Song of the Day, And How

As well as a strong early candidate for “local number of the year.”

Dan Pugach Nonet’s debut, Plus One (Unit Records) includes an inspired remake of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” with a vocal by Nicole Zuraitis and an arrangement that at once transform and preserve the musical and emotional landscape of the work. Highly recommended.

(And I was deeply out to lunch to not know about Zuraitis — though a couple other performances here are more artsy-intellectual than “Jolene”.)

A Slice on Apples

For my money, the Roxbury Russet can be one of the most delicious, complex heirloom apples — and it comes with a natural conversation starter in that it was the first North American apple and etc. etc. But the ones I’ve found around here haven’t had much character this year. All changed this weekend.

Here’s the scoop for locals: go out to Allendale Farm and grab a passel of their own Roxbury Russets. Good as any I can remember tasting.

Real Estate Developments I Pass Every Day

I think it was Anthony Bourdain who noted that certain business locations can become, well, cursed. No matter what opens in the space, it quickly goes out of business. This can last for years (maybe even forever), but it can also end.

This one corner spot on Beacon had been a superb convenience store for ages and ages. Then it got kinda outta touch and closed. The location became cursed and about four different operations tried to make it work;. The two I recall were the bad Asian gift shop with a misspelled word in its sign and a store that offered a strange mixture of plants and make-up products and never seemed to have staff that knew nearly enough about either. The spell broke when the space changed direction entirely and became a tres-hip Yoga center that won a Best of Boston award.

Only a block away was a very chic bicycle store that had a cool display of bikes on the roof (I don’t ride myself, so I never went inside), but seemed to do next to no business in the winter. It closed and has been replaced by a crushingly mediocre liquor store (that claims to have gourmet foods and cheese but I sure as hell didn’t see any).

Finally a salute to my late, great friend and editor at the Phoenix and Boston Globe, John Ferguson. The deeply authentic Irish pub where we held his Official Wake has been torn down to make way for another faceless glass tower. Especially sad because it helped me think about him many days when I drove past. He’s been gone for more than 13 years now. He was only 52.

Keep It Quiet, But This Is Where To Eat Out Friday Night, Pt. 2

Good thing here is that takeout is easy and quick.  Even if the place is packed. (Seats in the front room are chilly in winter.) They can make food spicy-hot enough to crisp your tongue if you want, but there are lots of mellow dishes. We adore the BBQ skewers (no organ meats, tho, pls.) and the non-spicy salads are genius. Anything with lamb comes recommended. Friendly, well-mannered staff.

EDIT: the link works fine for me, but if anyone has trouble, just search for “Wow Barbecue”

Keep It Quiet, But This Is Where To Eat Out Friday Night

Boston area … all the good places are zoos, riots, mob insanity this night.

Here’s what you do — head out for this place. I won’t lie: it’s a bit tricky to find and parking is a chore.

But everything we have tried on the menu has been a delicious, very down-home treat.

Plus, it perfectly solves Jack Spratt problems —

I can’t eat spinach. Very rich flavor wilted spinach is a side perfect for D.

D cannot bear pickles. I love them. Deep fried pickles (with a luscious, not-real-fiery Sriracha dipping sauce) is a generous side. (I’ve enjoyed leftovers for three days). (Yes, the Remoulade Sauce has been replaced.)

It’s small, mostly breakfast and lunch hours, but can be shared with the discriminating.

Trust me on this one.

The Fundamental of Racism

This Michael Eric Dyson essay is essential reading. I remember coming across the LBJ quote when it was recent and thinking “So THAT explains it.” Why in the hell was I not hearing that in my classroom rather than “Mumble, mumble, slavery was wrong and evil but it was a long time ago and if we aren’t having race riots in town here you don’t have to worry about it.” Unfortunate traces of that “lesson” explains why I was so shocked at the blatant bigotry I encountered in Boston: the metropolitans were supposed to be more sophisticated, not more bestial.