquarters into a bordello and his name is forever linked to the world's oldest profession. Boston has been trying to live down the reputation ever since. OK, it's just a theory. Still, local leaders seemed to have learned an odd lesson about Fighting Joe and his volunteers from Massachusetts. There’s a statue of him on the State House lawn. No one knows why.
North End vs. Route 128-Burlington:
Boston’s oldest European-like neighborhood vs. Boston’s innovative engine contained within vapid new American office parks. Those making money in the office parks and those funding operatons in the office parks are increasingly snapping up condos in the North End and wrecking the neighborhood in the process. The city of tradition and innovation at work.
About 10 percent of that trash you see on the sidewalks is the direct result of security officials hauling away trash cans for the DNC. The rest? Well, Bostonians are litterbugs. Actually, we’re slobs. ... A crying Indian on every corner, when they’re not at Foxwoods.
That about does it. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide. Just a way to set you straight. Remember: We’re watching.
Thanks to Armchair Gen. Savin Hill for his editing assistance.
Boston DNC 2004 vs. L.A. Olympics 1984?:
A traffic specialist slipped Hub Blog an interesting prediction about this week, to wit: The situation might resemble the '84 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where motorists were also subjected to massive pre-event warnings of roadway gridlock. Motorists took heed and the result was the best driving in LA in decades. ... Boston's situation is complicated by the narrow streets and extraordinary post-9/11 security, my expert hedged. ... Summary: Things will be just fine. Let's hope. ...
Reader No. 1 on the Big Eve:
“I really miss Marty Nolan's columns
in the Globe. You know who he’s voting for, but he won't hold it against the other guy for life. He knows his history and has fun with it. His JFK-channelling-JFK-channelling William Lloyd Garrison is great.
“Just one problem: Kerry will be heard. But does he have anything to say? (Or is that two problems?)"
‘There’s nothing like that new tank smell’:
It’s good to root for the cops again. They’ve rolled out their new Boston Peacemaker: B.E.A.R.
.... “We're not going to roll up to protesters and say, `Unlawful assembly, move along,' then drive back down the street.” ... Oh no, B.E.A.R is for bigger stuff. ... Armchair Gen. Savin Hill must have caught the zeitgeist of the city yesterday via his beer-and-anarchists post below. Most of the news, now that the police strike/picket is all but over, is centered on the lefty anarchists
and their media mayhem plans.
... Hub Blog is actually more fascinated with lefty/anarchist fashion: The perfect Sandinista red bandannas, the high-top Converse sneakers, Keds, the cut-off pants, the European colored socks, everything and anything that screams WE’RE FROM THE INTELLECTUAL UPPER-MIDDLE CLASS /PLEASE DON’T MISTAKE US FOR WORKING-CLASS AND MIDDLE-CLASS PATRIOTS AND BRUINS FANS. ... In other words: It’s their snobbery I find both hilareous and annoying. ...
Beer and anarchists -- they do mix:
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill writes in and doesn't see the connections:
"Two totally unrelated thoughts as I swealter in my apartment:
"1. 'A beer garden, a beer garden, my kingdom for a beer garden.'
"2. I can't be the only one who wants to take Monday off to beat up out of town anarchists."
‘I’m proud to be here in Boston ...’:
Software legend Dan Bricklin
taps out a nice ode to the city as the big event arrives. ... Isn’t the city taking on an almost holiday-like atmosphere? Something big is in the air. You can feel it. ... My prediction: It’ll be just fine. Remember the Hub Blog Genrad Porto-potty Gauge theory. ... Bricklin post via Adam Gaffin.
And, yes, Adam, Hub Blog has noticed all the recent swipes at the Herald. Hub Blog sees everything. ...
‘Nee Jerk Reaction’:
Old Nee Jerk
is vowing to continue with the pickets. Seems higher pay raises than what other union and private-sector workers are getting aren’t good enough. So police pickets will proceed to show ‘our contempt and frustration with our employer.’
I assume he means our elected mayor, displaying once again his ignorant disregard about who’s the ultimate boss: the taxpaying public, which, if I’m not mistaken, is not going to forget this soon. ... Do Dem delegates really think showing contempt for an elected Democrat is a valid reason to picket -- and a valid reason to respect those pickets? Do we need any more proof this union leadership was determined from the outset to disrupt the convention? There’s another agenda at work here. ... FYI -- ‘Nee Jerk Reaction’: Bravo. Best splash headline under the new Herald regime. More please. ... OK, so it borrowed a little from the classic ‘Lumber Jerk.’ But it’s still great.
-- Brighton Reader writes in: "Menino should be happy that the police union and Nee are distracting the national press from the Puritan liquor laws. Maybe it's all a diversion."
-- From Reader No. 1: "Tom Nee will disappear from the public eye after Sunday night's pickets -- which are merely a face-saving measure. By the way, when will somebody tell him he won?"
Perhaps the Corner Office folks ...:
There seems to be a growing consensus that Romney is a winner in all of this (see here
). Maybe he is a winner. But it comes off an awful prior few weeks of blatant and almost sophomoric politics. One can perhaps conclude that the Corner Office folks swung back to the realization that good government really is good politics. Or one can perhaps conclude this administration suffers from massive mood swings. ... Don’t forget Tom Reilly, a Democrat who stuck his neck out. Perhaps he did it because he saw an alliance forming between the mayor and governor after the Hynes incident. Perhaps he was motivated by good government instincts. Or maybe a combination of the two. But he did the right thing. ... Reilly is definitely stalking Romney on issues that matter to Independents.
Ouch. Double ouch.: Tom Keane
gives a good drubbing to the Beacon Hill Institute. ...
‘I think every Democrat in Massachusetts will be thrilled’:
Every Democrat is thrilled about Michael Moore coming to town
? Really? Maybe someone should ask Mike to clarify his allegedly funny comments about the scores of local passengers
who perished on the doomed planes that took off from Boston on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. ... Think he’d do the same satirical skit in Boston if asked? ... Maybe he can do it while addressing the black caucus and afterward explain the dude remarks.
‘Lose full control’:
The union’s own union
is distancing itself from Thomas Nee, who’s now rethreatening
Kerry and the DNC. ... What goes around comes around in appeasement. ... Maybe Kerry will strike a better deal next time, like, well, you know, insisting the locals endorse him
before the old ‘wink and nod.’ Maybe Nee should have thought of that too. ... Or maybe Nee did and knew Kerry would be grateful just to avoid a repeat of '88. Who knows with these two? ...
Good watering holes and other sites:
WaPo has an early pre-DNC article on Boston
. The recommendations for watering holes aren't bad. (Via JJDaley
) ... Think my 2004 DNC Media Guide just got a little easier over the past three days. The CommonWealth magazine article below, the WaPo watering hole piece, both covering the bases well.
FYI -- Like Dan Kennedy
, Hub Blog is suffering major computer and blogging problems these days. Blogging likely will be light. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise/hint from the Gods with the DNC coming up. ... Think I've pinpointed the computer/blogging problems: outdated software, faulty mouse, slow dial-up connection, dust, a year-ago red wine spill on my keyboard, probable various viruses, browser incompatibilities, lack of storage, no defragging for a year. Oh yeah, I'll have it fixed in a jiffy.