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HAIKU 5*7*5*.Skateboarder texting

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SEASONS CHANGE: APRIL, MLB & NBA

April 17, 2015 1 comment

Hello everybody!

I hope that everyone has filed their taxes. 

As the old bromide has it, “April comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb,” so I guess species transformation is about 1/2 of the way there.

In my bandwidth April comes in like a basketball and out like a baseball.  MLB is 2 weeks into its 162 game marathon while in the NBA jockeying for that coveted #7 seed in the East, Go Celts!, will yield the playoff-intensity basketball that is, y’know…intense.

So…

Personal style

NBA: Frustrated jock

MLB: Fervent fan

Footwear

NBA: Kicks

MLB: Cleats

Moving

NBA: Hops

MLB: Wheels

Aged in wood

NBA: Lapera’s driveway

MLB: Self-hitting at Sands Point Academy

It’s for the children

NBA: Nerf ball

MLB: Whiffle ball

Time begins

NBA:  Tip-off

MLB: Play ball!

Time goes on…

NBA: 48 minutes/OT

MLB: It ain’t over ’til it’s over/Extra innings

Foreign currency

NBA: Celts’ Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome

MLB:  Soz’ Junichi Tasawa and Koji Uehara

Boston song

NBA: “Welcome to the Jungle,” Guns & Roses @ TD Bank NorthGarden

MLB: “Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond @ Fenway Park

Southpaw

NBA: Celts’ Tyler Zeller

MLB: Sox’ Craig Breslow

You can’t get there from here

NBA: North Washington St. during a Celts game

MLB: Boylston St. during a Sox game

Parking

NBA: “Parking?  Didn’t he play for the Bruins?”

MLB: $100 for a SUV at the Mobil at Boylston and Ipswich

There’s a new sheriff in town

NBA: New commissioner Adam Silver

MLB: New commissioner Rob Manfred

Logo

NBA: Jerry West

MLB: Harmon Killebrew

Endangered species

NBA: White Americans

MLB: African Americans

Reptiles

NBA: Toronto Raptors

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks

Nerd #s

NBA: Points per shot, PER(Player Efficiency Ratio)

MLB: On base average, ERC(Earned Run Components)

Small and aggressive

NBA: Isaiah Thomas

MLB: Dustin Pedroia

Convenient injury

NBA: Tripping over the foul line

MLB: Tripping over the foul line

Politically incorrect

NBA: Too many blacks

MLB: Too many Latinos

Duck boats last used

NBA: Celtics: 2008

MLB: Red Sox: 2013

Haiku: SNOW

March 26, 2015 1 comment

Snow melts if its hot

although there is little left

it looks like gray snot

 

Michio Kushi: July 17,1926-December 28, 2014

January 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Michio Kushi passed on 12/28/2014 from pancreatic cancer. 

The 1st. Unitarian Universalist Arlington St. Church here in Boston will be hosting a memorial service and reception at 12 noon on January 31, 2015

www.michiokushi.org

Mr. Kushi was a proponent and teacher of macrobiotics, literally “large life,” and the founder of the Erewhon natural food stores in Boston and Cambridge and the 7th. Inn and Sanae restaurants here in Boston.

Folks are sometimes surprised to learn that  I have been a vegetarian for over 35 years.

It was with sadness that I learned of the passing of Mr. Kushi although we had never met.

Mr. Kushi’s Boston store at 342 Newbury St; currently occupied by a Ralph Lauren ‘Rugby’ store  was where much of my early education as a vegetarian was gleaned.

(Erewhon also had a store on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, MA between Harvard and Porter Squares).

My veggieism began covertly as even I wasn’t completely cognizant of  the first stirrings of what has come to be a life-long path.  During my very first time living outside of the confines of my Mom I was unwilling to clean and even less willing to spend to purchase meat.  To be sure I was working in restaurants at that time as a dishwasher and busser so flesh was on the menu if not in the refrigerator.

