Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Local’

2:30 A.M. MBTA Service: An idea whose time has come again.

June 27, 2017 1 comment

I propose restoring Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority(MBTA) late night service(LNS) until 2:30 A.M. on Friday, Saturday and the evenings before legal holidays.

  From March of 2014 until March of 2016 the MBTA offered LNS carrying 16,000 riders nightly for its first year before declining to 13,000 riders by February, 2016 (1)

  I propose doubling the late-night subway and grade level train fare to $4.20 from the $2.10 charged on stored value cards.  (Paying by the trip is $2.40)

  This would defray some of the cost of LNS and enable the return of this economically justifiable, convenient and safe means of travel.

  Casual phrases such as ‘world class city’ are often bandied about when Boston is spoken of.  Yet, the last outbound trains from Park St run at 12:54 A.M.

  The benefits of restoring LNS MBTA service would be numerous.

  Hospital and hotel workers work a variety of shifts.  As Boston proper has gentrified many of these working folks cannot afford to live within walking distance of their jobs.

  Furthermore even as taxis have been supplemented by Uber, Lyft and a variety of car services transportation expenses can be a significant part of a working person’s take-home income.

  Even at the UberPool-Boston rate of $6-8, (2), from Massachusetts General Hospital to Harvard and Comm. Ave(s) in Allston this prorates to about $660, $6 x 110 weekend trips=$660 annually for a late-night employee working weekends at $12/hr.  This amounts to about a week’s take-home pay.  Considering the large number of hospital and hotel staff working after 1 A.M. this has a considerable effect upon workers and employers.

Have mercy!

 LNS service would benefit already existing retail outlets.  24 hour super markets such as Star Market at 53 Huntington Ave. and the Star market at 33 Kilmaronock St. would gain a clientele for whom late night grocery shopping is a practical necessity and more economical than a convenience store.

  The LNS which ended in March of 2016 was not the first foray of the MBTA into extended hours.  From 2001 until 2005 the Night Owl service offered bus service until 2:30 A.M.  However, the scattered stops and slow speed worked against the service’s popularity and the Night Owl was attracting a mere 600 riders on Friday, Saturday and nights before legal holidays before being cancelled in 2005.

  The LNS initiated in March of 2014 and cancelled March 18, 2016 carried 16,000 riders by train nightly for its first year before declining to 13,000 riders nightly by February, 2016.

 The cancellation decision was made by a 4-0 unanimous decision of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board on January 25, 2016.  (1)

  Leaving aside the question(s) of whether applying and norming the subsidy cost(s) through the entire day(s) would be a valid statistical method, the MBTA nonetheless claims the net marginal cost of LNS is $14 million annually based on a fare of $2.10 per rider.

  My proposal is to increase the LNS fare to $4.20 and thus halve the net marginal cost.

  Assuming ridership remains the same, and I do know what they say about assume, the net marginal cost would sink to $7 million annually!

  What the MBTA has not acknowledged is that the increased business enabled by the LNS would create taxable income some of which could be earmarked towards reducing the MBTA’s chronic operating deficit.

  Boston is a challenging city to drive in even under optimal conditions.  Dark winter nights make this intrinsic challenge even more treacherous as snow and ice pile up.  This challenge is compounded exponentially when large numbers of folks exiting bars and clubs congregate on the sidewalks and streets.

  From 1993 to 1999 I worked at a variety of venues in the Theater District and witnessed departing guests hanging around the area until 3:30 A.M. while socializing, eating snacks and attempting to hail taxis.  The crowds milling about caused significant litter problems, interrupted traffic and ultimately endangered the safety of those hanging around.

  My current employer takes the provisions of MA Dram Shop Liability as established in 1983, (2), very seriously.

  However, even the best managed established establishments are not immune from “pre-gaming” and drug use by guests that leads to slow exits, littering and dangerous and endangered crowds after closing.

  During the lifespan of LNS from 2014 until its cancellation in 2016 my employer did not have this problem as the last Green Line from Kenmore Square departed outbound at 2;30 A.M. allowing sufficient time for the fifteen-minute walk from my employer to the Kenmore Square MBTA station. 

Management mentioned, on more than 1 occasion, that folks tended to leave in order to catch the last train.

  On February 17, 2017 I asked my Assistant Manager, A.M; about my proposal to restore LNS MBTA by charging a double fare.

S.G: So how has the discontinuation of late-night service affected us?

C.M: It has discouraged travel from our customers in Allston as they can’t afford a cab or even Uber or Lyft.  They would have to leave with folks that they don’t know and a lot of our people just won’t do that.