In 1978 I was a 20 year-old Counselor-in-Training at the Unitarian Universalist Rowe Camp and Conference Center Junior High Camp  where I read Frances Lappe’s DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET, 1974, ISBN-13 978-0345321206  (This ISBN is for the 10th Anniversary revised edition).

DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET changed my life forever.  Ms. Lappe’s concentration on eating lower on the food chain by the virtue of protein combinations not only cleansed diets but pointed the way to a sustainable form of food economics.

A year later I was in the midst of my 1st. spring in Boston when I lost my job under nebulous circumstances.  Vowing to eliminate immoral acts from my day-to-day life meat was purged from my diet.

Erewhon became my market.

“Erewhon” is an anagram for “nowhere” and ‘Erewhon’ is an 1872 utopian novel by Samuel Butler about communal living.

Erewhon was well ahead of the curve regarding the availability of items such as soba noodles, wheat grass, bok choi, arugula and mung sprouts at a time when the ‘produce’ section of the Westland Ave. Stop n’ Shop deemed Romaine(Boston) lettuce to be “exotic.”

Erewhon featured framed calligraphy of Mr. Kushi’s thoughts from the exposed brick walls long before they had become a cliche’.

(The exposed brick was the cliche’, not Mr. Kushi’s thoughts).

Mr. Kushi was a proponent of macrobiotics and eschewed red meat, dairy, refined sugar and virtually all added ingredients artificial or not.

Mr Kushi also stressed seasonal and local cuisine to more perfectly attune one to one’s locale.

I followed macrobiotic for several weeks and although I was delighted that my 17th. bout with post-adolescent acne had been quelled the extreme weight loss engendered was not practical for my way of life.  By the end of the summer of 1979 I had phased into the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet that has served me well  to this day.

Erewhon represented a retail culture that is now an endangered species in our smartphone/social media millennium.  I remember very well learning the differences between “wheat” and “whole wheat” and between udon and soba noodles not from the staff but from Erewhon shoppers.  Indeed shopping at Erewhon was nutrition for the intellect as well as the body.

Erewhon had precious little competition for its market of veggies, macrobiotics buffs and what would now be called “foodies”.  Boylston St. offered Nature Food Center which plied enormous 1000 count jars of 500 milligram Vitamin C along with carob coated wheat cookies that tasted like carpet remnants soaked in Nestles’ Quik.

Erewhon offered many tastings of its wares and this budget challenged consumer gleaned small meals from strategic arrivals at 5:30 P.M.  Folks wandered around stuffing themselves with organic figs from Bulk Foods containers long before Whole Foods Market realized that “theft” increased sales and the Whole Foods market demographic could afford the markup that endorsed “theft”.

Sad to say but Erewhon was plagued not just with customers seeking freebies but with rampant shoplifting as the staff was disinclined to interrupt those seeking 5 finger discounts.

“Communalism” is a lofty aspiration but an impractical one at the urban, retail level. 

Many a time I wandered through Erewhon with a bag of autumnal Bartlett pears and whole wheat linguini seeking to pay for my goods at the all-too-often unattended registers.

Erewhon practiced a “non-hierarchical” form of management which manifestly failed to collect the prices charged.

Mr. Kushi’s management acumen was minimal at best.  Mr. Kushi’s restaurants, the 7th. Inn at 288 Boylston St; and Sanae at 324 Newbury St; were interesting attempts to bring macrobiotic cuisine to dining.

The 7th. Inn on Boylston St. in the space now occupied by the Four Seasons Hotel was the loftier of the two as the 7th. Inn featured table service from servers in brownish aprons and white shirts without ties.  Even the modest prices of their brown rice and sea vegetables were above my ken at the time so I never sampled the fare.

A press release heralding the opening of the original Sanae notes  that “the SANAE faculty graduated from the heavy hippy drug scene”.

Bon appetit!

Sanae on Newbury St. fared better as it offered counter service only and a hand-lettered selection whiteboard enabling guests to mix and match proteins, veggies and starches.  Sanae was open for several years and closed abruptly in 1982 before re-opening in 1983 as…the 7th. Inn!… before shuttering for good later in 1983.