S.G: What do you think that comes to in dollars?

A.M: About 5-10%.  It’s not nothing over the course of a year.  When did it end anyway?

S.G: March 18th. of last year.

A.M: Close to a year, huh.  You know another thing is that there isn’t the parking around here that there was even a year ago and when the Sox start up again it’s like [the parking] at least $30 and that is tough for kids even though most of them don’t have cars.  We don’t really get the trusties, [students who are completely supported by their parents and have leased cars through the school year], our kids are just looking for a good time.

S.G: Do you think our crowd would pay for a double fare after 12:30 on Friday, Saturday and nights before legal holidays?

A.M:  That would be $4.20, right?

S.G: Yes.

A.M: I would [use the LNS service] if I were in school and lived in Allston.  You would keep the service running until a last departure from Kenmore at 2:30 like before?

S.G: Yes.

A.M: I think that it’s a good idea and would keep some drunks off the road.

  On Saturday, March 11, 2017 I decided to investigate my manager’s assertion regarding the slow departure of guests now that LNS was no longer available.  I left my security post with the permission of my supervisor at 1:45 A.M. as last call was being given.  I observed a dozen guests in front of the building which was surprising considering the 15 F weather.  After clearing the building at 2:30 A.M. I returned to the entrance of the building and found 30 folks smoking, eating pizza and looking for a hook-up.  Folks wandered into the active traffic flow attempting to flag the passenger filled cabs that veered to avoid hitting the remaining revelers.

  Smartphones were frantically employed as folks tried to reach Uber and Lyft but evidently the cold had prevailed over economic opportunity.

  At 2:45 A.M. I left work and there were still 6 guests eating pizza and smoking by the front of the building while discarding the crusts and butts on the sidewalk.

  This scene would not have occurred were the LNS still running.

  “Better safe than sorry,” is more than a cliche’, it is a sound operating principle which would be activated by the renewal of LNS even at double the fare.

  Additionally, lessened consumption of fossil fuel by drivers would have positive environmental effects.

  Enabling employment and entertainment, preserving public safety and environmental sustainability, MBTA LNS at a double fare is an idea whose time has come…again!

ALL ABOARD!

WORKS CITED

1) uberPOOL…Share the ride, split the cost.  Page 1, Web, 6 March, 2017

https://get.uber.com/p/uberpool-Boston

2) Dungca, Nicole.  “MBTA to end late-night service by mid-March.”  Boston Globe, 29 Feb, 2016.  Web. 3 March, 2017

https;//ww.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/02/…late-night-service-end-march…/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAIKU 5*7*5* Bunker Hill Community College

May 10, 2017 2 comments

Just trying to save

Community college girl

Food in microwave

CHANGE & HOSPITALITY: T.C.’s Lounge: Last Call

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

DISCLOSURE:  This is the original version of the article I authored for submission to the FENWAY NEWS which was published in edited form in the print editions of November and December of 2012 respectively.

The printed editions separated the closing of T.C.’s and the historical background of the bar. 

While the edited versions met the space limitations of the FENWAY NEWS the flavor of Tony Consalvi Jr’s and Tony III’s remarks is best served in the original context.

The elder Tony Consalvi is referred to here as ‘Tony’ and Tony III is referred to here as ‘Jr.’ as this is what their guests usually called them.

Furthermore I am not naming various folks both in the interest of their privacy and because their claims are not verified.

Finally these remarks were redacted from a 1 1/2 hour talk.  I took 9 pages of notes.

T.C.’S LOUNGE: LAST CALL

On Thursday, September 6, 2012 the Mackin Group,property manger for the First Fenway Coop at 141-151 Mass. Ave. informed Tony Consalvi, the proprietor of T.C’s lounge that he would have to vacate the 1 Haviland St. slot by Friday, 9/14, putting an end to T.C.’s 42 years at that address.

I sat down with Tony and Tony Jr. in an emptied out T.C.’s to talk about T.C.’s history, the Fenway and the 3/13/2012 fire which ended the 42 year run of one of Boston’s premier dive bars.

Once upon a time Mass. Ave. was home to a trifecta of dive bars.

The Back Bay Lounge, which wasn’t in the Back Bay and wasn’t a lounge,  anchored the Mass. Ave. and Haviland St.  where Dunkin’ Donuts now stands.

Bill’s Bar occupied  175 Mass. Ave.  Today its Mid Century Modern signage is affixed to the Pat Lyons club of the same name on Lansdowne St.

“Yeah, I used to kick people out and tell them to take a hike up the street,” laughed Tony as he recalled his early days on Haviland st.

Bars run in Tony’s blood.  His father, Tony 1, ran bars in the Fenway, Roxbury and the South End.

All of those bars wound up closing because the Boston Redevelopment Authority/BRA took over those buildings by eminent domain.  Back then you didn’t have to compensate any business for anything.  It was very tough,” said Tony.

In 1974 Tony, who was employed as a butcher at the time, took over 1 Haviland St.

“This used to be Marie’s Spaghetti a cheap Italian place that ran all the way to the front where Starbucks now is.  The front was replaced by an adult book store.  This space was Marie’s Keyboard.  It was a pretty nice place with a U-shaped bar and a small bandstand.  Right here, [the upper level of T.C.’s] there were couches and club chairs.  They had waitresses.

This was the 70’s.  Mass. Ave. was bad.  There were a lot of hookers and pimps hanging around.  The street was very dirty.  A lot of the storefronts were empty.  I got held up here [T.C.’s] when I was 23.”

Marie’s Keyboard piano area was opened up to be replaced by pinball machines.  The upper level of the lounge sported deuce tables and a “fireplace” that consisted of a plastic stencil rotating over a log lit by a 100 watt bulb.

“You see this was a dive bar and I don’t mean that in a bad way.  Back then you had a lot more drinking.  We used to have people lining up at 8  in the morning, I had an 8 A.M. license; telephone workers and people who worked overnights in hotels came here all the time.

We also had a lot of the neighborhood old-timers and the Berklee crowd”.

Indeed during my initial residence in the East Fens from 78-85 I used to see many uniformed folks from the Bell/AT&T building on Dalton St.  T.C.’s was also known as an after shift watering hole for the hospitality workers who toiled on Boylston St.

In 1980 the 141-151 Mass. Ave. building was spared the wrecker’s ball as part of the BRA Parcel 13 Eminent Domain and became First Fenway Cooperative, a Limited Equity Cooperative.

“I signed a 10 year lease.  I would have wanted a 20 year lease but there was never any trouble renewing the lease until this fire,” said Tony. 

In the 1980’s the Fenway began the gentrification process that continues to this day.  The neighborhood old-timers who had lived through the years of abandonment and arson passed away.  Community policing brought back the cop on the beat.  AIDS and female cops rolled back the tide of prostitution and the Mass. Ave. storefronts filled up.  Bill’s Bar became a facade on Lansdowne St. and the Berkeley became history.  The Back Bay Lounge became a Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Back Bay apartments became condos in the 1980s.  This priced out many of the younger, less prosperous renters.  The pre-Yuppie demographic found the Fenway a convenient off-price domicile for their pre-professional years. 

“You see, I tried to be a good neighbor.  I received workers doing work in the building.  I always had a doorman on.  My day bartender swept outside the door and the sidewalk was cleaned with a high pressure hose.  I even removed graffiti from the wall,” said Tony.

I asked, “Whose responsibility was removing the graffiti”?

“Mackins,” said Tony Jr.  Indeed at this writing a plastic clad sign urging guests to be quiet and courteous is still hanging upon the door.  Along that line T.C.’s had a policy of last admittance at 1:50.  Even after the 2003 legislation barring smoking in taverns went into effect T.C.’s did not allow re-admittance after 1:50.  

“Yeah I had a lot of characters in here.   I knew [a nameless woman], was a hooker but I never had that business here.  She bought her daughter her first legal drink here,” Tony chuckled as he rubbed his eyes. 

Once an a-hole, always an a-hole is my philosophy.  I had this guy come in a few years ago and I wouldn’t serve him because I had barred him. 

He said, ‘That was 30 years ago!’, 

“I still wouldn’t serve him!” 

“Diversity” is a word often bandied about in Boston.  T.C.’s had…

“…Y’know I probably had more black customers than any bar in town.  [Boston proper].  Today they make a big thing out of serving gays but we’ve always had gays around here.  It was never a big thing to me,” said Tony. 

Jr. chipped in, “You know we even offered to pay for soundproofing just to make the place quieter but Mackin and the First wouldn’t even listen.  I even took out two of the speakers from the jukebox,” Jr. emphasized with an incredulous shake of his head. 