Erewhon’s food distribution business likewise closed in 1983 although cereal with the “Erewhon” monicker is till sold here in the 21st. Century at my local Whole Foods Market. Erewhon’s website: www.erewhonmarket.com

is unclear as to whether the current business sprouted from Mr. Kushi’s.  Tony and Joesephine Antoci bought Erewhon in 2011.  The website notes that “since the late 60s” Erewhon has been in the natural foods business.  It is not clear whether this Los Angeles based company bought the name or the business in its entirety.  Any further information on this matter would be welcomed by this author.

Mr. Kushi crossed my mind from time to time as I shopped at such  grocers  as Jamaica Plain’s original Arborway Natural which put a familiar face on wholesome food.  Bread & Circus, especially in its Westland Ave; Fenway store organized the shelves, brought in bar codes and was eventually bought out by corporate behemoth Whole Foods Market in 2003.

Today Whole Foods Market operates a 59,000 square foot supermarket in Manhattan’s Time-Warner building.

While Mr. Kushi was far from the ideal CEO he brought to Boston a dietary awareness that had been flying underneath the radar for some time.

“Food faddists” and “health nuts” were the tags attached to pioneers such as Adelle Davis whose LETS EAT RIGHT TO KEEP FIT in 1954, ISBN 4-87187-961-5 and Euell Gibbons’ STALKING THE WILD ASPARAGUS of 1962, ISBN-10 0911469036.  Both Ms. Davis and Mr. Gibbons earned the attention and couch of Johnny Carson.

Mr. Kushi was in the right place at the right time culturally as baby boomers aged into the thoughtful eating that would become the “foodie” market of our 21st. Century.

Having said that, Mr. Kushi’s holistic happenstance approach to business has been emulated by no one.  Indeed, his message might have had significantly more effect had his stores had been profitable.

It is a testament to the worth of his ideals that his influence is noted by many including this scribe.

Mr. Kushi was years ahead of the curve in making available tamari, sea vegetables and an array of Asian wheat and rice noodles.

Locavores and vegans are the unwitting progeny of Mr. Kushi.

Mr. Kushi seems to have been a more than decent man in his personal life, opening his Brookline home to many and living in accordance to his ideals.

Mr. Kushi’s philosophy and diet are not exactly mine.  But like Stephen Gaskin of the Farm in Summertown, Tennessee and the author of “Hey, Beatnik” his ideas contributed much to my collage as much as for what they aren’t as for what the ideas are.

Mr. Kushi, thank you.

Peace, Steve

 

BOSTON, FENWAY, CULTURE, CHANGE: Taps for Army Barracks

TAPS FOR ARMY BARRACKS

On February 15, 2014 the Army Barracks at 173 Mass. Ave. closed its door for good following a lease offer of insufficient length.  The Army Barracks had done business at 173 Mass. Ave. since 2007 following a move from the original location of 328 Newbury St.

…pressed tin ceiling, lonely pegs on grid works extending to the ceiling, dust kitties the size of Austin Mini-Coopers on the floor…

I went to the Army Barracks to visit manager Jake Delonis and get his thoughts on the closing of this supremely useful store.

“Jake, How did you come to be the manager of this store,” I asked.

Jake replied, “Well, I walked in about 2 1/2 years ago and applied.  They told me that they didn’t need any help.  Then they remembered that they had fire someone just that day so I got hired on the spot.  After that I just climbed the ladder.  I’m a chemistry major at Northeastern.”

The Army Barracks is one of a group of 7 stores located in West Springfield, MA, Saugus, MA, Salem, MA, Conway, NH, Newington, CT, Salem, NH and Scarborough, ME.  These stores are slated to remain open.

Once upon a time the Boston area boasted a large number of Army Navy stores.  Harvard and Central Square(s) in Cambridge had namesake stores.  Mass. Army Navy occupied the 899 Boylston St. slot now occupied by Staples.  Kenmore Army Navy, now located in Downtown Crossing, was in the Kenmore Square space now taken by the Commonwealth Hotel.