T.C.’s proximity to Berklee brought in a steady stream of celebrity guests.  Herbie Hancock, Aimee Mann, UFC’s chuck Lidell and George Benson among others.  Model Mia Tyler, Red Sox alumni and Jimmy Fund fundraiser Mike Andrews, Kiefer Sutherland and local culinary stars Michael Schlow and Jaime Bisonette imbibed at BOSTON’S BEST HOLE IN THE WALL per the 2010 BOSTON DIG. 

Tony Jr. was T.C.’s main bartender from 1990.  After graduating from Stonehill College he worked in construction and landscaping before landing a bartending gig at the Harvard Club.  Jr. was ready to follow in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps.  During Jr’s time behind the bar Direct TV finally came to T.C.’s with 2 monitors behind the bar.  Soup and chowder became available.  The vinyl jukebox became a CD jukebox. 

The 21st. Century brought Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter to the game area and the new jukebox was an Internet box that enabled Berklee folks to play Miles Davis in the same set as Metallica and Lady Gaga.  The inevitable Facebook page. 

Not all of the changes were upscale.  The claw game still offered takers the opportunity to snatch porn DVDs.  The Women’s Room was still porn pink.  Oxycontin and Death Wish shots were available. 

Most importantly a Polaroid of your celebratory author wearing a cowboy hat and groping 2 Jager girls was on display. 

On March 13, 2012 at 4:37 P.M. a fire swept through T.C.’s sparked by a faulty beer cooler.  By 5:16 P.M. the flames had been quelled.  For the remainder of the day a charred, gaseous stench hung over Haviland St. 

“Y’know my heart was broken because I’ve been around here so long and I’ve seen customers get married.  There are very few independently owned bars left in the city.  Many, many folks came by to wish us well as we were cleaning out the place,” said Tony. 

Jr. chipped in “Our Facebook page got so many hits.  It’s moving to know that the place meant so much to so many.” 

Tony continued, “We had the place inspected and there was no structural damage.  There was a lot of smoke and water damage and of course all of the posters and pictures we’d collected over the years were too damaged to be used.  But we could have done a quick job for $8000 in 6 weeks.  We also could have spent $25,000 for something nicer that would have taken about 8 weeks or so.” 

T.C.’s lease had already specified that T.C.’s was responsible for “Extraordinary Expenses”.  T.C.’s contribution to First Fenway amounted to about $6000 in 2011. 

The 141-151 building housing T.C.’s was built in 1894, long before contemporary fire, egress and Americans with Disability Act/ADA existed.  Upon becoming First Fenway the building was “grandfathered”. 

Indeed the 3 levels of T.C.’s predate ADA and the means of egress are archaic. 

Tony continued,  “We never heard from anyone upstairs.  What little communication there was was with Mackin.  I spent $1400 to get a permit in order to get a permit to do painting and cosmetic work. 

Now Mackin claimed that now is the time to install sprinklers on every floor, widen my front and back door and pay for all of the ADA work.” 

I asked, “Is that your responsibility?” 

Jr. broke in, “If you go down into the basement you would expect to find Freddy Krueger hanging out.  There are hissing pipes, mold and water everywhere and it has always been that way.” 

I asked, “So let me see if I understand this.  Mackin wanted you guys to foot the bill for all of the upgrading?”  Both Tonys nodded in the affirmative. 

“Meanwhile no one from upstairs will even look me in the eye.  None of the [Here Tony mentioned several well known politicians, activists and neighborhood groups],  stepped forward.  I have it on pretty good authority that First Fenway and Mackin had the money to do the work without even resorting to a loan,” Tony growled. 

On Friday, September 14 I called Mackin’s Brookline office at 617-277-1166 in an attempt to verify the Tonys’ story. 

“Hi, my name is Steve Gallanter and I am a freelance journalist doing research for a story on the closing of T.C.’s Lounge.” 

A woman’s voice responded, “Mackin has no public comments regarding any of its properties.” 

“May I ask your name,” I queried. 

“No”. 

I repeated this inquiry on September 17 and 18 with identical results. 

On September 24 I sent emails to residents of First Fenway to get their side of the story in order to contrast it to the Consalvis’.  I received no reply.  On September 26 I again sent out emails to several residents of First Fenway, once again there was no reply. 

“So just this past Thursday, [September 6] Mackin told me I had to be out by Friday,” Tony mumbled through teary eyes.  Jr. sat bolt upright, his arms folded across his chest with fists clenched.

“Let me see if I get this straight, Mackin used the fire as a pretext to get out of a lease that wouldn’t have expired until 2013 and now you are without a business,” I asked. 

Both Tonys nodded. 

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how bitter are you?”

“11”

    T.C.’s Lounge: Last Call