Outdoor folks, construction workers, students, medical workers and punk rockers flocked to these stores in search of versatile, affordable garb and gear of all descriptions.

As much as anything the disappearance of Army Navy stores in Boston proper illustrates the changes in the Boston retail of the 21st. Century.

…Bates Cadet shoes,Wigwam socks, laces in lengths of up to 96″ for knee high boots, old school galoshes of the kind that your mother made you wear…

“How is your product mix determined?”

“The owner Steve Lopilato goes to Europe to buy military surplus.  He also buys from closed stores and from manufacturers when seasons change.  A lot of our stuff is in odd lots so we don’t always have all sizes and styles,” Jake answered.

…scrubs in blue, pink and purple

“Yeah, a lot of medical folks get their scrubs here,” Jake offered.

…throwing stars, replica rifles and pistols,a sharp trident fitted into a glove that would do Wolverine of the X MEN proud…

“You have an extraordinary variety of weapons here.”

“Yes,” Jake chuckled.

“Has there ever been an instance of someone using a replica weapon to commit a crime,” I wondered out loud.

“Not that I know of.  Once a BPD officer came in and asked us some questions but that is about it,” Jake answered.

…construction overalls, toxic waste worker coveralls, lime green iridescent jumpsuits

“You have a lot of work gear here.”

“Yeah, a lot of the time we have lower prices than the work gear places.  We usually don’t have the complete lines of any one brand because we buy so many odd lots.”

…Dickies’ chinos, Dickies’ coveralls, Dickies’ painter’s pants…

“Do you carry the complete line of Dickies?”

“Yeah, we do.  They give us stand-ups and a lot of promo stuff.  We used to carry Converse until the Converse store opened on Newbury St.

We always have Propper cargo pants and jackets because a lot of law enforcement wear them and they’re a lot more affordable than 511s,” Jake replied.

…Hanes t-shirts, BVD thermal underwear, Fruit of the Loom briefs in cotton and poly/cotton…

(Go with the cotton.  You can thank me later).

…KILL THEM ALL, LET GOD SORT THEM OUT…SECURITY…THESE COLORS DON’T RUN…

“Quite the assortment of t-shirts.”

“Yeah, the security t-shirts in extra large always move well.  A lot of bouncers and doormen buy their stuff here,” Jake offered.

…gas masks from Poland, $14.99, Russia, $19.99, Israel, $34.99…

“Do those things work?  Does anyone buy them,” I wondered out loud.

Jake smiled, “They work.  The Israeli ones have air purification disks that we sell.  Do you need a gas mask?”

“Uh, no.”

“Purple camouflage?”

“I guess you could wear it to a club.”

“Pink handcuffs?” I wondered.

“I don’t ask questions,” Jake laughed.

As Jake and I chatted he bundled up items that were to be sent to the other stores.  Customers flowed through the now bare entrance in a steady stream.

“How’s business?”

“Very, very busy.  I don’t know if it is the 50% off or the new Berklee building but we did $5000 the other day although we are just about out of just about everything now.”

“How many people work here?  What will they do,” I asked.

A sales woman entering into a PC overheard my question and offered, “I’m going to hair school.”

Jake continued, “Well, I’m still going to chemistry classes at Northeastern and I still have classes.  There is another manager here besides me.  A total of 7 people work here.”

“So why is the store closing,” I asked.

Jake bit his lip and spoke, “Berklee is the landlord.  They offered a 1 or 2 year lease and it just wasn’t worth it for Steve since he has 7 other stores.

I have no idea what is going into this slot.”

It was getting late and the early evening shopping rush was picking up.

Jake was busying himself with customers.

I purchased 2 neon glow pods at $1.99 each.  Ordinarily I disdain plastic bags but I took my glow pods home in an Army Barracks camouflage bag.

Taps for Army Barracks, 173 Mass. Ave, Boston.

C’est la vie.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: BOSTON, CHANGE:, CULTURE, FENWAY
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